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Heat Pumps: The Science Behind Heating and Cooling

Many property owners in moderate climates turn to heat pumps as the solution to both heat and cool their homes. Discover the science behind these incredible units and the differences between the technologies available.

Using Refrigerant to Redistribute Heat

Refrigerant is often associated with air conditioners and the cooling function they offer. However, the concept of refrigeration is simply leveraging the laws of thermodynamics to redistribute heat from one area to another.

Systems that use refrigerant simply manage its pressure. The refrigerant gets cold when its pressure drops, allowing it to absorb heat from around the low-pressure coil. Conversely, it gets hot when the pressure increases, allowing it to expel that heat.

One Unit With Two Modes

The difference between air conditioners and heat pumps is the reversing valve. This valve simply changes whether the high-pressure refrigerant flows to the inside or outside coil, giving it the ability to both heat and cool. During a heating cycle the high-pressure refrigerant is pushed inside, while it flows outside when set to cooling mode.

Air-Sourced Heat Pumps

Most professionals consider an air-sourced model as the standard heat pump, which has an outside unit that resembles an air conditioner. It uses the air around the outside unit as the heat transfer medium where it will expel heat to or draw it from, depending on the mode that’s running. The challenge with these models is they may experience less effective heating during unusually cold winter weather.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Rather than using air as the heat transfer medium, geothermal systems use either the ground or a water source. Ground units bury the refrigerant lines deep enough that the ground remains at a fairly constant temperature, usually 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Water-sourced systems use a body of water that’s deep enough that the water won’t freeze, staying warm enough to provide heat even during cold weather.

Getting Better Efficiency

Heat pumps have different technologies available for the compressor and fans, offering even more efficiency. Standard systems have single-stage compressors and single-speed fans, so both will run on high while it’s cycling.

However, higher efficiency models may have either two-stage/speed or variable-stage/speed components. The variable-stage and speed systems offer the highest efficiency, allowing the system to run at incredibly small incremental stages. Rather than raising or lowering the temperature during a cycle, these run nearly constantly to maintain the desired temperature.

Heat pumps are an incredibly efficient and effective method of both heating and cooling your home. If you own a house near College Station, TX, call Cover HVAC to schedule a consultation for heat pumps today.

Some of the finest HVAC services in College Station, TX are just a call away to (281) 378-5255!

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