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Heat pump in a vaulted area….

| Posted in General Questions on

Hi all,

I’m wondering if anyone has any experience installing a heat pump in a vaulted area. The ceilings in our living room are approximately twelve feet, and I don’t want to install one there if we’re going to lose most of it to the ceiling.

The attached drawing isn’t 100% accurate, but hopefully it will at least give you some sense of our lay out.

We’ve had three different companies through, and opinions have varied, so I’m guessing it’s just a challenging space to configure.

I should say: installing a ceiling fan is, unfortunately, not an option.

I did wonder about trying a floor console. The heat would still drift up, but it might provide more at the living area, I’m not sure.

Any help would be most appreciated,


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  1. Dave_in_PEI | | #1

    Apologies for posting this question multiple times! I kept getting a "critical error" message when I tried to post it. And for some reason, I can't seem to delete it.

    1. baking_fool | | #6

      Did you solve this by just trying over and over, or was it a matter of waiting a certain amount of time? I have been trying to post since yesterday and get the same message. I am able to reply to your message, but not post a new topic.

  2. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #2

    Dave, your drawing didn't attach. There is a size limit, 3mb I think.

    If your house is well-insulated and fairly airtight, there should not be excessive temperature stratification--that is, warm air rising and making the ceiling significantly warmer than the floor. Heat pumps do well in these types of homes.

    If your house is poorly insulated and/or poorly air-sealed, you will get heat flowing up and out the peak. Heat pumps often have to work too hard in these types of homes.

    Ceiling fans are a waste anyway; they push warm air down but it just rises up again at the perimeter of the room, and you get the added annoyance of a draft. Better to invest in improving the building envelope.

    I should back up a step--people often think that "heat rises" is a thermodynamic law but it's not. Warm air tends to be more buoyant than cooler air, but the temperature stratification in most homes has more to do with air leaks--air infiltrates down low, often at the floor/foundation interface, and it leaks out the roof through ceiling gaps and penetrations, pulling warm air up as it goes. If you block the air flow, you slow the warm air from rising to the ceiling.

    1. Dave_in_PEI | | #3

      Thanks, Michael!

      That's great information to have. We've recently had our attic insulated--I believe it's R40 up there now--and there's been a considerable improvement in the overall comfort of our home. It isn't as tight as new one, but it's pretty good for one built twenty years ago. We also have a southern exposure, so we get a lot of passive solar heat on a sunny day.

      I'm going to try that attachment again, and see if it works this time. If you have any thoughts on the ideal placement of a unit, I'd really appreciate it.

  3. _jt | | #4

    I have found minisplits in vaulted areas are very comfortable. I have two mini splits in vaulted areas...the extra air works as a buffer so there are not a lot of temperature fluctuations in the space. I think your best bet is to mount half way up the vaulted area, that way you are well covered for heating and cooling air flow. I don't think there is a good reason to do a floor console in a vaulted space.

    1. Dave_in_PEI | | #5

      Thanks, Jay! Glad to hear that they've worked for you in a vaulted area. The heat is our area is fairly modest in the summer, but who's to say what the future will bring, so we'll definitely keep cooling in mind as well.

  4. BillDietze | | #7

    My two cents: why would the heat pump make a difference to the heating a vaulted area? Regardless of the heating method, a leaky and/or poorly insulated ceiling will more loose heat in winter, but the heat loss should be independent of the heat source. As heat pumps are more efficient, and generally less expensive to run, then use them!

    My experience: I have a floor mounted heat pump In a 28’ x 28’ open living/kitchen/ dining vaulted area that’s about 14’ at the peak. The thermostat is 5’ off the floor and I have no problems. But I never measured the temperature stratification. Lots of R6 windows, new construction, climate zone 6, home ACH50 at one air change an hour and about R75 of cellulose above the ceiling. The room is comfortable! (I worried more about cold window effects since I went nuts with the blown in cellulose in the attic.) No real cooling load.

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