The Difference Between An AC Unit And A Heat Pump

When you choose equipment to heat and cool your home, you might think that you only have one choice—to use an AC unit to cool your home and a furnace to heat your home. Installing two separate pieces of machinery only adds to your installation costs, but you don't necessarily have to use two separate machines. Instead, you may be able to use one heat pump to both heat and cool your home. Before you run off and buy a heat pump, you must know that heat pumps may not work in every location. 

What Is a Heat Pump?

In order to understand if a heat pump could work for you, you must understand what a heat pump is. To begin with, a heat pump is similar in function to an AC unit in that both machines will use a set of evaporator coils to absorb heat from one location and a second set of condenser coils to expel that heat into a different location. In the case of an AC unit, the coils inside your house can only function as evaporator coils to absorb heat from the air inside your home and the coils outside of your home can only function as condenser coils to expel heat into the outside air. In the case, of a heat pump, you can reverse the function of the coils so that during the winter the coils outside your home absorb heat from the outside air and the coils inside your home expel heat to warm up your home. 

Limitations of a Heat Pump

Heat pumps work best when they only have to contend with moderately cool air. Even if the air outside of your home feels cold, there is heat to be absorbed from the air except when the the air outside your home reaches freezing or below. Thus, if you have to contend with several days each winter when the air outside your home falls below freezing, then a heat pump will not work for your winter heating. However, if you live in an area that only sees moderate temperatures, a heat pump may provide you with year-round comfort. 

If you want to see if you could use a heat pump to provide your home with at least three seasons of heating and cooling, you should talk about your situation to an HVAC specialist, like the ones at H.R. Stewart Inc. Such a specialist will be able to help you to find heating and cooling equipment to help you adequately and efficiently heat and cool your home.