Mini splits are ideal for climate control in single rooms and small spaces. They are a popular choice for supplemental heating and cooling in home additions, offices, garage spaces, and a number of other applications.
They make great AC options for homes with boiler heat and situations without existing ductworks. And because of their energy efficient technology, they have even been used in place of central HVAC systems on many new installs.
But can mini splits really be used as a stand-alone HVAC system for an entire house? Are there any drawbacks?
Can You Heat And Cool Your Entire Home With A Mini Split?
The size of your home, your heating and cooling requirements, as well as your budget are all factors in your HVAC solution.
You can configure an entire home, even a large one, to utilize one or more mini splits. But it might not necessarily be the best choice.
What Is a Ductless Mini-Split?
A ductless mini-split is a heat pump that provides both cooling and heating for your home. It works similar to a central AC system, but it can run in reverse to provide heat as well.
There are two main components to this system: the indoor air handler (also called the evaporator or head unit) and the outdoor condenser, which houses the compressor that pumps refrigerant around the system.
These systems require no ductwork. The indoor head mounts directly on the wall, where it uses a fan to circulate air. Because these systems don’t use ductwork, they can only provide temperature control for small spaces.
Depending on your specific heating and cooling needs, you can have one indoor head, or multiple. This makes them a good choice for zoning, but they can struggle to heat and cool a large home by themselves.
Benefits of a Mini-Split System
Mini-splits offer several benefits over traditional central air heating and cooling systems.
- High efficiency compared to central air (around 30% of the heating or cooling energy is lost in ductwork due to leaks and other issues).
- Quiet operation. Most homeowners say they can barely hear the fan running. It also eliminates any sounds from ductwork that are present with forced-air systems.
- Homeowners can create zones to maintain different temperatures in different parts of the home (e.g., more comfortable bedrooms. office/work spaces).
- Lower operation costs. These systems have built-in technology to regulate their efficiency.
- Ideal for providing extra heat for an add-on room, attic conversion, or insulated garage
- Easy installation without concerns for ductwork makes them perfect AC solutions for homes with boiler and electric baseboard heat.
Can One Mini-Split Cool Multiple Rooms?
For closed-off spaces like bedrooms, one head per room is ideal.
For open areas, such as living rooms, kitchens and entry ways, a single head unit should be sufficient for the entire combined area.
Since a single condenser (the part outside) can connect to multiple heat units, you can usually provide comfortable heating and cooling for an entire home.
Larger homes may need more than one unit. While this is doable, a central HVAC may be a better choice for the homeowner.
Other issues include heating bathrooms and closet spaces. These areas are typically ducted with a central HVAC system. And bathrooms can get quite cold and uncomfortable during the winter months without heat!
A solution for this is to get a ducted mini split. The ducted version can be piped into the bathroom to provide heating. It is the same technology as the ductless air handler, but with the capabilities to add ductwork.
Approximate Size of Mini-Split Heat Pump Required to Heat Different Floor Areas*
|Size of Unit (Btu/h)
|Floor Area to be Heated or Cooled (ft2)
*These are approximate figures, provided as a guide only. Do not rely on these figures for sizing your mini-split. You must get professional advice to obtain accurate sizes for your home.
Mini-splits are a popular, energy-efficient HVAC choice. While they are more than capable of maintaining comfortable temperatures throughout your entire home, every home is different and it is a good idea to look at all options.
IF you have a central HVAC system and are looking for a replacement, it may be better to simply replace the old unit. Or, depending on the setup of your home, you could save money on operation costs with a new mini split.
Your best bet is to contact a few different HVAC companies in your area and have them out to your home for an estimate.
Most HVAC companies service all types of heaters, from central air to boilers, baseboards and, of course, mini splits. They will give you a better idea of what is the right choice for your home.