Do You Need an AC or Heat Pump System for Your Home?
Over time, the purpose of homes changed from simply being a roof over your head to an embodiment of you and a space with numerous functions. They provide you a place to unwind, make memories in, grow alongside, meet your various needs, and more. Adding a form of ventilation and controlling your indoor climate creates extra comfort within your space so you can enjoy your home to the fullest. Two popular forms of indoor climate control are ACs and heat pumps. Both hold numerous similarities, with a couple of differences in their functionality. So do you need an AC or heat pump system for your home?
Similarities Between AC & Heat Pumps
AC & Heat Pump Components
Three main components comprise both AC and heat pump systems. They consist of an indoor unit (usually referred to as the actual AC, even for heat pumps), an outdoor segment called the condenser and compressor, and some form of connecting mechanism allowing the air to transfer back and forth between the interior and exterior of your home. Typical connectors include ducts and refrigerant pipes.
Purpose of AC & Heat Pumps
Heat pumps are essentially ACs with an added feature. Both operate the same when it comes to cooling. They take the hot air and moisture in the room and transfer it to the outdoors. As the warm air passes from the interior to the exterior, they travel through coils as heat energy, which the compressor releases into the outdoors. The compressor then captures the energy, condenses it with the coils, and passes it back to the indoor unit. The AC then evaporates the energy into a gas, depressurizes it to cool down, and transfers it back into the room as cold air.
Differences Between AC & Heat Pumps
Although heat pumps provide cooling properties like ACs, they differ in heating. ACs cannot generate heat. They can only ventilate cold air into a space and remove heat from the indoors. Meanwhile, heat pumps can reverse their cycle. They switch the flow of their coils, turning the outdoor compressor into an evaporator and the indoor unit into a condenser. As the exterior unit takes in the cold air and excess heat energy from the outdoors, the energy and air liquefies with a refrigerant, evaporates into hot gas with added pressure, and travels to the indoor component. During the hot gas’s transition indoors, it heats the surrounding air, which the AC unit releases into the room. The AC unit captures some of the hot air blown out, condensing the heated air into liquid heat energy to transfer through the cycle again.
Overall, heat pumps cost slightly more than AC units. Their reverse functionality adds costs by including another feature and extra parts to achieve that function. Heat pumps’ ability to heat and cool further increases their total cost because it allows the units to run year-round, through all seasons, exerting more energy. Their continuous use leads to more maintenance, which builds up the total cost of using heat pumps. However, heat pumps are more cost-effective. Compared to purchasing individual heating and cooling methods, buying a single unit that does both, like heat pumps, saves you money. Plus, in locations with constant hot weather, AC units run more frequently, requiring more maintenance and adding costs.
Advantages & Disadvantages
Heat pumps and ACs create indoor ventilation, circulating clean air into a room. They improve air quality by reducing humidity and disrupting the dense environmental conditions that promote bacteria growth as they cool. Well-ventilated spaces reduce the risk of harboring pollutants, settling dust, and other airborne pollutants and toxins.
The heat pump’s dual functionality makes it a one-stop shop for all desired climate control scenarios. During summer and warmer temperatures, they ventilate cold air into a room, and in winter and cooler weather, they can switch to heating. On the other end, ACs provide a single function, which, compared to heat pumps, can be a disadvantage to those living in temporal locations.
Both heat pumps and ACs produce the same amount of noise waste. The difference in noise levels depends on whether the systems use ducts. Ductwork uses metal materials and large, hollow tunnels, creating additional sound as the air travels between outdoor and indoor components. Mini splits are a popular form of heat pump that uses a ductless network, offering people one of the quieter forms of ventilation.
Like their noise level, heat pumps’ and ACs’ energy efficiency relies on the type of system they use. Ducts lose more energy during the indoor and outdoor journey, as they get lost or diverge from track crossing the large tunnels. Otherwise, both use the same amount of energy. However, heat pumps use more energy than their cooling counterpart when in heating mode. Heat pumps exert more energy to transform cold air into warm temperatures. It’s impossible to create energy, and cold atmospheres produce minimal heat waste. So heat pumps have to source more energy from the outdoors because their system operates on energy caused by excess heat (during cooling and heating).
An advantage to both ACs and heat pumps is their numerous forms. Some of the unit variations they offer include:
- Wall mounts
- Floor installations
- Ducted and ductless systems
- Ceiling mounts
- Window mounts
- And hybrid forms.
Each type of AC and heat pump offers its own advantages and disadvantages. Portable AC units are among the more favored types of ACs due to their transportability, easy storage, and temporary use. The hidden mini split AC is a popular heat pump choice because it provides seamless insertion, maximum room coverage, minimal space interference, and a discrete appearance.
Depending on the type of unit, location, and needs, ACs’ and heat pumps’ maintenance requirements vary. Some consider heat pumps more demanding of maintenance due to their dual functionality and year-round operation. Their heating ability creates additional maintenance requirements due to the effects of working with heat. On the other hand, as previously mentioned, ACs can also run all year round in consistently warm environments, increasing their maintenance demand.
Overall, heat pumps and ACs are the same in various ways, except for the heat pump’s additional ability to heat. When it comes to deciding if you need an AC or heat pump system for your home, there are numerous considerations to take into account, ranging from your location to temperature control needs. If you live in a tropical climate, you’re less likely to need heating functionality. If you live in a seasonal location, having multi heating and cooling ability becomes handier.