You may have heard of a heat pump, and perhaps you are even familiar with these units. You may still be wondering, though, how a heat pump can actually provide heat to a home when it’s cold outside during the winter. At Dr. HVAC Inc, our team is frequently asked this question, especially by local residents in Margate, FL, who are interested in having heat pumps installed in their homes. Keep reading to find out how a heat pump can keep you warm and comfortable in the winter.
Heat Pumps Move Heat
Instead of generating heat, a heat pump actually moves heat. Heat is a form of energy, and as such, it can be transferred from one substance to another or from one area to another. These units take advantage of this concept.
Where does this heat come from? It can be found either in the outdoor air or under the ground. There are two types of heat pumps: one of them is called an air-source pump, and the other is called a ground-source pump. A ground-source pump is also referred to as a geothermal heat pump. They can require bigger up-front investments when compared with air-source heat pumps, but they can be very efficient, which can eventually make up the difference in energy costs. These ground-source pumps can gather energy from under the ground. Depending on your exact location, the heat source may be about four or five feet deep or even further underground. A geothermal system consists of a series of pipes that carry refrigerant. The refrigerant can absorb heat from underneath the ground and then send it to your home. This transfer of heat works as long as the refrigerant is cooler than the ground. The temperature underneath the ground holds pretty steady between 50 and 60 degrees, so the refrigerant just needs to be cooler than this temperature, which it can do easily.
Air-source heat pumps work in a similar manner. However, they don’t have pipes that go underground. Instead, they have outdoor components that are generally placed by the home. These components have refrigerant and can absorb heat from the air as long as it’s cooler than the outdoor temperature. It could be in the 50s or 60s here in Margate in the middle of the winter. The refrigerant can easily be a temperature that’s much lower than this. In other climates that see freezing temperatures, this concept can still work, even though it might not be as effective. In Florida, our conditions are ideal for the use of an air-source heat pump in the winter months.
The Magic of Pressure
The idea of refrigerant being able to absorb and give off heat is what makes heat pumps work. You may still be wondering how the refrigerant can do such a good job of this. The answer has to do with pressure. Depending on the conditions, refrigerant is typically either in liquid or gas form. It cycles through these forms as it travels through the heat pump system.
Let’s start off by thinking about liquid refrigerant. Within the heat pump, it will pass through an expansion valve that relieves pressure. The low pressure results in a lower temperature. The cold liquid refrigerant then moves outdoors and is able to absorb heat from the ground or from the air. Remember that this will work as long as the air or ground is warmer than the refrigerant. The refrigerant heats up and then transitions to a gas. It moves into the house, where it can transfer its heat to the air in a home. It turns back into a liquid, and the process continues.
A Trusted Local Resource
At Dr. HVAC Inc, we’ve been proudly serving the community for more than a decade, and we have experience working on a variety of heating and cooling projects. In addition to being able to install, repair, and maintain heat pumps, we offer those same services for customers who have traditional air conditioners or heaters as well as those who have mini-split air conditioners. Our focus is on helping our customers maintain their comfort year-round. We also offer financing options on approved credit for installations. In case of emergency, we’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Contact us to schedule an appointment or if you have any questions about heat pumps.