Is it time to replace your furnace? Or, are you ready for a comfort (and energy efficiency) upgrade? No matter why you’re in the market for a new heating system, you have more options than ever before.
For homes on the Main Line, a big question is whether to go with a new furnace or upgrade to a ductless mini split.
Mini split heat pumps have certainly become popular for older homes without ductwork. But, as more people learn about them, we see them supplementing or even replacing forced-air systems in homes with ductwork.
They’re especially useful for homes with third floors that are always too hot or too cold. Or for homes where people never feel quite comfortable enough.
Of course, these systems aren’t for everyone. And their upfront cost is a significant factor. So, how can you decide what’s best for your home and your family?
John Cipollone, Inc. is here to help. We’ve served Havertown, Wynnewood, Radnor, and other Main Line homes since 1953. Today, we specialize in high-efficiency equipment from Mitsubishi Electric and Carrier, along with other major brands.
This article outlines the costs — and pros and cons — for gas furnaces vs. mini split.
What Does A Gas Furnace Cost?
A gas furnace ranges from around $5,500 to $15,000 to install. You can do some quick calculations for an idea of what size furnace you’ll need (square footage and layout determine the number of BTUs. But, you’ll need a professional load calculation to be sure.
We go into much more detail in our article on the cost of a heater.
When it comes to options, particularly those that affect the price, the two most significant factors are energy efficiency and whether you’re replacing or adding central air at the same time.
Regarding the AC: We recommend replacing the central air along with the furnace whenever possible. You’ll get the best performance when all the equipment matches. Or, if you’re replacing a much older system, the blower motor in your new furnace may not match what the older AC condenser requires.
In terms of energy efficiency, you’ll see lower-efficiency units with 80% AFUE, 13-SEER ratings (AFUE for heating, SEER for cooling). Or, high-efficiency combos at 95% AFUE, 16-SEER.
You could pay between $2,000 – $4,000 more for higher efficiency. But, you’ll save money in the long run on your bills.
What Does A Mini Split Cost?
Mini splits start at $3,500 for a single-zone system (one room) and go up to $17,000 to outfit an entire house. The price includes the heat pump and air handlers inside, and these systems heat and cool. Each indoor unit covers a different room or zone of the house. You can add up to eight air handlers to a heat pump. So, the cost does not double with each indoor unit.
The major choice here is if you’re supplementing an existing heating system by adding an air handler or two. Or if you’re redesigning the HVAC for your entire home. As we mentioned before, the price goes up with each air handler.
The other consideration is going with a Hyper Heat unit that works even when it’s negative 13 degrees outside. Or if you can work with a unit that’s not as powerful.
Hyper Heat is usually the way to go for whole-home setups. But, there are exceptions if you have another heating source that can work in conjunction with the mini split.
Mini Split Vs. Gas Furnace: Pros And Cons
Now that we know the general prices and options, how do these two stack up against each other?
Heat pumps and mini split systems are gaining in popularity in the United States. But are they worth it?
- Excellent Energy Efficiency
- Both Heating And Cooling
- Great Customization
Mini split users have seen their energy bills reduce by as much as 50 percent when they switch from gas heat to a mini split.
And a heat pump system both heats and cools. There’s no need to add the cost of central air on top of the heater installation.
Finally, you can adjust the temperature in each room of your home individually. That’s excellent news for people who always felt one or two rooms are always too hot or cold — a common problem in older homes, especially.
- Cost To Install
- More Maintenance
The upfront cost is the most prohibitive aspect of going with a ductless mini split. Yes, you’ll save money in the long run with lower energy bills. But, it will take a few years to break even and then more to see the savings.
Also, you should have your mini split inspected every year to keep the warranty valid. That goes for conventional furnaces, too. But, with more expensive equipment, you’ll want to be more diligent.
Also, we’re seeing more need for separate cleanings. They’re easy and inexpensive. But, it’s an extra expense.
Gas furnaces have been a fixture of homes in the Northeast part of the country for decades. But are they still the best option?
- Less Expensive
- Easy Installation
You’ll pay way less for a furnace than you will for a whole-home mini split setup. Your final bill will likely still be lower even when you add in central air.
And, if your home already has ductwork, installation is as simple as swapping out your old unit. While mini split installation is still pretty straightforward, it’s not nearly as easy as that.
- Less Customization
- Higher Energy Bills
If you’ve struggled with hot and cold spots in your home, a new furnace might not fix that. Static pressure, where the airflow gets weaker throughout the house, will still be an issue.
And, homes with third floors or bonus rooms above a garage are notoriously tough to heat and cool. The problem lies with the ductwork design, and a new heater won’t change that.
And, even if you upgrade to a higher-efficiency model, you’ll still pay way more on your energy bills in the winter than you will with a heat pump.
We recommend ductless mini splits whenever your budget allows for it. That’s especially so when you’re stacking these against a gas furnace. The heat pump system just does a better job while using less energy.
The only exception we’ve seen has been with oil heat: Some people really love that blast of extra-warm hot air in the winter. But, even then, any forced-air system can’t provide the same level of comfort throughout the house as a mini split.
Still, there’s nothing wrong with a gas furnace, and for many homes, it’s the right fit. Not everyone needs to make that extra investment. But, if your heating has always left something to be desired, the options are out there.
Mini Split And Furnace Installations in Haverford, PA
John Cipollone, Inc has been the trusted name for HVAC service and replacements on the Main Line since 1953. Today, we specialize in mini splits and other high-efficiency installations along with conventional furnaces. Click below or call us at (610) 446-7877 for your free consultation.