Heat pumps are becoming more and more popular due to the many benefits they provide. These units are a good option in really any part of the country. as they can save you money by both cooling and heating your home. Nonetheless, the benefits of using a heat pump are greatest in areas like California where the winter is usually fairly mild.
With that in mind, here is everything you need to know about how a heat pump can heat your home. We will also explain why they are such a great option.
Understanding the Parts of a Heat Pump System
A heat pump is a standalone HVAC unit installed outside the home. It looks exactly like a central air conditioning unit. The heat pump also works exactly the same as a central AC when cooling the home. The most important components of the heat pump itself are the compressor, condenser coil, expansion valve, and heat pump fan.
Two copper lines filled with refrigerant connect to the heat pump. These lines then connect to the evaporator coil located within the air handler inside the home. One line runs from the compressor and feeds into the evaporator coil. The second line connects to the opposite end of the evaporator coil, and then back outside.
As with central air conditioning or any other type of central heating, there is a blower fan inside the duct system. The blower fan draws near air into the heating and cooling system. Your ductwork then moves the conditioned air all throughout your home.
How Does a Heat Pump Work?
When set to cooling mode, a heat pump captures heat from the air inside the home. The refrigerant inside the evaporator coil then cools the air. The pump transfers the heat outside, and cooled air back into your home.
Heat pumps are special because the heat transfer process can run in reverse. The heat pump coil absorbs heat from outside. The coil inside the home then functions as the condenser coil. This process transfers this heat into the indoor air as it passes through the air handler.
When set to heating mode, the process starts by compressing the refrigerant. This turns it from a gas to a liquid and instantly reduces the refrigerant’s pressure and temperature. The cold liquid refrigerant enters the outdoor evaporator coil. When cooling, heat automatically flows from the air into the refrigerant as long as it remains colder than the air.
Heat naturally flows from the refrigerant into your inside air, with the help of your blower fan. This raises the air temperature. Your ductwork then circulates the newly heated air throughout your home.
Air-source vs. Ground-source Heat Pumps
Most heat pumps are air-source units. These air-source units absorb heat and release it into the air as we’ve just described. However, there are also ground-source, or geothermal, heat pumps that work using the natural heat energy from the earth.
This type of system uses a series of flexible lines buried at least a few feet underground. The install professional buries these lines below the “frost level.” Down there, the temperature always remains constant at approximately 55 degrees.
The lines are filled with a special refrigerant liquid that is extremely efficient at absorbing and releasing heat. From the ground, they then run to a heat pump unit that sits inside the house. This unit is responsible for absorbing or releasing heat.
The Benefits of Opting for a Heat Pump
The biggest benefit of opting for a heat pump over any other type of heating is energy savings. Heat pumps are typically at least two or even three times more energy efficient than gas furnaces, electric furnaces, baseboard heaters, etc. The only other heating option that even comes close to comparing is a ductless mini-split. Even then, it’s only because this type of unit is a smaller self-contained version of a heat pump.
Heat pumps function best when the temperatures are fairly mild and above freezing. This is why they are such an excellent heating option for places like California that rarely experience extremely cold weather.
At Gallagher’s Plumbing, Heating and Air, our expert HVAC technicians install, service, and repair heat pumps. We also have expertise in central AC systems, ductless mini-splits, and furnaces. To learn more about heat pumps or to schedule any service, give us a call today.