Heat Pumps – Everything You Need to Know
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?
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
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?
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.
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.
The refrigerant, now in gas form, passes through the compressor which pressurizes and heats the gas, and it moves to the outdoor unit.
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.
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.
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
- 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
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
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.
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.