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Douglas Cooling & Heating Blog

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


If you’re exploring your home heating and cooling options, we strongly recommend heat pumps. They’re ideal for providing extremely efficient heat in a climate with mild winters like ours, and they will also keep you cool and comfortable during our long summers. But even if you have already decided that a heat pump is the right choice for you, there’s another question that needs answering: should you get a ducted or ductless system?

There’s no one correct answer to this question. It depends on your home and your priorities. We can help you understand the considerations so you can better weigh your options. Here’s what you should know about the differences between ductless heat pump systems and a heat pump with ductwork.

Some Homes Have No Ducts

It’s rare in our area, but some older homes don’t have ductwork. It was only in the 1960s that ductwork started to be added when new homes were constructed. While many older homes have had ducts added, some have not. 

If you’ve been relying on window AC units and would have to have ductwork installed in your home to have central air, a ductless heat pump system is the way to go. The installation process will be quicker, simpler, and less invasive than duct installation, and will take up less space in your home.

Some Homes Have Damaged Ducts

In fact, if your ducts are more than a decade old, it’s almost a certainty that they’re not in flawless condition. Damage can be caused by something specific, like a nail puncturing a hole while someone was hanging a painting. But also, deterioration from time passing is inevitable. 

Duct leakage is so widespread and common that it’s estimated that in the average American home, around 30% of heated and conditioned air is lost through cracks and holes in ductwork. This adds up to a lot of energy waste, and a very significant chunk of your utility bills!

It’s entirely possible to have ducts repaired and sealed. As long as damage is relatively minor or contained to a limited section of ductwork that’s easy to replace, continuing to use your ductwork would be simpler and less expensive than having a ductless system installed. But if your duct damage is serious or widespread, a ductless system would be the better choice.

Efficiency Matters

Even if your ducts are in good shape, if you want to invest in the most efficient option possible, that would be ductless. There’s thermal loss along ductwork which means that not all the heat or coolness generated by your system will make it to the vents and into your living space. In contrast, a ductless heat pump creates the heated or cooled air right at the air handler where it’s blown out.

The other way that ductless systems are more efficient is zone control. Each air handler has its own thermostat, allowing you to only use heating or cooling where it’s actually needed. When you don’t have to keep the whole house at the same temperature, you’ll save a lot of energy—and money.

We’re always happy to answer any other questions you may have about heat pump installation in Shelby County, AL.

“Your experience is what matters most!” Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating today for help with all your heating needs.

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