How Does a Heat Pump Work?

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Do you have a heat pump or are you interested in getting one? Understanding the basics of how your heater works can help you decide if heat pumps are right for you and your home. It can also help you decide when you need to call for professional repair or replacement for your unit.


Heat pumps are electrical devices that get heat from one place and transfer it to another. They aren't new technology and, in fact, similar devices are used in most air conditioners and refrigeration units.

Heat pumps work by circulating a refrigerant through a cycle of evaporation and condensation. A refrigerant is anything that makes things colder. A compressor pumps this refrigerant back and forth between to coils, called heat exchangers.

In the first coil, the refrigerant evaporates at low pressure, absorbing heat from its surroundings. In the second coil, the refrigerant is compressed. It condenses, releasing the heat it just absorbed.

Heat pump systems can work on either cooling or heating mode. Both refrigerators and air conditioners operate like this. The refrigerator is, at its most basic, an insulated box attached to a heat pump system. The evaporator side of thing is inside the box, most often in the freezer. Heat gets absorbed here and transferred out of the box entirely, usually behind or underneath the unit. This is where the refrigerant condenses and releases that heat. An air conditioner works by absorbing heat inside the house and pumping it outside.

One exciting thing about heat pumps is that this cycle can be reversed. Thus, a heat pump system can give you all the climate control you need, all year long. Since the ground and air outside your home always have at least a little heat, the heat pump can work even on the coldest of winter days!

Heat pumps can use a couple of different sources. Most of them absorb heat from the air, but a few use heat in the ground or in ground water. These are called geothermal, geoexchange, or earth-energy heat pumps. Work with an expert to determine the right one for your home.


Are you ready for a heat pump installation or do you have questions about what would be best for you? Call us at Vito Services today. Our experts will let you know which heat pumps would work for you and what it might take to install one soon

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