When you provide HVAC services in Tacoma for as long as we have, you start hearing the same questions get asked. Many of them are about ductless heat pumps. Although growing in popularity since the 2000s, people still have many questions about how these devices work and what makes them special. In this post, we’ll go over just three of them.
How Does a Heat Pump Work?
The simplest way to think of a heat pump’s operation is that it moves heat from one place to another. By removing heat from your home in the summer, you can have a cooler home. By taking heat from the outdoors in the winter, you can have a warmer home.
The more complicated explanation involves refrigerant and coils. Refrigerant is a chemical that helps facilitate the transfer of heat. The refrigerant shifts between liquid and gaseous states as it moves from one coil to the other, which helps in transferring heat.
This process is exactly the same as what central air conditioners use to cool your home, except that a heat pump can reverse the flow of the refrigerant.
What Makes Ductless Heat Pumps Special?
The “ductless” aspect of ductless heat pumps is what makes them all the more better than other kinds of air conditioners and heaters. Rather than relying on a set of ducts to provide air through the home, the ductless system is split into several individual air handlers.
For every room that you wish to heat and cool, it requires one indoor air handler. This makes for unmatched efficiency and ease of use, but you’ll need to consider the cost of each unit you add to the system.
It’s worth noting that you can be flexible with how you choose to install your ductless mini split system. You can choose to install them in all the rooms you want, but you can also go with some less conventional approaches based on your needs:
- If you own a ducted HVAC system and have added on a new room, you won’t be able to add more ducts without ruining the efficiency of your system. In that case, you can install a single ductless unit for the new room.
- Have you ever wanted heating and cooling in your garage? It’s against building codes to route a ducted system to a garage due to the possibility of spreading carbon monoxide through the home. A ductless system works around this, though.
Why Does It Cost Less to Run Than a Gas Furnace?
Natural gas is cheap, and furnaces are powerful heaters. This makes gas furnaces one of the most popular heaters in the nation. And while electricity is commonly more expensive than gas, heat pumps still come out on top as more efficient heaters.
How? Simply because heat pumps don’t generate heat—they “recycle” it.
Gas furnaces burn air and natural gas together to create heated air. This is a more energy-intensive process than transferring heat through refrigerant coils.
In the past, gas furnaces had the edge over heat pumps—they were able to remain efficient in much lower temperatures. But recently, certain brands of heat pumps, like those from Mitsubishi, have become capable of remaining efficient in temperatures as low as -13°F. If you’ve ever considered using a heat pump, now is a great time.