Finding the Perfect Ductless System for Your Home (Podcast)

In this podcast, Jared Grier, owner of Cape Cod Heat Pumps, explains how to choose the perfect ductless system for your home. He talks about the range of options including whole home systems and single-zone systems. Then, he briefly outlines some of the different styles of ductless equipment.

John Maher: Hi. I am John Maher, and I’m here today with Jared Grier, owner of Cape Cod Heat Pumps, an HVAC contractor in Marstons Mills, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, specializing in ductless heating and cooling technology and focused on detail, quality and professionalism. Today our topic is finding the perfect fit for your home. Welcome, Jared.

Jared Grier: Thanks for having me, John.

Applications for Ductless Heat Pumps

John: Sure. Jared, what are some of the typical applications of a ductless heat pump system that you might see in a home?

Jared Grier: Well, quite frankly it’s all over the place. We have everything from whole house applications to just single zone installations. It’s really just going to come down to the customer’s needs, wants and situation. We can do, as I said, whole house systems, whether we’re reusing existing infrastructure and duct work, putting an air handler in, or if they’ve got baseboard or steam heat, we’re putting ductless wall units in, or units of similar types, all the way to bonus rooms, sun rooms.

We’ve even done… Somebody built a shed and he’s a big musician and that’s where he kept his grand piano, so his grand piano had to be at the proper humidity level throughout the season, as well as temperature, so we put in a ductless unit for him. So the applications, they’re endless quite frankly. And what’s great about this equipment is there’s so many options of the types of equipment that really we can come up with a solution for almost anybody.

Ductless Heating and Cooling for Home Offices

John: Right. A lot of people are working from home now as well. Have you installed systems in homes because people are now working from home and maybe they need a ductless heating and cooling system in, say, their home office or something like that?

Jared: Yeah. So obviously there’s been a huge trend of working from home. The Cape has seen probably one of the more significant effects of that with a lot of people having second homes. A lot of people have relocated here full time because they didn’t necessarily have to go to the office.

A lot of those people didn’t have air conditioning or didn’t even have a home office and had to construct one, so that’s been a very common place as well. Finished basements are pretty common as well. As we kind of mentioned, sun rooms and small additions as well. So really you give me a scenario and we’ll come up with a solution.

Heating, Cooling, and Dehumidifying Basements With Ductless Heat Pumps

John: With a finished basement, does the ductless system do a good job of dehumidification as well?

Jared: Well, we get that question all the time here on Cape, and what we tell people is they will help, but they will not replace a dehumidifier, right? This equipment, it does have a dry mode, a dehumidified mode, depending on the manufacturer, what they advertise it at. But you need to understand that it’s still an active cooling mode, right? So here on Cape you might need to run a dehumidifier in the middle of February, right?

So if I’ve got to cool your home to dry it out, well you’re not going to want me to do that in February. So, again, these work very well in assistance with the dehumidifier, because dehumidifiers actually have a tendency to throw off quite a bit of heat, so they can actually overheat a finished space in a basement in the summertime. So with the addition of the mini-split to remove that heat and any additional humidity that the dehumidifier hasn’t pulled out, these can be a great solution.

What Size of Heat Pump Is Right for Your Home?

John: Okay. So how do you determine what size or type of heat pump system you need for a home?

Jared: Yeah. So we actually take an approach of measuring the home. We perform what’s called a Manual J, so that’s a heat gain, heat loss calculation. We don’t use any sort of rules of thumb, of BTUs per square feet, or holding up fingers and seeing how many fingers it takes to cover the house. I’ve heard it all, right? So what we will actually do is when we’re in the home with the customer speaking with them about what they’re looking for we’re actually going to measure that house.

We’re going to take a count of the windows, the size of those windows, and we’re going to figure out which way is northeast, southwest facing. Because you could take any two homes, take two traditional colonial homes, and if you have one that was northern facing in the front with all glass and one that was west facing with all glass, that house that’s facing west is going to have a much higher cooling load than that house that’s facing north. So we have to take all these things into account, the age of the space. Older homes probably are 11 in the walls, newer homes, they’re much tighter, don’t have as much infiltration.

So we put all that into a software program when we get back to the office. It’s going to tell us what we need, whether it be individual rooms or a whole house, what we need to both heat and cool that house.

Configuration Options for Ductless Heat Pumps

John: And then what are some of the different configuration options in terms of the types of units that you can put into a home, or air handlers and things like that? What are all of the different options?

Jared: Yeah. So this equipment has been around for quite a while, decades, but the old way we were installing and applying this equipment was for bonus rooms, sun rooms, and you’d see them here and there. I mean when I first started doing this 20 years ago, I could probably count on one hand how many pieces of ductless equipment I put in. Now it’s 90% of what we do at my business, so we’ve seen a really big shift in it.

A big part of that is we’ve really changed up what our offerings are with this equipment, right? We’re not just your traditional wall unit anymore, although very common for us to install. But we have wall-mounted units, we have floor-mounted units, we have ducted units, we have ceiling cassettes, and we could mix and match too, so if you like one type of unit in one part of your house and you want a different type of unit and another part of your house, we can do that. And each one of those pieces of equipment as well is now its own zone, so you can adjust your comfort as you move about your house, whether it be during the day or at night.

So this equipment has really come a long way, and they’re making changes to it and updates to it almost daily, and I’m really excited to see what they might have in store for us in the future.

Ceiling Cassettes Vs. Wall-Mounted Air Handlers

John: So I think a lot of people are familiar with the typical mini split with a wall-mounted unit inside the house. Talk a little bit more about those ceiling cassettes and air handlers, and what those are, and the differences.

Jared: Yeah. I mean it’s not often I walk in a home and a customer is going to tell me, “I don’t want to see those things on the wall.” So that is a pretty common conversation to have with customers. So we’ve got ducted versions, right? If you want us to retrofit duct work into your home, we can absolutely do that. And with the slim ducted, the mini air handlers, it makes it very inexpensive and quick to do.

We also have, as you alluded to… There’s cassette style units. They’re meant to sit flush into the ceiling, so that gives it a much lower profile when you’re looking at something to install in the home. So we work with all of our customers to customize these solutions to their wants, needs, homes and budgets, and we will work with them hand-in-hand to come up with something, and then we’re going to put it in with them, or for them, and after we do that we’re going to maintain it and service it.

Let Us Help You Find the Perfect Ductless System

John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Jared. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Jared: Thanks for having me, John.

John: And for more information you can visit Cape Cod Heat Pumps’ website at, or call 508-833-HVAC. That’s 508-833-4822.