Are Ducted Mini-Splits Worth It?

Jonathan Winkler, Jeffrey Maguire, Cheryn Metzger, Jason Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus Citations


Ducted mini-split heat pumps are gaining popularity in some regions of the country due to their energy-efficient specifications and their ability to be hidden from sight. Although product and install costs are typically higher than the ductless mini-split heat pumps, this technology is well worth the premium for some homeowners who do not like to see an indoor unit in their living area. Due to the interest in this technology by local utilities and homeowners, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has funded the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop capabilities within the Building Energy Optimization (BEopt) tool to model ducted mini-split heat pumps. After the fundamental capabilities were added, energy-use results could be compared to other technologies that were already in BEopt, such as zonal electric resistance heat, central air source heat pumps, and ductless mini-split heat pumps. Each of these technologies was then compared using five prototype configurations in three different BPA heating zones to determine how the ducted mini-split technology would perform under different scenarios. The result of this project was a set of EnergyPlus models representing the various prototype configurations in each climate zone. Overall, the ducted mini-split heat pumps saved about 33-60% compared to zonal electric resistance heat (with window AC systems modeled in the summer). The results also showed that the ducted mini-split systems used about 4% more energy than the ductless mini-split systems, which saved about 37-64% compared to electric zonal heat (depending on the prototype and climate).
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)22-31
Number of pages10
JournalASHRAE Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Amer. Soc. Heating, Ref. Air-Conditoning Eng. Inc. All Rights Reserved.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-70404


  • BEopt
  • BPA
  • ducted mini-split heat pumps
  • EnergyPlus


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