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What’s the Difference Between a Heat Pump and a Mini-Split System?

When it’s time to install a new heat pump or ductless mini-split, it’s important to know the differences and similarities between the two options. Your comfort depends on making the right choice for your needs, so our experts have put together this guide to help you make the decision. As you consider your options, be sure to consider the following advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Ductless Mini-Splits

ductless mini-split on wall with air flow and a hand pointing a remote at the system

Mini-splits don’t require ducts to operate, which makes them easy to install in homes, condos, and apartments. Most are designed to offer both heating and cooling capabilities, so you won’t need to install a furnace or other heating system to keep you warm in the winter. The system consists of an indoor air handler connected to an outdoor compressor that effectively regulates the temperature within the room.

Ductless systems are ideal for “zoning” since you can install many units throughout your home, giving you precise control over multiple rooms. This improves overall energy efficiency, lowers your utility bills, and enhances your comfort. And, because there are no ducts, there is no energy loss between the unit and the room.

Further, ductless systems are very quiet and operate many decibels lower than comparable air conditioners. They are also easily installed, maintained, and repaired. Over time, they will provide exceptional comfort and longevity while requiring minimal maintenance and repairs

However, sizing is critical. If the unit is undersized or improperly installed in the wrong location, it will struggle to heat/cool the room. This will waste energy and will increase wear and tear. It will also result in premature replacement. They also operate less efficiently during extreme weather, and while well suited for most homes, condos, apartments, they are not ideal for use in rooms with low ceilings.

Heat Pumps

Heat pump posted to the left with green bush infront of it

Heat pumps are designed to provide both heating and cooling functions. In the summer, they pull heat from inside the home and transfer it outside, whereas in the winter, the process is reversed. As with ductless mini-splits, it’s an efficient system that’s only hindered by extreme weather. Fortunately, it’s not a major issue in Kent, Puget Sound, or elsewhere in King and Pierce counties.

Air source heat pumps are easy to install, and their compact design means they require minimal space. They are an energy-efficient, cost-effective, environmentally friendly heating/cooling option. However, unlike ductless mini-splits, heat pumps do require ductwork as the treated air is blown through the home and through the vents within each room. 

And unlike ductless mini-splits, heat pumps rely on a centralized system, which means they are not conducive to creating temperature zones within the home. It also means that if there are leaks in your ductwork, you will have to contend with energy loss. 

Which Is Best?

Both ductless mini-splits and heat pumps are excellent options, so there is no “best” choice; rather, there’s a “best for my needs.” Ductless mini-splits are ideal for enhanced, customized temperature control. They are perfect for large homes with rooms that are not often in use, such as dining rooms and guest bedrooms, as well as condos and apartments. That said, if you have existing ductwork and desire for the unit to be out of sight, out of mind, then a heat pump is a better fit.

Deciding whether you want to install a heat pump or ductless mini-split? Contact AAA Heating & Air at (253) 234-1278, and we will help you make the best decision for your needs! 

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Proudly Serving

Kent, WA and the surrounding areas


Kent | Auburn | Renton | Maple Valley | Ravensdale
| Covington | Black Diamond | Federal Way | Seattle
| Des Moines | Burien | SeaTac | Normandy Park |
Issaquah | Newcastle

View More