Is a Ductless Heat Pump the Same as a Traditional Heat Pump?

Some folks call and ask this question. They often assume ductless systems are just like traditional heat pumps just without the ductwork. And as the name suggests, this part is correct. However, there are other differences between these two types of systems that sometimes even your local HVAC guy may not be aware of.

A traditional heat pump essentially has two main parts. There is an outdoor unit that consists of an outdoor heat exchanger, a compressor and a fan. There is also an indoor unit made up of an indoor heat exchanger and fan that distributes warm or cool air through the duct system in a home. In winter, the outdoor unit collects heat from the outside air through the outdoor heat exchange and pumps it to the indoor heat exchanger. The heat moves through ducts into your home by the force of the blower fan. In the summer, it works like a regular air conditioning unit by pumping heat out of your home and circulating cooler air to keep your home comfortable.

Ductless heat pumps also consist of an outdoor unit containing a compressor and an indoor unit containing an evaporator and blower. But unlike a standard heat pump, a ductless heat pump is not a central forced air system. Instead of ducts, small concealed refrigerant lines connect the outside condenser to indoor fan coil units. Sometimes just one indoor unit is required, and sometimes multiple indoor units are used. Each coil fan has its own programmable thermostat and up to four indoor units can be connected to each outdoor unit.

So the first big difference is in the ducts. It has been shown that over 30% of energy used is lost in ductwork. That energy savings translates into significant money savings.

The money savings is also in the installation. Fewer materials used, less time to install and less disruption and damage to your home. A hookup between the outdoor and indoor units of a ductless system requires only a 3” hole through a wall and the whole installation takes easily less than a day.

Another difference is in the customization. You can choose to heat or cool only certain areas or rooms with a ductless system thus saving money and energy. Individual thermostats allow you to heat the computer room less but keep the bedroom toasty, not something you can do with a central system operating on a single thermostat. By the same means, you can also avoid inadequate heating or cooling as the rooms farthest from the thermostat never quite seem to reach the intended temperature in a central system.

Ductless systems are also whisper quiet. You may not even notice the fan coil unit is operating unless you put an ear next to it. No more turning up the television whenever the fan kicks on and then being blasted out of your seat as it turns off.

And then there are the aesthetics. The external compressor on a ductless unit is much smaller than a central unit, even if you have multiple evaporator units inside or “heads”. This makes the unit easy to tuck into a hidden spots in the yard or under a deck. The indoor units are small and compact with an average low profile of 7” and can easily be mounted high on a wall or ceiling.

Finally there is the technology. Traditionally, conventional heat pumps have been made to operate best in more moderate climates, areas that do not experience extremes of temperature, especially cold temperatures. But due to the advanced inverter technology available in ductless systems, these units can operate efficiently down to minus 13 degrees farenheit.

With significant energy savings, simple and quick installation, room by room comfort, compact units, whisper quiet fans, and advanced technology ductless heat pumps systems are kind of like the traditional heat pump’s younger, more successful, and better looking sibling.

Give us a call to find out how you can save money and energy by installing a ductless system in your home or business.


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