A homeowner sits at a desk against a wall below a mini-split's head unit near the ceiling

When you want to warm your home, you turn on the heater or furnace. When you crave cooling, it’s the air conditioner. You’ve heard that a ductless mini-split heat pump can heat and cool your home depending on the settings. Is that true?

This article is for you if you want to learn even more about how mini-splits work, including both cooling and heating functions. We have lots of handy info to share, so keep reading! 

Do Mini-Split Heat Pumps Both Heat and Cool?

Ductless mini-splits can indeed provide both heating and cooling. The heat pump uses heat exchanger coils in the winter to provide warmth and then reverses the process in the summer to generate cool air. 

So how does this process work, exactly?

How a Mini-Split Provides Heating

Given the name and all, a mini-split heat pump is undoubtedly excellent at providing heating throughout your home. Let’s take a closer look at how that happens.

Within the system, refrigerant lines connect the condenser outside to the indoor air-handler or head units. You can have up to four internal units to heat at least four zones per condenser.

When you turn on the mini-split to warm your home, heat exchanger coils within the pump system activate. The heat pump will take outdoor air and send it through the system. 

The outdoor compressor component of a ductless mini-split

The refrigerant within the pump system, which starts out very cold, will absorb heat and release heat energy. As this happens, the liquid refrigerant undergoes pressurization and becomes a gas.

This process causes the temperature to change as the refrigerant’s status does—the refrigerant is now warmer.

The mini-split takes a few times to cycle through and produce warm enough air according to how you set the thermostat. But, you’ll begin noticing the difference quickly enough, and you’ll be gladder for it! 

How a Mini-Split Provides Cooling

A ductless mini-split can also cool your home. How the heat pump works in the spring and throughout the summer when the temperatures climb is quite different from how it handles winter temps.

The indoor air-handling units each have an evaporator, and that evaporator is critical for cooling from the heat pump. The pump will take air from inside your house rather than outside, collecting the air using the evaporator. 

Closeup on a mini-split air-handler unit

Liquid refrigerant reaches the evaporator, and a depressurization process makes the liquid into a gas again. The gas gets extremely cold and begins absorbing heat from within the house. 

Next, the gas refrigerant travels to the compressor outdoors. By the time it reaches this point, its temperature has gone up significantly after handling all that hot air. Plus, the gas has turned back into a liquid.

The liquid coolant – which is still very hot at this point – reaches the condenser coils of your heat pump system. Simultaneously, a powerful fan starts blowing air over the coils, causing the heat energy within the liquid coolant to expel.

The heat from the refrigerant goes outdoors, not indoors. So after releasing the heat energy, the refrigerant is a lot cooler. It can then go to the evaporator for a second time.

As was the case with your system warming the house, it takes a few cycle-throughs for the mini-split to begin releasing air as cold as you want, but it will feel divine. 

Other Benefits of a Mini-Split

Mini-split heat pumps are advantageous for a variety of reasons. Let’s take a closer look at several. 

Cools and Heats All in One Unit

Right now, you may be relying on two separate units for two distinct functions when you don’t have to. A ductless mini-split will do both all from one unit.

An illustrated diagram of how a ductless mini-split system functions

Think of how much more beneficial this will be for you. You will only have one machine to maintain rather than pay for twice the maintenance. Rather than pay twice the utility bills, you’ll save money. 

When the time comes for a replacement, you won’t have to replace two units, only one! 

Improved Energy Efficiency

Even if you combine how energy-efficient your current heater and air conditioner are, they will still not top a mini-split’s energy efficiency. 

Mini-splits are up to 30% more energy-efficient than traditional HVAC units. So you can feel good that you’re doing your part for the environment and our planet each time you run your mini-split heat pump. 

Utility Bill Savings

As we’ve proven, the cash savings potential of a mini-split heat pump is very significant. In addition, we’ve established that you’re cutting down on how many HVAC units you need, which will put more money in your pocket.

Plus, with the higher level of energy efficiency that your mini-split boasts, your utility bills will come down and stay down month after month! 

Reduced Humidity 

The mini-split heat pump’s evaporator coil gathers condensation that would linger in your home as moist air. 

Too much humidity in the air can lead to mold and mildew development. In addition, dust mites, bacteria, and viruses are likelier to propagate. 

You’ll be happier and healthier with your mini-split system.

Better Temperature Control

A homeowner sits on the couch in her living room, appearing satisfied while adjusting her mini-split evaporator with a remote control

Of course, we must talk about how you have much more temperature control once you switch to a ductless mini-split heat pump.

When the technician installs the system, you can choose the placement of the air-handling units according to your zoning preferences. Zones are areas your house can be divided into that may need different heating or cooling than other areas.

Not only does zoned heating and cooling prevent the wasteful use of a heater or air conditioner, but it’s also exact. In addition, your air-handling unit will include a remote for controlling a thermometer.

You could set some parts of the house slightly warmer and others slightly cooler with a ductless mini-split!

Conclusion 

Mini-split heat pumps offer the capacity to heat and cool your house so that you can rely on one solution throughout the year. As a result, you’ll save money on your utility bills, improve your home’s energy efficiency, and enjoy precise heating and cooling! 

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