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Bill's Superheat, Inc. Blog

What’s the Difference Between Ducted & Ductless Heat Pumps?


Whether you’re looking into a new system for your home’s climate control or you’re trying to determine what sort of upkeep, maintenance, or repair your existing system needs, it’s understandable if you have some questions. If you have a heat pump, or are getting one, this might be your first time dealing with this type of HVAC system. Could a ductless mini split in Kalispell, MT be best for you?

What do you need to know about heat pumps in general? And what about how the cooled or heated air is distributed? Some heat pumps are connected to a home’s ductwork. Some are not! What are the key differences between ducted and ductless heat pumps? Is one better than the other? What maintenance do they need? We’ll tell you everything.

How Heat Pumps Work

A heat pump is essentially a reversible air conditioner. Instead of only carrying heat in one direction—out from inside—it can carry heat either way. Now this same type of system can circulate refrigerant in the opposite direction and heat your home when it’s too chilly, as well as cooling it when it’s too hot.

How Ducted Systems Work

If your home already has ductwork, chances are, your heat pump will be connected to that for ease of distribution. The cooled or heated air the heat pump creates will be moved into the ducts with a blower fan. The air pressure of the fan will push that air through the ductwork, all around your house, and out of the same vents that have always provided cool air from your AC or hot air from your furnace.

How Ductless Systems Work

These systems are sometimes called mini splits because instead of using a central unit to generate all the heated or cooled air, the refrigerant lines split when they enter your home. An individual line goes to each separate air handler, mounted on your walls, and the refrigerant coils in that air handler will create the heated or cooled air right where it’s needed. Each air handler even has its own thermostat!

General Heat Pump Concerns

There are two key things to keep in mind about having a heat pump rather than an air conditioner. The first is that it works year-round, so it needs basic maintenance twice a year, instead of just once. The second is that the component which reverses the flow of refrigerant can get stuck! It’s rare, but if your heat pump won’t switch from heating to cooling, it’s likely the reversing valve needs to be fixed.

Concerns Unique to Ductless Systems

Refrigerant coils are extremely cold, which means moisture condenses out of the air onto them. All air conditioners and heat pumps experience this. But with ductless systems, that’s happening in each individual air handler. Maintenance is particularly critical to make sure that moisture continues to be drained away properly, so you won’t end up with water damage.

Are Ducted or Ductless Systems Better?

The best way to determine what’s ideal for your home and your family’s needs is an in-depth conversation with a qualified HVAC expert, especially if your home lacks ductwork or your ducts are in poor condition! Is a ducted heat pump best for everyone? Installation will be quicker and less costly if you use your existing ducts. If you have any questions about heat pumps, don’t hesitate to reach out!

For all of your heat pump needs and more, contact Bill’s Superheat, Inc. today! Here to Save the Day!

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