Best Mini Split Heat Pump for Cold Weather

There are a lot of different numbers and measurements to consider when looking for the best mini split system for heating in cold weather. In the first part of this article we talk about a few of these numbers. Later we go over two very similar mini split heat pump product lines.

The first two, Air-Con and Senville, arereasonably efficient with SEER ratings over 20. The next system we review in this article is the Pioneer Ductless Wall Mount Mini Split System which is capable of providing optimal heating and cooling for you indoor space in outdoor temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Next, we dive into the Mitsubishi MSZ-FH06NA which is one of the best mini split systems for extreme cold weather. It has the highest Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) rating of any model we review on this page. We explain HSPF a little further down the page. Click here to be taken to the section on Mitsubishi mini split heat pumps.

The last section of this article has a number of tips and tricks to improve your experience with a mini split heat pump. These focus on general principles to use when installing both the indoor and outdoor units for your mini split. The best tip is a practical solution to prevent your base pan from icing up in extremely cold weather. For now, let’s check out a few numbers to consider when deciding on the mini split system that fits your needs.

SEER Rating

SEER is seasonal energy efficiency ratio. It is an easy way to compare between mini split systems that have different voltages, BTUs and designs for different sized rooms. The higher the SEER the more efficient the system. Some other factors like how many square feet the mini split can heat or cool may be more important for you. For more information about SEER and how it is calculated, check out this article. As you consider different mini split heat pumps to keep you warm through the winter the SEER rating is an important thing to be aware of. Having a high SEER rating is important it you want to keep your energy bills as low as possible. Any rating above 20 is on the high end of the efficiency scale.

HSPF and Mini Splits

HSPF means Heating Seasonal Performance Factor and it is important to consider if you are using your mini split for heating. It measures the heating efficiency of a mini split heat pump and allows you to easily compare this feature between different manufacturers. Energystar.gov notes that an HSPF over 12.0 does very well in cold weather.

AHRI Certified

AHRI certification is another important thing to look for when you consider different heat pump systems for your heating and cooling needs. AHRI stands for Air-conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute. They have been recognized by the ENERGY STAR program as a certifying body. The AHRI is able to certify appliances and machines as being in compliance with efficiency standards. The AHRI certification is recognized by agencies in the United States and Canada, you can read more about it here if you like. AHRI certification is another way to compare between mini split heating and cooling systems. We recommend using this as a pass-fail test, meaning if the mini split does not have the certification, do not consider purchasing it.

Air-Con Ductless Mini Split Heat Pumps

Air-Con has an extensive lineup of ductless heating and cooling systems. All the units we found in our research use GMCC Toshiba compressors. These compressors are fixed speed compressors. They are generally less expensive than variable speed compressors like those found in Mitsubishi mini split systems but they are also less efficient.

Air-Con mini split systems use the R-410A refrigerant, which is important for two reasons:

  1. R-410A refrigerant contributes to higher SEER ratings that keep your energy costs lower
  2. R-410A refrigerant does not deplete the ozone. This means you can expect to be able to recharge your mini split without worrying about the refrigerant being phased out due to environmental concerns. This phase out process happened with ozone depleting refrigerants.

The links below will take you to the product listing on Amazon. Once you are there you can explore other product listings as well. These links include the mini split brands and manufacturers mentioned in this article.

Pioneer WYS012-17 Ductless Wall Mount Mini Split

Air-Con Ductless Mini Split Heat Pump System

Senville SENL-18CD Split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump

Mitsubishi MZ-GL12NA Ductless Split System

Senville AURA

Senville makes mini split systems available in both the U.S. and Canada. All of their units in the AURA series have a SEER rating over 20. The smallest unit at 9,000 BTUs is rated for a space up to 500 square feet. Their large 24,000 BTU mini split is rated for up to 1,500 square feet and still has a SEER rating of 20. This is a very efficient and powerful heating and cooling system. The high SEER rating is in part due to the R-410A refrigerant we discussed earlier in the article. Senville AURA units are able to provide heat all the way down to -5 degrees Fahrenheit. compressor

Pioneer Air Conditioner & Heat Pumps

Pioneer designs some of their mini split systems with auxiliary electric heaters. There heaters are part of the outdoor portion of the unit and allow the units to provide optimal heat in temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The units can still provide heat in colder outdoor temperatures. However, automatic safety measures to protect the unit will kick in and reduce the efficiency of the unit.

Pioneer’s more popular units range in SEER rating from 16 up to 18. Their most popular model is the 12000 BTU 230V mini split. Here is a text link to be taken to the PIONEER Air Conditioner Inverter+ Ductless Wall Mount Mini Split System Air Conditioner & Heat Pump Full Set, 12000 BTU 230V on Amazon.

The full system consists of the indoor unit and the compressor which is installed outdoors. The digital remote control allows you to select any of the four modes of operation; heating, cooling, ventilation or dehumidification.

Additionally, an on board computer provides automatic operation. The timer feature allows you to stop or start the system at particular times. The night-mode feature is especially useful. It changes the temperature automatically at night when you may want your room cooler.

In the event of a power outage the auto-restart feature uses the data in its memory to restart the system with the same settings.

It is also possible to remotely control and monitor this system through Wi-fi. This is a great feature to have if you are using this mini split heat pump to keep an outbuilding warm during the winter to prevent damage from frozen pipes.

Mitsubishi MSZ-FH06NA

This mini split is the most powerful mini split system we review on this page. Mitsubishi designs their mini splits for extreme cold. Some of their units, like the MSZ-FH06NA come with a base pan heater already installed. This allows the unit to operate in outdoor ambient temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you check out the installation tips further down the page you’ll understand why a base pan heater is an important feature to have. Additionally, this model comes in at an HSPF of 12.5. At 5 degrees Fahrenheit it is capable of producing 10,900 BTUs of heat.

