Ductless heat pumps are quickly growing in popularity as they provide many advantages over central HVAC systems. Also known as ductless mini-splits, these systems can effectively keep your home cool throughout the long, hot summer and ensure your home stays sufficiently warm throughout the colder winter months. In this guide, we’ll show you exactly how ductless heat pumps work and what advantages they can provide for your home.
How Ductless Heat Pumps Work
Ductless heat pumps are like central heat pumps. Both work by using refrigerant to remove heat from the home to keep it cooler, and they can also capture heat energy from outside and use it to heat the home in winter.
The difference is that central heat pumps rely on a central air handler to transport hot or cold air through air ducts and into every room, whereas ductless heat pumps have one or more air handlers that directly pump hot or cold air into the surrounding area. This means that ductless heat pumps heat and cool each room individually instead of relying on ductwork to circulate the air throughout the home.
Depending on your specific needs, you can choose a single-zone ductless heat pump system with one air handler or a multi-zone system with anywhere from three to eight air handlers. Multi-zone ductless systems can potentially heat and cool your entire house depending on its size. Single-zone systems are great for heating and cooling garages and sheds or if you have a room that is always too hot or too cold and you need to supplement your existing cooling and heating system.
They can also be the most cost-effective option if you’re putting an addition onto your home. When adding on to your home, you would normally need to replace your central AC, furnace, or heat pump with a larger unit or else it would no longer work effectively. In this case, installing a ductless heat pump in the addition will almost always be the less expensive option.
Superior Energy Efficiency
Ductless heat pump systems will almost always cost more than a central HVAC unit of the same or similar size. Nonetheless, the higher upfront cost is offset by the fact that ductless systems are far more energy-efficient compared to any type of central heating or cooling unit.
Part of the reason for this is simply because ductless systems have higher energy efficiency ratings. The other reason is that central HVAC systems typically waste lots of energy due to leaky or poorly insulated ducts, which obviously isn’t an issue with ductless systems.
The energy efficiency of any type of air conditioning unit or system is expressed by its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER rating. Most central AC units and heat pumps are around 14 to 15 SEER, whereas many ductless systems are at least 20 SEER. Some extremely efficient systems are rated 30 SEER or higher. Compared to a 14 SEER central unit, even a 20 SEER ductless heat pump would lower your air conditioning costs by more than 40%.
Ductless heat pumps are superior is when compared to gas furnaces and most other types of electric heating. Although the energy efficiency of any type of heat pump does start to decrease in extremely cold conditions, a ductless heat pump will almost always be two to three times more energy efficient than a gas furnace, electric furnace, or electric baseboard heating. This means that installing a ductless heat pump is the easiest way to greatly reduce how much you spend on heating your home.
Zone Controlled Heating and Cooling
Another reason why ductless heat pumps are more energy efficient is that they make it so that you don’t always have to heat or cool your entire house at once. Every air handler in a ductless system can be controlled independently, which means you can adjust the temperature or turn an air handler on and off without any impact on the rest of the system.
If you have a room that tends to stay warmer in the summer or cooler in the winter, you can turn the temperature up or down on the air handler in that room so that it doesn’t run as often. You could also simply shut the air handler off any time that room isn’t in use.
This type of zone control makes it much easier to adjust the temperature on a room-by-room basis so your entire home stays more comfortable. It’s also great if you have some people in your family who prefer their bedroom warmer or cooler as they can freely adjust the temperature as they wish without the temperature in the rest of the home increasing or decreasing.
Improved Indoor Air Quality
Ductless heat pumps are also an easy way to improve the indoor air quality in your home. Central HVAC systems always contribute to air quality issues since they constantly circulate allergens, bacteria, and airborne pollution throughout the whole building whenever they’re running. Ductless systems still circulate some airborne particles around the room, but they won’t move them throughout the entire house like central HVAC systems do.
In a ductless system, each air handler has its own filter that works to trap some dust and other airborne particles. This also helps to keep the air quality better compared to having a central HVAC system with just one air filter.
Any ductless or central HVAC system should always be professionally serviced and inspected at least once per year. However, maintaining a ductless system tends to be easier and takes less time, and ductless systems usually require fewer repairs than central HVAC units. The reason is that ductless systems have fewer components so there are fewer things to maintain and fewer things that could break down and need to be fixed or replaced.
Another advantage ductless heat pumps have over central HVAC systems is that they tend to have a much longer lifespan. Central heat pumps tend to last for around 12 years, while the average lifespan of a central AC unit is around 15 years. Furnaces also typically last for 15 years, but some can keep working for up to 20 years. As long as you have your ductless system maintained and inspected every year, it will usually last for 20 years at the very least and could potentially keep working for 30 years or more. Along with superior energy efficiency, the longer lifespan of a ductless system is another factor that can offset the higher initial cost.
Expert HVAC Installation Services
At Laury Heating Cooling & Plumbing, our technicians specialize in installing ductless heat pumps, and we can also help if you’re considering ductless air conditioning instead of a heat pump system. We are a Carrier Authorized Dealer and a Mitsubishi Diamond Contractor, and we carry an extensive range of ductless AC and heat pump systems.
We also install all types of central HVAC units, and our team can handle all your ductless or central HVAC repair and maintenance needs as well. For more information on the ductless systems, we offer or to schedule any HVAC or plumbing service in the Pennsville or Vineland areas, give us a call today.