Heat pumps are a great alternative to more traditional systems when it comes to heating your home. More and more homeowners are taking advantage of heat pumps for their energy efficiency, versatility, and safety compared to furnaces and boilers. However, many people are still ignorant of how heat pumps actually work. To remedy that, let’s take a look at the inner workings of a heat pump.
Parts of a Heat Pump
A heat pump system consists mainly of two parts. These parts are the interior and exterior units. As the name suggests, these units are installed inside and outside the home, respectively. The function of these units changes, depending on whether the heat pump is in heating or cooling mode. Since we’re only talking about heating in this article, however, we’ll call the inside unit the condenser, and the outside unit the evaporator. These names refer to the coils that are present in each unit.
The other major part you should know about is the refrigerant line. This line runs between the two units, and is filled with one of several kinds of liquid responsible for transporting heat.
How it Works
When the heat pump is turned on, the refrigerant flows out to the exterior unit and into the evaporator coil. The coil then evaporates the refrigerant, turning itself into a heat sink for the surrounding air. Through this process, thermal energy is leeched from the air and into the coil, where it is stored in the refrigerant gas. The refrigerant then runs inside to the interior unit, where the condenser coil condenses it back into a liquid state. This releases the stored thermal energy, which the interior unit can then use to warm the air to be circulated. The now-cold liquid refrigerant is then moved back out to the exterior unit to continue the process.
This method of moving heat from one place to another, rather than relying on combustion to generate heat, is what makes heat pumps so energy efficient.