Will one heat pump cover my entire home?

We get asked something along these lines a lot:

“I have a 1200 sq ft two story home. What size heat pump do I need to heat it?”

The answer to that question is not as straight forward as

“Well you would need an 18,000 BTU heat pump for that space”.

When our Home Energy Specialists visit your home for a 30 minute consult we take into consideration your homes:

  • Number of floors
  • Layout
  • Square footage
  • Potential installation locations of an indoor unit
  • Where you spend the most time in the home (because that’s where you’re turning the heat up)
  • What you’re spending on oil or electricity now
  • Your current electrical service and what load is on it now
  • The potential heat loss or gain of your home

And even more in some cases.

From all of these things you can understand why it’s tough to just give a straight answer of what size system you need. In fact, I’d be weary of any contractor that can tell you over the phone or via email what sized heat pump you need without visiting your home and considering all the facts I listed above.

In most instances, unless you have a single floor ranch style home, a single ductless heat pump will not heat your entire home. However, that doesn’t mean you should be buying multiple heat pumps to cover off every square inch of living space.

The video below gives two examples of what heat pump you could potentially need for a two story home and a bungalow or split entry style home.

Two Story Homes

Here in HRM we are faced with a lot of 1.5 and 2 story homes. These are generally older homes in Dartmouth and Halifax peninsula.

These are tough layouts to cover entirely with mini split heat pumps. As you can see from the video above, we most often discuss with you where you spend the most time and aim to cover off that area.

This is most often the living and dining areas on the main floor and possibly a rec room or other finished basement living space.

We tend to not install anything in the upstairs bedrooms. Why? Because it’s tough to justify the cost of a heat pump for those smaller spaces. When we do install in a master or other bedroom it is nine times out of ten for the benefit of air conditioning in the summer.

Bungalow or Split Entry Homes

Split entry and bungalow configurations are two of the best layouts for heat pumps. Most times a single unit can cover off 70% + of the main level by positioning the indoor unit in such a way that heat travels down a hall way and spills into adjoining bedrooms.

As we outlined in the above video you can see how positioning the indoor unit at one end of the hallway allows heat to fill up the main living area as well as blow down the hallway.

Single Zone Vs Multi Zone Systems

No matter what style or layout of home you have there’s always a decision to be made if you’re going to install more than one system.

There are single zone and multi zone heat pumps. A single zone is one outdoor unit connected to one indoor head covering one area of your home. A multi zone is one outdoor unit with more than one (possibly two, three or sometimes even four) indoor heads covering multiple areas of your home.

Both have pros and cons, and it really comes down to calculating the potential return on investment of installing more than one single zone heat pump or a multi zone.

When helping you make that decision we consider:

  1. The size of the space each unit will be installed in
  2. Whether the unit is for heating savings or more for comfort and air conditioning

When there are two large areas that need to be covered off two single zones can make sense.

In contrast if there is one larger area, such as the main living room or family room, then the second area is a master bedroom, we would almost always advise you two go with a multi zone.

Generally pricing of two single zones systems versus one multi zone with two heads will be $750 – $1500 more.

Determining What Your Home Needs

The best way to determine what sized heat pumps will provide you with the best return on investment is to book a 30 minute consultation with one of our Home Energy Specialists. I outlined what the will go over with you at the beginning of this article. Plus they’ll also answer any questions you have about heat pumps, brands and financing.


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