What is a Heat Pump?

If you have an HVAC system installed in your home, you have probably heard the term ‘‘heat pump’’ used. What exactly is a heat pump? Using technical jargon, a heat pump is defined as a refrigeration system that works on a mechanical-compression cycle and is used to either heat up or cool down a controlled space. The installation of a heat pump consists of two main parts, an indoor unit, aka an air handler, and an outdoor unit that is similar to an air conditioner. A compressor is used to circulate a refrigerant that absorbs then releases heat as it moves from the indoor to the outdoor unit.

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

A heat pump works by either heating up your home when it’s cold or cooling it down when it’s hot. When the air temperature inside your house drops too low, the heat pump removes heat from the outdoors and uses it to heat the house. The opposite action is completed when the air temperature indoors becomes too high. A heat pump does not generate its own heat, but merely transfers it from one place to another. This results in a more efficient operation. The pump is powered by electricity or gas. Heat pumps are much more efficient at heating homes when compared to other commonly used methods. A Trane model XL20i heat pump for instance is highly regarded in the HVAC industry and has a SEER rating of 19 with 9.00 HSPF.

Heat pumps work best in moderate temperatures. In very cold areas, it is usually necessary to install supplementary sources of heat since warm air from the outdoors may not exist. There are two main types of heat pumps from which one may choose an electric heat pump and a gas absorption heat pump.

Electric Heat Pump vs. Gas Absorption Pump

Heat pump:

  • The major components of an electric heat pump are the condenser, compressor, expansion pump, and evaporator.
  • The electric heat pump uses electrical energy to run the compressor.
  • The evaporator absorbs from or gives off heat to the surrounding air or water.
  • To measure the efficiency of electric heat pumps, C.O.P. (coefficient of performance) is used. This is a measure of the ratio of heat energy supplied to the electrical energy consumed. Many heat pumps have a C.O.P. of about 2.5. A heat pump with a C.O.P. of 2.5 will supply 2.5 kWh of energy for every 2.5kWh of electricity consumed.
  • The higher the temperature difference between the condenser and the source of the heat, the higher the efficiency of the electric pump is bound to be. The pump becomes deactivated and its performance suffers when the air temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius.

Gas Absorption Pump:

  • The major components of a gas pump are a generator, condenser, absorber, and restrictors.
  • A gas absorption pump uses natural gas or LPG in its generator.
  • The gas absorption pump absorbs from or gives off heat to the surrounding air or water.
  • The efficiency of the gas absorption pump is denoted by G.U.E (Gas Utilization Efficiency).This is the ratio of heat energy supplied by the pump to the heat energy the burner consumes. Many gas absorption pumps have G.U.E’s of approximately 1.5.This means that the gas pump will supply 1.5kWh of heat energy for every kWh of gas energy it burns. These pumps can tolerate much lower temperatures than electric heat pumps, and can continue to operate even when outside air drops to as low as -20 degrees Celsius.

Heat pumps supply more heat energy to the air than what they consume. This is one huge advantage over other heating devices.

Snyder Heating & Air Conditioning is a family-owned Jacksonville, Florida heating and air conditioning company offering top-notch installation, repair, and maintenance of their HVAC systems. If you need a heat pump installed or need repairs completed on your existing heat pump, call us today. We will gladly be of help to you.

Posted June 12th, 2013 under Air Conditioning, Heat Pump, Heating, HVAC | Comments Off