Understanding The Pros And Cons Of Ductless Heat Pumps

Posted on: 22 March 2016

At one point in time, ductless heat pumps were considered an overseas curiosity. These days, they're an attractive alternative to traditional heat pumps and other HVAC systems. Ductless heat pumps share many similarities with their traditional counterparts while offering a number of notable differences. These aspects can easily make or break your potential purchase depending on your home's overall design and your comfort and performance expectations.

The following illustrates some of the benefits and drawbacks of purchasing and installing a ductless heat pump in your home.

The Benefits

One widely recognized upside of ductless heat pumps is that they can be installed in homes without existing ductwork. Instead of spending the time, money and effort running ducts through your home, you can install individual heat pump air handlers in each room. If you have a smaller home where space is at a minimum, a ductless heat pump spares you from devoting your home's space to ductwork.

Having individual air handlers in each room also gives you an opportunity to create a zoned HVAC system. Zoned systems allow you to adjust temperatures in select areas of your home separately using one programmable thermostat. At night, for example, you can lower the temperature in the living room by a few degrees while maintaining slightly higher temperatures in your bedroom.

The cost of installing a ductless heat pump can also be an advantage when compared to conventional heat pumps. According to CostHelper, it can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 to install a ductless system depending on the number of indoor units to be installed. In contrast, you may end up paying $2,000 to $8,000 to have a ducted heat pump installed, and the costs could be higher if existing ductwork has to be replaced.

In addition to the typical wall-mounted indoor air handler units, you can also choose between floor and cassette-style ceiling-mounted units. This gives you an impressive level of flexibility when it comes to installing ductless heat pump units within your living spaces.

The Drawbacks

Although there are plenty advantages of having a ductless heat pump, it also comes with a number of noticeable drawbacks. For starters, ductless heat pumps tend to be a bit noisier than conventional heat pumps due to their location within the room itself. Although most manufacturers strive to make their in-unit fans as silent as possible, some homeowners still find it noisier than other types of HVAC systems.

Another unexpected disadvantage that many homeowners face involves the aesthetic quality of the ductless heat pump itself. Unlike a traditional central heat pump, the indoor portion of a ductless heat pump is usually out in the open. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to hide an air handler that clashes aesthetically with your room's current décor. Cassette-style ceiling mounted air handlers are a bit easier to hide, but some ceiling styles may not lend themselves well to this type of indoor unit.

Last but not least, most ductless heat pumps come in a limited range of sizes. Given the unique heating and cooling requirements for each individual room, it can be easy for HVAC contractors to choose units that offer too much or too little heating and cooling capacity. In colder climates, you may need to add a supplemental form of heat just in case of the heat pump doesn't deliver the desired performance.

When choosing your next HVAC system, it's important to keep all of the above advantages and disadvantages in mind. Weighing these pros and cons can help you make a solid and smart purchasing decision that keeps your home comfortable for years to come.