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. When you are done reading about the myths regarding these units, check out how much ductless AC units cost. 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

Myth #1 emerged 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% 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% 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 Heat Pumps Don’t Last Long

With proper maintenance, ductless heat pumps can last 15-20 years or more, which is comparable to traditional HVAC systems. Regular cleaning, filter changes, and professional servicing can help extend the life span of your ductless system.

4. 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.

5. Ductless Mini-Splits Are Hard to Clean

While ductless mini-splits have filters that need regular cleaning, the process is straightforward and almost all homeowners can do it themselves. Simply remove the filter, vacuum or wash it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and replace it. HVAC contractors recommend professional cleaning every 1-2 years to ensure optimal performance and air quality.

6. Ductless Heat Pumps Take Too Long to Heat and 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.

Smart Home
Today’s ductless heat pumps are optimized for smart home technology.

7. 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 misconceptions 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.

8. Ductless Heat Pumps Provide Uneven Heating and Cooling

Ductless mini-split systems provide targeted, zoned heating and cooling, allowing you to maintain different temperatures in different areas of your home. When you get the right size for your space (along with a correct installation), ductless systems deliver even and consistent comfort throughout the entire room or area in your home.

9. Ductless Heat Pumps Are Only for New Homes

Ductless heat pumps are versatile and can be installed in both new construction and existing older homes. They are particularly well-suited for homes without existing ductwork or for additions where extending the central HVAC system would be impractical or costly.

10. Ductless Systems Don’t Work in Home Additions

Ductless air conditioning is an excellent choice for home additions, as it provides targeted heating and cooling without the need to extend existing ductwork. This makes it a cost-effective and efficient solution for additions, renovations, or areas of your home that require supplemental heating and cooling.

11. Ductless Heat Pumps Collect and Distribute Pathogens

Ductless heat pumps are designed with built-in air filtration systems that can help improve indoor air quality by capturing dust, allergens, contaminants, and other particles. When you properly clean and maintain them, ductless systems won’t blow germs and bacteria around your home.

Final Thoughts

Ductless air conditioners, or ductless mini-splits, give you a flexible, efficient, and cost-effective alternative to traditional central HVAC systems. By dispelling these common misconceptions, I hope you have a better understanding of the benefits and capabilities of ductless systems.

If you’re considering a ductless solution for your home, consult with a professional HVAC contractor to determine the best option for your specific needs and budget.

Want to learn more? Resources for ductless heat pump installers and homeowners are available at GoingDuctless.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are ductless air conditioners more expensive than central air?

Depending on the size and layout of your home, the initial cost of a ductless system could be higher. However, ductless systems are more cost-effective in the long run due to their energy efficiency and targeted heating and cooling capabilities.

Can ductless air conditioners heat and cool my home?

Yes, most ductless systems are heat pumps, which means they can both heat and cool your home.

Can I install a ductless air conditioner myself?

Some manufacturers offer DIY installation kits. However, if you’re not experienced with electricity, I recommend hiring an HVAC technician for installation.

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Reviewed for accuracy, cost data, industry best practices, and expert advice by Jonathon Jachura.
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Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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Jonathon Jachura


Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

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