There’s nothing that feels quite as nice as when your home is at the exact perfect temperature. There are various ways to achieve this, and an increasingly popular one is with a mini-split heat pump. Mini split heat pumps are ideal for moderate climates, like those in Portland and throughout the Pacific Northwest.

However, because they operate differently than typical HVAC systems, it’s not always easy to understand their main attraction or where they may fare worse when compared to traditional systems. To better understand how mini-split systems stack up against the more common HVAC system, we offer this guide that takes a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the ductless mini-split.

How Does a Mini Split Work?

Two main components make up the mini-split system: an outdoor unit, often called a compressor or condenser, and an indoor unit, sometimes referred to as the air-handling unit. While the number of indoor units will vary depending on the size of the home, you rarely need more than a single outdoor unit.

The outdoor unit is connected to the indoor unit by copper refrigerant pipes and communication wire encased in conduit. One of these cables carries refrigerant, which helps transfer heat where it’s needed. In the summer months, the refrigerant will capture heat and release it outside via the outdoor unit. In the winter months, the outdoor unit will trap heat and use the refrigerant to transfer the heat inside.

Advantages of Mini Split Systems

Ductless mini-split systems are not ideal for everyone. However, they offer several clear advantages that make them worthy of consideration for your Eugene or Salem-based home.

Better Room Heating

Mini-split heat pumps give you better control of the heating or cooling of specific homes, especially if you have several indoor units inside your residence. This is because the indoor units can be controlled independently of one another. For instance, if you have indoor units in each bedroom, the occupants can choose to make their individual rooms hotter or colder depending on their preference.

With a traditional system, though, you will likely only have a single thermostat to control the entire system. This requires a compromise between all parties. Unless you have a family of skilled diplomats, this will likely leave everyone unhappy with the temperature.

Easy Installation Process

Mini-split heat pumps are ductless. This is a real benefit as ducts are expensive to install and difficult to maintain. If you have a traditional system and are building an addition to your home, you’ll need to build a larger network of ducts for the conditioned air to build the new portions of your home.

Mini-splits, though, require no ductwork. Typically, all that’s needed is drilling a small, three-inch hole in a wall for the conduit to pass through. Furthermore, there is a greater degree of flexibility as to where indoor and outdoor units are placed. While there are some placement requirements for efficient operation, your options aren’t as limited as when you’re using ducts.

Greater Variety of Customization

Another significant benefit of ductless mini-splits is the access to a variety of customizations and the ability to connect it to your smart home. Most mini-split systems come with the ability to set timers, use sleep functions, and control the system with a remote or from your smartphone. This gives you the ability to better control the heating and cooling system within your home and helps prevent unnecessary charges from running your system for too long or when it’s not needed.

While traditional systems offer similar abilities, they usually require a significant upgrade of the existing system. Ductless mini-splits often offer these features as part of their standard package.

Increased Energy Efficiency

Ductless mini-splits are known for their energy efficiency. This efficiency stems from the way the system operates. We’ve already stated the system doesn’t require ductwork. This by itself improves the system’s efficiency as ducts can become leaky or dirty. Both of these require the traditional HVAC system to warm or cool your home. This, in turn, raises your energy bill each month.

Additionally, if you want to heat a particular room with a traditional system, you’ll need to heat your entire home. With a mini-split system, you only need to turn on the specific indoor unit in that room.
Think of it this way. When you turn on a faucet in your home, you expect only that faucet to turn on. That’s how a mini-split system operates. With a traditional system, though, it’s comparable to turning on a faucet then having every faucet in your home turn on. That would be a clear waste of water, and that’s exactly how a traditional HVAC system operates.

More Placement Options

When you install a mini-split system, you’re provided with various options as to where you can place your indoor or outdoor units. This is a real benefit, especially if you live in an odd-shaped home or on an irregular landscape, as you aren’t forced to compromise your system or take on additional work like you would with a traditional HVAC system.

While indoor units are typically placed higher up on a wall, there are also models that work closer to the floor or suspended from ceilings. Outdoor units do have some basic requirements for placement but still come with a higher degree of flexibility of placement.

Disadvantages of Mini Split Systems

Of course, mini-split heat pumps are not perfect. So, it’s essential to go over where they fall short when compared to traditional HVAC systems.

Aesthetic Appeal

A common complaint with mini-split heat pump systems is their design aesthetic. There are ways around this, though. Some indoor units come with a sleek design that doesn’t look out of place in spaces with a modern design aesthetic. There are many different styles to fit different aesthetic preferences.

High Installation Costs

Like any HVAC system, mini-splits can be an investment. However, many states, cities, or utility companies offer rebates for their installation due to their energy efficiency. This can help lower the upfront cost while still giving you access to lower monthly energy bills.

Contact The Heat Pump Store for Mini Split Systems

If you’re ready to see if a mini-split heat pump system can benefit your home, make sure to reach out to The Heat Pump Store today for more information. We’re the full-service heat pump experts of the Pacific Northwest, and we’re more than happy to discuss how we can help keep your home at the perfect temperature.

Featured Image: David Spates/Shutterstock