Types of Heat Pumps

What type of system?

Reverse cycle heat pumps can heat the room or cool it at the touch of a button. There are several types of heat pumps to choose from.

  • Split
  • Multi Split
  • Ducted Systems
  • Ceiling Mounted
  • High Wall
  • Floor Mounted


A split system is made up of two main components. An outside fan and compressor unit connected by copper pipes and electrical wiring to a wall or ceiling mounted internal pump unit. The inside unit usually has electronic controls and fan which pumps the air over finned tubing to either cool or heat an inside space.

The bulk of the installation cost for a split system is usually from running copper pipes and wiring through the wall from the internal to external heat pump components. In large open plan or main living areas of a home the split system works well.


In a multi-split system the exterior unit connects to more than one interior unit. Often, one interior unit is located in the living space and another in the bedroom area. The interior units can have separate controllers – but it is not possible to have one interior unit cooling while the other is heating.

The multi-split system connects 2 or more interior pump units to one exterior fan and compressor. Some considerations for this system are: that while you can have multiple interior units on separate controls you cannot heat and cool the inside units independently. They will only be able to heat or cool in unison.

Multi-split systems while cheaper than having separate external units for each space in a house, there can be extra installation costs for longer piping and electrical wiring as well as extra control complexity.


These have a single, large capacity interior unit mounted in the ceiling space, or under the floor. The heated (or cooled) air is pumped through insulated ducts to ceiling or floor outlets in many or all of the rooms in the house.

Ducted systems have the least visual impact of any heat pump system – just small flush vents in each room. Because there is some heat loss from ducts themselves, they are slightly less efficient than other systems. They are also expensive to install – costs can be as much as $15,000 or more for a 150m² home, depending on ceiling height.


These units can either hang off the ceiling or be fitted into the ceiling. The advantage of a ceiling unit is if wall space is an issue or there are interior design considerations. The ceiling mounted heat pump is out of the way, less obtrusive and have little to noise issues.

High wall

These are the most popular heat pump choice in New Zealand. Usually they are long and thin, mounted high on a wall close to the ceiling and circulate enough air to heat or cool a room evenly. Ideally they should be positioned so the airflow is able to reach as much of the room as possible. They shouldn't be close to where you would normally sit so that the fan noise doesn't become an issue while watching TV.

Low wall or floor

Low wall or floor units sit on or near the floor, alongside a wall. They must be sited so furniture does not obstruct the airflow, and should be located where they can distribute the warm air to as much of the house as possible. Filter cleaning is a breeze.

Floor vs ceiling units - which is better?

The current data suggests that for the best heating effectiveness, the internal unit should be floor mounted. This could be particularly important if you have high ceilings. Hot air rises and, if your unit is mounted up on a high ceiling wall, all the heat will naturally ebb to the upper reaches of the room. However in certain situations floor-mounting may not be possible.

Also, with most high wall mounted units the airflow can be adjusted by remote control to cover most area's of a standard size room.

For best cooling effectiveness, a unit mounted high on the wall or in the ceiling is best. This is because cold air falls.

You should carefully consider your options before you purchase a heat pump system and discuss your situation with a trusted professional heat pump installer.

Thanks to Mitsubishi Electric, InspectApedia.com, and the Nelson Principals Association for supplying the images found on this webpage.

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