ductless systems (heat pump)
Deciding on a heating and cooling system? Interested in a ductless system? First, consider your climate, the seasons, and the quality of your building’s insulation and air seals. Then consider which system will work best for you.
One heat pump system that allows for design flexibility, ease of use, energy savings, cost-effectiveness, and safety is known as a ductless mini split. But first, the basics.
What is a heat pump?
According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in the Department of Energy, “heat pumps use electricity to move heat from a cool space into a warm space, making the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer. Because they move heat rather than generate heat, heat pumps can provide up to four times the amount of energy they consume.” So far so good.
How an air source heat pump works
Ductless mini splits are a type of air source heat pump which transfers heat between the inside of a building and the outside air using an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air-handling unit. A connecting conduit links the outdoor and indoor units.
- They are good to use as a way to expand heating or cooling systems in houses that use hot water heat, radiant panels, or space heaters.
- They can also be a good choice for room additions where extending or installing ductwork is not practical.
- The new type of very efficient home that requires only a small space conditioning system can make great use of a mini split system.
Advantages of a ductless mini-split system
The Energy Department suggests that the ductless versions of air source heat pumps, or mini splits, have several advantages.
1. Small size and flexibility: Heating or cooling zones can be created with up to four indoor air-handling units per one outdoor unit. Each zone has a separate thermostat and can be used as a stand-alone heated or cooled area, saving energy and money.
2. Ease of installation: Only a three-inch hole in the wall is needed to connect the outdoor and indoor units. Most manufacturers can provide a variety of lengths of connecting conduits. With the mini-split system, therefore, “it possible to cool rooms on the front side of a house, but locate the compressor in a more advantageous or inconspicuous place on the outside of the building.”
3. More energy efficiency: Ducts can cause a 30% energy loss during heating or cooling, particularly for ducts in spaces such as attics. Mini-splits are ductless – so the energy loss problem is resolved!
4. Design flexibility: In addition to floor-standing indoor units, air units that are about seven inches deep can be suspended from a ceiling, mounted into a drop ceiling, or hung on a wall. Many units also come with a remote control to turn the system on and off when it's positioned high on a wall or suspended from a ceiling - and out of reach of children and pets.
5. Increased safety: That three-inch hole for the connecting conduit is intruder-proof, unlike window-mounted or through-the-wall systems.
The system for your building needs to be correctly sized and sited for maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The Department of Energy emphasizes the need to seek out an installer qualified to install and service mini splits.
Fox Plumbing and Heating would be happy to answer questions you may have about heat pumps. Please contact us to learn more.
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