What is a heat pump?
How do they work?

Heat Pumps

A brief overview of heat pumps and how they work.

How does a Heat Pump work?

With heat pumps still being relatively new in Atlantic Canada, we get the question a lot “How does a heat pump work?” You may have heard that a heat pump works similar to your fridge at home, using the refrigeration cycle. Technically this is true, but there are a few things an air-to-air heat pump does that your fridge doesn’t.
So let’s explore how an air-to-air heat pump works.

NOTE: We’ve said air-to-air heat pump because technically a “heat pump” is any device that moves heat from one place to another. There are air-to-water, ground-to-air, water-to-air and ground-to-water heat pumps as well. For example, a Geothermal heat pump is either ground / water to air / water heat pump.

Moving Not Creating Heat

Heat pumps do not create heat, like a furnace or electric heater. Instead, they move it from one place to another. This is the primary reason a heat pump can save you money during the winter heating months.
Heat pumps accomplish moving heat by absorbing heat in the ambient outdoor air into the refrigerant and then transferring that refrigerant to another location (either inside or outside your home) then extract the heat by blowing a fan over the lines.

The Refrigerant and Compressor are Key

The compressor of a heat pump acts as the pump between two heat exchanger coils of a heat pump. One coil is in the outdoor unit, and the other is in the indoor unit. When your heat pump is in heating mode the refrigerant in the outside coil is in a gas state in the outdoor unit. It’s in this gas state that heat is absorbed into the system from the outdoor air, even at temperatures as low as -20°C. The refrigerant travels through the compressor, which condenses it to a liquid, and pumps it to the indoor unit. The indoor fan blows over the refrigerant coil inside, and the heat is moved into the room of your home. The refrigerant then flows through an expansion valve, which turns it back into a gas, and the process starts all over again.
The reverse of this happens when you switch the unit to air conditioning mode.

Going in Reverse

The technology of a heat pump is similar to your fridge, a big difference is that a heat pump has the ability to reverse the system. Reversing the system in a heat pump means the machine extracts heat inside your home and moves it to the outside during the summer months.
The technology that exists inside a heat pump is not new, but the efficiency is improving yearly. New technological advancements in the type of refrigerant being used and compressor quality allow air-to-air heat pumps to operate effectively as low as -20°C and below in some instances.
If you don’t yet have a heat pump in your home contact us to speak with a local heat pump contractor today. Give us a call today 1-844-505-3828 or fill out the contact us form below.

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