Mini split vs heat pump, which is the best temperature control system for your house?

Many homeowners are now interested in ducted heat pumps to heat and cool their houses. This is an excellent way because a heat pump is a performer.

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However, if you have researched, you will realize that mini-split systems are great competitors. If you select one well, they can easily give heat pumps a run for their money.

Therefore, the trick here is to select what suits your temperature control needs. 

For instance, how expensive is ductless AC repair?

Which of these two systems is expensive to buy and maintain?

Wondering whether a mini-split system or a ducted heat pump suits you best? Don’t worry, we have got you answered in this article; keep reading for the needed insights.

Heat Pump Overview

A heat pump is a system used for both heating and cooling.

In summer, a heat pump will draw heat from the indoor air and transfer it outdoors.

In winter, it will reverse the process, draw heat outside, and bring it indoors.

Many heat pumps use ducts to transfer the heat all through the house. However, recently, ductless heat pumps have become common.

If you relate to a heat pump’s functions and features but have no ductwork, you can use a ductless heat pump.

Many homeowners are now getting heat pumps as their home’s temperature control tool. You may wonder why…

Heat pumps have been here for over a century. However, they began becoming common in the 70s. And since then, it has become a to-go option for many people.

The winning point is that they have a cooling and heating system in one, a constant factor if you compare them in the ductless mini split vs central air heat pump head-on. Therefore, as you get your heat pump, it can easily replace both your air conditioner and your furnace.

This is an excellent way of escaping the burden of buying, running and maintaining two different systems.

Mini Split Systems Overview

A ductless mini-split system is a temperature control device for cooling and heating functions.

However, some of them are just designed to cool the indoor air. You, therefore, want to choose a system that suits your needs best.

What stands out in mini-split systems is the heat transfer work principle. They do not use a duct network to transfer heat from one place to another. They instead use small openings on the sides of the walls.

Just like a heat pump, many homeowners are now considering ductless mini-split systems as their cooling and heating and cooling option.

They are an excellent option for people who have no ductwork. Many times, houses come with ductwork. But it is not unpopular for them to come without.

If your home doesn’t have an existing duct system, save yourself the extra cost and get ductless mini-split systems.

Some people who have ductworks still get the mini-split systems to avoid the extra responsibility of having ductwork.

Mini Split vs Heat Pump: How do they Work?

These two have the same working principle; they transfer heat from one place to another. They do not heat the air.

They both use refrigerant liquid to absorb the heat and transfer it to where it is needed.

Mini Split vs Heat Pump: Ductwork Presence

Do you have ductwork or not?

Many people who have ductwork opt for ducted heat pumps. However, having a duct system does not bind you to ducted heating systems.

Yes, houses with ductwork are a good candidate for ducted heat pumps, but you can still choose mini split systems depending on other factors.

One reason people go for mini split systems even if they have ductwork is the inefficiency that comes with ductwork. If your duct has air leaks, it will take time to heat or cool your house. This slowly accumulates and raises your energy bills.

It is such a common problem that may keep reoccurring. Some people get rid of the ductwork to completely forget about the inefficient operation.

Ducted Heat Pump vs Ductless Mini Split Heat Pumps: Zoning

Zoning is essential if you would love to improve your energy efficiency.

You can save so much money if you set up your system in a zone.

With zoning, you can cool just the rooms you are using. For instance, if you’re in the bedroom, there is no need to cool the kitchen. In this instance, cooling the kitchen would be a waste of energy.

With a mini-split system, the zoning is usually straightforward. You can cool the specific rooms you need.

Zoning is usually complicated with a central heat pump that distributes air using ductwork. You may have to cool the entire house, including the unused rooms.

Multi-zone heat pumps

If you would love to get zoning with a heat pump, the best way is to get multi-zone heat pumps. These usually have several indoor units connected to one outdoor unit.

This way, you can control the temperature of the different rooms independently.

We recommend this option for family houses where different rooms are used at different times.

Ductless Mini Split vs Heat Pump: Energy Efficiency

A ductless mini split is more energy efficient than a heat pump. And this is not about the SEER rating but how they work.

A central air heat pump has to use ductwork to cool the house. In this case, it will likely cool the entire house, thus consuming more energy. On the other hand, a mini-split only cools a small limited space in use, thus consuming less energy.

