What is a Heat Pump?

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 9:00am / By christina

What is a Heat Pump?

How can heat be pumped? Isn't that the first thing you think when you hear about a "heat pump"? Heat can be pumped by taking advantage of the laws of physics. When this is done, you get an HVAC product that is more cost-effective than any other.

How Heat Pumps Work

To pump heat, you have to "stick" the heat to a fluid. When the fluid is someplace warmer than the fluid, it absorbs heat from its surroundings. When it is somewhere cooler, it releases heat. The amazing thing about a heat pump is that it can work in either direction. There is more to that, and an HVAC professional at Command Services Center could explain it even better face-to-face.
The problem is that the place you want to gather the heat from is usually cooler than the place you want to pump the heat to. In the middle of February, how does a heat pump harvest heat from winter weather to pump it into your house? This is where HVAC magic occurs.

Your Physics Lesson

When a fluid is compressed from a gas to a liquid, it gets warmer--physics. But the heat has to come from somewhere, and the somewhere is the surrounding area for the coils. Once the fluid is pumped to the other "side", it expands, and it releases the heat. The less heat there is to gather, the harder the pump has to work, which costs electricity.

Types of Heat Pumps

There are basically four types of heat pumps. An HVAC professional at Command Services Center can help you pick the type that's right for you. The split system is the most common. It has an inside and an outside unit. Each unit has heat absorbing and releasing coils. This allows it to pump in either direction, transferring heat from one unit to the other. The packaged heat pump has everything in one unit. It is connected to ductwork that delivers the heated/cooled air into or out of the house. These units are good when there is little installation space, so they can be installed on a rooftop.
Ductless heat pumps are good for historical buildings that don't have ductwork, or as a supplemental device. They transfer heat to coils installed in a wall or ceiling. The newest type is the variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heat pump. This ductless type adds variation in refrigerant flow. It allows individual units or rooms to be heated or cooled to different levels, simultaneously. They are also more efficient.

Benefits of a Heat Pump

You want to know why you would want a heat pump. They save you money over the time you have one. Heat pumps deliver 150% to 300% as much heat energy than the electricity they use (US Department of Energy). An electric furnace cannot get above 100%, no more than 75% to 33% of a heat pump. An air conditioner cannot improve on a heat pump, because it is just a "one way" heat pump.
Heat pumps do require a bit more care. You need to make sure your ductwork (if you use a ducted system) is in good repair and kept clean. Coils need cleaning. Fluid systems needs to be checked for leaks, but you would already have an annual checkup for a conventional furnace. Likewise, smart choices of features and location make a difference and cut maintenance costs.
You can reach out to the folks at Command Services Center to help you select a heat pump that is the right type, right size, and with the right features for your home, and they will always be available to ensure your heat pump is in the best shape, at the lowest reasonable cost to you.
It sounds like magic, but it's real-world physics and technical ingenuity. Command Services Center's professionals know the physics, have the technical skill, and carries the products that will fit your unique needs. Contact the experts at Command Service Center at 847-558-7780.