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Ducted Vs Ductless Heat Pumps: What’s the Difference?


When reading about HVAC systems, the terminology can be confusing to the average layperson. We often get questions about heat pumps from confused homeowners who have searched online for options to keep their homes cool and “heat pump” comes up.

Other common questions include, “What’s the difference between a heat pump and a mini split?” and “What’s the difference between ducted and ductless heat pumps?” We’re going to answer these questions so you can be a smart consumer when deciding on heat pump installation in Gallatin County, MT.

The Name “Heat Pump” Can Be Confusing

When you know how heat pumps work, it’s not the misnomer you’d initially think it is. Heat pumps are a type of HVAC system that has two modes: heating and cooling. They work by “pumping” heat from one location to another.

When a heat pump is in cooling mode, it “pumps” heat from inside your home to the outside. When it’s in heating mode, it taps into the ambient heat in the air outside and transfers it into your home. 

You may be thinking–stop right there–there couldn’t possibly be enough heat in a Montana winter for a heat pump to tap into. But there is! In fact, cold-weather heat pumps work efficiently in sub-zero temperatures. More on those in a minute!

What’s the Difference Between Ducted & Ductless Heat Pumps?

Your online searches have undoubtedly made references to ductless heat pumps and ducted heat pumps. So what’s the difference? In this case, the names are apt. 

  • Ductless heat pumps don’t require ductwork.
  • Ducted heat pumps do require ductwork. 

It’s that simple. The set-up of a ducted heat pump system is similar to that of a central air conditioner with both an indoor and outdoor unit. The conditioned air is delivered to the home via ductwork.

So, What’s a Mini Split?

A mini split is a heat pump. They’re also called ductless mini splits or ductless heat pumps. Because they don’t require ductwork, they’re ideal for many different situations. 

For new construction, the installation of ductwork can be eliminated. For older homes with ductwork that isn’t in great shape, instead of replacing or repairing the ductwork, a mini split system could be installed to bypass the need for ductwork altogether.

Mini splits are also ideal for small homes that don’t have a lot of square footage and space is at a premium. If you’ve added on to your home, or you want to be able to heat a space like a garage, workshop, or shed, mini splits are the perfect solution. 

Cold Climate Heat Pumps

Cold climate heat pumps are specifically designed to work efficiently even in negative temperatures. They’re available in ducted and ductless systems. They’re a great option for homeowners who don’t have a backup heating system in their homes such as a furnace or a fireplace. With a cold-climate option, you won’t have to worry about its ability to efficiently heat and cool your home.

Contact Ambient Air Solutions today for professional heat pump installation in Gallatin County, MT. Simplifying Heating & Cooling!

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