Air Conditioner vs. Heat Pump, What’s the Difference?
Quite often, HVAC customers what the difference is between an air conditioner and a heat pump. Generally speaking, both systems look and work similarly.
However, the primary differentiating factor is that only a heat pump can generate BOTH heat and cooler air, whereas an air conditioner only makes cooler air by removing heat from it. Air conditioners actually absorb heat from within the home and then discharge it outside of the home, thereby making the air inside the home cooler.
So How Does a Heat Pump Work?
In a nutshell, a heat pump takes heat from one place and transfers it to another. Specifically, a heat pump transfers heat as it circulates refrigerant through a cycle of evaporation and condensation. A compressor then sends the refrigerant across two heat exchanger coils. In one of the coils, the refrigerant is evaporated at low pressure and absorbs heat from its surroundings. The refrigerant is then compressed on its way to the other coil, where it condenses at high pressure. It is at this point, the heat pump discharges the heat it absorbed from previously in the cycle, resulting in the heat that is produced by these coils to be transferred into your home. Thus, a heat pump extracts heat from the outside of the home and then transfers it to inside of the home.
Pros of a Heat Pump
- A heat pumps is considered to be the most energy efficient form of electric heat
- A heat pump provides heating and cooling in a single system.
Cons of a Heat Pump
- A heat pump costs a little more than a comparable air conditioner, in part because it also offers heating.
- A heat pump won’t work in really cold climates, such as those found in northern Arizona. Obviously, that’s not an issue here is the Phoenix valley.