Climate control is something you may not think about often, however it is an important part of our daily lives.

A stable temperature within our homes and work environments can make a difference in how we feel throughout the day, and how effective we are in our work. It can even affect our health.

Thankfully there are several available options for heating, cooling, and maintaining temperatures indoors. One of the many options considered is a heat pump. In the below article, we’ll discuss what a heat pump is and address how they work.

What is a Heat Pump?

What is a Heat Pump?

Heat pumps are mechanical devices that can take heat from one medium and transfer it to another, for the purpose of cooling or heating a living space.

There are all kinds of heat pumps, all which achieve the desired goal of transferring heat. In practical terms, this means being able to heat or cool your home successfully. This article will focus on all the benefits that come with using a heat pump for your home.

So, what exactly is a heat pump?

To put it simply, it’s an air conditioner and heater all in one: it can provide heating and cooling capabilities by getting energy from outside – whether that be by extracting or producing heat.

Heat pumps are efficient and effective heating and cooling systems. A heat pump, literally, is a device that moves heat energy from one place to another. It can be used to heat or cool homes, office buildings, and large indoor areas.

Heat energy is absorbed from the outside air and pumped through the vents to heat the room. And since the direction can be reversed in a heat pump, heat can be taken from inside air and pumped outside with cool air flowing through the inside.

Heat pumps can be used in all kinds of climates; they work well in all areas, including the hot and humid south, and cold and snowy north. They also work both during summer and winter. The main advantage of these units is their ability to change between heating and cooling quickly and efficiently, thereby saving energy costs all year round.

Different Types of Heat Pumps

Different Types of Heat Pumps

There are several types of heat pump technologies which include ground source (GSHP), air-to-air (ATA), water source (WSHP), geothermal (GHP), air-source heat pumps (ASHP), air-to-air heat pumps (AAHP), and these are used all over the world to provide homes with their heating and cooling.

Heat pumps can be air source or ground source, known as geothermal heat pumps. Air source heat pumps transfers heat between the air outside and the air inside, while ground source transfers between the air inside and the ground outside. There are also ductless models that use individual air handlers to deliver heat into your living space. For our purposes now, we will be focusing on the air source type.

Let’s start exploring all the different types of heat pumps, so you can understand why they are beneficial to you. All kinds of heat pumps serve the same purpose, but function in their own unique ways. There are several categories that all heat pumps fall under:

Ground source or geothermal heat pump

This type of system works by extracting ground water from 10 feet below the surface and pumping it through a closed loop system to remove any heat that it picks up while passing through the pipes before transferring that warmth into another liquid or gas such as antifreeze or glycol that then flows into an indoor coil within the air handler unit.

The liquid is sent back down below ground level, where it absorbs more heat while passing through the closed loop and it is this heat that is then transferred into your home all year round.

Air source or air-to-air heat pump

These systems transfer heat from the air outside of your home, into a carrier liquid (which typically includes antifreeze or glycol), into an indoor coil unit.

This process all occurs within the air handler unit which distributes the heated or cooled air throughout your dwelling all while using only one system to do so.

These units use the outside air as their main source of developing heat. They transfer this cool gathered air through an indoor coil unit, where they condense and remove any humidity from it all before pushing it out into your home all while collecting the warmth from outside and bringing it inside. The warmth is then passed through a compressor all before being sent back outside.

Water source heat pump

These units have all their components contained in a water tank.

A pump circulates the water while a separate accessory converts it from a liquid to a vapor, allowing for better cooling capabilities due to the lowered temperature. Once cooled, the water is all sent back into the tank to be used all over again. This is continuous.

Solar heat pumps

Similar to air and ground source heat pumps, but instead of extracting warmth from outside air or ground, they extract it directly from the sun’s rays.

As with other forms of heating, these systems extract warmth in summer to cool your home and extract warmth in winter to warm your home.

Hybrid heat pumps

Hybrid heat pumps are a mix of both air source and ground source heat pumps. They usually have an outdoor unit which extracts warmth from outside air year-round, passing it indoors via refrigerant coils in the indoor units, just like other types of air source systems.

However, since these systems also have a closed loop system, they can tap into the earth’s thermal energy – just as with traditional ground source heat pumps. This means that depending on your needs, you may switch between using environmental energy (via earth) and extracting warmth from outside air.

