You want to install or replace a new HVAC system, and you are probably facing some difficulty choosing between a heat pump and an air conditioner. Right? A lot of people think that a heat pump and air condition unit are the same. So, is a heat pump and air conditioner the same thing? Well, NO. There are some major differences between the two.
Today, we will cover the basics of a heat pump and an air conditioner and how they differentiate from each other.
What is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is the heart of an HVAC system. Heat pumps are used for both heating and cooling. Heat pumps release heat in both directions – from the outside to the inside (heating) and from the inside to the outside (cooling).
A heat pump contains a compressor, valves, and fans. Heat pump transfers heat from the air in the room with the help of a substance called a refrigerant. As it cycles through the system, the refrigerant undergoes variations in temperature and pressure. As the indoor air passes through the cold coils, the refrigerant condenses the air and cools it down. The cool air is released in the room, making the temperature cooler and more comfortable during the summers.
On the other hand, the heat pump pumps the air from the outside and reduces its temperate to release warmer air indoors. Thus, increasing the indoor temperature in winters.
What is an Air Conditioner?
An Air conditioner or AC unit cools down the temperature of indoor air during the hot seasons. Air conditioners pull in the hot air from a room and condense it as it passes over the cold coils. The fan blasts the cold air back into the room while the heat from the condenser is released outside the room through an external fan and vent. Gradually, the heat inside the room is released outside while cool air is blown in the room.
What is the Difference between Heat Pump and Air Conditioner?
The confusing part is that a conventional AC unit and heat pump of an HVAC system look identical from the outside. People think that just because they look the same, they might as well buy either one. However, there are noticeable differences between the two.
In the summertime, the heat pump and air conditioner perform the same. They both cool down the indoor temperature. Mechanically what is going on inside the unit is also identical.
The primary difference between a heat pump and an air conditioner is that in the winter months, the heat pump absorbs the heat from outside and brings that heat to the inside.
However, heat pumps can be very inefficient for colder areas where temperatures drop below the freezing point. Thus, most heat pumps work with a furnace for efficient heating in winters. They can help your furnace save some money on utilities.
Both heat pumps and air conditioners are essential components of an HVAC system. Whether you need a heat pump, an air conditioner, or both, depends upon the area and climate you live in.