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A Quick Guide to Air Source Heat Pumps

air source heat pump

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Heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners for your heating and cooling needs. Heat pumps move heat from cool spaces to warm spaces by using a refrigerant system involving a compressor, an outdoor heat exchanger coil, an indoor heat exchanger coil, and a condenser. During the winter, it extracts heat from outside and transfers it into the home. In the summer, it pulls warm air from the home and releases it outdoors, thus keeping your home comfortable all year long.


Benefits of an Air Sourced Heat Pump

Air source heat pumps provide the following benefits over other types of heating and cooling systems:


  • Because heat pumps move rather than generate heat, they provide comfort control and conditioning at one quarter of the cost of operating a conventional heating or cooling appliance.
  • The typical electric heat pump can trim the amount of electricity used for heating up to 40%.
  • High efficiency heat pumps can provide up to four times as much heat as an electric heater using the same amount of energy.
  • High-efficiency heat pumps also dehumidify better than conventional central air conditioners, resulting in less costs and better cooling.
  • Air source heat pumps have good longevity, being able to run for over 20 years.
  • For homes without ducts, there are ductless versions available for air-source heat pumps.


How Does a Heat Pump Work?

An air source heat pump works by pumping a refrigerant through the heat pump’s two copper heat exchanger coils, one outside and one inside. The compressor and condenser are used to change states of the refrigerant between cooler liquid and warmer gases. In heating mode, the liquid refrigerant boils as it passes through the outside heat exchanger coil. Heat from the outside air that has previously been absorbed and stored in the refrigerant, is retained and carried within the refrigerant as it evaporates into a gas. The gas is then compressed using the electric pump, which increases the temperature of the gas through compression. Once the gas moves into the inside of the building, the gas passes through a pressure valve into the indoor coil. The refrigerant gas is condensed back to a liquid and transfers the heat into the indoor air, releasing into the home.  The indoor air is pumped across the heat exchanger by an electric pump or fan.  The cool liquid refrigerant is then cycled back toward the outside exchanger coils, beginning a new cycle.

In the cooling cycle, the heat pump also dehumidifies the indoor air. Moisture present in the indoor air moves over the indoor heat exchanger coil and starts condensing on the surface of the coil. It is then collected in a pan present at the bottom of the coil. This pan is connected to the drain of the house with the help of a condensate drain.


A Good System for Heating and Cooling

Even though an air source heat pump does need and use electricity to power the system, it uses considerable less energy than other types of heating and cooling units, lowering your carbon footprint and your energy costs.  Furthermore, a number of innovations have developed that are improving the performance of heat pumps. New two-speed compressors allow heat pumps to operate close to heating or cooling capacity, saving large amounts of energy and reducing compressor wear. Some models of heat pumps are can be equipped with variable-speed or dual-speed motors on their fans. These controls help to keep air moving at comfortable speed, minimizing drafts and maximizing energy savings.


Entek is certified and trained to install air source heat pumps in Vancouver, WA and Longview; call today.