What is the Purpose of a Heat Pump?

Heat Pump Purpose

All kinds of heat pumps all have different working principles all which all work to serve the same purpose: to transfer heat from one medium (air, water, earth) to another. However, all function uniquely so all should be looked at separately.

Ground source heat pumps are all built on the principle of tapping into the earth’s thermal energy year-round. They take advantage of our planet’s natural temperature, taking warmth out of ground using refrigerants within a closed loop system and bringing it indoors to warm your home in winter, or cool it down in summer before releasing the temperature-controlled air back into the environment.

The main components for these types of systems include an outdoor unit all which extracts heat from outside air, lowers its temperature and then is transferred inside. Indoor units receive all this extracted heat and pass it through ducts to all rooms that require heating or cooling. Unlike air source heat pumps, ground source systems all do not need an external power supply (all power comes from energy captured).

Air source heat pumps are all built on the principle of tapping into environmental warmth. They all make use of refrigerants within a closed loop system; however, unlike other forms of heat pumps they do not tap directly into earth’s thermal energy but instead extract heat from outside air and release it indoors.

Using modern refrigeration technology, we can easily move heat from one area to another with 100% efficiency without wasting any thermal energy in the process.

Heat pumps function on the same principle: they exploit a basic physical law to move heat from one place to another. The different kinds of heat pumps all use some form of refrigeration cycle, all with slight variations on how this is achieved.

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

An air source heat pump uses two units, one outside and the indoor air handler unit. Each of these units has a coil and a fan which can be used either as a condenser or evaporator, depending on whether you are using it for heating or cooling.

The fan in each is used to move the air over the coil to enable the exchange of heat through ducts and into your home, or outside when cooling. To accomplish this, heat pumps use refrigerant which is controlled by the Compressor, Reversing Valve and Expansion Valve.

The refrigerant is the liquid that cycles through the heat pump absorbing and rejecting heat as it circulates. The Compressor pressurizes the refrigerant and moves it while the Expansion Valve controls and regulates the flow. A reduction of pressure lowers the temperature of the refrigerant while an increase raises it. The Reversing Valve does just what it sounds like and allows for the flow to be reversed, heating or cooling your home.

Heat energy naturally moves to areas of lower pressure and temperature. Heat pumps use this normal physical process to put heat in contact with colder, lower pressure environments so that the heat will transfer. What all heat pumps all have in common is that they are all more efficient than furnaces alone. They transfer heat into your home using less electricity, saving you money on energy bills and ensure that there is no wasted energy, so that what is not used won’t cause damage to anything else.

Heat pumps work best out of all your heating and cooling options to transfer warmth from one place to another and keep your home at a comfy temperature. They can be paired with an electric or gas furnace for supplemental heating during those colder winter months when the climate outside drops below the optimal range needed.

All types of A/C systems typically require more than one unit to function which means purchasing an outside condensing unit along with a compressor for inside so it can minimize humidity levels present in all rooms throughout your dwelling. Heat pumps only need single-unit installation all while transferring all the heat energy from outside into your living space.

Cooling

Step 1

For cooling, refrigerant is pumped through the expansion valve in the indoor unit and through the coil which is functioning as an evaporator. The fan blows the inside air across the coil and heat energy is absorbed by the refrigerant which heats up and evaporates into a gas. The cool air that remains is pushed through the home’s ductwork.

Step 2

The refrigerant, now in gas form, passes through the compressor which pressurizes and heats the gas, and it moves to the outdoor unit.

Step 3

In cooling mode, the fan in the outdoor unit blows outside air across the coils which are acting as a condenser and the heat from the hot compressed gas is transferred to the outside air. As it cools, the refrigerant returns to a liquid state which is then pumped back to the expansion valve in the indoor unit.

Step 4

The expansion valve reduces the pressure of the warm liquid refrigerant, allowing it to cool significantly, and preparing it to return to the indoor evaporator coil to begin the process again.

Heating

For heating your home, rather than cooling, the heat pump works the same way, but in reverse.

Switch your thermostat from cool to heat and the Reversing Valve will change the direction of the refrigerant flow and your system will remove cool air from your home and bring in heat.

