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What is a Heat Pump and How Does it Work?

Heat pumps are responsible for transferring and moving thermal energy, and the process is an interesting one. Here’s a quick guide to how it all works.

If you’ve got an HVAC system, you know that a flip of a switch on your wall-mounted display can mean the difference between cold air or heat flowing through your ducts. Those looking for a more efficient system, transferring heat rather than using valuable energy to create it, might want to consider a heat pump instead.

Heat pumps move warm air from one place to another to keep your home or business at a comfortable temperature. When working to heat a space, these pumps pull warmth from outside and funnel it in the right direction. If cooling is the name of the game, they are reversed to pull warm air out and divert it. Read on to learn more about how heat pumps work.

heat pump for commercial property

Pros of Using a Heat Pump

When you choose a heat pump for your residential or commercial temperature needs, you save yourself or your company the trouble of having separate heating and cooling systems installed. Heat pumps transfer heat, rather than requiring electricity or other resources to generate it, making them a more environmentally friendly option. They can also be used in hot tubs, swimming pools, and more.

Types of Heat Pumps

As with most modern items, heat pumps come in several varieties. Each works best in specific residential or commercial applications, and an HVAC specialist will help you find the right one for yours.

Absorption heat pumps — Fueled by renewable resources like geothermal-heated water, natural gas, solar power, or propane, absorption pumps use ammonia-infused water pressurized with a low-power pump. The ammonia is boiled out, then the process repeats.

Air-source heat pumps — The most common variety, also called an “air-air heat pump,” this pump moves heat from outside air into a building through coils filled with refrigerant solutions. Air-source heat pumps include two fans, coils, a compressor, and a reversing valve.

All-climate heat pumps — A new variety, all-climate pumps can operate in colder-than-average temperatures down to -30 degrees (F). They are most effective for heating and offer up to 60 percent greater efficiency over standard heat pumps.

Ground-source heat pumps — These pumps transfer heat indoors after absorbing it from the ground or underground water, most commonly through buried, refrigerant- or water-filled pipes. The liquid is circulated in a closed-loop system that extracts the heat and transfers it, then deposits the water elsewhere. By contrast, open-loop varieties continually pull water up, extract the heat, and return the water to its source.

Mini-split heat pumps — Perfect for homes without air ducts, a mini-split pump connects multiple indoor units with outdoor air-source units. Installation is easy, in-home locations are flexible, the units are small, and installation can occur in ceilings, floors, walls, and more.

Reverse cycle chiller heat pumps — Unlike other heat pumps, this type changes the temperature of water in an insulated tank, then uses fans to blow the warm or cold air where it needs to go. They can also be used in in-floor heating.

heat pump systems

Call an Experienced Expert

If you have questions or concerns about heat pumps, or about anything else related to your residential or commercial HVAC system, call North Augusta Air. Our team of experts is standing by to help with whatever you need.

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