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Heat Pumps vs. Air Conditioners

Views:35     Author:Site Editor     Publish Time: 2021-07-22      Origin:Site

When it comes to cooling your house, both a heat pump and an air conditioner can get the job done. These systems have inbuilt compressed refrigerants. As such, they absorb heat from the interior of your home when air flows over the refrigerant coil in the air handler and transmits it outside. And this is the general mechanism that heat pumps and air conditioners employ when transferring heat from the interior of your house to outdoor regions. Air conditioners are commonly considered to chill a home by creating cold air, but the fact is that they cool your home by absorbing heat energy and pushing it away to a region outside your home.

 

Suppose that both systems are operating in a cooling mode, air conditioners will release heat from a building in the same way that a heat pump does. Can you see the parallels? In fact, it's impossible for the ordinary individual to distinguish between an air conditioner and a heat pump system just by their exterior units. So, from a cooling perspective, heat pumps and air conditioners are practically the same in operations, efficiency, and energy costs.


Heat Pumps vs. Air Conditioners

 

Distinctions between Heat Pumps and Air Conditioners

 

1.   Air Conditioner vs. Heat Pump Operation

To see the difference, you need to know how each system works. There are plenty of misconceptions regarding the system's operation, and lots of homeowners believe it perpetuates coldness that cools the air. In truth, an air conditioner does not cool the air by creating an ice state. Its function is much more straightforward: it transfers heat from one location to another.

 

You might be wondering how an air conditioner moves heat. So, here's how it works:

 

  • Hot air from your house flows into the conditioning system's internal components.

  • The evaporator coil is surrounded by hot air.

  • Heat is drawn from the air by refrigerant inside the coil.

  • The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant as it travels via the lines to the external components.

  • The refrigerant flows to the condenser coil, where it dissipates heat in the outdoor air.

 

When cooling your home, an air conditioner typically transfers heat away from the living areas. It doesn't generate ice or extremely low temperatures, but it does chill the air.

 

Conversely, heat pumps function the same! They also transfer heat from within your home to exterior regions. However, heat pumps exist in two different types: air source and geothermal heat pump. The air source heat pump transfers heat from other interior regions of your home to the outside, while the geothermal system removes heat from your interior home air to the ground, where it dissipates heat to a water source.

 

However, a ground loop is required for geothermal systems to work. It consists of a linked fluid-filled pipe that transports heat away from the house and deposits it beneath your lawn.

 

2.   Air Conditioner vs. Heat Pump Heating

There is no equivalence between heating with an air conditioner, and heating with a heat pump since an air conditioner literally cannot warm your house. It is only in the summer that the air conditioning system comes in handy. As the temperature drops, homeowners turn off their air conditioners and rely upon heating systems like burners to keep warm. So, unlike a heat conditioner, a heat pump reverses its processes to keep you warm by

 

  • Removing heat from the outside air, which is then absorbed by the refrigerant,

  • The refrigerant flows into the interior system components to the evaporator coils.

  • Heat energy is released from the evaporator coil into the air moving through the system.

 

Also, geothermal pumps can do the reverse process in that they collect heat from beneath the earth or a water source. But, to rest the argument, a heat pump is a two-in-one device that can handle either heating or cooling. So, if you need to heat your house during winter or cool it in the summer, a heat pump is your best choice.

 

3.   Heat Pump vs. Air Conditioner Energy Economy

When contemplating the choice between an air conditioner and a heat pump, consider energy efficiency. The higher the energy-efficient your equipment is, the less energy it consumes, and means cheaper utility costs. In optimal conditions, both air conditioners and heat pumps with the same SEER rating will consume the same quantity of electricity to cool dwellings.

 

However, when the outside temperature is exceptionally high, air conditioners have complications. Air conditioning systems are purported to cool your house effectively if the temperature difference between inside and outside is less than 20℃. Temperatures can get beyond this level in the summer. Whenever this happens, the air conditioner will not cool your house as efficiently as it should.

 

Heat pumps, on the other hand, are unaffected by high outside temperatures. Whether the differences in temperatures between indoors and outside are minor or large, they provide the same level of efficient cooling.

 

In ideal exterior circumstances, the efficiency of an air conditioner and a heat pump is about equal. When the heating mode is employed, there is a significant increase in energy efficiency.

 

Heat pumps, in general, are far more efficient, unlike air conditioners. For precisely, the efficiency of an air source heat pump ranges from 175 to 300 %, whereas the efficiency of a geothermal heat pump starts from 300 to 600 %. This implies that for every unit of power consumed, the device produces extra heating units.

 

When outside temperatures get below 25 to 30℃, air-source heat pumps are no longer a good heating source. If your house has a backup heater, you should utilize it these days since it is more efficient than a heat pump when temperatures are severe.

 

4.   Price of an Air Conditioner vs. a Heat Pump

It's no mystery that cost is a significant consideration when choosing between an air conditioner and a heat pump. After all, an HVAC system is not a low-cost investment. However, an air source heat pump, specifically the geothermal heat pump, is the most cost-effective choice. Then there's the air conditioner.

 

Installing air source heat pumps and air conditioners can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousand dollars, depending on the type. Geothermal systems prices range from $10,000 to $30,000+ on the high end, with the earth loop circuit being the most expensive component. Remember that you don't actually need a secondary heating system with a geothermal setup. However, an air conditioner will require you to have it.

 

Final Shot

When choosing a heat pump and an air conditioner for your house, there are numerous vital distinctions to consider whether you're upgrading an existing HVAC system or buying one for the first time. In addition to deciding on the finest system for your needs, the size of the unit and its heating/cooling capacity must be chosen.

 

The ideal way of determining the best option for you is to have a qualified HVAC specialist evaluate your home's heating and cooling requirements.


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