If you’ve only just started shopping for a brand new AC or heat pump, chances are that you’ve come across the term Mini-split once or twice.
Chances are, also, that you’ve given it a curious glance before scrolling past to click on an item more familiar to you- Window units or Wall-mounted units, etc.
However, we urge you to take a step back and give the growing genre of Mini-split heating and cooling systems a chance. Ingrained with the kind of technology and functionality compatible with a modern-day home, mini-split heating and cooling systems are quite popular today.
These ACs and Heat Pumps hinge on the principle of being able to divide your house into different zones, and heat or cool them entirely independently without expending unnecessary energy on places where you are not present.
As opposed to most traditional HVAC systems, thus, Mini-Splits aim to conserve energy and cut down your electricity bills by a big margin.
This guide will take you through an explanation of Mini-Splits and their defining features, as well as give you a comparison of them to traditional heating or cooling systems, followed by a guide explaining how to choose the right mini-split AC or heat pump for your home.
A Little Discussion About Mini-Split AC or Heat Pump
Mini Split heating or cooling units are based on three concepts.
First, take a look at the fact that any heating or cooling units under this label are ‘split’, that is, a system is divided into an outdoor unit and an indoor unit.
This way, with one outdoor unit, firmly installed outside, several indoor units can be screwed in at different points in the house so that all rooms have access to the AC or heat pump.
This is in contrast to most ACs or heat pumps or furnaces which come as a single unit with the outdoor and indoor unit together. However, the split system gives you a chance to space out the indoor units, or have as many indoor units as you want and cool multiple rooms individually.
Speaking of the outdoor unit, these systems are also blessed with small outdoor units. This can be great along the lines of having an outdoor unit that is convenient and compact to install.
However, a smaller sized outdoor unit also means that it doesn’t put out the same efficiency as a normal split AC/heat pump system.
Finally, Mini-Split systems are ductless, meaning that these units don’t require any ductwork to do their work. Separate lines run through the walls and/or the roof instead.
This can save you from the problem of gas leaks and energy losses as well as any extra money you spend on crafting ductwork for other AC/heat pump units. These mini-split ACs or heat pumps are, thus, great for newer homes.
Why’s Mini Split AC/Heat Pump Being Preferred over other HVAC systems
One of the main reasons mini-split systems are becoming today’s frontrunners in ACs and heat pumps is because of their cutting-edge technology that reigns over more traditional systems.
For instance, one of the biggest advantages of Mini-Split heating or cooling systems is that you can cool or heat your house by individual zones, as opposed to most traditional systems which are often packaged and cannot extend their services to more than one room.
You can, however, splurge a bit extra to add the option of zonal heating or cooling to your traditional HVAC equipment.
Perhaps the only downside about Mini-split ACs or Heat pumps appears if you’re the kind of person that cares about appearances and keeping your living space attractive.
As you know, mini-split systems lack the ductwork that is present in traditional HVAC systems. The lack of ductwork that can be hidden away behind the walls means that the lines running between the units do so in plain sight inside or outside the house.
So, unless you take the pains of having the lines entirely set up inside the walls themselves, you’re going to be highly aware of your mini-split system all-around your house.
Ductwork vs Ductless units
Ductless functioning, however, makes up for one of the biggest advantages that give mini-split ACs and heat pump units their fame.
Ductwork can often be subject to holes and leaks. They take up quite a bit of space inside your home and require separate installation if your home isn’t already built around ductwork. With ductless mini-split systems, you can avoid all of this hassle.
You don’t have to face any hard-to-fix energy drains and ductwork repairs and cleaning charges. Changing filters also becomes ten times easier with ducts out of the way.
Lastly, one of the most significant features of mini-split heating and cooling systems is the subtlety and quiet operation. With most heat pumps and ACs, noise-reduced functioning is one of the first things customers tend to look for.
No one wants an AC that keeps whirring all day, obviously. And for most HVAC systems, you can’t get noise reduction below a certain level because so-called ‘outdoor units’ come attached with the indoor units, and they make noise that is unavoidable while they work.
However, since mini-split systems contain separate outdoor and indoor units, you can enjoy the solitude of home by placing outdoor units at a distance. Indoor units are also often furnished with quieter fans to maximize comfort.
Mini Split Systems: Pros And Cons
Mini Split Top Brands and Pricing Reviews
Mini Split Systems have some of the top players in the industry dropping in to make the most out of this market. With single zone and multiple zone mini-split systems, you’ll find many popular and well-known brands, as well as countless unknown brands trying to make their mark.
Usually, the more premium brands have more expensive units compared to Standard ones. However, you can always expect quality with brands like Fujitsu and LG.
When going mini-split AC or heat pump shopping, you are likely to come across products from Mitsubishi, Daikin, Pioneer, Samsung, LG, Fujitsu, and so on. These are the top brands that produce quality mini-split ac/heat pumps.
Cost factors are much more than standard or premium branding, but your manufacturers and sellers do play an important role in how much you pay for your unit.
Mini-Split AC/Heatpump Pricing
For Standard brands that don’t have the advantage of being household names as AC/heat pump suppliers, you can expect cheaper prices.
For instance, Single Zone ACs with one outdoor unit can cost between $500 to $3000, while multi-zoned ACs with more outdoor units can cost from $750 to $4,000, all without installation.
On the other hand, heat pumps start at a higher price tag. Single zoned heat pumps with one outdoor unit will cost you about $900 on a good day and can peak as much as $3,000. Multi zoned heat pumps, of course, are placed at a max value of around $5,000.
Premium brands can give you a lot more bang for your buck, but they can also demand a lot more buck in general. For instance, single zoned ACs with 1 outdoor unit start at around $950 and can go up to costing around $3,500, while multi-zoned ACs range from around $1,000 to $5,500.
Heat pumps, of course, start higher at $1,500, going as far as around $6,000, while those supporting multiple zones stretch their numbers to $7,000 or more.
Keep in mind that the installation fees only add and hike these prices up a notch. Whether your AC/heat pump unit is wall-mounted, floor-mounted, etc, also becomes a determining factor in your budgetary decisions.
Installation of Single zone mini Split ACs also cost lesser than multi-zone systems. Additionally, the general cost of living in your area, along with the kind of technician you choose to hire for the job make a remarkable change in your installation prices.
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Mini-Split Heat Pump Prices
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How To Choose The Right Mini-Split Heating or Cooling System
Now that you know what a mini-split system is, along with the current specifics on its prices and features, it is important to know what things you should consider before buying one. Most of these factors apply to other HVAC systems as well.
Size Mini-Split Heating or Cooling System
This is perhaps the largest influencing factor, and the one most commonly known- that helps in deciding what kind of a heat pump or AC you need. ‘Size’ determines not only the size of the room you’re cooling but also the heating/cooling capacity of your AC or heat pump.
Through a BTU sizing chart, you should be able to find the rating appropriate for the square footage of your area. The larger the room, the bigger the BTU rating, and the higher the heating/cooling capacity required.
Efficiency Mini-Split Heating or Cooling System
The second thing to be conscious of in your purchase is Energy Efficiency. Most customers lookout for this today as they don’t want to end up with a unit that forces them to pay higher electricity bills throughout the years of their usage.
This is why you need to look for a good EER or SEER rating. Most efficient mini-split systems boast a 20+ SEER rating, so that should be your standard.