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  • Writer's pictureBrian Harm

What is a heat pump?

heat pump is an electronic device that extracts and transfers heat in a reversal cycle. It is not a new technology and has been in use around the world for decades. Basically, during warm seasons, it extracts heat for indoor spaces pumping it to the outside. A reversal process happens during cold seasons. It contains two parts, the indoor unit known as the evaporator and the outdoor unit known as the condenser.

How Does the Heat Pump Work? The transfer of heat is aided by the circulation of a fluid known as a refrigerant. The fluid is used particularly due to its useful physical properties at different stages of the process inside the pump. The process of circulating the refrigerant through the pump is necessitated by the compressor. In a gaseous state, the fluid enters the compressor at low temperature and pressure and leaves as heated gas in high temperature and pressure.

When the refrigerant passes through the hot side of the exchanger, it changes to liquid state. The changing of the refrigerant from a gaseous state to liquid causes heat loss and condensation that is transferred out of the exchanger. The reversal process happens in a similar way.The major property of the refrigerant is mainly the change in physical properties when subjected to different temperatures and pressure on either side. It is important to note that the refrigerant changes spontaneously. An interesting fact about this pump is the efficiency it provides. The pump produces more heat energy than the energy it requires to run.

Difference between the heat pump and air conditioner This pump closely relates with the air conditioner, especially in terms of functionality. The only difference is that the pump provides both heat and cool conditions. It is like an air conditioner in a reverse mechanism. The air conditioner can also be referred to as a ‘heat pump’. However, this term is used to refer to the whole system that pumps heat both on the outside and the inside.

Pros • This type of pump uses less energy and therefore cheaper compared to combustion-based systems. A system that is energy efficient provides long-term savings on energy. • They require less maintenance than other heating systems. In fact, minor details can be easily handled. However, it is recommended to involve services of a professional every three to five years • Its life span is relatively long compared to other heating systems. The average life span is estimated to be between fourteen to fifteen years but can last up to fifty years. • The pump does not generate heat but instead move heat and therefore providing more efficiency.

Cons • The installation cost can be very high but the operating cost is very convenient. On the other hand, installation is very complex as it has to involve research about the local geology, the movement of heat, etc. • Some pumps experiences issues during extremely cold weathers and therefore unable to meet the required efficiency.

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