How Do Heat Pumps Heat and Cool a Home?

The widespread availability of heat pumps is an exciting trend in the HVAC industry because these units are such highly effective and efficient heating and air conditioning systems.

It surprises many homeowners with any knowledge of traditional heating and air conditioning units because an air conditioning system is usually installed independently from a furnace. But owning a heat pump essentially eliminates the need for a furnace, as a heat pump is an air conditioner in which the refrigeration cycle also works in reverse.

How Does Air Conditioning Work?

Air conditioners operate via refrigeration, which involves the use of a chemical blend called refrigerant, a set of coils, a compressor, the expansion valve, and a fan, among other vital parts. The refrigerant absorbs heat from a home inside at the evaporator coil, when it evaporates into a gas. It lets off the heat at the condenser unit outside as it condenses into a liquid. A fan blowing over the indoor coil moves cool air into the room.

A heat pump has an extra component known as a reversing valve that allows the refrigerant to move the opposite direction, absorbing heat from the outside to bring into your home. The indoor coil becomes a condenser while the outside coil is for evaporation. Check valves help redirect the refrigerant so it flows through components the right way and so that it can avoid certain parts, like the expansion valve.

Why Are Heat Pumps Efficient?

Heat pumps do have a balance point at which it struggles to gather enough heat from the outside air to heat a home. That’s why most installers add on strips of electric heating elements (that resemble the inside of a toaster) as a backup heating source, although a furnace may also be used in some cases.

The thermostat is programmed to recognize when the heating strips are needed, but it’s important to note that these use a lot of energy to use and should be in use sparingly. Heat pumps are efficient because they only use electricity to move heat from place to place, but the additional heating strips are inefficient because they actually generate heat.

Call the heating and cooling experts at Intelligent Air Services for more information, professional installation, and service for heat pumps in Austin, TX.