Heat pumps operate essentially the same as air conditioners in that they use the same refrigeration-type cycle, but in the opposite direction. So instead of warm air being a mere byproduct of this cycle, heat pumps release it indoors.
There are two types of heat pumps available: ground-source and air-source. Anderson Air Corps shares a closer look at the difference between these two systems.
What’s the Difference?
Heat pumps work by transferring heat from an external source, which augments the heat generated by the refrigerant in the HVAC system. With a ground-source heat pump, the external source of heat is the ground itself. Energy-absorbing pipes are laid underground, where a refrigerant extracts heat from the ground. The warmer refrigerant then gets fed into the HVAC system, which then undergoes the reverse-refrigeration cycle where heat from the refrigerant is released as it condenses back into liquid form. This heat is then distributed throughout the building via air ducts or individual blower units.
Air-source heat pumps use a similar cycle, but instead of pipes laid in the ground, it uses a free-standing unit to pump air into the system, “harvest” the heat from it and carry it into the HVAC system. This is the type of heat pump homeowners are more familiar with. Air-source heat pumps are sold as ducted or ductless, split or packaged, and single-zone or multi-zone.
Which One Should You Choose?
You might be wondering why heat pumps use heat from external sources when it can generate heat on its own. The answer is a matter of efficiency: external sources help reduce the energy needed by the HVAC system to generate heat. The better the external heat source, the better the energy savings.
That said, some factors may affect your choice between the two. Ground-source heat pumps are generally the more efficient among the two, but they require digging on your property which may increase the installation costs. It can be done vertically or horizontally, depending on soil conditions and the size of the building. On the other hand, an air-source heat pump only requires level ground on the property, or even on the roof if it’s flat. It generally costs less than ground-source heat pumps, but is not as efficient. A certified HVAC technician can help determine which is more appropriate for your home.
Heat Pumps and More at Anderson Air Corps
To learn more about heat pumps and our other services including swamp cooler installation, call Anderson Air Corps today at (505) 855-9028. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.