Heat pumps are more energy-efficient than furnaces and air conditioners throughout the year. Heat pumps use electricity to move heat from a cold space to a warm room. Heat pumps remove heat from your home in the winter. Because they transfer heat rather than generate heat, heat pumps can provide your home with a comfortable temperature. Generally, heat pumps are connected by ducts into three types. They collect heat from the air, water, or ground outside your home.
What Is a Heat Pump?
Normally, a heat pump is installed outside your residence as part of a heating and cooling system. A heat pump provides both cooling and heating, like an air conditioner. When the weather is cold, heat pumps draw heat from the cold outdoor air and transfer it indoors, and when it’s warm, they pull heat out of the cool indoor air. Using a refrigerant, they move heat from one point to another so that you can stay comfortable all year round. Homeowners may not need to install separate heating systems because they handle both cooling and heating. A heated strip can be added to the indoor fan coil in colder climates.
Heat pumps do not burn fossil fuel like furnaces, making them more environmentally friendly.
How Does It Work?
Heat pumps are adaptable, effective heating and cooling units. A heat pump can switch refrigerant flow to heat or cool a house by using a reversing valve. Blowing air over an evaporator coil causes heat energy to be transferred to the refrigerant. The refrigerant transports that heat energy to a condenser coil, where it is released as air is forced across the coil by a fan. Heat is transferred from one area to another by this technique.
Consider a heat pump system if you want to reduce your energy bills or heat and cool your home. Heat pumps provide year-round comfort control by supplying heat in the winter, cooling in the summer, and sometimes heating hot water for your home.
Heat pumps can be an excellent choice for various applications, new homes, and heating and cooling systems retrofits. Heat pumps can also replace existing air conditioning systems, as they often cost less than a cooling-only system.
Type of Heat Pump System
- Air-to-air Heat Pump System
- Water Source Heat Pump System
- Geothermal Heat Pump System
Air-Source Heat Pumps
The air-source heat pump, which transfers heat between your home and the outside air, is the most popular form of a heat pump. In the summer, high-efficiency heat pumps provide more cooling comfort and use less energy than conventional central air conditioners since they dehumidify spaces better. Nearly all regions of the United States have been using air-source heat pumps for many years. Compared to electric resistance heating, such as furnaces and baseboard heaters, a modern heat pump can cut your energy use for heating by about 50%. However, air-source heat pump technology has improved recently, providing a reliable alternative to traditional space heating in colder climates.
Air-source heat pumps are also available in a ductless version called a mini-split heat pump. Moreover, some air-source heat pumps can be used in heating mode with radiant floor heating systems by using reverse cycle chillers, which generate hot and cold water rather than air.
Ground-source heat pumps sometimes called geothermal heat pumps, transfer heat between the air inside your home and the ground outside. Due to the constant ground temperature throughout the year, these are more expensive to install but often more efficient and have lower operating costs.
Geothermal (ground- or water-source) heat pumps work more efficiently by transferring heat from your home to the ground or a nearby water source. They can reduce energy use by 30%-60%, control humidity, are sturdy and reliable, and fit in many homes. Geothermal heat pumps generally use stable ground or water temperatures, which lowers running costs despite their higher initial cost. Ground source (or geothermal) heat pumps have several significant advantages. Depending on your lot’s size, subsoil, and landscape, you can decide whether a geothermal heat pump is suitable. Ground- or water-source heat pumps can be employed in more extreme climates, and customer satisfaction with the systems is very high compared to air-source heat pumps.
Absorption Heat Pumps
The absorption heat pump (AHP), also known as a gas-fired heat pump, is a relatively new type for residential systems. Absorption heat pumps use heat or thermal energy as their energy source and can be powered by various heat sources such as natural gas combustion, steam, solar-heated water, air, or geothermal-heated water, and thus differ from compression heat pumps, which are powered by mechanical energy. Compared to compression heat pumps, AHPs are more complex and require larger units. The lower electricity demand for these heat pumps is solely due to liquid pumping.
Advanced Features to Look for in a Heat Pump with Smart Features
Several developments are improving the effectiveness of heat pumps.
Two-speed compressors enable heat pumps to run close to the heating or cooling capacity required at any outdoor temperature, conserving energy by decreasing compressor wear and on/off operation. Standard compressors can only work at full capacity. Zone control systems also function effectively with two-speed heat pumps. Larger homes frequently have zone control systems that use automatic dampers to let the heat pump maintain varying temperatures in various areas.
Where Do Heat Pumps Perform Best?
Before investing in a heat pump system, homeowners who need a new heating or cooling system can think about the type of climate they reside in. Heat pumps are increasingly prevalent in milder areas where temperatures rarely fall below freezing. They can also be used in conjunction with furnaces in colder areas to provide energy-efficient heating except on the coldest days. The system will use the furnace to provide heat when the outside temperature is too low for the heat pump to function properly. This type of system, also known as a dual fuel system, is very energy and money-efficient.
