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The Ultimate Guide To Mini Split AC Vs. Heat Pump: Making The Right Choice For Your Home

Are you in search of an efficient and cost-effective home comfort system? If electricity is your primary or only option for power, you might be torn between a central heat pump or a ductless mini split AC. Both systems operate on electric power, providing heating and cooling capabilities for year-round comfort.

So, which one should you choose – the heat pump or the mini split AC? If you’re still uncertain, let’s explore each HVAC system in detail to help you decide on your home’s best make and model.

What Is A Heat Pump?

A heat pump falls under the category of a central climate control system. Unlike a furnace that generates heat by burning fuel, a heat pump transfers heat from one location to another. 

During winter, it extracts heat energy from the outdoor air and brings it inside to warm your home. In the summer, a built-in reversing valve allows it to perform the process in reverse, functioning like an air conditioner to remove heat and humidity from indoor air and expel it outside.

What Is A Mini Split AC?

mini split ac

Functioning on the same principle as a heat pump, a mini split AC is essentially a heat pump that operates without requiring ductwork. This characteristic has earned it the name “ductless” system. 

The mini split AC can be a ceiling- or wall-mounted unit with a built-in air handler directly connected to an outdoor condensing unit through a small hole drilled in the wall. 

Multiple indoor units can be linked to one outdoor unit, providing whole-home comfort without requiring ductwork.

Making Your Selection

Consider crucial factors when choosing between a heat pump and a mini split AC for your Austin home.

  • Ductwork & Installation

If your home is already equipped with a traditional furnace and AC unit, the necessary ductwork infrastructure is likely already in place. In such cases, installing a heat pump might be the more cost-effective option.

However, for older homes or recent additions lacking ductwork where you desire climate control, opting for a mini split AC makes installation much simpler and more economical than installing ductwork for a heat pump.

  • Unit Control

Heat pumps are controlled similarly to most other central heating and cooling systems, using a wall-mounted thermostat conveniently installed in your home. In contrast, ductless mini splits come with remotes that allow you to adjust each wall-mounted unit from anywhere within the room.

  • Zoning

Zoning might not be a priority for those content with adjusting the temperature throughout the entire house using a single thermostat. However, you can enhance home comfort and save energy by independently heating and cooling specific rooms if you desire greater control.

Achieving such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be incorporated into a central heat pump system by installing multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. 

Nonetheless, it might be simpler and more cost-effective to use mini splits in rooms with distinct temperature demands, whether heated or cooled by a central HVAC system.

  • Design Versatility

Heat pumps generally focus on replacing existing furnaces and air conditioners, providing whole-house comfort through air ducts.

Mini splits, on the other hand, offer more flexibility. You can install one in a room that typically challenges maintaining comfortable temperatures. You can mount one in a converted garage or sunroom without additional ductwork. 

Moreover, you can outfit your entire house with mini split AC air handlers in each room, all connected to the outdoor condensing unit, ensuring cost-effective operation.

  • Energy Efficiency

Modern heat pumps are becoming increasingly efficient, with cold-climate versions available to boost performance even in low temperatures.

Nonetheless, ductless mini splits are more energy-efficient since they avoid the energy losses associated with leaky ductwork. In an average home, more than 20% of the air passing through ductwork is lost due to poor air sealing or insulation. 

A mini split AC provides the same quantity of hot or cold air at a lower cost.

  • Appearance

Heat pumps resemble central air conditioners, with almost identical outdoor cabinets and indoor air handlers often concealed in utility closets or basement spaces.

Conversely, mini splits are more visible. Although the air handlers come in sleek designs meant to be unobtrusive, they are clearly noticeable when installed on walls or ceilings in rooms.

Schedule Heat Pump Or Mini Split AC Installation

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Irrespective of the system you choose for your home, Air Comfort Systems‘ HVAC Experts are here to provide professional installations that exceed your expectations. Our service providers are committed to delivering exceptional products and services, backed by our one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee. 

To learn more about mini split AC vs heat pump or to request an installation estimate, please contact or visit our HVAC Service Experts office today.