Ducted vs. Ductless Heat Pumps: What’s Best?

  • June 17, 2024
  • By MR COOL

You’ve decided to efficiently manage the comfort of your home with a heat pump system, but you aren’t sure if a ducted or ductless system is right for you. Great news, here at MRCOOL® we will help you discover which system best fits your needs.

Together we’ll review the basics of a heat pump, the benefits of ducted and ductless heat pumps, and the situations best suited for each.

What is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is a lot like an air conditioning unit, which you’re probably familiar with. The biggest difference is that a heat pump can heat your home, as well!

In colder months, a heat pump moves heat from the outside into your home ensuring you are cozy and comfortable even when there’s snow and ice outside.

In warmer months, a heat pump moves the heat from inside your home to the outdoors, keeping you and your family fresh, cool, and content.

Since heat pumps move heat rather than generating it, this type of system is an energy efficient way to manage the temperature of your space. A MRCOOL® heat pump is a smart choice for savvy homeowners like you.

What is a Ducted Heat Pump?

A ducted heat pump moves warmth into or out of your home through ducts that are often hidden behind walls and ceilings and into or out of your rooms through grated vents, while conventional heating and cooling generates heat and moves it through hidden ductwork. So while the two options work differently, the look of a ducted heat pump system inside your home is similar to traditional HVAC equipment. 
Explore MRCOOL® ducted heat pump solutions to decide whether the Versa Pro, Central Ducted, or Universal System is best for you.

Ducted Heat Pump Advantages

The following are advantages for a ducted heat pump system:

  • All-In-One System:  Ducted heat pumps provide consistent temperature control throughout your entire home with a single unit, no matter how many rooms you have.
  • Hidden Components: A heat pump unit has an indoor unit that is often placed out of the way in a closet, attic, or basement. Unsightly ducts are also installed out of sight, so your living space can match your aesthetic.

Ducted Heat Pump Disadvantages

The following are disadvantages of a ducted heat pump system:

  • Complex Installation: Installing a ducted heat pump system can be more complicated and can be more expensive, especially if you do not have existing ductwork. However, many of the MRCOOL® split heat pumps are compatible with pre-charged line sets saving several steps in this process.
  • Upkeep: To ensure your system is performing optimally and providing you with the best air quality, the ducts require regular cleaning. Without this maintenance dust and other allergens can linger and eventually lead to blocked ducts, which can be expensive to repair.
  • Energy Loss: Over time ductwork insulation can leak and lead to reduced energy efficiency and higher energy costs. Typically, about 20 to 30 percent of the air moved through a duct system is lost due to leaks and poorly connected ducts. 

What is a Ductless Heat Pump?

Ductless heat pumps are also referred to as mini-splits and consist of an outdoor unit and indoor air handlers that are connected by refrigerant lines. These systems can be easier to install, and MRCOOL® has DIY mini-split options for single spaces and for multiple zones that you can put in yourself over a weekend without calling a professional.

MRCOOL® offers a variety of ductless heat pump options that cater to your space, needs, and preferences. Beyond our DIY mini-splits we also offer Easy Pro, Advantage, and Olympus ductless heat pumps. 

Ductless Heat Pump Advantages

The following are advantages of choosing a ductless heat pump for your home: 

  • Zoned Temperature Control: You can customize different rooms or zones based on what’s needed for each space, which can potentially lower your energy costs.
  • Energy Efficiency: Since mini-splits use refrigerated lines instead of ducts, there is reduced risk of energy loss which means your system is more efficient in the long run. They also use inverter technology resulting in significant energy savings and reduced electricity bills.
  • Simpler Installation: Ductless mini-splits are less intrusive to install since they only require a small hole in the wall for the line set.

Ductless Heat Pump Disadvantages

The following are possible disadvantages to choosing a ductless heat pump:

  • Mounted Air Handlers: The indoor units are visible and need to be mounted on a wall or ceiling. 
  • Reduced Airflow: Since each air handler manages a zoned area, airflow can be limited compared to a ducted system, depending on your home’s layout.

Which Should You Choose?

If your home has existing ductwork, choosing a ducted heat pump is likely the optimal choice since you can control the temperature of your whole home with a single unit. Another situation well suited for a ducted system are homes with many segmented rooms. This scenario might require more air handler units and additional heat pump condensers, which can be cost prohibitive.

However, a ductless system might be the better choice for a historic home where adding ductwork could affect the charming look of the space. Open floor homes lend themselves to a ductless mini-split since you can manage the comfort of more of the living areas with a single indoor unit. Ductless systems are also an excellent choice for home additions and other add-ons, especially if they have a specific purpose that requires separate temperature control.

Why Consider MRCOOL®

We can help you find the best solution for your needs and believe choosing the right heat pump is crucial for optimal comfort. MRCOOL® offers innovative, reliable, and energy-efficient heat pump solutions tailored to meet your specific needs and home layout. Whether you opt for a ducted or ductless system, MRCOOL® provides top-of-the-line products and detailed information to help you make the best choice.

Ready to explore your options and take the next step towards a more comfortable and efficient home or still have questions? Contact us by phone or email and we’ll happily help you choose the best heat pump solution for your home!

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