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How Heat Pumps Work for both Heating and Air Conditioning

More and more homeowners countrywide are installing heat pumps for their myriad of benefits. Perhaps the most unique benefit to using a heat pump, however, is its ability to act as both a heater and an air conditioner. Let’s examine how this functionality is made possible, and why it’s such a huge advantage for the heat pump over other systems.

Anatomy of a Heat Pump

In order to understand how a heat pump can switch functions, you must first understand the different parts of a heat pump. There are two main parts we’ll be discussing in this part, the interior unit and the exterior unit. As you might have guessed, the interior unit is inside the house while the exterior unit is outside. These two units are connected by a refrigerant line, which flows into a coil housed in each one. These coils are the most important part of the system. When the heat pump is turned on, one coil will evaporate refrigerant while the other will condense it back into liquid. When the refrigerant evaporates, it leeches thermal energy out of the air and into the coil. When the refrigerant is condensed back into liquid, it releases the captured thermal energy so that the system can heat the house.

The Reversing Valve

The key to the heat pump’s dual functionality is a part called the “reversing valve.” In a normal system, like an air conditioner, the refrigerant flows only one way between the two coils. There’s a condenser coil and an evaporator coil, and the two never switch. The reversing valve works by reversing the flow of refrigerant, thereby making the condenser coil the evaporator coil and vice versa. This means that each coil can either take heat from the area around it or release heat instead. It is in this way that the heat pump can move heat back and forth in either direction between the house and the outside air.

If you’d like to know more about heat pumps, call DB Heating & Cooling. We install heat pumps throughout Bergen County.

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