How do you heat your home?
If you are like many people, you have a central HVAC forced air system tasked with temperature control throughout the different rooms of your house. However, that is not always the best nor the only option available to you –– one alternative you might consider is the mini split with heat system.
Frequent readers of the Total Home Supply blog know that we highly recommend ductless mini split systems for both cooling and heating needs for homeowners looking to change up or supplement their home’s current system. There are many advantages to mini split heating systems, among them include flexibility (no need for ductwork), energy savings (high efficiency) and targeted zones ( often used to heat or cool one or two rooms but can heat any room the system is extended into).
Almost all split systems include heat pumps, but it’s important to choose a ductless heat pump that is rated to work in your climate. Mini split heat pumps are highly energy efficient — more so than standard electric heat and gas in many instances. Read on to learn more about their advantages, and things to keep in mind when purchasing a ductless mini split heater.
What is a Mini Split Heat Pump?
Before going into why mini split heating is a great option, let’s take a look at how they work. These systems work by way of heat pumps, or a unit that can change from cooling to heating by simply reversing the flow of refrigerant. That 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.
A Mini split system with a heat pump contains two units: an outdoor compressor/condenser and at least one but up to eight indoor air handler 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.
The Benefits of Mini Split Heat Pumps
There are many advantages to using a ductless mini split heating system as a main heat source, from ease of installation, to pinpointed air delivery, to cost and energy efficiency. Apart from these clear benefits, here are a few more perks to these systems.
- 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.
- Flexibility – These systems 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 pump systems 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 system deliver cool or warm refrigerant in a much more energy-efficient way than central forced air systems can. Forced air systems have to push 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, these systems now offer adequate heating for homes in locations where the outdoor temperature often drops below zero, making them great alternatives for all climates.
- Customizations – While traditional heaters have somewhat rigid controls, mini splits often offer increased control over the temperature, with timers and built in sleep functions so that you can use your heater only when and where you need to. Some systems even offer WiFi control with an app.
Using Mini Split Heat in 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 from freezing in a few hours, you should be pleased with the results.
- Setting the system 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 new heating and cooling system, take a look at these best-selling units:
- The Daikin 3MXL24QMVJU 24000 BTU Class Aurora Series Configurable Tri-Zone Heat and Cool Split System is a whole-home solution that’s perfect for cold weather climates. It’s similar to the Daikin FTX12NMVJU / RXL12QMVJU, which is a single zone system.
- Customer Review: “The unit was relatively easy to install and works very well in cold climates (-10 today).”
- The LG LMU300HHV 30,000 BTU Configurable Quad-Zone Multi F Mini-Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump – Energy Star is an excellent system that allows you to install up to four indoor units with a combined BTU rating of of 40,000 BTUs. It’s comparable to the LG LA120HYV1 12000 BTU Class 25.5 SEER Art Cool Premier Single Zone Heat Pump Mini Split, which is a single-zone solution.
- Customer Review (LMU36CHV): “I’m really happy with this unit. I am able to use this in my bedrooms instead of the old baseboard heat I had saving me $$$.”
- Customer Review (LA120HYV1): “Living in PA I was worried about the low temperatures and the functionality of a heat pump. Many units won’t operate below freezing thus making it pointless in PA. This LG unit will operate at high efficiency down to -13 degrees.”
Ductless mini split heaters 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.
As mini split heating systems grow in popularity, they are becoming more widely available for purchase. If you are looking for a heating and cooling solution for your home that is versatile, dependable, and budget friendly, you don’t have to look far to find it.