Ductless Mini Split Heat Pumps: What They’re For and How They Help

Image of mini split with heat pump

Mini split heat pumps are highly energy efficient — more so than standard electric heat and gas in many instances. Most mini splits include heat pumps, but it’s important to choose a ductless heat pump that is rated to work in your climate. Read on to learn more about mini split heat pumps, their advantages, and things to keep in mind when purchasing a ductless mini split heat pump.

What is a Mini Split Heat Pump?

A heat pump, by definition, is a unit that can change from cooling to heating by simply reversing the flow of refrigerant, which means you only need one unit for both functions. Due to their unique construction, mini-split heat pumps circulate refrigerant through tubing that connects to both the inner and outer module. They draw only 50% of the energy required by a typical central air system, which makes them very energy efficient.

Mini splits with heat pumps contain two units: an outdoor compressor/condenser and one to eight units. The indoor units are constructed to be very quiet and are usually installed higher up in a wall or the ceiling and have remote control capabilities. The outdoor unit is generally installed just outside your home, and should be in a covered space that also provides plenty of airflow.

Image of LG LMU36CHV mini split.

The LG LMU36CHV Multi F Mini Split AIr Conditioner Heat Pump works with up to four indoor units.

The Benefits of Mini Split Heat Pumps

  • Size – Mini splits are prized for their compact size and ease of installation. Requiring only a 3-inch hole in the wall through which to pass the conduit, they are highly energy-efficient and easy to add to any home and don’t take up a large amount of space.
  • Localization – By installing a mini split, it allows you to temperature-control each room to meet the specific temperature needs of you or others. These make great A/C or heat units for multi-level or -family homes, or additions.
  • FlexibilityMini splits offer so much in the way of convenience. Not only are they easily installed in individual rooms, but they are also super cost-effective and great for businesses, homes, additions, multi-level housing, apartments, and even can be incorporated into homes with pre-existing forced air ductwork. Each single outdoor unit can support up to 8 indoor units, offering you the ability to temperature-control nearly every room in the house, and keeps things simple with ONE conducting source. Mini splits are also great for supplementing baseboard heating in old homes and helps slash your energy bill dramatically. No more bulky and inefficient window units in every room!
  • Cost-Effective – One of the biggest reasons homeowners switch to using mini split heat pumps instead of forced air is because they are highly cost-effective. Due to their combined functions of heating/cooling, you no longer need to have one unit for the former and another system entirely for the latter. In addition, they require much less energy to function. The refrigerant lines within each mini split heat pump system deliver cool or warm air in much more energy-efficient way than central forced air ducts can. Forced air systems have to push the warm air up through wide ducts throughout the entire house, and often lose up to 30% of it along the way.
  • Effectiveness – Due to newer hyper-heating models, mini splits now offer adequate heating for homes in locations where the outdoor temperature often drops below zero, making them great alternatives for all climates.
Image of Panasonic CU-5E36QBU mini split air conditioner

The Panasonic CU-5E36QBU mini split system works with up to five indoor units.

Things to Keep in Mind – Ductless Mini Splits for Colder Climates

In the past there’s been concern that the ductless heat pump won’t be able to keep up if your system isn’t manufactured to handle low temps. However, it’s entirely possible to keep the money and energy efficient benefits of a heat pump in colder climates as well as warm ones.

In addition to hyper-heating models that are made specially for use in colder areas, there are a few ways to ensure you’re getting the maximum benefit and saving the most money with your mini split heat pump.

  • If you live in a climate where it snows in the winter, the outdoor unit needs to be installed 2 feet from the ground to allow for good airflow, and under the eaves or awning of the roof to keep snow OFF. When a condenser is clogged with snow, the efficiency of your unit is drastically reduced and instead of heating the house, your unit is struggling to melt the snow instead.
  • Heat pump output tends to drop as the temperatures decline, so size the heat pump to have enough capacity at the lowest expected temperature, and if you’ll need more heat once in awhile, rely on backup sources. Generally, as long as you’re not expecting your mini split to warm the whole house in a few hours, you should be pleased with the results.
  • Setting the mini split at a regulatory temp overnight or during the day while you’re at work helps you not have to reheat an entire house in the morning. 60 degrees during the day, and 50 at night tends to be a good place to start.

Mini Split Heat Pump Reviews

If you’re in the market for a ductless mini split heat pump, take a look at these best-selling units:

Ductless mini split heat pumps are a great money- and energy-saving alternative to your typical central air heating. In addition to using less power to keep your home warm and toasty or cool and breezy in the summer, their quick installation, quiet function, and ease of use make them perfect for any environment. Browse our selection of high-quality ductless mini-split heat pump systems today.

Mickey Luongo

Mickey is the resident heating and air conditioning expert.

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