Ductless Mini Split Vs Baseboard Heat for a Mamora, NJ Home
For a long time, baseboard heat was the way to go for old homes. They kept the place warm without adding expensive, bulky ductwork. And, you had some flexibility in how each room felt.
But, these systems always had some drawbacks. Today, ductless mini splits are becoming more and more popular. While they have a few disadvantages as well, for the most part, they offer everything that baseboard heat does — and then some.
In this post, we’re looking at the pros and cons of ductless mini splits vs. baseboard heating.
We’ll briefly go over how each one works. Then, we’ll see how they stack up against each other when it comes to performance, energy efficiency, price, and installation.
Ductless Heating and Cooling: A Quick Guide
Ductless heating and cooling has been very popular in Europe for a long time. And, over the last two decades, it’s caught hold in the US.
But, not everyone here knows how it works yet.
With a mini split system, you have indoor and outdoor components connected by a refrigerant line.
Outside is a heat pump that handles the heat transfer: Moving thermal energy inside during the winter and outside in the summer.
Inside are air handlers. The most popular models are high-wall units that we mount close to the ceiling.
These circulate the air. And, each has a thermostat. So, you can control the temperature in each room individually.
Baseboard Heating: A Quick Guide
If you’ve been in a home that was built without ductwork, you’ve probably seen baseboard heating. For decades, it was the easiest way to add heat without changing the look and feel of the house.
For this article, we’re looking at electric heaters vs. some other models.
With this setup, you attach heaters that run across the bottom of the wall, right next to the floor. You can plug some models right into a wall outlet. Others require you to hardwire it to the main power source in the house.
Either way, once it’s up and running, the unit draws in nearby cold air. That air runs over heated fins. Then, a fan pushes the warm air back into the room.
How Do Ductless Mini Splits Perform Compared to Baseboard Heat?
When it comes to performance, mini splits come out on top. They heat a room faster and better than baseboard heating. And, they offer air conditioning as well.
One of the most significant differences is how they circulate air. The air handlers have much more sophisticated fans. They’re able to move the air faster and spread it throughout the room much more evenly.
They’re also equipped with sensors that detect cold spots in the room. That way, they can direct more warm air exactly where it’s needed.
Thanks to these tools, it can warm a room in minutes in a way that would the other system anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour.
And, you don’t get temperature fluctuations. Like forced air systems, baseboards rely on a thermostat to tell them when to click on.
That doesn’t happen until the room is colder than you wanted it. Then, it warms it a few degrees higher than the thermostat setting, so it doesn’t cool down too quickly.
By contrast, air handlers use inverter technology so that most of the time, they run in low-power mode. This way, they maintain a constant temperature instead of trying to correct it all the time.
Ductless Mini Splits and Baseboard Heat: Which Costs More?
Baseboard heating is much, much less expensive than a ductless mini split. You’ll pay around $200 to $500 per room for baseboard. A mini split starts at $1,000 for a single air handler and heat pump. That includes the units plus installation.
However, just about any heat pump system is Energy Star-certified. We’ll get into that in a moment.
Even with that, however, the older system is still much cheaper.
Maintenance For Baseboard Heating Vs. Ductless Mini Splits
Here’s another spot where baseboard heating comes out on top: Upkeep. These setups are much easier to maintain than mini splits.
All you need to do is wipe them down from time to time. As long as the coils don’t have dirt on them, they’ll work just fine.
Air handlers, however, are a different story. They have a filter, just like a furnace. But they’re not disposable. Instead, you need to clean them out about once a month.
And, they require professional maintenance once or twice a year to keep them in great shape.
This regimen does more than make the system last for 15 or 20 years. Manufacturers require a certified technician to maintain them, so the warranty stays valid.
For the price you’re paying to install them, you’ll want to make sure they’re covered.
Baseboard heating is easier to install. Even if you need to hardwire the power supply, it’s less invasive. But, ductless gives you more options.
To install a mini split, you have to run a line set from the air handlers to the heat pump. This means some light construction to get the lines from outside to inside the house.
But, the lines are narrow and flexible. In most homes, we can run it behind the walls, so you don’t even see it.
And, you don’t need to rearrange the room. You can’t put furniture in front of baseboard heaters, for instance.
But, the air handlers sit high on a wall. And, since they work so well, we can usually tuck them away in a corner. This way, you can still lay out each room the way you want it.
Call this one a draw, perhaps. One is easier to install, but the other is easier to work around once it’s there.
We mentioned Energy Star certification. That’s an indication that the appliance uses less energy than comparable models to do the same job.
In other words, ductless mini splits provide, at least, the same amount of heating as baseboard. But, it uses much less energy.
That means it has much less of an impact on your energy bills.
(And, as we mentioned, the air handlers provide better climate control than the other system).
Over time, the savings on your utility bills outweigh the extra cost. And, when you pair those savings with an energy rebate, you see the savings even faster.
The Broadley’s Conclusion
Baseboard heating has the upper hand when it comes to cost. It’s cheaper to buy, install, and maintain. But, when it comes to performance and long-term expenses, you really can’t beat ductless.
At the end of the day, a mini split gives you better comfort that costs less month-to-month. And, with heating and cooling, you’ve got one system handling the whole year’s worth of weather.
If you’re interested in seeing if a ductless system is right for your home, give Broadley’s a call! With a free consultation, we’ll take a look at your home and help you find the system that’s right for you.