Winter weather has arrived in the Northwest and it is definitely time to get some warmth going in your home. If you have not already switched over your ductless heat pump to heating mode, or just want to check and make sure you are doing everything correctly, here are some simple steps to follow to make sure you stay cozy and warm.
1. Set the mode to HEAT. Your ductless heat pump (mini-split) may have an AUTO mode that allows the system to switch between heating and air conditioning automatically, but here in the Northwest, this setting may not always provide the most efficient and responsive operation. Instead, try setting the system control to the HEAT mode during the heating season and to the COOL mode when you want air conditioning.
2. Next, if it isn’t already there, set the fan speed using the AUTO setting. The AUTO fan speed setting is preferred over the other settings (usually quiet, low, medium and high) because as indoor and outdoor conditions change, the unit will automatically use the optimal fan speed.
3. Set the temperature. Depending on the location of your ductless heat pump, you may need to set the unit’s temperature slightly higher or lower than the desired temperature in the room to find a setting that’s comfortable. Think of the temperature set on your remote as a comfort setting rather than the exact temperature that you want your room. If you have a multi-zone system with more than one indoor unit or “head”, you can set the indoor units at different temperatures but the entire system needs to operate in the same mode (HEAT or COOL).
4. Avoid adjusting the temperature setting back and forth and follow the principle of “set it and forget it.” Ductless heat pumps are designed to adjust to changing conditions automatically and efficiently. Once you find a comfortable temperature setting, avoid changing the setting or turning the unit off. The unit will run most efficiently if it is allowed to ramp-up and down to meet your heating and cooling needs. One side note: Don’t confuse “set it and forget it” with the night time setting if your ductless heat pump/mini-split has one. You just want to avoid warming the house up and then turning the system off or “yo-yoing” the temperature if you want to get the most comfort and efficiency.
5. Keep in mind your “effective zone”. Your ductless heat pump can provide efficient heating to more of your home than just the room in which it is located. The total area served by the heat pump is called the “effective zone”. Depending on the size of your ductless heat pump, your comfort needs, and the configuration of your home, you may be able to increase the size of the effective zone by opening doors between rooms. In general, a larger effective zone will allow the ductless heat pump to provide more benefit to you by efficiently heating more of your house. If you would prefer that an adjacent room be isolated, you could keep those doors closed.
6. Understand the Defrost Function. Heating during periods of cold weather may cause the coil on the outdoor unit to accumulate frost. Don’t worry, this is normal. To allow continued, efficient operation, your ductless heat pump is designed to “defrost” itself automatically. During the defrost mode, the indoor unit stops and a light on the unit may come on or start blinking. This is normal and you should not try to interrupt or override this function. As the frost is removed from the coil, you may notice water below or around the outdoor unit. At the end of the defrost function (typically 5 to 15 minutes), the unit should return to heating operation.