How Do Heat Pumps Work?

Heat pumps are essentially air conditioning systems, with a few key differences. In this blog, the local heating and air conditioning contractors at McMaster Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc share an overview of how heat pumps work.

Cooling Cycle

To fully explain how heat pumps work, let’s take a look at how air conditioners work. A typical air conditioning cycle begins at the evaporator unit. Refrigerant, in its cold, liquid form, is pumped through the indoor coil. At the same time, warm air from the house is blown through the same coils and gets absorbed by the refrigerant. The cool air is pumped through the air ducts, while the refrigerant turns to gas as it gains heat.

The refrigerant, as a gas, is then pumped through the compressor unit. The refrigerant gains heat as it is compressed. In this state, the refrigerant is pumped through the condenser coils, which help release the heat from the refrigerant, returning it to its liquid state. The refrigerant then passes through an expansion valve and is further cooled down before being pumped into the evaporator unit.

How Heat Pumps Work

Heat pumps have the same compression-evaporation cycle that air conditioners have, except that the cycle is reversed. Heated refrigerant passes through indoor coils, resulting in warm air. By contrast, warm air is a byproduct of air conditioners. There are various HVAC systems that have both heating and cooling capabilities that can be engaged with the flip of a switch. These systems are ideal for homeowners who are looking into a space-efficient replacement for both furnace and air conditioning system.

Other Kinds of Heat Pumps

In addition to the standard air-to-air heat pumps we’ve described, there are other types of heat pumps: geothermal and water source, for example. Geothermal heat pumps utilize coils embedded in the earth to absorb heat from the ground, while water-source pumps absorb heat from a nearby body of water, such as a lake or pond. They replace or supplement the heat from the air that’s absorbed by the refrigerant before its compression stage.

Call McMaster for Your Heating and Cooling Needs

McMaster is your leading provider of Carrier HVAC systems. Give us a call at (949) 481-7995 or fill out our contact form. We serve customers in Lake Forest and Irvine, CA.