An In-Depth Overview of Mini Splits vs. Heat Pumps

As technology advances, we have seen significant improvements in HVAC systems. Mini-splits and heat pumps are the two most used systems in residential and commercial facilities. How do they differ from each other? Which one should you choose? Knowing the answers to those questions can help you choose the right system for your space.


A mini-split system is made up of two main components: the outdoor unit and the indoor unit (or units). The outdoor unit contains a compressor responsible for cooling or heating the air in the system. The indoor unit, commonly called the air handler, is mounted on the wall and connected to the outdoor unit by refrigerant lines. The indoor unit also contains a fan and an evaporator, which cools or heats the air circulating inside your home or office.

Mini splits work on the same principle as central air conditioning systems. However, they are smaller, easier to install, and more energy efficient. During the summer months, the heat from the indoor air is absorbed by the refrigerant flowing through the evaporator in the indoor unit. The refrigerant is then pumped through the lines to the outdoor unit, where the heat is released into the atmosphere. The cooled air is then circulated back into your home or office.

Advantages of Mini-Splits

Ductless mini-splits have become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks in large part to the energy efficiency that they offer. Here are some of the significant advantages and disadvantages that come with mini-splits.

Energy Efficiency

One of the significant advantages of mini splits is their energy efficiency. They consume less energy than wall-mounted air conditioners because they don’t have to cycle on and off continuously. Almost all mini-splits have inverter technology that can maintain the constant temperature of your room without turning it off and on. This technology lowers your electricity bill and can save you a lot of money in the long term.

Zone Control

Another benefit of mini-split systems is their zonal cooling or heating capabilities. Mini-splits allow you to have multiple indoor units, each with its own thermostat control. This allows you to set a unique temperature in each room and heat or cool areas that require it while leaving unoccupied rooms less comfortable. This leads to increased efficiency.

Easy Installation

As a ductless system, there is no cumbersome ductwork installation process required. Only an outdoor unit and an indoor unit need setting up. The system typically takes around a day to set up, allowing you to start heating and cooling your home quickly.

Quiet Operation

Unlike central air conditioning systems, the mini-split system’s indoor units are exceptionally quiet. You can sleep soundly while the mini-split air conditioner operates silently in the background.

Disadvantages of Mini-Splits

High Initial Cost

The most significant disadvantage of mini-splits involves their high upfront cost. Installing a mini-split system can be more expensive than traditional AC units, especially if you require multiple indoor units for larger homes.


Since mini-splits require a hole in the wall to connect the indoor unit to the outside, they may not be aesthetically pleasing to some. Additionally, indoor units can sometimes be bulky and obtrusive, making them difficult to incorporate into certain interior designs.


While mini splits have fewer moving parts than traditional AC units, they still require routine maintenance to operate efficiently. Filters need to be cleaned, the outdoor and indoor units require periodic cleaning, and the refrigerant levels need to be checked and recharged periodically.

Heat Pumps

A heat pump is a device that transfers heat from one place to another, either by moving it from the air or ground outside a building to the inside, or by extracting it from the indoor air and moving it outside. Heat pumps can be used for heating or cooling and are much more energy-efficient than traditional systems with separate heating and cooling units.

Heat pumps use a refrigerant to absorb heat from one area and transfer it to another. In heating mode, they absorb heat from the air or ground outside and transfer it to the indoor space. When in cooling mode, they absorb heat from the indoor air and transfer it outside. This process is achieved through a series of heat exchange coils, compressors, and valves.

There are several types of heat pumps available, including air-source heat pumps, ground-source (or geothermal) heat pumps, and hybrid heat pumps. Air-source heat pumps are the most common and use the outside air as a heat source or sink. However, air-source heat pumps may not adequately heat homes in areas that experience extremely cold temperatures. Ground-source heat pumps are more efficient and use the ground or a nearby water source to extract or reject heat. Hybrid heat pumps use both an electric-powered heat pump and a gas or oil furnace to provide heating.

Advantages of Heat Pumps

Like any heating and cooling system, there are pros and cons associated with using a heat pump. Read on to learn the benefits of heat pumps.

Energy Efficient

Heat pumps are more efficient than many other heating and cooling options because they work by simply moving air around. This means that you can expect to significantly reduce your energy bills when you switch over to a heat pump. Additionally, heat pumps are also environmentally friendly, as they produce zero emissions.


A heat pump can be used to both heat and cool your home. You only need one system to accomplish both tasks, saving you money and space. Additionally, the system can adapt to changing weather conditions. It will automatically adjust itself to keep your home at a comfortable temperature without wasting energy.

Disadvantages of Heat Pumps

While there are many benefits to using a heat pump, there are also some potential disadvantages to be aware of.

Less Effective in Extremely Cold Climates

When the temperature dips below freezing, the heat pump must work harder to extract heat from the outside air. This means that it might not be able to produce enough heat to keep your home as warm as you would like in extremely cold weather. However, this can be overcome by using either a geo-thermal heat pump or having a hybrid system.

High Upfront Costs

While heat pumps can save you money in the long run, the initial investment can be quite high. Therefore, weighing this cost against the potential energy savings is important.

Noise Pollution

Heat pump systems can be quite noisy, especially during winter when defrost cycles are more frequent. The heat pump’s outdoor unit can make a loud humming noise that can disturb the peace and quiet of your home. Additionally, some heat pumps have indoor air handlers that produce a noticeable sound, which can bother some occupants. However, many modern heat pumps are designed with noise reduction in mind.

Call Professionals Today!

At The Lee Thompson Co., we’re here to ensure you stay comfortable all year round with our top-of-the-line heating, air conditioning, and indoor air quality services. When it comes to creating a healthy home or business environment, trust The Lee Thompson Co. to go above and beyond. Our knowledgeable technicians are here when you need them in the Houston area. Call The Lee Thompson Co. to schedule a consultation.