All heat pumps work to provide you with an extremely efficient heating platform, one that can function all year round without any interruptions or additional energy sources needed. Heat pumps use electricity, but never have to be refueled.

Heat Pump Advantages

Heat Pump Advantages

  • Lower utility bills (no need to use separate systems like furnaces or air conditioners);
  • Can provide both heating and cooling;
  • Low maintenance;
  • Cools better than conventional ac units;
  • Minimal noise

Heat pumps are excellent at providing you with heating and cooling with comfortable humidity levels, making them more energy efficient than any other form of home comfort all while keeping your home’s interior perfectly.

These benefits make heat pumps ideal for anyone who wants an extremely low-cost operating system all while minimizing their impact on the environment around them. And making them a cleaner and greener option to all other types of heating and cooling units. Find out what each type offers, where you can use each one before deciding which one best fits your needs. Because they use 90% less energy than gas furnaces, heat pumps create a more efficient and cost-effective home while using less energy than other methods.

Heat Pump Disadvantages

Heat Pump Disadvantages

There are very few disadvantages, however, for people living in areas where it is very cold for months on end with snow and ice for several months a year, heat pumps may not be as effective. Once the temperature gets too low, they will not be able to pull heat energy from the air at that point and may encounter problems. This is a situation where you will want to consider a back-up unit. However, geothermal and air source types can both be used very effectively all summer long and for nearly winter temperature.

Average Life Expectancy of a Heat Pump

Average Life Expectancy of a Heat Pump

The simple answer to this depends on the type all heat pump, and how well they’re looked after. Water source heat pumps tend to have a longer life expectancy than air source, solar and geothermal systems due to their more reliable technology.

However, even water source types are not completely maintenance-free, so it is important that you get them serviced regularly according to manufacturer’s guidelines all instructions.

Air source types call for steady airflow which means that filters must be cleaned on a regular basis while shading around solar panels will need some periodic repairs in time. Geothermal systems are the most durable of the bunch but require inspection at intervals set by your dealer or installer while upkeep also depend on how often you use all utilize your system.

Heat pumps can heat and cool spaces of all shapes and sizes depending on the model and type installed in your home. Each system has its own upsides and downsides, depending on what you need them for, where you plan to use them and other factors such as ease of installation, upkeep requirements, and noise level.

Heat pumps can be used safely if they’re installed by qualified professionals, who follow all proper procedures when installing and maintaining them. You should ask yourself whether a given dealer is a member of a trade organization such as Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) or Cooling Technology Institute (CTI).

If they are, it means that they have passed HABC certification exams all keep all their skills all knowledge up to date all abide by all relevant safety procedures. Heat pumps offer excellent performance all year round at a reasonable price – they use less energy than any other system with similar capacity, so you can save up on your electric bill without having to sacrifice comfort reliability and ensure the safety of your family and pets. They’re also capable of providing very even temperature levels with little fluctuation, which makes them perfect for rooms that suffer from issues like temperature stratification.

Conclusion

All these features make heat pump HVAC systems a great choice for both homeowners and business owners alike, especially those who want to reduce all eliminate possible costs and negative impacts on the environment.

Heat pumps are an affordable way to enjoy comfortable temperatures you need and reduce your monthly power bills substantially. But make sure to choose the right model for your needs and preferences. Do your research thoroughly before committing to any type or brand.

If you stick with known, well-respected manufacturers and work with experienced professionals who know what they’re doing, chances are that the pros completely outweigh the cons when it comes to investing in one of these systems. If you want to go green without spending too much money on heating and cooling technologies that offer low energy usage, look no further than heat pumps.

Contemporary air conditioners are designed to stay quiet. These high-efficiency units use 2-stage variable heat compressor technology, as well as sound reduction, in order to keep noise levels under 55 decibels. If you own such a unit, you likely seldom think about its noise levels. That is until the unit begins to sound louder than normal. If this starts occurring, chances are that you will notice, and might wonder if something is going wrong with your unit.

If you begin hearing odd, uncharacteristic noises out of a normally quiet unit, it’s best not to ignore them. The problem could be something that can be addressed by a very basic tune-up, or it could call for major repairs. Sometimes, the repairs would be more costly than replacing the unit altogether. In either case, ignoring unusual noises is not likely to lead to anywhere good in terms of your air conditioner. The longer you let the loud noises continue without addressing them, the higher your risk of costly repairs becomes. To that end, it’s best to address these AC issues without wasting a lot of time.

