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7 Facts About Owning a Ductless Heat Pump

Ductless heat pumps are gaining popularity throughout the country because of their improved energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and ease of installation. While they’re not a new invention by any means, today’s emphasis on “green” heating and cooling sources has caused their popularity to skyrocket and left many homeowners clamoring for one.

They are especially sought after in newly constructed homes, probably due to the fact that they can be set up very quickly and can be used in rooms that traditional heating systems cannot easily access, such as garages and guest rooms. They are also great for installing in older buildings that don’t have ductwork, since no expensive retrofitting is required.

But how does a ductless heat pump work, anyway? What about maintenance? Should you have one installed? Whether you are looking to upgrade your home with this new system or you are simply curious and researching further, we’re here with some of the information you’re seeking. Here are seven facts about owning a ductless heat pump.

What Is a Ductless Heat Pump?

Also known as a mini split heat pump, a ductless heat pump utilizes a small, wall-mounted indoor unit and an outside compressor to heat and cool your home. Because it doesn’t make use of large, heavy equipment, ductless heat pumps are among the most non-invasive methods of heating and cooling. You won’t need to have your technician carve out a huge portion of a wall for the system to function. Only a small hole lined with a protective sleeve is needed to connect the control wire, refrigerant lines, and condensation drain hose from the indoor unit to the outdoor unit.

Unlike more traditional heating systems, a ductless heat pump utilizes only electricity; no expensive natural gas is required. Perhaps an even greater benefit: ductless pumps don’t just heat your home. They can also function as air conditioners and provide cooling as well.

How Do They Heat (or Cool) Your Home?

6 Facts About Owning a Ductless Heat Pump

The mechanism with which they work is actually fairly simple. Primarily, a ductless heating system moves heat from outside your home to the inside (or vice versa). The outside compressor unit uses refrigerant to pull ambient heat from the air and ground and moves it into the heating system in your home. When it’s hot outside, it does the reverse; it draws heat from inside the home and pumps it outside, cooling your home.

Why Go Ductless?

Because the system is ductless, it’s far more energy efficient than a traditional heating system. When using a traditional, gas-powered heater, a great deal of energy is lost as it radiates out through the ducts. A ductless system keeps that energy inside your home. Estimates indicate about 20 to 30 percent more energy is saved during this process.

Of course, this also means that a ductless heating system is significantly cheaper to run than a traditional one. Because it’s more energy efficient, you won’t have to have the system run for as long or turn it up as high in order to achieve your desired temperature.

Are There Other Advantages?

There are several other advantages that a ductless system has over other systems of heating and cooling. Because they only require a few parts to operate, they’re simple to install. As a result, you’ll save significantly on labor costs, especially if you’re putting a heating system in a home that doesn’t already have one.

You’ll also have the ability to heat and cool your home much more effectively than with other systems. Because it isn’t making use of a series of inefficient ducts, you won’t have to deal with “cold spots” or suffer when one room doesn’t reach the same temperature as the others. And because it’s the same unit that both heats and cools, you’ll cut your installation and maintenance costs in half.

Besides all these advantages, there might be other financial ones. Upgrading your heating system and installing ENERGY STAR® technology often comes with tax credits and rebates, saving you even more money.

Any Downsides?

While the energy efficiency and ease of installation make a ductless system well worth it, some systems aren’t as powerful as a traditional heater. While they’re still plenty powerful for almost any climate, if the temperature in your area drops to well below freezing, you might need to have a backup heating system.

Note that Mitsubishi now manufactures a ductless unit called hyper-heat. It will work at 95 percent efficiency even at -5 degrees. It would be worth talking to your local HVAC company to see if hyper-heat would work for your space.

If you live on the East Coast or in the Midwest, you’ll likely need to have an alternative heater in addition to your ductless one. In places like Washington and Oregon, where it gets cold but not excessively so, you’ll probably be able to get by with your ductless system alone.

The Installation Process

Before you can start having your ductless heat pump installed, you’ll need a professional technician you trust. Finding one can be a bit of a challenge in and of itself; you’ll need to do some research. Read reviews, check references, and talk to any friends or neighbors you have who have used the HVAC companies you are considering.

If you live in the Longview, Vancouver, or Portland area, give Entek a call. They’ll help you install a system that saves you money and keeps your home comfortable throughout the year.
Once you’ve found a technician whose work you trust, the installation process can begin. Your technician will do an inspection of your home and figure out where the best place to install your ductless heating pump is. The installation process for this type of system is usually quite simple and will take less than a day, saving you plenty of money on labor costs.

Maintenance

Finally, a word on maintenance. Like any other major system in your home, your ductless heating pump will require regular maintenance. Some of this you can do on your own: occasionally checking filters and coils and making sure they are clean, for example. However, you’ll also need to have periodic professional inspections performed.

Your technician will check every element of the unit, from the compressor to the thermostat, and make any necessary upgrades or repairs. It’s best to have these inspections done during the off-season. Most HVAC companies are a lot busier during the winter and summer months, when they are continuously performing emergency repairs.