With a ducted system, you will pay to cool and heat the space you are not using.

Besides, ductworks are prone to air leaks. With air leaks, your system will have to work longer and try to cover for the lost air. More work means more energy consumption.

Also, with a mini-split system, getting a variable-speed compressor is easier. Many heat pumps either have a single or two-stage compressor. A variable speed that is featured on many mini splits is the most efficient option you can go for.

Heat Pump vs. Mini Split Systems: Installation Modification

In the house, many places typically do not have ductwork. It is even more complicated to have them connected to the duct network.

These places include:

  • sunrooms,
  • garages,
  • basements,
  • attics.

You can expand the ductwork to these areas. However, this is usually an expensive thing to do.

Instead of worrying about duct modification to cool these areas, consider installing a mini-split system. Feel free to reach out to us for professional heat pump installation Santa Clarita Ca. 

Mini Split Systems vs. Heat Pumps: Maintenance

You will need to take care of the heat pump and the ductwork with a conventional central air heat pump.

If you have leaky ductwork, it will unknowingly cost you so much money. Also, fixing such leaks can be an expensive and complex process.

You will also have to cater to things such as:

You will not worry about this if you have a ductless mini split heat pump or air conditioner.

Ductless Mini Split Systems vs. Heat Pumps: Installation Process

Mini split installation is very straightforward. 

We encourage you to have the system professionally installed. However, some DIY lovers have successfully installed their mini-split systems.

After all, it involves just installing the indoor unit and the outdoor unit, then connecting the two with the following:

  • refrigerant line,
  • electric cable,
  • condensate drain.

If you follow tutorials, you can easily do this yourself. If you are unsure of what you are doing, have a professional do the work.

On the other hand, installing a central air heat pump is a bit complicated. The process is labor intensive and involves complex processes such as modifying the vents and ductwork.

With ducted heat pumps, you are safe having a professional get the job done for you.

Heat Pump Pros

  • uniform temperature distribution in the whole building,
  • Ideal for houses that already have ductwork,
  • perform both cooling and heating functions.

Heat Pump Cons

  • Not ideal for zoning,
  • more costs in terms of ductwork maintenance,
  • potential inefficiency due to air leaks from the ductwork,
  • Need for ductwork modification to cater to rooms such as attics and garages.

Mini Split Pros

  • Ideal for zoning,
  • no potential air leaks,
  • no ductwork maintenance responsibility,
  • easier installation.

Mini Split Cons

  • You may need several units for your house as they cool limited space,
  • depending on what you get, you may need different heating equipment, such as a gas furnace.

Ductless Mini Split VS Heat Pump Frequently Asked Questions

What is better, a heat pump or a mini split?

This will depend on what exactly you are looking for

Mini-split systems are essentially better if you are looking for high energy efficiency.

If you want to uniformly cool large spaces, you are better off with a central air heat pump.

Is a heat pump the same thing as a mini-split?

No. These two have the same work principle of transferring heat from one place to another rather than creating heat.

However, the distinct difference comes in the mode of heat transfer. A mini split system does not use ducts to move the heat from one place to another, but a central heating system does.

Can a mini-split heat a whole house?

Yes, a mini-split system can cool a whole house. However, there must be enough indoor systems connected to the outdoor system.

How much does it cost to run a mini split in a month?

According to the US DOE, the typical range is $12 to $500 per month. However, most households pay less than $100 per month to run their mini splits(1).

What are the disadvantages of a mini-split system?

One of the significant shortcomings is the high chances of short cycling. This typically happens if you have an oversized unit, a common mistake homeowners make. Short cycling can be a significant energy waste.

Ensure you get the right size mini-split system for the space you want to cool.

Also, the cost of installing a mini-split system is higher than that of traditional ducted systems.

Final Thoughts

Have you decided what temperature control system is excellent for you?

It makes sense to go for a ductless system if you have no ductwork in space. If you already have a duct network in space, go for traditional HVAC systems such as ducted heat pumps.

However, as discussed in this post, there is much more to look out for, such as energy efficiency and installation cost.

We are all ears if you still doubt what system suits you best. Contact us, a top AC Company Santa Clarita, and we will help you make the best decision.

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