The sounds you might hear from your air conditioner unit may vary. Here are some common noises that your air conditioner may make and their likely causes.

Air Conditioner Making [Fill in the Blank] Noise

Banging

If you begin to hear banging from inside your unit, it is most likely due to a broken or detached part. It might be a piston pin, a crankshaft, a connecting rod, or any number of other internal components that make up the internal compressor that has snapped or disconnected, or there is a poorly balanced internal blower in play. If a component of a compressor has broken, it is almost certain that the compressor will need to be replaced.

Buzzing

One of the toughest noises to diagnose is when the AC unit begins to buzz. This could be due to a relatively minor and simple repair including changing an air filter to something much more serious. Sometimes buzzing is caused by loose parts inside the unit or the copper lines that run from the outside to the inside of the unit touching something and vibrating off of that surface. It could also mean that there is a debris blockage on the outside or inside of the unit, or the condenser coil requires maintenance or cleaning.

More seriously, it could mean that the internal fan blades are not balanced correctly, the unit has loose parts, the blower is imbalanced or failing, or there is a refrigerant leak. The latter is especially evident if the unit seems to be working but not actually blowing cold air. If the refrigerant has leaked out, it will need to be refilled and the source of the leak needs to be patched.

Clanking

If you hear clanking in your AC unit, chances are there is a part that is not balanced or is loose. This sometimes happens because a particular internal component of the compressor breaks, usually causing the necessity for repair and replacement. If parts are loose, such as the internal fans, it could mean that the out-of-place parts are hitting other internal units. The longer this is permitted to persist, the worse the problems get. Not only will the loose part incur more damage, but it will also likely send the parts it’s hitting into disrepair.

Clicking

When the unit starts up or stops, it is normal to hear clicking sounds, but it is atypical to hear them throughout the unit’s standard operation. If the clicking is frequent or perpetual once the unit is turned on, it could be a sign of a failing thermostat or a defective control. These are typically caused by electrical issues. These can lead to far more costly, and even dangerous problems, so it is important to stay on top of addressing clicking noises if they persist.

Humming

Normal humming is not indicative of a serious issue in AC units. The humming noise could potentially be the result of vibrations due to loose refrigerant piping or other parts, which, if not attended to, can exacerbate into greater problems. Humming is also sometimes due to electrical issues like loose wiring or a malfunctioning compressor.

Pulsating

Another noise that is not always indicative of a problem is when the unit pulsates. In fact, most units have some minor type of pulse emanating from it, which is entirely normal. However, this pulsing should be barely audible unless you are really listening for it. If an outdoor unit begins to make noises that you can hear inside, some parts are likely loose and some part inside the unit needs to be repaired or replaced. These parts can include anything as benign as a panel on the unit coming loose, to loose motor or fan blades, which is a significantly more serious problem.

Rattling

Rattling inside of your unit can sometimes be caused by outdoor debris like leaves and branches being caught in your system, causing a clogging issue. However, it can also be a sign of electrical contractor issues or loosening parts inside the compressor. Loose fans also rattle the more detached and imbalanced they get. If you begin to hear chattering or rattling noises in your unit, your first troubleshooting actions should include checking to make sure that all of the bolts and screws in the unit are tight and snug. You should also consider changing your air filter and cleaning your condenser coil.

Squealing

When indoor blower motors and outdoor fan motors begin to degrade in terms of efficiency, they exhibit the tell-tale sign of squealing as the noises travel through the duct systems. Squealing can also be indicative of malfunctioning or damaged housing or blower wheels. Because certain units may squeal inherently to some degree, it’s important to pay attention to the nature of these squeals in order to distinguish between those that are normal and those that are irregular.

Screaming

The one noise that calls for an immediate ceasing of the use of your AC unit is if you begin to hear a “screaming” or high-pitched whistling noise. At this point, a professional needs to come and inspect the unit and it should not be utilized until the problem is addressed. One of the most common reasons for this problem is a refrigerant leak, which, aside from being highly detrimental to your AC unit, can also harm the health of the residents of your home. Another dangerous reason for the screaming sound is the over-pressurization of the internal compressor. In some situations with this type of problem, the AC unit is equipped with a sensor that will shut the unit off. If this happens, don’t worry. This is a failsafe mechanism included for your safety.