Components Of A Heat Pump System
A typical air source heat pump system consists of two major components, an outdoor unit, and an indoor air handler unit. They contain various sub-components.
- Outdoor Unit
- Indoor Unit
- Reversing valve
- Expansion valve
How Does A Heat Pump Heat and Cool?
Heat pumps do not produce heat. They use a refrigerant that circulates between the interior fan coil (air handler) unit and the outdoor compressor to transfer heat from the air or the earth.
A heat pump takes heat from within your house and releases it outside when it is in cooling mode. The heat pump releases heat indoors while in heating mode by absorbing heat from the ground or outside air (even frigid air).
Cooling Mode Of A Heat Pump: How It Operates
Heat energy naturally seeks to migrate to places with lower temperatures and lower pressure, which is how heat is transferred. Heat pumps use this physical characteristic to transfer heat into cooler, lower-pressure surroundings.
The indoor coil, which serves as the evaporator, has an expansion device through which liquid refrigerant is pumped. The refrigerant in the coils absorbs heat energy as the air in the house is circulated over them. The ducts in the home are then used to distribute the generated cool air. The liquid refrigerant has heated up and vaporized into a gas due to absorbing the heat energy.
The gaseous refrigerant now passes through a compressor, which pressurizes the gas. Pressuring the gas causes it to heat up. Through the outdoor unit’s coil, hot, pressurized refrigerant moves through the system.
Heat is transmitted from the refrigerant to the outside air because the air outside the house is colder than the hot compressed gas refrigerant inside the coil. The refrigerant cools during this process and condenses to a liquid form. The warm liquid refrigerant is pumped through the system to the expansion valve at the indoor units.
The expansion valve reduces the pressure of the warm liquid refrigerant, which cools it significantly and begins the cycle again.
Working Of A Heat Pump – Heating Mode
Except for the aptly titled reversing valve, a heat pump in heating mode functions exactly like one in cooling mode. Due to the reversed flow, the heat energy is released within the house while the outside air serves as the new heating source (even when the outside temperature is low). Now, the inside coil serves as the condenser, and the outdoor coil acts as an evaporator.
The hot gas is cooled by passing air through the indoor unit, heating the air, and condensing the gas into a hot liquid. The hot liquid is relieved of pressure as it enters the outdoor unit, turning it into a cold liquid and renewing the cycle.
What size heat pump do you require?
The size you require is determined by a number of factors, including your home’s size and architecture, energy requirements, insulation, and more.
The capacity of an air conditioner is commonly expressed in British thermal units or Btu. You often need to pick between a window AC and a portable unit, depending on the size of the room you intend to utilize. The process of choosing a heat pump system is more complicated. It is based in part on square footage; the experts we spoke with agreed that your home should have around 1 tonne of air conditioning (or 12,000 Btu) for every 500 square feet. Additionally, the trade association Air Conditioning Contractors of America upholds a set of standards.
What Are the Prices of Heat Pumps?
When the installation cost is considered, heat pump costs are often considerable. The price will change for various heat pumps, though. The running expenses must be considered because a complete installation’s price range is typically between £8,000 and £45,000.
Costs for ground-source heat pumps can reach $45,000, while those for air-to-water heat pumps typically range from £7,000 to £18,000. Heat pumps’ operating expenses vary depending on your home’s size, insulation quality, and other factors.
A heat pump system must be installed flawlessly, which is the most crucial factor. The installer in charge will have to explain the ideal settings because there are clear differences in the amount of heat produced and the heat pump’s running time.
The Advantages of Heat Pumps are
Heat pumps are cheaper to run than systems based on combustion. The more energy efficient the systems are, the more significant the long-term energy savings.
Heat pumps require less maintenance than combustion heating systems. Regularly specific system details have to be checked once a year, which you could easily accomplish. On the other hand, a professional installer must check every three or five years.
Safe to Use
Heat pumps are safer than combustion-based heating systems. They are safe to operate, and since they rely on electricity and do not need to burn fuel to generate heat, they come with fewer safety concerns than their counterparts.
Reduces Carbon Emissions
Heat pump system reduces carbon emissions and has an efficient energy conversion rate to heat. For example, water source heat pumps reach reasonably high efficiencies, close to 600%.
Heat pumps can reverse the process during warm periods, thus acting like an ac unit. Air-to-air heat pumps can conveniently be switched to cooling mode during the summer.
The life span of heat pumps is relatively long, up to 50 years. However, the average lifespan is somewhere between 14 to 15 years. Despite these numbers, they are an exceptionally reliable and steady heat source.
Heat Pump Disadvantages
Here are some drawbacks to weighing in a while choosing a heat pump.
High Upfront Cost
Heat pumps have a large upfront cost, but on the other hand, their operating costs translate to long-term energy bills savings and lead to reduced carbon emissions.
Difficult to Install
Heat pumps are a little bit difficult to install, considering that research must be done to understand the movement of heat, local geology, specifically for ground source heat pumps, and the heating and cooling requirements for your household. BUT, If you ask a professional to install it, there is no problem.