Each type of heat pump uses the basic principles of the refrigeration cycle. The difference is, in some cases, they may use a medium other than air to move heat. Let’s dive into the different types of heat pumps available and how to determine which system is right for your home.
Air Source Heat Pump: Ducted, Ductless, Dual-fuel, and Cold Climate
Air source heat pumps are aptly named because they condition and move air to heat and cool your home.
You may recognize these heat pumps by the long rectangular equipment typically mounted high on walls. This equipment is called the air handler. They are also accompanied by a component outside the house called a compressor.
There are two forms of air source heat pumps – ductless and ducted. A ductless heat pump, also known as a mini-split, is able to provide heating and cooling without requiring ductwork. This is a great solution for homes without a furnace.
A ducted heat pump functions the same as a ductless, however it relies on ductwork to distribute hot or cool air.
In most cases, heat pumps provide all of a home’s heating and cooling but some homeowners have opted for a dual-fuel heat pump. This is not a different type of heat pump, but rather a mix of heating equipment using different fuel sources, more specifically a heat pump – which is electric - being paired with a gas or propane furnace. In these configurations, the heat pump provides the primary heating and the furnace serves as a back-up.
Finally, there are cold climate heat pumps. Their name refers to their ability to operate more efficiently at low outdoor temperatures than standard air source heat pumps. Cold climate heat pumps have a variable speed inverter-drive compressor allowing the unit to continue providing efficient heat in freezing temperatures. These units come as ducted and ductless heat pumps.
Ground Source Heat Pump
Also known as geothermal heat pumps, these types of heat pumps use the relatively constant temperature of the ground to heat and cool your home. Where air source heat pumps use air to move heat in and out of the home, ground source heat pumps use long loops of liquid-filled pipes buried in the ground to transfer the earth’s heat to the air. Geothermal heat pump systems generally cost more than other heat pumps, but they can be a smart investment since they can last up to 50 years.
Heat Pump Water Heater
Heat pump water heaters are the most common type of heat pump found in the market today. Heat pump water heaters pull heat from the surrounding air to heat the water, making them two-to-four times more efficient than electric resistance water heaters, which rely on electric heating elements submerged in a storage tank.
Heat pump water heaters are not only easy to maintain but also offer other unique features like condensation management systems to prevent leaking and moisture issues, freezer protection to ensure hot water is delivered in cold temperatures, and smart controls to further optimize savings. Heat pump water heaters can also help dehumidify the area around them – perfect for placing the unit in the basement.
Heat pumps are constantly evolving, and different product lines are emerging each day. Now that you know what heat pumps are, how they work, and the different applications, consider installing one in your home.