The Differences Between Split and MiniSplit Heat Pump Systems

MiniSplit Heat Pumps Versus Split Systems  How do minisplit heat pumps compare with standard heat pump split systems? When homeowners are looking for the best way to heat and cool their home, this is a common question. In the minisplit system versus standard heat pump system debate, what are each type’s relative advantages?

Heat Pump System Size

For compact size, minisplit systems are unbeatable. The condensing unit is less than half the size of a standard heat pump condensing unit, so less room is required outside your home. The compact size makes roof installation more feasible on some homes.

Inside your home, minisplit systems don’t necessarily take up less space but the space they use is distributed. They don’t have a single large air handler that is installed in the basement, for example. In an average-size home, a minisplit system may require 4 smaller air handlers in 4 separate zones, installed on or near the ceiling where they are unobtrusive.

The Ductless Difference

Equipment costs for minisplit systems are often lower in part because most don’t require duct work. The air handler is located in the zone it serves, with a power line, refrigerant line and drain line connected to it through the wall and out of sight. There are no ducts to clean, insulate or maintain. This attractive features is just one more reason ductless minisplit systems are growing in popularity.

Balanced Temperatures

Here, the advantage goes to a traditional heat pump system and ducts. While a single zone will have just one air handler with a minisplit system, with a standard heat pump system the same zone may have 2-5 air vents distributing heated or cooled air to the room. Minisplit systems do contain quiet but powerful distribution fans that do a good job of circulating treated air throughout the zone, but slight temperature differences may be noticeable, though generally not uncomfortable.

Heat Pump Cost

Prices are more competitive than they’ve ever been, though for an average-size home, total equipment costs will still be higher for a minisplit system in most cases. For smaller homes where just one outdoor unit is required along with 2-4 indoor units, a minisplit system can be very cost-effective, especially since total installation costs are usually less.

The type of heat pump system you choose depends on the specific factors of your home and heating/cooling needs. It may make sense to get written estimates from several contractors for each type of system so you can compare them head to head in all the important factors.

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