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How Do Heat Pumps Work in New Bern, NC?

Heat pumps are one of the most efficient methods of heating and cooling your home in New Bern, NC. Use this guide to discover how they work as you explore whether it’s the right fit for your house.

Heat Pump User Experience

Let’s start with what the user experience is like when using a heat pump, which differs from a furnace. Just like a furnace, you’ll regulate your home’s temperature at the thermostat, setting it to either heating or cooling. However, that’s about where the similarity ends.

With a furnace, you’ll get a lot of heat during a short heating cycle. The air from the supply vents will feel quite warm while the furnace runs its cycle.

A heat pump operates much differently, transferring heat from the air outside into the air inside. As such, the air coming from it will feel warm, but not as warm as it does with the furnace. Part of what this means is that it’ll take a heat pump a little longer to warm to your desired temperature.

How Refrigerant Works

A heat pump transfers heat into and out of the house using refrigerant, much like how an air conditioner works. The heat pump has two coils, one inside and one outside, that allow the refrigerant to absorb and expel heat.

To absorb heat, the refrigerant has to get cold, which happens when it expands. The system’s compressor compresses the refrigerant, allowing it to get hot and expel the heat it absorbed.

To work properly, the system must effectively regulate the system’s refrigerant pressure. If the compressor is faulty or there isn’t enough refrigerant in the system, it’s not going to regulate that pressure.

Heating Mode

During a heating cycle, a heat pump absorbs heat from the air outside and expels it into the air inside. To do this, the outside coil must become colder than the air around it.

A heat pump will push the high-pressure hot refrigerant to the coil inside. Conversely, the refrigerant going to the outside coil will expand, allowing it to get cold.

The key to understanding heating mode is that the system can lose its efficiency as it gets colder outside. It’ll start losing its efficiency around 30 degrees Fahrenheit but will continue producing some heat much lower. Many manufacturers make heat pumps with this in mind, allowing for technology that helps maintain efficiency even in lower temperatures.

Cooling Mode

Cooling mode for a heat pump is much like running a central air conditioner. The refrigerant expands in the indoor coil, allowing it to absorb heat from the air circulating through the system.

Your heat pump can offer both heating and cooling modes because of the reversing valve. This is a valve that changes the direction of the refrigerant flow, which switches which area has high pressure.

Defrost Mode

Every heat pump has a defrost mode. You may notice this on the display of your thermostat, although there’s no way for you to activate it. You may also notice it when it feels like cool air coming out of the vents on a cool day.

The heat pump may freeze up at the outside coil while running the heating mode. This happens because the coil gets cold enough to condense moisture from the air which then freezes to the coil.

When the system detects this, it’ll reverse the refrigerant flow for a few minutes, essentially putting it in cooling mode. This pushes warm refrigerant into the outside coils, allowing them to unthaw and continue working effectively.

Auxiliary Heating

With the efficiency waning as the temperature drops outside, other forms of heating become more effective. To ensure that your home remains at a safe and comfortable temperature, your heat pump may have an auxiliary heating function.

The standard auxiliary heater is an electric resistance heater. However, higher-end systems will often offer a dual-fuel function. This pairs a gas furnace with your heat pump to offer the least costly heating option during frigid weather.

Now that you understand how heat pumps work, you can enjoy the improved efficiency they offer with peace of mind. Call to schedule a heat pump consultation with one of our experts at J & J Mechanical, Inc. today.

Image provided by iStock

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