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Central ACs vs. Heat Pumps: What’s the Difference?

Monday, June 11th, 2018 at 11:00 am

question-markAre you replacing an old air conditioning system? Are you ready to invest in a new air conditioner for a brand new home under construction? Whatever the case may be, it’s definitely going to be in your best interest to explore your air conditioning options thoroughly. You really don’t want to wind up missing out on a great AC system for your personal needs and user preferences just because you didn’t realize that the option was there.

While the split central air conditioner certainly has a lot to recommend its use—it remains the most popular of all home cooling systems for a reason, after all—it is not the only option out there. You don’t need to stick with what you’ve always used just because it’s what you’ve always used. You should consider every option available to you, and that includes the heat pump. The heat pump and central AC actually share a lot in common—with one very big difference!

Both Are Refrigerant-Based Cooling Systems

A boiler or furnace may combust fuel to generate new heat. Electric resistance can be used to create heat, too. When you feel cool air coming from your air conditioner, however, that system is not generating “cool”—what would that even mean? No, that coolness that you are feeling is actually the absence of heat, and that is achieved through the refrigerant cycle that these systems utilize.

Both heat pumps and air conditioners have indoor and outdoor coils. When cooling a home, the refrigerant in the system evaporates in the evaporator coil. That allows it to draw heat out of the air surrounding the coil. The cooled air is recirculated throughout the house, and that warmed refrigerant heads to the outdoor unit.

Here, the refrigerant is condensed in the condenser coil. That allows it to release its heat. It’s a pretty simple process, really, even if actually pulling it off is rather complex. But if both systems cool in this way, what’s the difference?

Heat Pumps Heat!

That’s right, a heat pump doubles as a heating system during the winter season. This is thanks in no small part to a component called a reversing valve. The flow of the refrigerant is reversed, as is the function of the coils. Now, heat is drawn out of the air outside—ideal in our warm climate—and that thermal energy is used to heat air for distribution throughout the house after the refrigerant is compressed.

Why might one want to invest in an air conditioner when the heat pump, with its very efficient heating capability, is available? Well, some homeowners like keeping their systems separate, so they’re not running one system double time. Others prefer to generate heat rather than count on its transfer via the heat pump’s refrigerant cycle, though we don’t really have the frigid temperatures around here to really overwhelm a heat pump anyway. Whatever decision you make, we’re happy to handle your heat pump and air conditioning services in Cocoa, FL.

Schedule service with the pros here at Next Generation Air & Heat, Inc.

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