Do Mini Splits Use Propane and Natural Gas?


Many people are interested in switching over from a gas furnace to mini splits. Hence, some of them are asking do mini splits need gas? So, I decided to write about it.

Mini splits do not use propane gas to generate heat. Instead, mini splits are powered by electricity. Mini splits use electricity to move their components such as the compressor, expansion valve and fans to transfer heat from outdoor to indoor.

Mini splits are new to many people especially those that are currently using a gas furnace. Hence, understanding how mini splits are powered can help to unpack everything.

How are Mini Splits Powered?

A mini split has an indoor and outdoor unit. The two units are connected by refrigerant pipes. A refrigerant is used as the medium to absorbs heat from the ambient air at the outdoor unit and transfer the heat into the house at the indoor unit.

Mini splits are powered by electricity that comes from the main electrical box of the house. Sometimes, the power cables go to an on/off switch before connecting to mini splits so that we can cut off the power source entirely by flipping the on/off switch instead of turning the circuit break off at the main electrical box.

A typical mini split wiring layout

Indoor Unit

At the indoor unit, power supply cables are connected to the electrical terminal. A fan blower that needs electricity will circulates air through the hot condenser coil to provide heating. A swing motor that needs electricity to move is used to change the airflow direction. Lastly, everything is controlled by a control board that needs electricity to function. In addition, a remote controller that is used to control mini splits is using standard batteries.

The indoor unit of mini splits

Outdoor Unit

Meanwhile, at the outdoor unit, an expansion valve that needs electricity is used to expand the refrigerant and thus, cools the evaporator coil. An axial fan that also needs electricity to operation will circulate ambient air through the evaporator coil for the refrigerant to absorb heat. Then, a compressor that consume the most electricity is responsible for transferring the heat from outdoor to indoor.

The outdoor unit of mini splits

Unlike traditional gas furnaces, mini splits don't use propane gas to provide heating. In fact, they cannot use propane gas as the working principle is totally different. A gas furnace burns propane gas to generate heat. Meanwhile, a mini split extracts heat from the ambient air and transfer the heat into the house.

Mini splits have many different brands and models. I spent many hours researching all kinds of mini splits just to find out which one is the best. Check out the result in my post 7 Best Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioners.

Can You Heat a House with Mini Splits?

It's not hard to understand that many people worry about mini splits not being able to heat their house sufficiently. So, if you don't use a gas furnace, can you heat a house with mini splits?

Mini splits are widely used for both heating and cooling and thus, you can use mini splits to heat a house. During winter, mini splits can switch to heat mode by reversing the refrigeration cycle and provide high efficiency heating.

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However, mini splits do have a limit in terms of operating conditions. If the outside is too cold, mini splits may not able to catch up or stop working entirely. I encourage you to continue reading my article do mini splits work in cold weather to know the limitation. You might get shocked knowing that some mini splits are really good at handling the extreme cold.

Do You Need a Furnace with a Mini Split?

Generally, you don't need a furnace anymore if you opt for a mini split because it not only provides cooling, but it also provides heating. Thus, mini splits alone are sufficient to keep your house warm. However, if you are living in an extremely cold place, check what temperature do mini splits stop working in order to decide whether you need a furnace.

Are Mini Splits Cheaper than Gas?

Most of the time, the electricity rate is cheaper than propane gas and thus, mini splits are cheaper to operate than gas furnaces. Unless electricity is not available, mini splits are always better in terms of the cost of electricity when compared to gas-powered solutions.

According to the sharing of a mini split user who lived in the Northern United States, mini splits that are installed in a single-family house saved nearly $6,000 of electricity cost over 6 years when compared to the previously used propane gas-powered furnace. When using the gas-powered furnace, the total cost is $1300 per heating season. Meanwhile, mini splits only cost about $350 per heating season.

In addition, mini splits only need about $100 annually if you call a professional for service which you can do it by yourself. Servicing mini splits are relatively easy unless you have a major breakdown.

Can Mini Splits Be Used as the Primary Heat Source?

Mini splits are a great heating solution that is far more efficient than gas furnaces. Most of the time, mini splits can be used as the primary heat source. If your place doesn't go below zero degrees Fahrenheit, mini splits do work effectively. However, keep in mind that you need to use the correct size mini splits or else, you will not be getting sufficient heating.

Conclusion

Mini splits do not use propane gas to generate heat. Instead, mini splits are powered by electricity. Mini splits are powered by electricity that comes from the main electrical box of the house. An on/off switch is often used for the indoor unit while a power isolator is used for the outdoor unit.

Mini splits are widely used for both heating and cooling and thus, you can use mini splits to heat a house. Most of the time, the electricity rate is cheaper than propane gas and thus, mini splits are cheaper to operate than gas furnaces. Mini splits are a great heating solution that is far more efficient than gas furnaces.


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Yu Chang Zhen

I enjoy working on air conditioners and ventilation fans because Malaysia is a very hot country.

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