Understanding a Heat Pump’s Switch From Heating to Cooling

Heat Pump in Concord, NC

When it comes to keeping your Charlotte home comfortable, there are few more efficient options than a heat pump. One major quality that sets heat pumps apart is that the same equipment both heats and cools your home. Since most people heat and cool their homes using separate components, the heating and cooling processes of a heat pump can be a bit of a mystery. To help you understand if a heat pump is the best option for your home, the heat pump experts at All Temp Co., Inc Air Conditioning, Heating, Plumbing, & Electrical are here to shed some light on this mystery.

Changing Pressure and Temperature

To better understand how a heat pump can keep your home comfortable throughout the year, it’s vital to understand the properties of the refrigerant that’s present in every heat pump. All refrigerant has in common the ability to absorb heat as it evaporates. To get the refrigerant to evaporate when it’s in a liquid state, it has to be boiled. Fortunately, the boiling point of the refrigerant in your heat pump is quite low, and can be lowered even further by changing the pressure of the refrigerant. Thus, the refrigerant can absorb heat from both the cold outside air and cool inside air, transferring the heat it absorbs to an area where the heat energy concentration is lower.

The Components of a Heat Pump

To create the necessary changes in pressure and temperature, a heat pump uses a few different components. The compressor is the heart of the system, but other important components include the refrigerant line and two expansion valves. To cool your home, the compressor increases the pressure on the refrigerant, which causes it to increase in temperature. Next, the refrigerant travels through a coil in the refrigerant line. This coil, also known as a condenser, allows air to run over the refrigerant, causing the refrigerant to condense into a liquid.

Then, the refrigerant travels through an expansion valve, which lowers the pressure of the refrigerant as it travels through the evaporator coil, allowing it to absorb heat along the way. The refrigerant can then transfer this heat and expel it into the outside air. Furthermore, when the refrigerant is cold inside your home, it makes the evaporator coil cold, allowing water vapor to condense on the coil to help lower your home’s humidity.

Reversing the Process

There’s one more critical component in a heat pump that allows just one system to both heat and cool your home: the reversing valve. In the winter, the reversing valve helps to route the refrigerant so that it’s inside your home when it’s a hot liquid and outside when it’s a cool gas, the opposite of how it routes the refrigerant during the summer. There’s also an expansion valve in the outdoor unit that operates when the system is heating your home. This allows the refrigerant to absorb heat from the outside air, even when the ambient air temperature is quite cold. Then, when the hot liquid refrigerant is inside, it can expel the heat as the blower fan blows cool air past it.

The Defrost Cycle

Another capability that a heat pump has that allows it to keep your home comfortable in any weather is called the defrost cycle. At All Temp Co., Inc Air Conditioning, Heating, Plumbing, & Electrical, we always let customers know about their system’s defrost cycle because it can cause some confusion while it’s operating. Essentially, the defrost cycle draws heat from your home to help the outdoor portion of the refrigerant line remove any frost or ice from its surface. This ice forms when outdoor temperatures are low, meaning the refrigerant has to get quite cold so that it can absorb heat. These cold temperatures make it possible for water vapor in the outside air to condense and freeze on the cold refrigerant lines. To prevent your house from getting cold, the heat pump will use an auxiliary electric heating unit to heat the air as it passes through the system.

We Take Your Comfort Seriously

At All Temp Co., Inc Air Conditioning, Heating, Plumbing, & Electrical, we take the comfort of our customers quite seriously. That’s why we install air conditioners, repair furnaces, maintain heat pumps, install whole-home air purifiers, clean drains, install toilets, and much more. Since our founding, we’ve been working hard to exceed expectations at every job site. That’s one big reason why we’re able to maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. On top of that, we consistently receive five-star customer reviews. To learn more about keeping your home comfortable with a heat pump, contact us at All Temp Co., Inc Air Conditioning, Heating, Plumbing, & Electrical today.