How Does a Heat Pump Work?

For areas with mild to moderate climates, such as Rancho Santa Margarita, Corona, Yorba Linda, and Coto De Caza, heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners. Much like your refrigerator, heat pumps transfer heat to a cool space from a warm space, making the cool space warmer and the hot space cooler and vice versa. During the winter months, heat pumps transfer heat from the outdoors into your home, and during the summer, heat pumps transfer heat from your home outside. Because they shift heat from inside and outside your home, rather than generate heat, heat pumps can provide comparable space conditioning at as little as one-quarter of the cost of operating a conventional heating and air conditioning system. 

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The steps below provide a general overview of how a heat pump functions:

1. A brine circulates in a collector loop and absorbs heat from the outside air.

2. In a heat exchanger or evaporator coil, the heated brine from the collector loop joins the refrigerant circulating through the heat pump system. The newly introduced heat causes the refrigerant liquid to evaporate, converting it to vapor.

3. In the compressor, a large amount of pressure is placed on the refrigerant; this causes the temperature of the refrigerant to increase further.

4. The refrigerant releases the heat into the home via the evaporative coil. The evaporative coil is typically located in the home near the air handler. The air handler is responsible for circulating air through the home.

5. The refrigerant then works its way through the coil and refrigerant lines back to the brine. Where it is compressed and condensed one more, and the cycle continues.

Air Source Heat Pumps

Air Source Heat Pumps are the most common type of heat pumps in the residential field. The transfers heat between the inside of your home and the outside air during summer and do the opposite during winter. If you heat your home with outdated technology like an electric coil or gravity furnace, a heat pump can cut your energy consumption by as much as 30%-40%.

High-efficiency heat pumps are also much better at dehumidifying than standard AC units, resulting in a lower energy bill and increased home comfort in summer months. However, the efficiency of most air-source heat pumps in extremely cold climates because there is less heat energy to draw from the outside air. This is generally not a concern in Orange County or the Inland Empire as we have very temperate climate compared to the rest of the Country.

Ductless, Mini-Split-System Heat Pumps

Many homes in Orange County and the Inland Empire were built before central heating and air conditioning was available. Because these homes were not designed with an HVAC System in mind, it is often not possible to add an air distribution system, duct work. Fortunately for these homes, there is a way to overcome this issue. Air-source heat pumps are available in a "ductless" version called a mini-split heat pump or mini-split for short. Mini-split systems make good retrofit add-ons to homes, or areas of a home, were ducts cannot be added.

Mini-split heat pumps also provide an alternative for room additions where extending or installing an air distribution system is not feasible. They are often the most efficient way to cool a home office and other small spaces in your home because they run independently, so you only end up cooling the designated space instead of your entire home. When deciding on a mini-split heat pump, make sure to consult with a professional. Like all HVAC equipment, mini-splits must be sized for the application and installed by a professional. It is always a good idea to choose an ENERGY STAR® compliant unit and a reputable HVAC contractor, such as Air Care.

Heat Pump System Advantages

In recent years, heating and air conditioning equipment manufacturers have revolutionized heat pumps. Unlike conventional heating and air conditioning compressors that can only operate at full capacity, multi-stage compressors allow high-efficiency heat pumps to operate at the heating or cooling demand needed at any given time.

Multi-stage heat pumps save homeowners money by reducing energy consumption and wear and tear on the air conditioning equipment. Multi-stage heat pumps also work well with zoning systems. Homes with zoning systems use thermostatically controlled air dampers to allow your heating and air conditioning system to keep different rooms in your home at different temperatures.

Premium high-efficiency heat pumps are equipped with variable-speed and multi-stage air handlers (blowers) and condensers. The variable-speed controls keep the air in your home circulating at a comfortable velocity, minimizing hot and cold spots in your home while maximizing efficiency. As an added benefit, this also reduces the noise from the blower motor since it does not run at full speed at all times.

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Air Care Heat Pump Installation

Choosing to install a heat pump system might seem like a daunting, expensive, time consuming, nerve wracking task, but it doesn’t have to be. If you reside in Chino Hills, Corona, Rancho Santa Margarita, Yorba Linda, or the surrounding areas, we can help you determine which heat pump system is best for you with our FREE In-Home consultation. Give us a call and one of our skilled HVAC technicians will be happy to sit down with you and your family to discuss your needs and help you find the best HVAC system for your home and budget. We take pride in working hard to ensure not only affordability but a quality installation and complete customer satisfaction as well.

If you're in Chino Hills, Corona, Yorba Linda, Rancho Santa Margarita, or a surrounding city and have questions about Heat Pumps, give us a call today, and one of our Expert Technicians will be happy to help.

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