Mini Split Vs. Heat Pump: Comparisons And How to Choose

Mini Split Vs. Heat Pump: Comparisons And How to ChooseWhen thinking about finding the best heating and cooling options for your home or office, doing your homework is important. You may be considering a few options, but in this article we want to tell you about a mini split vs. a heat pump. These are two of the most popular HVAC solutions on the market, and we get why.

At Compass Heating and Air, we have been advising and installing all kinds of heating and cooling systems since 2011. I was trained as an HVAC technician in my final year of military service, and since have been installing and servicing all sorts of HVAC equipment, including heat pumps and mini splits.

That is why we have put together this brief guide explaining the difference between heat pumps and mini splits and the proper applications for both.

In this article, I will explain:

  • What a heat pump is and the appropriate application for one
  • What a mini split is and how it is best used
  • The benefits of a VRF heat pump
  • Answer your most frequently asked questions

If you are looking into your options for a new HVAC system, and are wondering about a heat pump vs split system, we can help you out. Give us a call at (603) 504-8688, or click on the button below to visit us online.

What Are Heat Pumps?

What Are Heat Pumps?A heat pump is a heating system that is highly energy efficient. Unlike a simple furnace or air conditioner, it has the ability to provide both heat and cooling.

A heat pump works by extracting either warm air from the outside ambient air and redistributing it into the interior space in the form of heat or air conditioning. A heat pump is highly energy efficient and performs well even in the cold midwest weather.

Heat pumps that have a high energy star rating are the most efficient to operate and can save you significant money on energy costs and also come with significant rebates at the time of purchase.

A heat pump consists of a quiet outdoor unit that extracts the air converting it to either cool or warm air depending on the indoor temperature settings. It is really a two in one – providing both heating and cooling systems.

An air-source heat pump can provide efficient heating and cooling for your home. When properly installed, an air-source heat pump can deliver up to three times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy it consumes. This is possible because a heat pump transfers heat rather than converting it from a fuel-like combustion heating systems.

If you are thinking of a heat pump, I recommend choosing one with a higher HSPF rating. HSPF is a metric used in the evaluation of air source heat pumps when in heating mode. It stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor and it measures how well your heat pump will perform during the heating seasons.

The air conditioning function of your heat pump should have a cop/eer rating of 2.3 to 3.5. The cop/eer rating is COP is a measurement of the energy efficiency of your air-conditioning unit’s heating performance. EER is the ratio of a unit’s cooling output relative to its input power.

As you can see, energy efficiency and comfort is the end goal of today’s heat pump.

Ducted Heat Pumps Vs. Ductless Systems

Today’s energy-efficient systems give you choices.

Ducted heat pump systems are what they say. They provide both heating and cooling through a duct network in your home. If you are thinking about converting an existing furnace to a heat pump, the good news is that you can frequently utilize existing ductwork as long as it is in good working order.

Homeowners have another more flexible choice when thinking about installing a heat pump. Ductless mini split systems provide a custom room or zone option that can be the perfect solution to remote under heated or cooled rooms.

Like the ducted heat pump, a mini split can provide multi-zone or single-zone heating or cooling.

What Are Mini Splits?

What exactly are mini split systems?

A mini split system is in essence – a ductless heat pump. A mini split provides heat and cooling through an indoor unit that can be wall, floor, or ceiling-mounted.

A mini split pumps cool and warm air, and has the ability to operate as a single or multi-zone mini split system. You connect the indoor unit to a condenser outside. This condenser can connect to multiple units, if you need multiple zones in your home or business.

Multi-Zone and Single-Zone Mini Splits

Zoned HVAC Allows Comfort Control And Energy SavingsToday’s multi-zone and single-zone mini splits offer programmable controls allowing the homeowner to create multiple zones in a home adjusting for personal preferences and time of day. This “zoning” ability – in my opinion – makes the mini-split a preferred option for many homeowners. It allows you to customize your comfort, and also save energy.

For example, if you are using the living room, and not the bedroom, you can have one unit turned on, while the bedrooms are in a low-power mode until you go to bed. With a traditional HVAC system, you’d have the entire home set at the same temperature. This wastes energy, and keeps people fighting over the thermostat!

VRF Heat Pump Explained

The name VRF stands for variant refrigerant technology. It is a system of outdoor units connected to indoor units with refrigerant piping providing heat and cooling to multiple zones.

When you do your research you may hear the term VRV instead of VRF. VRV stands for “Variable Refrigerant Volume,” while VRF stands for “Variable Refrigerant Flow”. VRV is a term copyrighted by Daikin, one of the true industry leaders in HVAC equipment and technology.

VRF technology provides a hybrid source. It can utilize ground heat or geothermal heat to heat or cool.

Mini Split Heat Pump Efficiency

A mini split heat pump provides efficiency, dual heating and cooling temperature control, minimal electricity usage, and has a high SEER rating for energy efficiency.

Most Efficient Way to Run A Mini Split

A mini-split system uses less energy and keeps temperatures most consistent when you let the system run – as in, 24/7. It has the greatest energy efficiency and least electricity usage when the temperature control is programmed and set.

Pros & Cons: Ducted Heat Pump Vs. Split System or Mini Split

Ducted Heat Pump Pros

Ducted heat pumps provide very solid energy efficiency and temperature control. What’s more, they provide central air and even comfort throughout the home. If your home already has ductwork, these are a great option.

Ducted Heat Pump Cons

Ducted heat pumps also require expensive ductwork installation making duct reconfiguring and repairs expensive. If you don’t have ductwork, it can be a problem.

Ducted heat pumps also don’t offer the customized zoning of heat and AC that mini splits do.

Mini Split Pros

A mini split system provides custom temperature control, energy efficiency, and good air quality. Plus they provide a low profile making their appearance unobtrusive. They are whisper quiet, and also offer the option to create multiple zones for your heating and cooling.

Mini Split Cons

The cons of a mini split are really just the initial cost. They usually cost a bit more than traditional HVAC systems, but you usually see a good bit of savings in the long run with your energy bills.

If you are considering a mini split installation in Downer’s Grove, IL, give us a call at (630) 504-8688, or click here to contact us online. We can take a look at your home or business, and set you up with the right HVAC system for your situation!


Do mini split heat pumps work in cold weather?

Yes. Mini splits provide mini split heat even in our cold midwestern weather. Over the years, they’ve become better and better at heating in extreme cold, and are used in homes and businesses throughout our area.

Do mini splits have to be on an outside wall?

No. A mini split system is an easy installation. The indoor unit can be located wherever it looks best. We have ceiling, wall, and floor options available.

Can you run a mini split all day?

Yes, you can run a mini split all day. The beauty of a mini split system is that it comes with a programmable temperature control. Your system can run whenever you need comfort control.