Do Mini Splits Heat? A Guide to Ductless Mini Split Heating

HVAC Logo IconBy Tom MoorOctober 18, 2023


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Ductless mini splits are changing the way we think about heating and cooling our living spaces. Ductless systems offer a range of benefits, including energy efficiency, precise temperature control, and the flexibility to install them anywhere in a home.

While ductless mini splits have been in use for decades, many homeowners are just now becoming familiar with these HVAC systems. One common misconception about ductless mini splits is that they only offer cooling during the warmer months, leaving many homeowners to wonder – do mini splits heat? Keep reading as explores the impressive heating capabilities of mini splits, how they function, and the temperature ranges they can handle.

What Is a Ductless Mini Split?

In addition to cooling, ductless mini splits also provide heating during the cold-weather season to maintain comfortable spaces year-round.

So what exactly is a mini split, and how does it work? Mini splits are a type of heat pump, with one key distinction – they don’t require ductwork. Instead, ductless mini splits consist of an outdoor condenser unit and one or more indoor air handling units installed on walls or ceilings. These indoor and outdoor components are connected by a conduit containing a power cable, refrigerant tubing, and a condensate drain.

In contrast to a central HVAC system, mini splits provide heating and cooling to specific rooms or areas within a home. Some common applications for ductless mini splits include:

  • Garages, attics, and basements not connected to the existing HVAC system.
  • Bonus rooms above garages and sunrooms.
  • Guest houses.

Some homeowners also choose to install multiple mini splits, allowing them to create temperature zones throughout their homes.

How Do Mini Splits Heat?

Ductless mini splits operate similarly to central air conditioners for cooling during the warmer months, using a refrigerant to extract heat from indoors and expel it outdoors through the compressor.

One of the most remarkable features of mini splits is their ability to provide efficient heating during cold weather. Even in cold weather, there’s sufficient heat in the air to keep you warm.

Ductless mini splits operate in reverse during cold weather by using refrigerant to extract heat from the outdoor air. This captured heat is then transferred to the indoor air handling unit, which in turn disperses warm air into your living space.

Temperature Range for Mini Split Heating

Traditional mini splits can operate efficiently in temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit and often require a backup heating source, or a dual-fuel system, which consists of a mini split and typically a gas furnace.

Can mini splits heat even in extreme winter weather? Although their efficiency may decrease as the temperature drops, new technology has made modern mini splits highly efficient in temperatures even below zero. “Cold-weather heat pumps” can operate as low as minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to Energy Star, newer mini split models that meet Energy Star efficiency ratings function in extremely cold climates by utilizing advanced compressors and refrigerants. If you reside in a cold climate, consult your local HVAC contractor to choose an Energy Star model suited to your specific environment.



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