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While the weather in Sarasota, Bradenton and surrounding areas is the envy of homeowners in many regions of the country, it can become uncomfortable with heat and humidity, and we even have our share of chilly days. All things considered, however, we enjoy beautiful sunshine and temperatures that are ideally suited for heat pump systems efficiently delivering cooling, dehumidification and heating. Help your heat pump system keep your home comfortable, with a reasonable energy bill, by learning a bit about heat pump basics.

Types of Heat Pumps

Heat pump systems use the principles of refrigeration, just like conventional air conditioners, to transfer heat from one location to another location. There are three common types of heat pumps:

  • Split-system heat pumps , sometimes called air-to-air heat pumps, are perhaps the most common type of heat pumps in the Sarasota and Bradenton areas. A split-system heat pump is installed with a compressor/condenser housed in a cabinet outside the home, and the air handler with the evaporator coil located inside the home.
  • Packaged heat pumps operate the same as split systems, but the components are arranged differently. A packaged unit is installed as a single unit located outside the home, perhaps on the roof, which contains the air handler, evaporator coil and condenser/compressor all in one cabinet.
  • Geothermal heat pumps use the same refrigerant principles of heat transfer, but instead of extracting and releasing heat air to air, like the split and packaged heat pump systems, geothermal heat pumps transfer heat between the air inside your home and the earth. Long tubes are installed in the ground or in a water source, such as a pond, well water or underground spring. Geothermal heat pumps are by far the most energy-efficient and longest-lasting heat pumps of the three, but they are also the most expensive to install.

Heat Pump Basics: Refrigeration and Airflow

The heat energy contained in Florida’s warm air, and any other heat source, naturally tries to move to a cooler location. Your heat pump uses refrigeration principles of heat movement from a warmer to a cooler location to effectively and efficiently cool and heat your Florida home.

Efficient air-source heat pump cooling and heating is all about heat exchange at the indoor evaporator coil and outdoor condenser coil (or outdoor ground or water sources for geothermal heat pumps). The two essential elements of premium heat exchange are optimal refrigerant charge and free airflow. The following points describe the heat pump basics cooling process, and the primary components involved, step by step:

  • A thermostat sends a call for cooling to the heat pump.
  • The compressor pumps refrigerant through the system.
  • High-pressure liquid refrigerant enters the indoor evaporator coil under low pressure.
  • The high-pressure refrigerant vaporizes with the aid of free airflow, which is being pulled through your home’s return ducts and across the evaporator by the air handler.
  • While the refrigerant is evaporating, it becomes extremely cold.
  • The heat contained in the warm airflow which is circulating across the evaporator coil naturally transfers to the refrigerant.
  • This cooling process causes the water vapor contained in the airflow to condense on the cold evaporator coil, thereby effectively dehumidifying the air inside your home.
  • The airflow is cooled by heat removal and also somewhat by the cold surface of the evaporator coil.
  • The air handler simultaneously forces the cooled air into the supply ducts to the living spaces and pulls warm return air back into the return ducts to be cooled.
  • The vapor refrigerant in the evaporator flows to the reversing valve (a component absent in air conditioners), which gives the heat pump its ability to provide cooling and heating¬† by reversing the flow of refrigerant and the heat extraction and release procedure.
  • The reversing valve, in cooling mode, directs the refrigerant to the compressor.
  • The compressor squeezes the refrigerant in preparation to release heat at the next stage.
  • The refrigerant, now a hot high-pressure vapor, enters the condenser coil located outside the home next to the compressor.
  • The condenser condenses the refrigerant into a hot liquid state with the aid of airflow from the outdoor air handler.
  • The refrigerant, now much hotter than even the hottest Florida temperature, releases heat to the outdoor air.
  • The high-pressure liquid refrigerant flows through copper tubing to a capillary tube, or thermal-expansion valve in high-efficiency heat pumps, in preparation to enter the evaporator coil and begin the cooling process again.

If you would like more information about heat pump basics, contact Aqua Plumbing & Air¬† for assistance. We’ve provided homeowners of Sarasota, Bradenton and surrounding areas superior service and installation for heat pumps, plumbing, electrical, water treatment and indoor-air quality since 1974.