When Ductless Mini-Split systems, also known as Ductless Heat Pumps, began to surge in popularity around the Pacific Northwest, a number of myths and misperceptions sprung from the word-of-mouth of the unacquainted and uninformed. Outdated information can spread as quickly as praise and recommendations keeping homeowners from making the best choices about heating and cooling.
To demystify those misbegotten first impressions, here are the five most common misconceptions about going ductless, and why the comfort and efficiency of ductless heat pumps work a whole lot better than you may have heard.
Myth 1) They take too long to heat or cool the house.
In a home with an electric (or gas/propane) furnace, the unitary system comes on full-blast and then turns off when the set temperature has been reached.
Ductless heat pumps, however, heat and cool by running at a consistent mid-to-low speed, providing a more constant temperature and less of a hot or cold “swing” in between cycles, as a furnace does.
Unlike with a furnace, where a homeowner might set the thermostat back while they are sleeping or away from the house, ductless heat pumps allow users to set it and forget it. With high-efficiency equipment, not needing to set your system back means great savings and stable temperatures.
Myth 2) They make too much noise.
Up until the last decade, most large, central air source heat pumps and air conditioners were indeed loud. Both the outdoor unit (the compressor) and the air moving through the system fan produced noticeable noise.
Today, however, ductless heat pumps benefit from smaller size and more advanced compressor technologies. This means much quieter outdoor units, and indoor units that are nearly silent at low speed — quieter than a window AC unit or a box fan on high.
Myth 3) They can’t handle cold climates.
Ten years ago, this may have been true in some cases. But today’s ductless heat pumps offer some of the most efficient and effective heating for cold weather climates available. Ductless systems are now popular choices even in Scandinavia and the cold regions of North America — in fact, in some parts of the Northwest, including the cold and mountainous Cascade region, contractors exclusively stock and sell cold-climate ductless heat pumps.
Today, every major manufacturer (and some of the smaller ones, too) offers “extended capacity,” or cold-climate, ductless heat pumps. In fact, most cold-climate ductless systems are able to provide at least 80–85% of their heating “oomph” at temperatures as cold as 5 °F, making them the go-to for many HVAC contractors who work in colder areas.
Myth 4) They won’t look good in my home.
When ductless heat pumps were first introduced in the United States, homeowners hesitated to install “that box on the wall.”
But ductless systems now come in a variety of shapes, sizes and configurations, with models that seamlessly fit a home’s stye.
Once homeowners have spent some time with their ductless system, around 95% report being satisfied or highly satisfied. With jurisdictions now adopting home energy scores as a part of the home sale process, ductless heat pumps are even more attractive to future homebuyers.
Myth 5) They’re not compatible with smart homes.
Homeowners are becoming increasingly tech-savvy, asking questions about integrating their appliances with smart home technologies like Amazon Alexa.
Many manufacturers are working to create ways for third-party smart thermostats to work better with ductless heat pumps — compatible products will often advertise “Works with Nest” or “Works with Alexa.”
Some ductless manufacturers use their own smart thermostats and connected controls and apps for their equipment. For example, Daikin has the ONE+ thermostat. These proprietary apps and thermostats are easy to connect, and provide many of the same features as more well-known smart thermostats on the market. Beyond that, some are also now beginning to work directly with Alexa, Nest and potentially others.
A Hit, Not a Myth!
Ductless heat pumps have come a long way in terms of performance, aesthetics and features. As a result, the myths about ductless heat pumps are relics of the past (if they were ever true in the first place). Ductless systems today deliver maximum comfort along with excellent efficiency and savings.