The exterior component of a ductless mini-split attached to a home's exterior brick wall

Like many homeowners, you may be wondering justwondering how just how energy efficient mini-splits systems actually are.  Natural gas heat is often considered the cheapest option on the current market. 

Electric furnaces tend to be expensive to run but how does that affect heat pumps?

Let’s take a look.

Do Ductless Mini Splits Run on Electricity?

Ductless mini-splits are a fully electric system. They connect to your home’s main panel like an air conditioner. These units are heat pumps, meaning they transfer heat instead of creating it. There is no need for natural gas.

While it varies by model, the average electricity used to run a 9,000-BTU mini-split is 600 watts/hour, per zone.

How Mini-Split Systems Work

A ductless mini-split system includes a single outdoor compressor and one or more indoor air handler. Each of the indoor air handlers (also called “heads”) can provide both heating and cooling to a designated zone.

These systems work best for temperature control of single rooms and small spaces.

A ductless mini-split installed below the roofline ceiling on the second story of a home
Installation of a mini-split’s air-handling unit inside a home

Mini splits are a popular choice because they can provide both heating and cooling in a single system. 

Similar to an AC system, the refrigerant in the lines absorbs heat and transfers it from one area to another. And since mini splits use heat pump technology, they can work in reverse and provide heat as well.  

How Much Electricity Does a Ductless Mini-Split Use?

Most people think electric heat = expensive. While that may be true in many cases, it isn’t the case for mini splits.

Mini splits don’t have to create heat like a furnace does. There is no flame involved. Mini splits find heat within the air and move it around (even when the temperatures drop below zero).

Generally speaking, each indoor head is going to use between 500 and 700 watts of electricity per hour. While they can be expensive to install, they will likely use less power than a central HVAC system. The most important thing is to make sure they are sized properly for your home.

If the system is too small, it will run constantly as it tries to maintain temperature. 

If the system is too large, it will short cycle. In both cases, you will see higher utility bills and decreased performance from your mini split system.

The external component of a ductless mini-split

Does Your Ductless Mini-Split Need a Surge Protector? 

A surge protector is never a bad idea. It doesn’t happen very often but we do see equipment failures from lightning strikes and power surges. Sometimes the transformer takes the hit, sometimes the board fries completely. 

Control boards can be expensive to replace when they do fail. You can get whole-home surge protectors as well as appliance-specific ones. Depending on your home setup and how many electronic appliances you have, it may be more cost effective to go with the whole-home system.

A promo shot of the APC Smart Plug Wi-Fi Strip surge protector
Courtesy of Android Authority

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