Are you shopping for a dependable, affordable home comfort system? If electricity is the best or only choice available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be a convenient option. Both systems operate on electric power and operate in heating and cooling modes for 365 days of comfort. So, what’s it going to be — heat pump or mini-split? If you're still trying to decide, read more about each HVAC system to help you make your mind up.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a type of central climate control system. As opposed to a furnace, which produces usable heat for the home by burning a fuel source, a heat pump transfers heat from one place to another. In the winter, it extracts heat energy from the air outdoors and redirects it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve enables it to operate backward in the summer, behaving the same as an AC system to remove heat and humidity from indoor air and vent it outside.
What Is a Mini-Split?
A mini-split is designed on the same principle as a heat pump. In fact, it is a kind of heat pump — but although they don’t use the ductwork. That’s why it’s called a “ductless” system. A mini-split is designed as a ceiling- or wall-mounted unit with a built-in air handler. This indoor portion is connected directly to an outdoor condensing unit through a small hole drilled through the wall. Several indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, providing whole-home comfort with no ductwork needed.
Making Your Choice
These are key things to think about when deciding between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Indianapolis home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is currently heated and cooled with a standard furnace and AC unit, the necessary ductwork infrastructure is already in place. Therefore, installing a heat pump is probably the more practical choice.
That being said, if you live in an older home or have just made an addition, you may not have ductwork in reach. In this case, getting a mini-split is much less involved and costs far less than adding in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are controlled identical to most other central heating and cooling systems: by using a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a central location. On the flip side, ductless mini-splits use a remote that lets you adjust each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re happy with controlling the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be worth the effort. If it is, you can improve home comfort and save energy by heating and cooling separate rooms separately.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be integrated into a central heat pump system by setting up multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be simpler and more affordable to install mini-splits in rooms with individual temperature needs, whether they’re heated and cooled by a central HVAC system or not.
Heat pumps don’t focus on flexibility. Instead, they can replace your existing furnace and air conditioner and supply whole-house comfort with help from a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have more options for where you can put the unit. You can install one in a single room that you would otherwise find challenging to keep comfortable. You can mount one in a converted garage or sunroom without new ductwork. You can also outfit the entire house with a mini-split air handler in each room, all connected to the outdoor condensing unit for cost-effective operation.
Today’s 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 loses more than 20% of the air traveling through the ductwork to poor air sealing or a lack of insulation. This means that a mini-split is more likely to supply the same quantity of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look pretty much the same as central AC units. The outdoor cabinet is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler sits concealed within a utility closet or space in the basement.
On the other hand, mini-splits are more noticeable. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be unobtrusive, but they are clearly visible in any room in which they are mounted on the wall or ceiling.
Schedule Heat Pump or Mini-Split Installation
No matter which system you decide is right for your home, Broad Ripple Service Experts can complete the professional installation you are expecting. Our technicians are ready to deliver excellent products and services backed by our one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee. To ask more questions about heat pumps vs. mini-splits or request an installation estimate, please contact your local Broad Ripple Service Experts office today.