Mini-split Heat Pumps: The Innovative HVAC System with No Ducts
Ductless heat pumps, also known as mini-splits, are highly efficient all-electric heating and cooling systems that are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. The technology was originally developed more than 30 years ago by Japanese manufacturers to provide cooling to homes with space or financial constraints. Over the years, its use has become more prevalent as homeowners search for energy efficient products and ways to lower costs and heat or cool individual rooms.
Ductless heat pumps function similarly to traditional heat pumps by absorbing energy in the form of heat from one location and moving it to another. The major difference is that they perform this process without ducts, allowing them to distribute air more quietly and with higher efficiency compared to traditional electric equipment.
Ductless heat pumps have additional features that make them a desirable option for homeowners. Here are some of their other benefits:
- Easy Installation: Systems without ducts make for an easier and more affordable installation process.
- Monthly Savings and High Efficiency: Ductless systems have excellent Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios (SEER, 16+) and Heating Seasonal Performance Factors (HSPF, 8.5+), making them 8-36% more efficient than traditional ducted electric air-source heat pumps.
- Comfort: Ductless heat pumps can enhance comfort by keeping temperatures more consistent and controlled in each zone. Additionally, with integrated air filtration, they can improve air quality by circulating and filtering your home’s air.
Ductless heat pumps should be on your radar if you are looking to replace or supplement an existing heating and cooling system, putting an addition on your home or building a new one. Bonus rooms over garages, basements and sunrooms are common locations for this technology. Here are additional considerations:
- Layout: The more open the floor plan, the better the indoor air circulation.
- Shopping Around: Ask for pricing from three contractors to compare options. Be sure to contact references to confirm that previous customers were satisfied.
- Location: Though their space requirements are smaller than other HVAC systems, ductless heat pumps require wall or ceiling area for mounting.
- Upfront Deals: Ask your electric utility about any rebates or incentives.
Adding to an Existing Ducted System or Replacing a Ducted System
When upgrading to a ductless heat pump, consider these two factors while working with a licensed HVAC contractor:
- If keeping the existing system and supplementing a part of the home with a ductless heat pump, seal the existing ductwork at all joints, seams and connections with mastic to prevent conditioned air from leaking into the attic or crawl space. Also, work with your contractor to ensure that the thermostat location is optimized for the new system.
- If replacing the existing heat pump with a ductless heat pump, completely remove the old system and plug any holes and missing insulation.
With their low operating costs, high energy efficiency and improved comfort, ductless heat pumps are worth exploring if you’re in the market for a new heating and cooling system.