Heat pumps have become one of the most popular and commonplace types of home heating and cooling systems – and for good reason. Heat pumps are highly reliable, with 20 years or more lifespans, and they are much more energy-efficient than other alternatives.
How they work is surprisingly simple. Much like an ordinary air conditioner, heat pumps can take in heat energy and then use chemical transformations to push that heat outside. However, the trick is they can do this in reverse as well – pulling in heat from the outside air and pushing it into your house.
So, one unit can handle heating and cooling in one.
However, there are a few different types of heat pumps. Which is going to be best for you? Let’s do a quick overview.
I. Air-to-Air Heat Pumps
These are the most common type of heat pumps, air-to-air because the heat transformation occurs. These are typically the least expensive heat pumps, and they’re usually effective as a whole-house heat pump system.
However, they have one drawback: efficiency decreases when it’s too cold outside. Once the temperature drops below freezing, it becomes difficult to extract enough heat from the outside air to heat a home. They’ll still work, but they become less efficient.
II. Underground/Underwater Heat Pumps
Older air-to-air heat pumps may not make sense for people living in particularly cold climates. In these cases, underground or underwater heat pumps may work instead. The heat-exchange apparatus is buried so that it isn’t affected by the outside air, allowing them to work even in deep cold.
The downside is that these systems can be expensive to install since they require a lot of digging.
III. Hybrid Heat Pumps
In some cases, a hybrid installation may solve a problem. There are a couple of options here. Some may have an outdoor air exchange and a smaller underground installation for cold weather. Or, they might be connected to solar panels, providing extra energy to produce heat during the winter.
IV. Ductless Heat Pumps
Single zone and multi-room ductless heat pumps are a type of air-to-air system, with separate blowers in each room which connect to their outdoor unit. These give precise room-by-room control of temperature, and they’re also a great option when retrofitting older homes that lack central ductwork.
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