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Cooling + Heating Systems vs. Cooling Only Systems

Comparing Heat Pump Mini Splits with Cooling Only Systems

By |  
Product Expert

Besides the obvious fact that one provides heat and one does not, you'll want to know which mini split system is most suitable for your application.

Cooling + heating mini split systems can be used anywhere for producing cold air in the summer and warm air in the fall and winter. Cooling only mini split systems are typically used for server rooms or warm tropical places like Hawaii where heating is never needed.

However, as versatile as they are, cooling + heating mini split systems aren't without their limitations. In extremely cold temperatures, even the best heat pumps may not draw enough outdoor heat to warm your home.

Cooling + Heating Systems (Heat Pumps)
Mini Split Heat PumpsPerhaps you're looking to add air conditioning and heat into your home or vacation rental, and you want to find something efficient and economical to install. You can also install these as a ductless alternative to central air systems.

If you need cooling capabilities paired with a heat source, you can install a mini split cooling + heating system, which will provide you with cool air conditioning during warmer seasons, and the perfect amount of heat during colder seasons.

These are ideal for most areas, as long as the outside temperature doesn't drop too low. Some mini split heating + cooling systems are capable of providing heat in temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit, but most models will tap out when temperatures drop below 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Specific heating capabilities are detailed on the product pages, but you can always just call us for help.

Once the outside temperature drops too low, your system won't be able to draw a sufficient amount of outdoor heat to function properly. However, you can always retain a furnace or boiler as a backup heat source.

View & Shop All Mini Split Cooling + Heating Systems

Cooling Only Systems
Mini Split Air ConditionersIf you're simply looking to add air conditioning to combat heat and humidity, you might not need to have a cooling + heating (heat pump) unit. You may want to consider a mini split cooling only system. Cooling only systems are designed to deliver cool, conditioned air to specific zones. However, if you ever get cold, they're not capable of providing heat.

In most homes and offices, you're going to want heat when temperatures drop below 60 degrees. Even if you have a boiler or furnace, a mini split cooling + heating system can still be used as your primary source of heat with your boiler or furnace standing by as a back-up.

If you never need heat at all, then a cooling only unit will be sufficient for your needs. They're ideal for keeping a server room cool, and they may be a good option for tropical areas where temperatures rarely, if ever, drop below 60 degrees.

View & Shop All Mini Split Cooling Only Systems

The Science Behind How They Work
An air conditioner cools your home by capturing heat inside your home and rejecting it outside. To accomplish this, it begins by sending high pressure liquid refrigerant through an expansion valve. This refrigerant, now at a much lower pressure, is ready to evaporate into a gas and heads to the evaporator coil in the indoor unit.

Inside the indoor unit, warm indoor air is pulled across the evaporator coil, where it gives off its heat to the refrigerant and causes the refrigerant to evaporate. This hot refrigerant gas cycles back to the compressor in the outdoor unit where it is squeezed.

Like a sponge, squeezing the refrigerant causes it to release the heat it had absorbed inside the home to the outdoor air moving across the condenser coil. This also causes the refrigerant to become a liquid, so it can begin the cycle again.

A heating + cooling system (also called a heat pump system) cools your home in exactly the same way, but is also capable of reversing the flow of refrigerant to absorb heat outside and deliver it to the space being heated.

When reversed, the high pressure liquid refrigerant still goes through the expansion valve, but then heads to the coil in the outdoor unit instead of the indoor unit. In the outdoor coil, this refrigerant evaporates and absorbs heat from the outside air.

The refrigerant, now a hot gas, then goes through the compressor and to the indoor unit. Again under high pressure, the heat is squeezed out of the refrigerant, and the air moving across the indoor coil carries this heat into your room. The refrigerant is now back to being a high pressure liquid that can absorb more heat from the outdoor air”

You may think, "How is the refrigerant absorbing any heat from outside in the winter?" Unless it's extremely cold, the low-pressure refrigerant that's being depressurized by the valve in your outdoor unit will absorb any trace of heat it can find in order to expand. It takes extreme cold for that low-pressure refrigerant to not find any heat.

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