What Is The Difference Between A Central Heating Unit And A Mini-Split System?

When you are determining what sort of equipment you will use to heat and/or cool your home, you have two basic options based on the design of the system. Option one is a central heating or cooling unit. The second option is a mini-split system. You can further break down heating systems into the categories of furnace and heat pump and cooling systems into the categories of AC unit versus heat pump. You will notice that based on these categories, heat pumps can be used to both heat and cool a home. Thus, you may be wondering what the differences between a central heating system and mini-split systems really are if they can both be used to heat and cool a home. 

Central Heating

A central heating system could be either a furnace or a heat pump. A furnace will create its own heat; thus, no matter how cold it gets outside, you can still depend on a furnace to heat your home. On the other hand, a furnace maxes out at about 98.5% efficient with some modern models being as low as 80% efficient.

A heat pump extracts heat from the outside air and moves it into your home. A quality heat pump can move 2.5 units of heat for every unit of electricity it uses. In other words, a heat pump can reach efficiency levels of up to 250%. It should be noted, however, that the colder it gets outside, the harder a heat pump has to work, so the less efficient it will be. Thus, if you have to contend with a lot of sub-freezing temperatures, a furnace will be the more efficient option. 

Mini-Split Heating

Mini-split systems get their name from the fact that they use one set of coils outside your home and up to four smaller sets of coils inside your home. Furnaces do not use coils, so mini-split options used for heating are always heat pumps. As such they are limited by the same weakness describe above. 

Which is the better option?

A mini-split system can be used in a moderate climate to target which rooms in your home you will heat and cool. On the other hand, if you live in a cold climate, or you need to cool all or most of the rooms in a large house, then a central heating and air system will give you better results. While mini-split systems have some advantages as compared to centralized HVAC systems, they are not right for everyone. 

For more information, contact Apollo Heating & Air Conditioning or a similar company.