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How Does a Heat Pump Both Heat and Cool?

One of the options that you have for heating your home during the winter is also an option for cooling your home during the summer. A heat pump gives you year-round comfort in a single system, replacing the more conventional pairing of an air conditioner and a furnace in a single cabinet. Although heat pumps aren’t the ideal choice for all homes, they are definitely an option to consider whenever you’re looking for a new comfort system.

How a Heat Pump Does Two Jobs in One System

An important thing to know about a heat pump is that it uses the same method to provide both heating and cooling. It isn’t two separate systems packaged together. In either heating or cooling mode, a heat pump uses a compressor to circulate refrigerant between two sets of coils—one indoors and one outdoors—to transfer heat from one place to another.

If this sounds to you like how an air conditioner works, you’re correct. A heat pump is essentially an air conditioner, but with an important difference: where an AC can only work to remove heat from a house and exhaust it outside, a heat pump can change how it works to remove heat from outside a house and exhaust it inside.

The component that makes the difference is the reversing valve. In a standard air conditioner, as the hot refrigerant gas leaves the compressor, it moves first to the outdoor coil to send the heat outside. In a heat pump, as the refrigerant leaves the compressor, it first moves into the reversing valve. Depending on the valve’s position, it will either send the refrigerant first to the outdoor coil (cooling mode) or first to the indoor coil (heating mode). Essentially, changing the direction of the movement of refrigerant causes the two sets of coils to swap their roles.

Contact our team of HVAC professionals if you want to know more about heat pumps and if one is a good choice for your home’s comfort requirements around the years.

Bob Mims Heating & Air Conditioning: serving the heating and Air conditioning needs of Staten Island, NY since 1995.

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