When looking for a heating and cooling system for your residence, it’s essential to choose one that balances efficiency, operation and the impact on your wallet. That’s why many homeowners use mini-splits for comfort in their home.

Mini-splits—often called ductless mini-splits—have several advantages that make them an attractive solution for both homes and businesses. They're extremely energy efficient, decreasing energy consumption and saving on utility bills, because they avoid the energy losses affiliated with the ductwork found in traditional HVAC systems. They also enable users to tailor the temperature in each room, improving overall comfort while not wasting energy.

If you’re contemplating mini-split installation in Phoenix, it’s necessary to first find out if these devices are the right solution for your living situation. Here, we’ll explore how mini-splits measure up to other heating and cooling systems.

What a Mini-Split Is and How It Works

A mini-split, or ductless mini-split, is a heating and cooling mechanism that has no ductwork. It's a popular choice in homes that don't have existing air ducts and for homes with rooms that aren’t served well by an existing HVAC system.

A mini-split system is made of two main components: an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air-handling component. These are linked by a conduit containing the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing and a condensate drain.

Here's how it works: the outdoor compressor distributes the refrigerant necessary for heat exchange within the coils and the air handler. The interior component brings in air from the room, cools or heats it over the coils and pushes the conditioned air back into the room.

Mini-Split vs. Central Air

Mini-splits offer targeted cooling in certain rooms or zones of your household. They are outstanding for energy efficiency because they only condition the areas you choose. However, they may not blend seamlessly into every area due to the fact they have wall-mounted indoor units.

On the other hand, a central air system uniformly chills your entire home, producing consistent comfort levels throughout. Its ductwork is hidden away, preserving the interior design of your home. On the other hand, it may not be as energy efficient as a mini-split, especially in larger homes or residences where certain areas may not need constant conditioning.

Mini-Split vs. Window AC/Window Unit

Mini-splits are usually more energy efficient and not as loud as a window air conditioning unit and are able to cool multiple rooms. This is why mini-splits are a convenient choice for many homeowners. They also utilize a type of refrigerant that is more environment-friendly, limiting their environmental impact. These units can even add value to your home due to their durable nature and remarkable cooling capabilities. However, they come with a larger purchase price.

On the other hand, window AC units are less expensive initially. They might be a good fit for homes that cannot accommodate a central AC system or for homeowners with budget constraints. Even with these advantages, window units can consume up to 40% more energy than ductless mini-split systems and are often noisier.

Mini-Split vs. Portable AC

The answer to what is better, a ductless mini-split or a portable air conditioning unit, will depend on on your goals. If your main focus is energy efficiency and performance, a mini-split is considered far superior to a portable AC unit. However, if finances is a key concern, a portable AC is less expensive.

Mini-Split vs. Gas Furnace

Choosing between a mini-split system and a gas furnace depends on an assortment of factors which can include the climate in your city, home size, energy efficiency preferences and budget.

A mini-split system most of the time is more energy efficient than a gas furnace. It can heat and cool targeted areas within your home, supplying custom climate control in specific rooms. Mini-splits also are for the most part quieter and have a larger up-front cost, but their operating costs are usually less due to their superior energy efficiency.

Alternatively, a gas furnace can be a very effective heating source, particularly in colder climates where mini-split heat pumps may not be able to maintain comfort levels in the bitter cold. While they are less energy efficient than mini-splits, gas furnaces typically cost less. Having said that, their operating costs can be more costly, especially if natural gas prices rise.

Mini-Split vs. Heat Pump

Mini-splits and heat pumps operate using the concept of heat transfer. They are both energy efficient, but a heat pump's ductwork can be less efficient. However, the choice between a mini-split and a heat pump often is based on on individual needs and circumstances.

By way of example, if you are living in a warmer climate and primarily need cooling, a mini-split system might be a good choice. On the other hand, if you want both heating and cooling and already have ductwork in place, a heat pump might be a more efficient option.

Mini-Split vs. Space Heater

In regards to heating and cooling a home, mini-splits and space heaters each have advantages. However, for all around efficiency, versatility, comfort and safety, mini-splits outperform space heaters. Mini-splits have superior energy efficiency because they deliver conditioned air straight to different zones and can serve multiple rooms at once.

Space heaters are much less expensive to buy but are typically reserved for heating a confined area or just one room. They also are usually less energy efficient. As opposed to mini-splits, space heaters do not provide cooling. The most significant drawback for space heaters is the chance of fire. Experts say some 1,700 fires per year involve space heaters.