The MSZ-FH06NA has a SEER rating of 30.5 and is capable of removing 0.6 pints of water from the air every hour. These numbers are more important to be aware of if you will also be using your mini split for cooling in the summer.

Energystar.gov says the following about HSPF

Efficiency Maine, having installed over 10,000 ductless mini-split heat pumps to provide heat during harsh winters, requires single head units with a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)  of over 12.0 BTU/Wh and found them to work extremely well

Other outstanding features of the MSZ-FH06NA include air filters to reduce particulate and gaseous indoor air pollutants. The MAC-2300FT Anti-allergy enzyme filter and the MAC-3000FT-E Platinum Deodorizing Filter are both washable and can be purchased separately if you ever do need a replacement.

The compressors Mitsubishi uses in their mini split systems are variable speed compressors. This allows them to heat and cool over a range of temperatures without needing to entirely shut down the compressor. The most energy intensive time in the operation of a motor is at startup. When compared to the fixed speed compressors that come standard in less expensive mini split systems, the variable speed compressors are much more efficient.

The links below will take you to the product listing on Amazon. Once you are there you can explore other product listings as well. These links include the mini split brands and manufacturers mentioned in this article.

Pioneer WYS012-17 Ductless Wall Mount Mini Split

Air-Con Ductless Mini Split Heat Pump System

Senville SENL-18CD Split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump

Mitsubishi MZ-GL12NA Ductless Split System

The remainder of this article is filled with tips and tricks that can improve your experience with a mini split heat pump. These focus on general principles to use when installing both the indoor and outdoor units for your mini split. We start with choosing the best place to install the outdoor portion, or compressor unit, of your mini split heat pump.

Tips for Installing a Mini Split Compressor Unit

Make sure your mini split has some overhead cover to keep snow from accumulating on top of the unit. If snow does accumulate around it, the compressor will still continue to function but at a reduced capacity. However, the snow can eventually built up enough and combine with the water produced by the compressor to prevent it from functioning.

Use most, if not all of the refrigerant piping that comes with the unit. The compressor unit makes noise and vibration. Installing the compressor unit further away from the space you are heating will reduce intensity of the noise and vibration that you will hear. Pay special attention to the manufacturer’s specifications if you decide to use longer lines. A longer line will decrease the efficiency of the unit.

Do I need a Wind Baffle for my Mini Split System?

It depends. The wind baffle protects the fan in the compressor unit from very strong winds. If you know you have predictably strong winds in your area it is possible to simply install the unit at a 90 degree angle to the direction of the wind.

One of the secondary benefits of using a wind baffle is that it presents a more uniform appearance to the exterior of the building than a mini split system. If you decide to build your own, be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations on how far away from the nearest obstruction you need to install the mini split.

Ground Clearance

Additionally, we recommend placing the unit at least two feet off the ground. This will not only save your back when it comes time to service the unit, it will also keep the unit (mostly) out of drifting snow. The extra water coming off the compressor unit will also need a place to fall and freeze in very cold weather. Over a season the ice can build up. Make sure to keep this away from the base pan of your mini split. Speaking of base pans…

How to Keep a Mini Split Base Pan from Icing up

If you are using your mini split system in cold weather, consider a base pan heater, especially if it does not come with one installed on it from the manufacturer.

This is very important since the compressor will produce excess water while heating. This water can freeze and eventually build up enough to shut down your mini split system. Additionally, these base pan heaters allow the compressor to operate at very cold temperatures.

There are a few shown below that are made by refrigeration appliance companies. However, some of the require 230 volts which can make things complicated since not all mini split systems even require that much voltage.

An easier solution would be to use a rain gutter de-icing cable that is secured to your base pan. The gutter de-icing cable can be a lot more affordable than a base pan designed specifically for your mini split. It will take a little ingenuity to get it positioned correctly and you will need another outlet if you decide to go this route.

Keep in mind that this is not how mini split systems are designed. This is simply a common sense recommendation. Proceed at your own risk.

Tip for Installing the Heating and Cooling Unit of a Mini Split

If the primary use for your mini split will be heating try to install the indoor unit about 18 inches off the floor. At this height the unit will intake the coldest air in the room and heat it up. This will also produce heat at a low point in the room. Since the hot air will rise you can gain a small amount of efficiency with this setup.

The main downside to installing the indoor portion of your mini split this low is that the drain pipe may not have a good downward angle. Be sure to check where the drain pipe will be on the exterior of your structure before deciding on the indoor installation.

Of course, you can still install the unit near the ceiling and aim the ventilation fins downward. There should be no concerns with the drain pipe in this more traditional setup. The only downside is that it will not be heating the coldest air in the room.

Best Mini Split Heat Pump for Cold Weather

We reviewed four different mini split heat pump brands in this article. Pioneer has a well known name and a history of dependability. Air-Con and Senville use newer technology that allows for greater efficiency. Mitsubishi makes the best mini systems for extremely cold weather.

If you are looking for rebates and incentives that your state offers for installing energy efficient heating and cooling systems, check out this link to the DSIRE website. If you are not familiar with them, here’s their mission statement –

DSIRE is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The links below will take you to the product listing on Amazon. Once you are there you can explore other product listings as well. These links include the mini split brands and manufacturers mentioned in this article.

Pioneer WYS012-17 Ductless Wall Mount Mini Split

Air-Con Ductless Mini Split Heat Pump System

Senville SENL-18CD Split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump

Mitsubishi MZ-GL12NA Ductless Split System


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