A mini-split heat pump gets its name from its physical configuration. Instead of having the entire system contained within a single piece of equipment, embedded on a window or wall, the heat pump is split into an indoor and outdoor unit.
source: Mitsubishi Comfort
Both units are connected with insulated refrigerant lines, allowing heat transfer between indoor spaces and the outdoor environment. The inside unit is called the evaporator and the outdoor unit is called the condenser.
- Heat pumps are available as cooling-only models and reversible models that operate as air conditioners during summer and as a heating source in winter.
- When purchasing a heating and cooling heat pump, you save on installation costs by combining two pieces of equipment into one.
Compared with traditional air conditioners and packaged terminal units, the main advantage of mini-splits in cooling mode is their superior energy efficiency. Even when using the least efficient mini-splits in the market, you can expect savings of over 25% compared with a window-type AC.
Even greater savings are possible when using a top efficiency mini-split system, and you can expect electricity consumption to drop by over 70%.
In heating mode, a heat pump is much more efficient than an electric resistance heater, capable of reducing electricity consumption by 50% or more.
When comparing heat pumps and gas furnaces, operating costs tend to be similar. However, a heat pump produces no greenhouse gas emissions while a furnace is constantly burning gas or other fuels.
Typical Cost of a Mini-Split Heat Pump
Like in any home upgrade project, the cost of a new mini-split heat pump will depend on factors like the equipment brand and its rated heating and cooling capacity.
You can also expect to pay more for higher-efficiency units, and local labor costs must also be considered. The installed price of a single-zone heat pump typically ranges from $3,600 to $8,000.