Heat Pumps – What You Need to Know

Heat Pumps Are More Common Than You Think.

There are a range of options when you’re looking for heating or cooling systems to match your home, budget, and location. If your household is not suitable for centralized ductwork or you don’t want to have bulkheads installed in your living space, you might want to consider installing an air source heat pump.

Let’s say you have a second level, a bedroom, a cottage or office that does not already have centralized ductwork. Or you do not currently live or work in a location with access to a city natural gas line or an existing propane system in your home. Heat pumps may be the right fit for you. This highly efficient technology offers a solution and proves to be great alternatives to furnaces or bigger heating systems.

How do air source heat pumps work?

A heat pump is a system of heating and cooling that has two main components required for installation. There is an outdoor unit that is commonly mounted on an outside wall with brackets and an indoor unit or diffuser which pushes the conditioned air around your living space. Commonly you can install a 1 to 1 system with one indoor and one outdoor unit.  Or you can have a multi head system with one outdoor unit that has multiple heads to provide heating and cooling to various rooms and areas of your living space.

Similar to an air conditioner, a heat pump can cool your home by removing heat from the inside of your house by discharging it outside your house. It can also work in the opposite direction, absorbing heat energy from outside the house and rejecting it inside the house.

Heat pumps are powered by electricity and are highly efficient appliances because they move (pump) heat instead of generating heat. Traditional heating systems use electricity, natural gas, or propane to generate heat by combustion or an electric heating element. A heat pump uses its energy source to move heat to make it significantly more efficient.

The interesting thing about this technology is that even when outside temperatures are really cold it is still able to absorb heat from the outside. This is due to the (2nd Law of Thermo Dynamics – i.e. energy flows from hot to cold) fact that when refrigerant loses pressure it gets colder than the outside air temperature and is therefore still capable of absorbing heat from the outside.

Different Types of Heat Pumps

Although all serving the same purpose, there are three different types of heat pumps you can choose from:

  • Air-to-air pump – This is the most common type of heat pump which moves heat from inside your house to outside and vice versa.
  • Water source pump – If you live near a water source, you can take advantage of water source pumps where your heat pump will move heat from your home to the nearby water source. This, however, is more expensive to install.
  • Geothermal – Similar to water source pumps, this heat pump relies on temperature from ground sources. Factors such as your house’s landscape, lot space, and subsoil all need to be taken into consideration when opting for a geothermal pump.

Advantages of Using Heat Pumps

So why should you go for a heat pump to condition your indoor air versus traditional heating systems?

  • If you have a space without existing ductwork a heat pump is a great way to bring heating and cooling to that room, home, or cottage.
  • Heat pumps are extremely efficient and use little energy compared to their traditional counterparts.
  • If you do not have access to natural gas or propane sources, a heat pump can be a cost-effective way to bring heating and cooling to your space.
  • In the past heat pumps were limited to the lowest temperatures in colder regions and in some cases may not be able to provide heating at extremely cold temperatures. With advancements in technology newer low ambient units can produce heat efficiently up to -35 degrees.
  • No risk of carbon dioxide emissions into your home as hydrocarbons are not used to generate heat.

Disadvantages of Heat Pumps

Although there are tons of advantages to using heat pumps, here are some disadvantages to consider as well:

  • Depending on your application, compared to replacing a traditional furnace and air conditioner, heat pumps can be expensive.
  • If you live or plan on operating a heat pump in a region with consistent extremely cold temperatures. i.e. less than -35 you will likely need to supplement heat with a traditional heat source like a baseboard heater.
  • The heat coming from a heat pump is less intense than traditional heaters or furnaces so the units will tend to run longer and will not shut off as much as a transitional forced air system.

If you have questions and further concerns while deciding whether or not to get a heat pump installed or are looking for maintenance to keep your heat pump in top performance, give us a call at +1-289-301-0720 and we can walk you through it.