Homeowner’s Guide to Heat Pump & Heat Types

heat pump heatHeat pump heat comes in several varieties to make sure your home is never without warm comfort in any winter weather.  Unlike a standard furnace that burns natural gas or heats with electric coils, air-source heat pumps harvest heat right out of the air.

Think of it like a central air conditioner running backwards: The heat pump’s outdoor coil extracts latent heat energy present even in chilly winter air, the system compressor concentrates molecules of heat energy, and the indoor coil disperses that heat into household ductwork to warm the home. In summer, heat pump components reverse functions and the system operates as a conventional central A/C, extracting heat indoors to cool the house and dispersing it outdoors.

Heat pump heat can be produced in three modes to adapt to any condition and still deliver adequate heat:

Standard Heat

Down to about 27 degrees outdoors, today’s heat pumps can generally extract enough heat to meet home heating needs without reliance on any other source. Here in the Atlanta area, average low temperatures during winter generally remain above 27 degrees except for rare cold spells, so a heat pump can usually provide adequate heat in standard mode.

Supplemental Heat

If outdoor temperatures drop unusually low into the range where a heat pump can’t harvest sufficient heat to warm the house, the system automatically shifts into supplemental mode and activates an additional heat source—either electric resistance coils or a backup furnace (known as a dual-fuel system.) When outdoor temperatures rise into the heat pump’s efficiency range, the system shuts down the supplemental source and reverts to standard operation.

Emergency Heat

Suppose a system component fails and the normal heat pump process is totally disabled? In this event, the system automatically activates emergency mode and relies entirely on one of the supplemental sources to produce all required heat until repairs can be made by a qualified HVAC service technician. Once the unit is repaired, the system can be re-started into standard mode.

Learn more about the efficiency and reliability of heat pump heat by contacting the HVAC professionals at Powers Heating & Air.

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