What is a Ductless Heat Pump?
If you’re looking for a new heating and cooling system in the Pacific Northwest, you should consider a ductless heat pump system. Sometimes referred to as a mini-split system, a ductless heat pump offers a variety of benefits that make them ideal for the region’s moderate temperatures.
The advantages of the ductless system are numerous. From constant comfort to easy installation to long term savings, a ductless heat pump can benefit you in a variety of ways.
However, a heating and cooling system is an investment. To better understand whether this system is best for your needs, make sure to read our buying guide below.
How Does a Ductless Heat Pump Work?
Perhaps the best way to think about how a zonal system works is to think about your home’s water system. When you turn on a faucet in your bathroom, you don’t expect the faucet in your kitchen to turn on along with your shower, bath, or fridge-based water dispenser. That would waste resources.
However, that’s exactly how most HVAC systems work. When you turn on the heater, warmed air is pushed through a series of ducts and ends up in any room with a vent. So, even if your family is entirely in the family room when you turn on the heat, you’re also warming your bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and dining room.
So, what is a ductless heat pump? Ductless systems, though, are more akin to how your faucets work. You can adjust the temperature for each room that contains an indoor unit. This means you’re in full control of each room’s comfort instead of forcing every room with a vent to maintain the same temperature whether you are using it or not.
Your home can contain as many indoor units as you would like. For smaller homes, you may only need one indoor unit. For larger residences where multiple people live, you may need more than one to keep bedrooms and common areas at a comfortable temperature.
The outdoor unit delivers the warm or cool air. This unit is usually installed at ground level, but if that’s not possible, other locations work, too. Instead of using ducts to force conditioned air throughout the home, the outdoor unit captures the outdoor air’s warmth (even in below-freezing temperatures!) and transfers it to the indoor units through pipes that contain refrigerant. When the house needs to be cooled, the reverse happens, and warm air captured from inside the home is transferred and released outside.
Indoor units are operated via remote control. This remote control typically displays the current temperature, the target temperature, and other information regarding the unit’s operation. With the remote control, you can set the indoor unit’s ideal temperature and create heating and cooling schedules.
What are the Advantages of Ductless Heat Pumps?
One advantage comes from lack of ducts. Put simply; ducts are an inefficient and costly way to warm and cool your home.
No duct is perfect. Each will have leaks where the warm or cool air escapes. As air escapes between walls and above ceilings, your HVAC system loses efficiency. Some estimates state that up to 30% of a home’s energy consumption can come from duct leaks alone. This means your spending money to heat or cool parts of your home where no humans live.
Ducts can also be dirty. It’s far too easy for dust, dirt, and other pollutants to be swept up by the forced air and spread throughout your home without regular maintenance. This can lead to poor indoor air quality and affect the quality of life for those with asthma or other respiratory issues.
If your current home lacks ductwork or your building an addition, you’ll need to pay for installation. Not only is this costly, but the bulky ducts can make it impossible for HVAC systems to reach certain parts of the home.
Of course, ductless systems avoid all this. Without ducts, leaks cease to become an issue. The same is true of contaminants or pollutants that can make the air in your home harmful to breathe.
Mini-splits are also far more scalable than ducted systems. Instead of installing bulky ductwork, most units only need a three-inch hole for the refrigerant lines and wiring. This makes it easier to expand the zones in your home.
Ductless Heat Pump Installation Process
Installing a heat pump is usually a simple process that takes less than a day. Often, the most difficult installation decision is where the indoor and outdoor units should be placed. Your technicians can help you identify the ideal spot that balances efficiency and ease-of-access.
Once that decision is made, the installation process is relatively straight-forward:
- Perform any needed electrical upgrades.
- Install a dedicated electrical circuit.
- Prepare an area for the outdoor unit.
- Install or mount the outdoor unit.
- Run refrigerant lines from the outdoor unit to indoor units.
- Install the indoor unit(s).
- Release the refrigerant
- Run a test of the new system.
- Adjust any sources of back-up heat for reduced operation.
- Walk you through the new system and demonstrate its features.
How Long Do Ductless Heat Pumps Last?
With proper maintenance, you can keep your heat pump running for 15 to 20 years. This exceeds typical systems, which may need replacement after only 12 years.
The best way to keep your heat pump operational is through a routine maintenance cycle. Checking and cleaning your indoor unit’s air filter every month can help keep system efficiency high. During warm and cold months, you’ll also want to check on the outdoor unit and clear any debris or snow that may hinder performance. Generally, you want to keep bushes and plants at least twelve inches from the outdoor unit.
Furthermore, you should have the system checked out once a year by a trained professional, like those at The Heat Pump Store. They can identify and fix any minor issues before they become a larger, more expensive one.
Are Ductless Heat Pumps Worth It?
Heat pumps are an investment. That statement is both true and a recognition that upfront costs can be expensive. However, many local and state governments offer rebates or subsidies that can help reduce the price of the ductless heat pump cost. You’ll also find that your investment pays off quickly. A heat pump can cut your energy consumption for heating by close to half when converting from an electric resistance system to a ductless heat pump.
Contact The Leading Heat Pump Contractor and Showroom in Oregon!
The Heat Pump Store has installed over 10,000 ductless heat pump units across the PNW. Our experience, knowledge, and skills make us an ideal partner for finding the right heat pump system for your needs. We can install systems ourselves, help with DIY projects, and conduct the needed repair and maintenance that extends the system’s lifespan.
If you’re ready to control your home’s comfort, give us a call today at 877-539-0481. You can reach out to us through our website, too.