Comparing Single-Head Units to Multi-Head Heat Pump Systems for your NS Home

If you've been in the market for a heat pump for some time, by now, you're probably familiar with many of the details. You know that heat pumps will potentially save you hundreds on utility bills and provide a more comfortable environment. You know that heat pumps are long-lasting and require very minimal maintenance.

All this being said, there is one aspect of heat pumps that are often confusing to homeowners, and that is the difference between single-head units compared to multi-head systems. In your perusing for a new heat pump to implement in your home (or business) the head system is a crucial detail. Here’s some info to once and for all help you decipher between single-head and multi-head heat pump systems and choose which version is ideal for your specific heating needs.

What Exactly Is a Single-Head Heat Pump System?

The best way to understand a single-head heat pump system is one outdoor unit, one indoor unit. How this breaks down is that each outdoor pump controls one area of heating on the inside of your home. Surprisingly, a single-head heat pump system is more efficient than a multi-zone system because there are no variables. How you handle the controls of one outdoor system is how the air is going to be processed in that one room on the inside.

The most common use for a single-head heat pump system is when you have a single area of your home or business that requires heat. This is predominantly done when finishing a basement, turning a garage into a workspace, or when adding on to a home. Your existing HVAC system may not be equipped to heat this new space, so you install a single-head heat pump system to accommodate it.

How Does a Multi-Head Heat Pump Differ?

Taking the same mantra as the single-head heat pump, a multi-head can be described as, one outdoor unit but for 2-3 indoor units. This means that the outdoor systems of single-head and multi-head units are very similar, but the air handler on a multi-head unit can provide heat to 2-3 different rooms.

There are some advantages to multi-head systems mostly in that they can provide a heat source to multiple rooms off of a sole outdoor air handler. Traditional forced air systems heat the entire home at the same time, but multi-zone systems allow you to better control the heat in rooms or areas of the home that are less frequently occupied. Multi-zone units offer temperature controls in each room.

A perfect example of an optimum multi-head use would be in bedrooms. Many times people prefer a cooler room to sleep in but still want a warmer living room. A multi-head system would appease both these types of uses, and if you wanted to pull this off with a single-head system, you'd need multiple outdoor units.

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Outdoor Unit of Multi-zone heat pump system with heads on separate floors.

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3 Head Multi-zone heat pump outdoor unit.

Comparing Single-Head Vs. Multi-Head

You might still not know which unit is ideal for your heating needs, but the breakdown goes:

Multi-Head Systems

  • Less expensive at initial purchase as well as installation
  • Have the ability to heat multiple areas of the home or business
  • Will use approximately 40% less electricity
  • Slightly less efficient than one single-head system but more optimum than installing multiple single-head units.

Single Zone Systems

  • The best method to heat a single area of the home
  • Very cost efficient when heating one space
  • Not ideal either cost-wise or for outdoor aesthetics when installing multiple units.

Which Type of Heat Pump System Do I Need?

What you have to ask yourself when choosing between a single or multi zone system is if you want to heat one room or many? This really is the deciding factor on which type of heat pump to install. Even so, there are multiple variables to consider such as if you want to add heat to another space down the road.

The best advice, ask us! We’re here at Ready Refrigeration to answer all your questions. Don't forget all of our heat pump products can be financed through Nova Scotia Power's Heat Pump Program.  So give us a call 902-252-3128, or fill out our form to book an in-home assessment on your specific heat pump needs.