Are you looking for a efficient, reasonably priced home comfort system? If electricity is the better or only solution available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be perfect for your home. Both systems run on electric power and run in heating and cooling modes for year-round comfort. So, is it a heat pump or mini-split for you? If you're still trying to figure it out, read more about each HVAC system to help you determine the right fit.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a kind of central climate control system. Compared with a furnace, which produces usable heat for the home by igniting a fuel source, a heat pump moves heat from one place to another. In the winter, it extracts heat energy from the air outside and redirects it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve allows it to perform this process backward in the summer, behaving the same as an AC system to transfer heat and humidity from indoor air and vent it outside.
What Is a Mini-Split?
A mini-split operates on the same principle as a heat pump. Actually, it is a kind of heat pump — minus the ductwork. That’s why it’s called a “ductless” system. A mini-split could be a ceiling- or wall-mounted unit with a built-in air handler. This indoor portion connects directly to an outdoor condensing unit through a tiny hole drilled in the wall. Multiple indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, providing whole-home comfort with no ductwork necessary.
Making Your Selection
Here are the most important details to review when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Buffalo home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is currently heated and cooled with a standard furnace and AC unit, the needed ductwork infrastructure is already in place. Therefore, installing a heat pump is potentially the more cost-effective solution.
That being said, if you live in an older home or have just made an addition, you might not have ductwork accessible to use that space year-round. In this case, getting a mini-split is much less complicated and costs far less than installing in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are managed in a way similar to most other central heating and cooling systems: by setting a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a central location. On the flip side, ductless mini-splits use a remote that lets you operate each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re happy with regulating the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be worth the effort. But you can improve home comfort and reduce wasted energy by heating and cooling separate rooms individually.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be incorporated into a central heat pump system by setting up multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be easier and more affordable to install mini-splits in rooms with distinct temperature demands, whether they’re heated and cooled by a central HVAC system or not.
Heat pumps don’t prioritize flexibility. Instead, they can replace your existing furnace and air conditioner and deliver whole-house comfort with help from a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have more options for where you can put the unit. Homeowners can place one in a single room that you would otherwise find challenging to keep comfortable. You can mount one in a modified garage or other home addition without new ductwork. You can also install a mini-split air handler in each room, all connected to the outdoor condensing unit for affordable operation.
Modern heat pumps are more efficient than ever. There are even cold-climate versions offered for a performance boost at low temperatures.
All the same, ductless mini-splits are basically more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses that come with leaky ductwork. An ordinary home squanders more than 20% of the air passing through the ductwork to spotty air sealing or a lack of insulation. This suggests that a mini-split is more likely to offer the same amount of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look pretty much the same as central air conditioners. The outdoor unit is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler stays within a utility closet or space in the basement.
On the other hand, mini-splits are easy to view. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be unobtrusive, but they are clearly visible in any room in which they are positioned on the wall or ceiling.
Schedule Heat Pump or Mini-Split Installation
Whatever you decide to do, Sunbeam Service Experts can complete the professional installation you expect. Our service providers are ready to provide excellent products and services backed by our one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee. To learn more about heat pumps vs. mini-splits or request an installation estimate, please contact your nearby Sunbeam Service Experts office today.