When it’s time to build or replace a new HVAC system in your home or office, the choice between a heat pump and a traditional air conditioning system might be challenging. While these systems perform similarly when it comes to cooling your home, there are some significant differences when it comes to heating.
This article will explain the main distinctions between installing a new heat pump system and installing a central air conditioning unit and the considerations to consider before choosing a new system.
A central air conditioning unit and a heat pump system are called central-air HVAC systems because they move (or pump) heat from the inside of the building to the outside to decrease the interior temperatures.
The main difference between an air conditioner and a heat pump is that heat pumps may use a reversing valve integrated into the compressor to reverse the airflow direction and transfer heat from the outside to boost inside temperatures. A traditional air conditioning system, on the other hand, must share warm air using electric resistive heat strips inside the air handler or a gas furnace unit.
Differences Between a Heat Pump and an AC System
While heat pumps and traditional air conditioners work in different ways, they use the same principles to regulate indoor air temperatures. A compressor is used in both systems to compress the refrigerant housed inside the system. Gas is compressed within the compressor, causing its temperature to increase dramatically. Subsequently, the gas is cooled to ambient temperature by passing through the condensing coil. As the gas reaches the evaporator coil, which is positioned within the home, it expands, causing the coil’s temperature to decrease and cool swiftly.
A fan or blower assembly inside the air handler pulls air through the cooled evaporator coil to distribute the conditioned air to the home’s interior. The critical difference between the two systems is that a heat pump may reverse the process by changing the evaporator and condenser coils’ functions to elevate internal temperatures.
How can you know which one you have in your home?
When you’re trying to figure out if you have a heat pump or a traditional system, the simplest method to find out is to look at the exterior unit. Look around the outside of the enclosure for a metal plate with the model number and other information attached. Write down the model number if the container does not specify whether the machine is a heat pump or an air conditioner.
There is a plethora of information available online to assist you in determining if you have a heat pump or a traditional system. Then, go online and look for the unit’s brand and model number. You may probably find the owner’s handbook for your outside unit online if you know the model number, which is helpful if the original is lost.
If an online search yields no results, there’s one more thing you can do to figure out if you have a heat pump or a traditional system. Set your thermostat to HEAT and adjust the temperature until the heating cycle is triggered. Return outside to the external unit after the heating system is turned on and blowing air; if this equipment is blowing air, it’s a heat pump.
Choosing the Best Alternative
Most of the leading central air conditioning manufacturers also offer heat pump installation. Heat pump installations are not recommended in areas of the nation where temperatures are consistently 40 degrees or below for long periods. The reason is that when the temperature decreases, heat pumps work more to maintain targeted comfort levels. Consequently, you’ll consume more energy, which will raise your power bill.
Furthermore, if the temperature dips below 40 degrees, most heat pump systems lose their heating effectiveness and must convert to emergency heat mode, which uses more power and electric-resistant heat strips.
You’d be better off with a traditional HVAC system with additional heat, such as a furnace or boiler, in icy areas of the nation or in areas where power rates are high.