Understanding Heat Pumps and their Different Types of Heat

heat pump heatHeat pump heat is actually harvested from cold winter air. Even at temperatures below freezing, the outdoor coil in a heat pump can derive sufficient heat from the air to warm the house. For cool comfort in summer, conversely, the system reverses and operates like a conventional central air conditioner, extracting heat inside the house and dispersing it into outdoor air.

To ensure that adequate warmth is available and reliable in all outdoor temperature ranges, the system provides three types of heat pump heat:

Standard Heating

In this mode, the outdoor coil in the system extracts latent heat energy present in outdoor air, compresses the heat molecules in the compressor stage, then moves the heat indoors in the flow of refrigerant and releases it at the indoor coil. The fan blower then disperses released heat throughout the household ductwork to warm the home.

Supplemental Heating

If temperatures drop below approximately 25 degrees Fahrenheit (the actual figure depends upon the efficiency of the specific heat pump model) outdoor air may not provide sufficient heat energy for the system to generate adequate warmth. In that scenario, the heat pump automatically activates a supplemental heat source, typically electric resistance coils as in a standard electric furnace. In some cases, a standby gas-fired furnace—known as a hybrid system—is utilized. These supplemental methods provide adequate heat to meet thermostat settings. When outdoor temperatures rise into the range to provide sufficient warmth, the system automatically shuts down supplemental heat and relies on standard heating alone.

Emergency Heating

A critical failure in some part of the heat pump will automatically activate this mode. The system shuts down all other components and relies entirely on electric resistance coils to provide adequate heat to the house without interruption. Once necessary repairs are made by a qualified HVAC service technician, the system can be re-started in standard heating mode.

To learn more about the efficiency and reliability of heat pump heat, contact the experts at NisAir Air Conditioning and Heating.

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