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Split AC vs Heat Pump

What’s the difference between Split AC vs Heat Pump

The difference between split AC and a heat pump is that a heat pump can be reversed to heat a home while a split ac only cools.

A heat pump works on the same principle as air conditioners. Both aircon and heat pumps move heat like a conveyer belt using a chemical called refrigerant. 

Differences in pressure are used to make the refrigerant hotter and colder, allowing it first to absorb heat and then pass that heat on to outside air.

A heat pump is designed so that the balance of pressures can be reversed, meaning it can 

absorb heat outside during winter and move in inside to keep us warm. 

By contrast, a split AC is a standard air conditioner and has no heating function. A split AC differs from some other air conditioners because it is split between an indoor unit and an outdoor unit.

The indoor unit is responsible for absorbing heat from your home. The outdoor unit deposits that same heat outside. 

Cooling Capacity

A heat pump is more powerful than a split AC. A heat pump offers 10,000 – 24,000 BTUs of cooling power while a split AC offers just 8,000 – 14,000 BTUs. 

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, a measure of thermal energy. One BTU is enough thermal energy to cool a kilogram of water by a single degree Fahrenheit. 

With 8,000 – 14,000 BTUs of cooling power, split ACs are best suited to keeping a single room or a small apartment cool. 14,000 BTUs is enough power for roughly 550 – 700 square feet of indoor space. 

By contrast, a 24,000 BTU heat pump could cool a 1,400-square-foot home. These are just the ranges for typical heat pumps. The largest heat pumps offer as much as 60,000 BTUs of cooling power, enough for any residential property. 


A heat pump is more expensive than a split AC. A heat pump costs $3,500 – $7,500 while a split AC costs $2,00 – $5,000.

The reason why both types of air conditioning are so expensive is that they need professional installation. Both types of units will require modifications to your electrical work and new piping. 

A heat pump is generally more expensive because it requires more substantial changes to your home. In some cases, geothermal heat pumps need units to be installed several feet underground. 

Energy efficiency

A heat pump is much more energy efficient than a split AC. The design of a heat pump allows it to more effectively stop hot air from leaking into your property. 

Should I buy a Split AC vs Heat Pump?

You should buy a heat pump over a split AC if you need to cool a larger property. A heat pump offers more in terms of cooling capacity and is thus better suited to larger properties.

If your budget is tight, then a split AC may be the better choice. You are like to save a thousand dollars or so by option for a split AC over a heat pump.