Homeowners across the country are installing ductless mini splits, or ductless heat pumps, to stay comfortable and save money on their heating and cooling. But as praise for ductless systems spreads, so do assumptions about how they look, sound and operate.
Those myths and misperceptions can keep homeowners from making informed choices about heating and cooling. Here are five common myths about ductless heat pumps and the facts to bust them.
1. Ductless heat pumps don’t work in cold climates.
Many years ago, some heat pumps struggled in the coldest temperatures. But ductless heat pumps have evolved: they now offer some of the most efficient and effective heating available for homes in cold climates.
Today, every major manufacturer offers “extended capacity,” or cold-climate, ductless heat pumps. These systems deliver at least 80 percent of their heating power at temperatures as cold as 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to the Northwest Ductless Heat Pump Project, ductless systems have even become popular choices in the cold regions of places like Scandinavia and North America. In some of these areas, installers exclusively stock and sell cold-climate ductless heat pumps.
2. Ductless heat pumps don’t look good
The earliest ductless heat pumps were boxy, intrusive units. Today’s ductless systems are sleek and subtle, with a suite of shapes, sizes and configurations to integrate seamlessly with any home.
And once homeowners are living with their ductless system, around 95 percent report being satisfied or highly satisfied. Ductless systems also add value to a home, as jurisdictions adopt home energy scores as a part of the home sale process.
3. Ductless systems make too much noise
Today’s ductless heat pumps are smaller and have more advanced compressor technology than alternatives or earlier ductless models, with much quieter outdoor units, and indoor units that are nearly silent at low speed. Ductless systems are quieter than a window AC unit or a box fan.
4. Ductless heat pumps take too long to heat / cool.
An electric or gas furnace comes on full-blast and then turns off when the home reaches a set temperature.
Ductless heat pumps heat and cool by running at a consistent mid-to-low speed and provide a more constant temperature and less of a hot or cold “swing” between cycles, as a furnace does. If homeowners keep in mind that a heat pump works differently than a furnace — and should, therefore, be operated differently — following some simple practices will keep their home at the right temperature.
Unlike a furnace, there is generally no need to set a ductless system’s thermostat back. With high-efficiency equipment, not needing to set your system back means great savings and stable temperatures.
Homeowners can still set the thermostat back when they’re away, but should reduce the temperature by no more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit. Unless they’ll be away for an extended time, homeowners should not set their thermostat below 62 degrees Fahrenheit — doing so can cause mildew to grow.
5. Ductless systems won’t work with my smart home.
Smart technology has expanded the possibilities for connections and convenience within the home, and ductless manufacturers have noticed. Look for models advertised as compatible with the smart devices in your home.
Some manufacturers use their own smart thermostats, controls and apps for their equipment. These apps and thermostats are easy to connect and provide the same features as other smart thermostats on the market.
Ductless heat pumps have come a long way in terms of performance, aesthetics and features. As a result, many of the myths about ductless heat pumps have become dated (if they were ever true in the first place).
Ductless systems today deliver maximum comfort along with efficiency and savings.
Want to learn more? Resources for ductless heat pump installers and homeowners are available at GoingDuctless.com.