Are you looking for a dependable, budget-friendly 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, have you made your choice? 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. Different from a furnace, which generates usable heat for the home by burning a fuel source, a heat pump moves heat from one place to another. In the winter, it pulls out heat energy from the air outdoors and redirects it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve allows it to complete this process backward in the summer, working the same as an air conditioner to transfer 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. As a matter of fact, it is a kind of heat pump — minus 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 equipment is connected directly to an outdoor condensing unit through a tiny hole drilled through the wall. Multiple indoor units can connect with a single outdoor unit, providing whole-home comfort with no ductwork required.
Making Your Selection
Here are significant details to review when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Knoxville home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is already heated and cooled with a conventional furnace and central AC system, the required ductwork infrastructure is already in place. Therefore, installing a heat pump is potentially the more practical solution.
However, if you live in an older home or have added on to the home, you may not have ductwork where you want climate control. In this case, getting a mini-split is much less involved and is more cost effective 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. Having said that, ductless mini-splits use a remote that lets you operate each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re content with controlling the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be required. If it is, you can enhance home comfort and reduce wasted energy by heating and cooling separate rooms individually.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be added into a central heat pump system by installing multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be simpler and more affordable to install mini-splits in rooms with specific temperature demands, 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 deliver whole-house comfort thanks to a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have greater versatility for where you can put the unit. Homeowners can place one in a single room that you would otherwise find tough to keep comfortable. You could 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 hooked up to the outdoor condensing unit for cost-effective operation.
Modern 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. A normal home wastes more than 20% of the air traveling through the ductwork to spotty air sealing or a lack of insulation. This suggests that a mini-split is likely to offer 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 somewhere in the basement.
By comparison, mini-splits are easier to spot. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be inconspicuous, but they are clearly visible in any room in which they are displayed on the wall or ceiling.
Schedule Heat Pump or Mini-Split Installation
Whatever you decide to do, R & M Climate Control Service Experts can accomplish the professional installation you want. Our techs are ready to deliver 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 local R & M Climate Control Service Experts office today.