Are Ductless Mini Splits Right for Colder Climates?
A ductless mini-split is a standalone unit that operates independently from other heating systems. This type of heating system is typically chosen to supplement a larger, whole-house system when zoned temperature control is desired. It’s a popular option for new construction when rooms are added and ductwork doesn’t exist or when ductwork is cost-prohibitive to add. Mini-splits are also chosen to heat spaces when the existing HVAC system is not adequately doing the job.
Like traditional heat pumps, ductless mini splits work by transferring ambient heat from outdoors to indoors. Because they function similarly to traditional heat pumps, they leave many homeowners wondering if they are an appropriate choice for colder climates here in the Northeast. In our region, traditional whole-house, ducted heat pump systems are generally considered to be effective down to around freezing (32◦F), after which most systems are programmed to switch to a secondary heat source such as an oil-fired furnace. Ductless mini-splits, however, are smaller systems that do not use ducting and, therefore, experience less heat loss. Instead of heating the entire home, mini splits are focused on a single space, and their design, available technology, and overall performance are much more efficient at lower temperatures. In fact, some models are rated for outdoor temperatures as low as -15◦F.
How well a specific ductless mini-split can heat a space depends entirely on the performance rating of the unit. Some models are able to maintain near maximum BTUs even when operating at their lowest outdoor temperature rating while others can experience a significant drop in BTU output at lower temperatures. To choose a ductless mini-split with optimal ratings for your climate and heating needs, contact an experienced HVAC professional to help you size the unit and select the best model. Your HVAC technician can also help you choose the best location for your mini-split and can properly install both the indoor and outdoor components for maximum comfort.