Often, when people hear that heat pumps can work as both air conditioners and heaters, they first assume that heat pumps are packaged units that contain a separate heating and cooling system, much the same way that furnaces and air conditioners are often placed into a single cabinet and then use the same blower motor for air distribution. However, heat pumps are single devices that use the same action to provide hot and cold air to a house. In this post, we’ll explain how this works.
If you are interested installation of a heat pump in Lakeland, FL, or if you need repairs or maintenance for your current heat pump, then Air Conditioning Experts has you covered. Our technicians are on-call 24 hours a day to make sure your heat pump keeps you comfortable, no matter the weather.
The best way to understand how a heat pump operates is to first think of it as an air conditioner, because it works in the same way. An air conditioner cycles a chemical blend called refrigerant through its indoor and outdoor units. When it passes through the indoor coil, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoors through evaporation, making the indoor air feel cooler. When the refrigerant then goes through the outdoor coil, it releases that heat through condensation. The compressor, which changes refrigerant into a high pressure, high temperature gas, is the engine that provides the energy to the refrigerant and moves it through the air conditioner.
In order to bring heat from outside to the inside, we would have to reverse the air conditioner. Instead of physically turning it around, we instead switch the direction the refrigerant moves through the unit. Now the outdoor coil absorbs heat through evaporation, and the indoor coil releases it through condensation.
This is what a heat pump does: it cycles refrigerant one way to act as an air conditioner; and then, through the action of a component called a reversing valve, it sends the refrigerant the opposite direction and acts as a heater.
“But how does the heat pump extract heat from the outdoors when it’s cold?” This is the most common question people ask about heat pumps once they hear how they work. The answer is that, as long as there is some molecular motion in the air, there is heat available no matter the temperature. However, heat pumps are less efficient at heating than cooling, and so they are better suited for climates with mild winters… like Florida’s.
At Air Conditioning Experts, we often recommend heat pumps to our customers. If you think a heat pump in Lakeland, FL might be your best comfort option, give us a call today.