Whirring

A whirring sound, reminiscent of the type of noise expected when a helicopter flies overhead, is an indication of several potential problems with the outdoor unit or the indoor blower. Usually, a whirring sound is indicative of bad bearings around the indoor blower, or a bad fan on either the external or internal AC. While it could also be caused by a torn or ripped belt, the usual cause for whirring noises are displaced or loosened fan blades. The helicopter-like noise occurs when the blades are spinning at an angle, out of place, or hitting what they should not be. But faulty parts are not always to blame. Sometimes, the whirring noise can be due to a piece of debris being stuck in the outdoor fan or the indoor blower. As it gets caught up in the blades, it simulates a helicopter sound as well.

What To Do About a Loud Air Conditioner

What To Do About a Loud Air Conditioner

You do not always need to worry about calling a professional for AC unit repairs. When there is a new noise that you are not accustomed to hearing, you should investigate the unit yourself as many problems have DIY solutions. A lot of the time the solution is quite simple. Various debris, including tree branches, twigs, leaves, and seed pods are well known to clog up conditioning coils, resulting in buzzing or pulsing sounds.

You can remove the top of your air conditioning unit with just a screwdriver in most cases, and closely inspect the fans. Loose parts, especially when in motion are usually easy to spot. You can also change the filter on your unit, as well as clean an outdoor one from all the nature dumps on it with a spray from a hose.

If the noises begin to be concerning, before inspecting a unit with the cover off, it is always advisable to power it down. You should do this regardless of whether a professional is coming over to take a look at it or you are checking it out yourself. This is a very basic precautionary measure. If the air conditioner unit is broken, keeping it running could only expedite the damage and prove to be more costly than if you had just stopped it after the initial problem was noted. To stay on top of potential looming issues, it is always a good idea to schedule an annual tune-up where professionals will check the status of all of the important parts involved and hopefully give your AC a clean bill of health.

Make Air Conditioner Quieter

Make Air Conditioner Quieter

If there is nothing wrong with your unit, but you still feel that it is far too loud, there are a couple of options to make it quieter. A sound blanket is one option. Since most of the noise from an AC unit is sourced from its compressor, a sound blanket can be installed over it in order to muffle the compressor’s sounds.

A sound-dampening fence around the unit is another common option for homeowners. Not only does it obstruct the often unaesthetic unit from sight, but it also helps to quiet the noise from the unit as it is obstructed by the fence. This type of fence is best installed by using fencing with overlapping boards, though it’s important to permit a space of at least three feet between the fence and the unit to allow the AC the ability to exercise proper airflow.

Another method that homeowners enjoy for sound-dampening their AC units is to plant shrubs around the air conditioner. Of course, these will need to be at a bit of distance and will need to consistently be pruned back in order to not grow into or obstruct the optimal operation of the unit.

Additionally, many homeowners also place plants against the windows inside the home, specifically those that are near the AC unit. Larger houseplants against the AC adjacent wall typically help to block the noise more. On top of that, if the AC unit is outside of a bedroom, it’s a good idea to install noise-smothering curtains in order to keep the noise level down for sensitive sleepers.

When Is It Time To Replace A Noisy Air Conditioner?

When Is It Time To Replace A Noisy Air Conditioner

Older units that begin to be noisy are usually best if they are discarded and replaced. While repairs are still possible, some problems are just too expensive to address. For instance, older units used R22 refrigerant, which has since been replaced by R410-A in newer units. However, the two are not interchangeable, so older units require their type of refrigerant. The problem is since it’s far less common these days, it gets more challenging to find services that still stock and carry R22, and its acquisition ends up being more costly.

As the main functional component of an air conditioning unit, when the compressor becomes deficient it will likely cost more to replace it than to just invest in a new unit. The newer unit will carry the benefits of being quieter, as well as more energy efficient. You might find that your electric bill drops substantially with a new unit, meaning that over its life, the savings will have the unit pay for itself.

If your air conditioner needs replacement, look into a company that can provide a strong warranty. This could save you substantial money on costs or the unit and its installation. This will also help you rest assured that you are operating a newer, quieter, and more reliable AC unit.