Benefits of a Ductless Heat Pump
For versatility in home heating and air conditioning, ductless heat pumps (also known as mini-split heat pumps) are tough to beat. This is especially true in the climate of the Seattle area.
Ductless heat pump systems provide both heating and cooling and are both efficient and simple, making them a good choice for add-on rooms as well as multi-zone air conditioning setups. They’re also an increasingly popular choice for high-efficiency homes built in our area.
Like standard heat pumps, ductless heat pumps consist of two main components: one or more indoor air handlers paired with an outdoor compressor and condenser. Refrigerant, vacuum and drain lines connect the indoor and outdoor modules, allowing the units to take advantage of differences in indoor and outdoor temperatures to provide both heating and cooling. The technicians at Blue Flame Heating & Air Conditioning have put together a short list of benefits for our Mountlake Terrace neighbors considering investing in one.
High Energy Efficiency
Traditional HVAC systems pipe air throughout the home through duct, and can lose up to 30 percent of energy in the process. If the ducts travel through poorly insulated or poorly ventilated spaces such as attics, the energy loss can be worse, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Mini-split models do not use ducts, but transfer heat energy between indoor and outdoor – using fluid in a closed, direct loop.
Flexible Zone Heating and Cooling
Perhaps the biggest advantage of mini-split systems is flexibility. The units retrofit well in ductless setups, such as homes using space heaters or radiant panels. They can be utilized in place of a window unit to provide air conditioning for add-on rooms and garage apartments (yes, man-caves, too).
Modern ductless heat pumps can fit as many as four indoor air blowers with one outside compressor and condenser unit. This provides ideal indoor zone heating and cooling when paired with a thermostat in each room. In multi-zone setups, the indoor air handler remains inactive when not needed, reducing energy costs.
Installation, Design Options
Mini-split heating and cooling systems offer a variety of options for installation because—unlike window units or add-on space heaters—they can be placed just about anywhere along the ceiling or wall. Most units are about seven inches deep, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, providing a relatively low profile when compared to other add-on air conditioning units.
How quickly a ductless system provides return on investment depends on several factors, including how it is used and how efficiently it operates. Installation of heat pumps and regular maintenance and inspections can play a major role in a heat pump’s operating efficiency, so consider having an HVAC professional install the system properly and perform routine checkups and maintenance regularly.
While ductless heat pumps provide higher energy efficiency than most traditional add-ons or duct-based systems, they’re not for everyone. Heat pumps work best in areas that do not experience extreme low temperatures (though the technology is advancing). In the Seattle area, where winter lows remain relatively warm, heat pumps can work especially well.
Like many energy efficient household items, the energy savings of ductless heat pumps comes at an upfront price. The units can cost twice as much (and more) than competing add-on air conditioning units. Since they often provide higher efficiency, this upfront cost could be recouped in lower energy bills over time.
If you’re considering a ductless system, but are unsure about its effectiveness in your home, contact the professionals at Blue Flame Heating & Air Conditioning today. Call 206-388-5667 to have a technician inspect your space for a recommendation today.