How Is a Heat Pump Different from an Air Conditioner?

If you are debating about installing a new air conditioning system this spring to prepare for the summer, one of your options is a heat pump, which can function as both an air conditioner and a heater. A heat pump is an excellent choice if you plan to have your heating system replaced as well, or if you are building a new home.

Heat pumps provide cooling in the same way that an air conditioner does: Indoor coils absorb heat from a home’s air, which a fan then blows through the ductwork into the rooms around the house. The refrigerant in the coil then travels to the outdoor cabinet where coils release the heat. However, a heat pump can swap the functions of its coils and absorb heat from the outdoors to bring it indoors as well.

Are you interested in a heat pump for spring installation? Or do you already have a heat pump and require service for it? Mid-State Air Conditioning and Heating can provide any service you need for heat pumps in Nashville, TN and the surrounding areas.

What makes a heat pump different from an air conditioner?

Aside from being able to provide heating as well as cooling, a heat pump has a few other key differences from an AC, even though it operates in a similar fashion:

  • A heat pump uses a reversing valve to change the direction that refrigerant flows after it exits the compressor. A slider inside the valve shifts to change if the refrigerant moves to the outside coils or the inside coils first. If this valve breaks, a heat pump will become stuck in one mode.
  • In heating mode, a heat pump uses less refrigerant for heat exchange. To temporarily store the unused refrigerant, it contains a component call the suction line accumulator between the compressor and the reversing valve.
  • To prevent damage from cold refrigerant entering the compressor in the wrong direction, a crankcase heater on the compressor evaporates the liquid refrigerant.
  • Because both their indoor and outdoor coils can serve as evaporators, heat pumps must have two sets of condensate pans and drains, unlike air conditioners, which require only one.

Whether you decide on an air conditioner for a new installation or a heat pump, Mid-State Air Conditioning and Heating will see that you have the finest new system to meet your needs. We also have the repair experience and training to see that your heat pump keeps working for many years.

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