Pros & Cons of Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pumps

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For homeowners looking to upgrade their cooling system but unable to go the way of central air conditioning due to having non-ducted heating systems like hot water heat, radiant panels, or space heaters, the ductless mini-split system is an attractive alternative. Mini-splits are also a good choice for new additions to an existing home where the owner does not want to perform significant ductwork expansion or installation. A mini-split heat pump has two primary components, the outdoor compressor, and the indoor air-handling unit, with a conduit that links the compressor and the indoor unit and houses the power system and electrical wiring, tubing, and the condensate drain.

If you are planning to install a mini-split pump system, it is important to consider the pros and cons, as it can be an investment depending on the size of your home and the number of rooms, so let’s break it down.

PROS

  • Energy efficiency: The mini-split is much more expensive than the typical window air conditioner that can be purchased at Home Depot and installed in under an hour, but with that increased cost comes increased energy efficiency. Window units are notably inefficient in their energy usage, as are central air systems. Central air systems can have as much as 30% additional energy consumption through duct losses. So in the long run you will actually be saving money. 
  • Zone Cooling: Mini-split cooling systems make it easy to cool individual rooms. Most models allow for up to four indoor units to connect to a singular outdoor unit. Homeowners can then decide which rooms need to be heated or cooled, rather than blasting air conditioning through the whole house into rooms that aren’t being used. This also saves money in the long run.
  • Safety: The mini-split system requires only a small hole to be drilled through the wall of the home, as opposed to bulky window units that take up a whole window and are a prime target for home intruders.
  • Quiet operation: The air conditioner’s compressor makes the most noise, but in a mini-split system, that part of the machine is safely outside the home and can’t be heard through the walls and insulation. That’s not the case with the window unit, which can be loud and drown out conversations or prove to be a nuisance at night while you’re trying to sleep.
  • Inobtrusive: Compared to the window unit, the mini-split is hardly noticeable. They can be mounted out of sightlines and controlled easily with a remote control. No more giving up an entire window and its views for your air conditioner unit.

Cons

  • High up-front cost: Ductless mini splits will cost several thousand dollars, not including installation. A window unit can be had for under $200 and can be taken right out of the box and turned on. For someone just looking for bare-bones cooling, it might not make sense to invest in a mini-split system.
  • Need for a skilled installer: Installing a mini-split cooling system is not as simple as hooking it up and plugging it in. You will need to find an experienced heating and cooling professional to perform the installation correctly. If the installation is not done correctly or the system is not sized correctly, you’ll waste energy or have lackluster cooling results.
  • It’s still there: A ductless mini-split isn’t as obtrusive as a window unit, but it’s still something that’s going to be hanging on your wall or ceiling, compared to central air, that doesn’t take up any space inside the house or impact its aesthetics.

We hope this list has helped provide clarity into the pros and cons of installing a ductless mini-split heating or cooling system at your home. At MatrixAir, we have over 35 years of experience installing and servicing ductless mini-split systems. Our team of talented professionals has the experience necessary to make mini-split installation quick and easy.