Are you looking for a reliable, reasonably priced home comfort system? If electricity is the ideal or only option available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be perfect for your home. Both systems function on electric power and operate 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 make your mind up.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a type of central climate control system. Compared with a furnace, which produces usable heat for the home by combusting 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 deposits it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve enables it to perform this process backward in the summer, running the same as an air conditioner to pull heat and humidity from indoor air and vent it outside.
What Is a Mini-Split?
A mini-split works on the same principle as a heat pump. In fact, it is a kind of heat pump — just without the ductwork. This is why it’s called a “ductless” system. A mini-split can be a ceiling- or wall-mounted unit with a built-in air handler. This indoor component is connected directly to an outdoor condensing unit from a small hole drilled through the wall. Multiple indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, allowing for whole-home comfort with no ductwork necessary.
Making Your Decision
These are the most important things to review when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Calgary home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is currently heated and cooled with a traditional furnace and air conditioner, the required ductwork infrastructure is already in place. In this situation, installing a heat pump is likely the more cost-effective choice.
That being said, if you live in an older home or have just made an addition, you may not have ductwork where you want climate control. In this case, adding a mini-split is much less complex and is more cost effective 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 adjusting a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a central location. On the flip side, ductless mini-splits have a remote that lets you control each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re content with regulating the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be necessary. If it is, you can maximize home comfort and reduce wasted energy by heating and cooling separate rooms separately.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be added into a central heat pump system by using multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be simpler and more affordable to install mini-splits in rooms with distinct temperature requirements, 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 thanks to a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have greater versatility for where you can put the unit. You can place one in a single room that you would otherwise find tough to keep comfortable. You can mount one in a transformed garage or other home addition without adding more ductwork. You can also install a mini-split air handler in each room, all connected to the outdoor condensing unit for affordable operation.
New heat pumps are more efficient than ever. There are even cold-climate versions on the market for a performance boost at low temperatures.
Regardless, ductless mini-splits are generally more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses connected with leaky ductwork. An ordinary home loses more than 20% of the air passing through the ductwork to spotty air sealing or a lack of insulation. This means that a mini-split is likely to supply the same quantity of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look almost identical to central air conditioning units. The outdoor cabinet is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler is within a utility closet or place in the basement.
On the other hand, mini-splits are easy to view. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be unnoticeable, 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
No matter which decision you make, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can accomplish the professional installation you expect. Our techs are ready to bring excellent products and services protected 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 nearby Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office today.