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Are a Heat Pump and a Mini Split the Same Thing?


You’ve probably heard of heat pumps and ductless mini split air conditioners. But you may be wondering if they are one and the same. Are these two terms interchangeable for the same type of air conditioning system? 

While a ductless mini split air conditioner does use a heat pump system, all heat pumps are not ductless. Whether you are interested in heat pump installation or ductless air conditioning installation in Staten Island, NY, our team is here to help. You can keep reading to learn more about these two unique systems, as well as their similarities and differences.

What Is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is an HVAC system that offers both heating and cooling all in one. If you have a central air conditioner, you also have a separate heater for your home because traditional central air conditioners don’t also offer heating.

But a heat pump has a reversing valve that allows refrigerant to move in the opposite direction, heating your home in the winter. A traditional heat pump system has a setup that is very similar to a central air conditioner. It connects to a network of ducts that lead to vents in each room of your home. Heated or cooled air channels through these ducts and into the rooms of your home. 

What Is a Mini Split?

A ductless mini split also has a heat pump operating system. This means that a ductless mini split can both heat and cool your home all using the same components. The difference is that a ductless mini split does not connect to a network of ducts located in your attic or basement. Just like the name implies, a ductless mini split is duct-free. 

And instead of having a large air conditioner that connects to your rooms using vents, you have smaller air handlers located throughout your home in various rooms or zones. You may have a ductless mini split in a single room or you may have one in a single zone, which would be several rooms that are connected together. An example of this would be a connected living room, kitchen, and dining room.


The only similarity between a traditional heat pump and a ductless mini split is that they are both heat pumps, offering heating and cooling all on the same system. Aside from that, the two units are vastly different.


And a heat pump has ductwork and cannot operate without it. A ductless mini split does not require any ductwork. A traditional heat pump has slightly higher energy costs because the connected ducts don’t allow for 100% of the cooled air to reach your home. Inevitably, some gets lost or trapped. A ductless mini split is considered highly energy efficient and offers the added benefit of energy costs that can be as much as 50% less than a traditional system. 

A traditional heat pump costs less to install upfront, but more to operate over its lifespan. A ductless mini split costs more to install upfront, but less to operate on a monthly basis. You have to complete homeowner maintenance on both systems, although the maintenance expectations for a ductless mini split are slightly higher since you’re technically servicing multiple individual units instead of one single unit.

Serving Staten Island’s Heating and A/C needs since 1955. Contact the Bob Mims team to schedule an appointment for your AC service today!

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