Selecting a Ductless Heat Pump for Your Gray Area Home? What to Look For

ductless heat pumpIf you’ve heard whispers about the quiet and comfortable performance of ductless systems, and you’re curious if ductless cooling and heating is right for your home, you’ve landed on the right page. Read on to learn which efficiency features to shop for in ductless heat pumps that drive maximum comfort and energy savings for your Gray area home.

Made for Efficiency

The reason ductless heat pumps are such versatile and energy-efficient comfort systems is because that’s exactly why they were developed—to provide a space-saving alternative to ducted heating and cooling systems. Ductless heat pumps have been widely used in commercial buildings and businesses for decades. Their emergence in residential use in America in recent years has been largely driven by the advancements in energy efficiency, quiet operation and installation improvements for nicer aesthetics and greater mounting options.

Features to Look For

The driving forces behind ductless technology, perhaps more than any other HVAC system, are energy efficiency, versatile installation options and quiet, smooth comfort. These characteristics have defined ductless innovation through the decades, and that’s why ductless heat pumps only get better with age. If you want maximum cooling and heating performance for your Macon area home, look for these performance features:

  • Inverter technology – The heart of ductless heat pumps and any refrigerant-driven appliance or system is the compressor. Select ductless systems use the latest high-tech advances in compressor operation to deliver premium comfort and efficiency. Digital inverter-driven compressors are variable-speed systems that quietly prepare and precisely deliver refrigerant as needed for optimal heat exchange at the air-handling units (AHUs). Variable-speed compressor operation uses much less electricity than conventional single-stage compressor operation, and it’s one of the key components for exceptional ductless efficiency.
  • Multiple fan speeds – Adjustable and free airflow is the second ingredient for exceptional energy efficiency and comfort. Look for a ductless system that utilizes multi-speed fan control. Oscillating features are available, too, which help direct and circulate air through the zone. Ductless fans are designed to operate quietly for long and comfortable cooling and heating cycles.
  • Multi-phase filtration – If you install a ductless system with multi-phase air filtration, you are, in essence, installing a room air cleaner. Select filtration components neutralize odors and capture allergens, germs, viruses and other airborne contaminants.
  • Quiet operation – If you have a central A/C or heat pump system, you already know how noisy the compressor and blower can be, especially if the outside cabinet is right by your bedroom window. New ductless heat pumps with digital inverter compressors operate at literally whisper-quiet decibels.
  • Dehumidification mode – One of the natural bonuses of air conditioning systems is that they remove moisture from the home. Ductless systems are so efficient and performance-driven, they’re able to effectively remove moisture from AHU zones, much like portable dehumidifiers. Look for a ductless system with dehumidification mode so the air doesn’t feel so sticky to you, and you won’t stick to the furniture so much.
  • Turbo mode – Variable-speed compressors and multi-speed fans offer another convenience: turbo mode. Quickly bring the zone to the temperature you want with the touch of a button, or by timer or programming options.
  • Comfort controls – Ductless heat pumps offer multiple comfort control options to choose from. Handheld wireless devices are typically standard. You may also install a wired wall-mounted panel or link your ductless system to the home’s WiFi network for access and total comfort control anywhere you have a cell signal and your smartphone.

Efficiency Rating Matters

In matters of cooling and heating efficiency, it’s difficult to beat ductless heat pumps, as recognized by their high efficiency ratings. Efficiency ratings provide the information you need to compare models and make an educated decision for which system is best for your particular home improvement project. Efficiency ratings are integral for the following assessments:

  • Regional considerations – Ductless heat pumps are rated for cooling and heating efficiency. In the Macon area, we experience all four season changes, and about the same number of heating degree days and cooling degree days, so regional weather considerations aren’t quite as poignant. You do, however, need to consider the application for which your installation is intended. Are you installing a ductless heat pump for a remodeled attic conversion? Place emphasis on cooling efficiency. If you’re installing a ductless system for new living space in a converted basement, look at the heating efficiency of various ductless models.
  • Lifetime costs – The bottom line price of your new ductless heat pump is not only the purchase and installation price. That’s only part of the story. The true cost of your comfort investment is the sum of purchase and installation, and the estimated operating costs, maintenance and repairs for the life of your new ductless system. A lifetime cost analysis is important for home comfort systems and appliances because they’re used daily by your family, and you’re billed monthly by the utilities. While electricity prices fluctuate over the years, going strictly by the efficiency ratings gives you real percentages and numbers to base a decision.
  • Return on investment (ROI) – Another exceptional reason to ask your HVAC professional to perform a lifetime cost analysis is to determine the ROI for your new ductless system. As you’re researching and browsing different ductless systems, you may be wondering if a more expensive high-efficiency system is worth the extra investment. The key word here is investment, which the ROI defines. The ROI is the point at which you surpass the pricing difference between standard and high-efficiency systems through energy savings. From this point forward, all future energy savings are essentially investment gains on top of enjoying premium comfort.
  • New construction and replacements – Ductless heat pumps are recognized for providing energy-efficient heating and cooling for a wide variety of projects, no matter how tight the available space. Ductless systems are also gaining ground in whole-home comfort-system replacements and conditioning for new home construction. With a modular ductless configuration, you can provide genuine zoned cooling, dehumidification, heating and air cleaning for your entire home. Moreover, without the need for bulky ductwork, you may use valuable square footage for other home features, and save money on ductwork installation costs.

Energy Star Followers

Now, about those efficiency ratings. You’ve probably seen the blue Energy Star logo on various electronics and appliances. Energy Star qualification is also available for home comfort systems, and that’s a very good thing. The first criteria which to tighten up the field of potential ductless heat pumps for your home is Energy Star qualification.

The Energy Star program was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an effort to accelerate the development and installation of energy efficiency products. Driven by consumer demand for better energy savings and performance, the Energy Star has many followers. In order for your new ductless heat pump to qualify for the Energy Star program, it must meet stringent guidelines for cooling and heating efficiency, offer ROI in a reasonable time period and offer more advanced features than lesser efficient systems.

You’ll discover that ductless heat pumps are so energy efficient that most systems offered by HVAC contractors are Energy Star qualified. If you want the best system for your home, look for a new classification called Energy Star Most Efficient. All ductless systems bearing this designation are the best of the best for efficiency, performance and ROI, offering a minimum heating efficiency of 9.6 heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF), and a minimum cooling efficiency of 18 seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER).

The Energy Star program selects qualifying systems as listed by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE). CEE is an organization consisting of experts in energy efficiency from the U.S. and Canada. CEE engages construction and manufacturers industries of residential and commercial enterprises to promote valid energy savings through education, incentives and manufacturing. CEE uses a Tier system for classifying efficiency levels for products. For high-efficiency systems, look for Tier 3.

Cooling and Heating Efficiency

As you’re browsing ductless heat pumps, you’ll see SEER and HSPF displayed for cooling and heating efficiency, respectively. The higher the number, the greater energy efficiency the system delivers. SEER and HSPF are ratios of energy input to cooling and heating output. SEER and HSPF efficiency ratings are determined by placing a system through a simulation of seasonal weather conditions, with variations in temperature and humidity. Being a ratio percentage and not a steady-state test, SEER and HSPF are good indicators of how your heat pump will perform year after year.

If ductless heat pumps make sense for your home improvement project, or if you would like to learn more, please contact the professionals at Wilson Bryant Air Conditioning for more information.