The Differences Between Ductless Heat Pumps And Ductless Air Conditioners

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Many homeowners are switching to ductless mini-split systems to provide conditioned air in their living spaces. This type of HVAC system differs from traditional heating systems in many ways. The most obvious reason is the lack of ductwork. Instead of ductwork, a mini-split has an outdoor unit and an indoor air handler that connects via cables and refrigerant lines.

There are two types of ductless systems: heat pumps and air conditioners. This article will discuss the differences between the two, including the advantages and disadvantages of using them.

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Benefits Of Ductless HVAC Systems

Both ductless heat pumps and ductless air conditioners provide many benefits. A few of these benefits are:

Easy Installation

Ductless systems are easy to install. Traditional HVAC systems might take a few days to install. A ductless system only needs a three-inch hole in your wall for the conduit to connect the indoor and outdoor units. The factory fits the refrigerant into the system. Therefore, this step is eliminated from being done during the ductless installation in your home. The whole process can take a few hours to install, depending on the number of indoor air handlers that you will install in your home. With this type of installation, it does not disrupt your day-to-day schedule, and you won’t have to live in a construction zone.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER Rating

The SEER rating of ductless units is often higher than those of central HVAC systems. This is due to the upgraded technology that many ductless systems have. They are embedded with inverter technology that keeps the system running at low speeds consistently.

A traditional system repeatedly turns on and off. This process tends to use a lot of energy as an HVAC system consumes the most power when it starts. Whereas, an inverter-driven ductless system runs at full speed until it reaches the preferred temperature. Once it does, it uses a fraction of its full speed so that it runs continuously and provides consistent temperature without wasting energy. This also improves your system’s durability and your home’s comfort level.

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Zoned Heating & Cooling System

A ductless system allows you to create zones. Each zone will have its own indoor air handler and thermostat. This means that you and your family can customize your heating and cooling according to each of your preferences. For instance, you can have a warmer environment in your room while the children enjoy cooler air in the living room. One outside unit can accommodate as much as five indoor units.

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Mini-splits are one of the safest systems to heat your home. This is because the heating process doesn’t need combustible fuel. This removes the risk of carbon monoxide leaks that can be dangerous to your family.

Ductless heat pumps are also safer than garage heaters or ventless heaters. Ventless heaters are equipped with oxygen sensors that switch the units off when the oxygen level falls too low. When the sensor malfunctions, the heater will continue to operate and possibly release harmful gases into your home. With a ductless system, this issue is eliminated.


Ductless Heat Pumps Vs. Ductless Air Conditioners

The main difference between these two ductless systems is that a heat pump can provide both heating and cooling to your home. On the other hand, a ductless air conditioner can only provide you with cold air. You would need another unit to provide you with heat should the need arises.

How Do Heat Pumps Work?

A heat pump cools your home, much like how an A/C does it. The cooling cycle begins by sending high-pressure liquid refrigerant through an expansion valve. The lowered pressure prepares the refrigerant to evaporate into a gas. After that, it flows through the evaporator coil in the indoor unit.

While inside the indoor unit, warm indoor air passes through the fins of the coil. It releases the heat captured by the refrigerant, and the refrigerant evaporates into gas. The hot coolant returns to the compressor in the outdoor unit where it is squeezed. During this process, the heat that was absorbed indoors is released outdoors, and your home, thereby, is cooled.

A heat pump can also reverse the flow of the refrigerant. It can absorb heat outside and then deliver it indoors to heat your home instead. During the heating process, the high-pressure liquid refrigerant flows from the expansion valve to the evaporator coil in the outdoor unit. The coolant then evaporates into hot gas before it goes back to the indoor unit.

The high pressure in the indoor unit squeezes the heat out of the refrigerant. The air within the indoor coil is what carries the heat into your living area. The refrigerant then turns back into a high-pressured liquid and is ready to repeat the cycle.

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When To Choose A Ductless Heat Pump

A ductless heat pump is a perfect solution when you want to supplement the heating and cooling in your home. It is an efficient and economical system. Also, it is an excellent alternative to central air systems.

It is also an excellent choice when you are looking for a single device that has cooling and heating capabilities. This way, you’ll have cold air conditioning during the hot summer months and receive heat during the cold winter season. You won’t have to worry about operating two separate systems for when the seasons change.

Although a heat pump works well in most areas, it cannot operate correctly when the temperature outside drops too low. When the temperature drops too low, your heat pump won’t be able to draw enough heat from outside to warm your home.

Some heat pumps can provide you with heat even in temperatures that are as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit. The low-pressure refrigerant in your heat pump will absorb any trace of heat outside so that it can expand. However, most models, regardless of their size, won’t be able to do so in frigid temperatures.

You should always check the specific heating capabilities of any heating unit you will buy. Heat pumps are a versatile HVAC system. However, like any other machine, it has its limitations. Keep in mind that most heat pumps cannot function as they should when the temperature drops too low. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a boiler or furnace as a backup heat source.

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Common Situations Ductless Heat Pumps Are Used

Despite its limitations in extremely cold temperatures, ductless heat pumps are still a popular choice in many households. Some of its typical applications are:

  • Additions Or Outbuildings: These include sheds and garages. A ductless mini-split is perfect for when extending the heating and cooling capacity of your existing HVAC system, or installing additional ductwork is not practical.
  • Older homes Or Buildings: These buildings typically have never had central air conditioning installed before. It could also be that there is no existing ductwork. Consequently, there is no room for expansions.
  • A Large Home: Large homes typically have more rooms than occupants. As a result, some rooms are not always occupied. With a mini-split, you can turn off the indoor unit on these unoccupied rooms to save energy costs.

Other situations include homes whose current heating systems are costing them more than they should. This could be due to low system efficiency or high fuel costs. A heat pump is also perfect for areas in your home that are next to rooms where the ductwork might be exposed to harsh temperatures. For instance, if you want to heat or cool the room above the garage, then a heat pump would be your best bet. Also, many homeowners like to use them to supplement their central HVAC systems. Since they are so energy efficient, they can run their central system less and save on energy costs.

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When To Choose A Ductless Air Conditioner

If you only want to supplement your existing air conditioning to fight off heat and humidity, then you might not necessarily need a heat pump. You may want to purchase a ductless air conditioning system instead.

This type of system is specifically designed to supply cold conditioned air to the zones in your home. It is an excellent choice for when you don’t need heat at all. For instance, if you live in a place that has a tropical and arid climate where the temperature is almost always above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, then the AC unit is perfect for you. It is also an excellent option for cooling individual rooms, such as a sunroom or bedroom.


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Call Townsend Energy For All Of Your Home HVAC Needs

Ductless heat pumps provide safe and energy-efficient cooling and heating. The year-round functionality of a ductless heat pump makes it a better investment than a ductless air conditioning system. However, every home is different, and yours might just need additional cooling and humidity control.

A qualified HVAC technician can assist you in determining which type will deliver the home comfort you deserve. With professional installation, your ductless system can operate at maximum capacity. An expert technician has the knowledge and experience to ensure that the unit is installed in a practical location spot and that you achieve optimum zoned comfort. Contact your qualified local heating and cooling technician to assist you today.

If you are ready to switch to a ductless HVAC system or have more questions, call Townsend Energy today. Our experienced NATE-certified technicians will discuss your needs and requirements to help you find the best ductless HVAC system for you.

Townsend Energy is a full-service HVAC company. We offer a range of heating and cooling services, including HVAC installations, repairs, tune-ups, and more. We also provide free, in-home estimates. Call Townsend Energy today.

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