Although heat pumps have been around for decades, they’re finally making a large splash in the residential sector. This somewhat magical technology can be a bit confusing to learn about at first. Fortunately, we’re going to go over some of the most common questions that homeowners have about heat pumps so that you can easily understand how they work.

Do Heat Pumps Offer Air Conditioning?

Due to the fact that heat is in their name, you may think that these systems only produce heat. That would be incorrect. Heat pumps can produce heat or air conditioning, depending on what mode you have it on.

Heat pumps work by simply transferring heat from one environment to another. In the summertime, a heat pump will pull heat out of your indoor air and transfer it outside. In the wintertime, your heat pump will pull heat out of the air or ground outside and transfer it indoors to heat your home.

What Types of Heat Pumps Are There?

There are two main types of heat pumps that you can utilize in your home. These are ground-source and air-source heat pumps. Air-source pumps are the most commonly utilized in residential settings due to their lower upfront cost. These systems are responsible for moving heat between the air inside and the air outside.

Ground-source heat pumps, also known as geothermal systems, are more costly to install. This is due to the fact that the outside portion of the heat pump system is installed underground. Instead of transferring heat from the outdoor air, it transfers heat from the ground outside.

How Is Heat Transferred?

To actually transfer the heat from inside to outside and vice versa, the heat pump uses a substance known as refrigerant. When you have your heat pump set to air conditioning mode, the heat from inside will be attracted to the refrigerant. The refrigerant will make its way outside and disperse the heat. This is a continuous process until your home’s internal temperature reaches your thermostat’s temperature setting.

What Sizes Do They Come In?

Most residential heat pumps come in sizes ranging from two to five tons. Each ton is equal to 12,000 BTUs of capacity. There are a couple of different methods that professionals utilize to determine the ideal size of heat pump for your home.

Generally speaking, you’ll need one ton of system for every 500 square feet of your home. So, if your home is 1,500 square feet, you’ll need a three-ton heat pump to effectively cool and warm your home.

Do Heat Pumps Work When It’s Really Cold Outside?

Licensed professionals typically recommend heat pumps for homes that are in a mild climate. Homes that are in colder climates, like in the northeast region of the country, will likely need to couple their heat pump with another heating system. The most common type of system is a furnace, which helps to produce heat when temperatures significantly drop below freezing.

Most heat pumps are rated to work up to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Manufacturers even include a defrost mode to help keep the heat pump operating when temperatures drop very low. It’s best to check in with a professional heat pump installer to determine if a heat pump is the right choice for your home.

What Is Defrost Mode?

Most newer heat pumps are designed with the ability to automatically turn on defrost mode. At first, this mode may be alarming as you’ll see steam coming from your outdoor unit. However, this steam is a good thing as your heat pump is heating up the coil in the outdoor unit to remove stuck-on frost and ice.

Defrost mode may take up to 20 minutes to run completely. The heat pump will heat up the coils until they’re a good 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that all the ice comes off. Having ice on your outside coils can cause your heat pump to function inefficiently.

Why Is the Air Not as Hot as Heat Produced by the Furnace?

When you first switch from a furnace to a heat pump, you may notice that the air coming out of your vents or mini-split unit is not as warm as the warm air that used to be produced by your furnace. This difference in temperature is simply due to the difference in operation between the two units.

Furnaces operate by sending bursts of really hot air throughout your home to get the air to the desired temperature you have set on your thermostat. Heat pumps, on the other hand, will provide warm air for longer periods of time. Both units will warm your home up to the same temperature. Heat pumps just do it in a steadier fashion that requires less energy.

What Is the Average Lifespan of a Heat Pump?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to note that the lifespan of a particular heat pump will be highly dependent on a multitude of factors. These include the usage of your heat pump, whether it’s combined with other heating methods, the type, maintenance performed, and so forth.

In general, heat pumps normally last about 15 years. Some of the costlier ground source heat pump systems can last up to 20 years. Most heat pump manufacturers will offer a 10-year warranty if you properly register your unit. If you forget to register your unit, there is typically a five-year default warranty offered by most manufacturers.

What Is a Heat Pump’s Efficiency Rating?

Whenever you’re purchasing new appliances for your home, you’ve likely seen the yellow Energy Star sticker on it. This helps you to determine where the particular appliances lie on the SEER rating scale. SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio.

The higher the number, the more energy-efficient your system will be. Most heat pumps will have a SEER rating between 14 and 20. For heating efficiency, an HSPF rating is given. This stands for heating seasonal performance factor, and the higher the rating, the better. Most heat pumps fall in the range of 7.7 to 10 HSPF.

What Is the Difference Between Ductless and Centrally Ducted Heat Pumps?

While any type of heat pump that you purchase will have an outside unit, the units installed inside are going to highly depend on whether you have ducting or not.

If your existing home already has ducting, it’s usually best to opt for a centrally ducted heat pump. This type of system has one indoor unit that is responsible for producing warmed or cooled air and delivering it throughout your entire home via the existing ducting.

If your home doesn’t have any ducting in it, you’ll want to opt for the ductless heat pump. Instead of one main indoor unit, ductless systems utilize many indoor wall units. Each main room of your home will need a wall unit where the warmed or cooled air will flow directly out. Ductless mini-split systems offer the convenience of easy installation and zone temperature control for each room with a wall unit.

Reliable Heating and Cooling Services

Honest Air Conditioning provides reliable heating and cooling services for the Mesa, AZ, area. You can rely on us for all of your AC repair, AC installation, AC maintenance, heating repair, heating installation, heating maintenance, heat pump, indoor air quality, air cleaner, duct sealing, and duct sizing needs. Call us today to get the help that you need from one of our highly experienced specialists.