How Do Heat Pumps Work in Orlando, FL?

If you own a home in Orlando, FL, you have a financial interest in having the most efficient HVAC system possible. That all but guarantees that you’ve heard of heat pumps, given their unbeatable efficiency. Here’s everything you need to know about how heat pumps work.

What Is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump, as the name suggests, is a device that can pump heat energy from one place to another. There’s even a good chance you already own one but maybe don’t know it. For example, refrigerators use heat pumps to cool their interiors.

In the context of HVAC systems, however, the term heat pump refers to something quite specific. It refers to an HVAC system that uses heat pump technology to both cool and heat a home. This means HVAC heat pumps can operate bidirectionally.

The Science Behind Heat Pumps

Heat pumps exploit a few scientific principles to function. One is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that heat energy spontaneously flows from hotter substances to colder ones. That principle is what allows heat pumps to transport heat energy from one place to another.

Another scientific principle behind heat pumps is the relationship between pressure, temperature and boiling point. Generally speaking, when pressure rises, so do temperature and boiling point. The opposite is also true.

That relationship is what allows a heat pump to use a refrigerant as a heat energy transport medium. It does so by manipulating its refrigerant’s pressure. That allows the heat pump to control when and where the refrigerant absorbs or expels heat.

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

A heat pump essentially works the same way in the summer as it does in the winter. The only difference is that a heat pump uses a reversing valve to change its operating direction. In the summer, it carries heat outside, while in the winter, it collects heat from the outdoors to bring inside.

Unlike conventional heaters, there’s no combustion or electricity used to generate heat. A heat pump relies on already-existing heat energy present in the outdoor air, which is present even in cold temperatures.

The heating process begins when the heat pump passes its refrigerant through an expansion valve, lowering its pressure. This lowers the refrigerant’s temperature to as low as -15°F, as well as lowering its boiling point. Then, the refrigerant passes through a heat exchanger in the heat pump’s outdoor unit.

Passing through the heat exchanger allows the refrigerant to warm up since it’s much colder than the outside air. Eventually, the refrigerant warms up enough to boil, turning it into a warm vapor. The warm vaporous refrigerant then passes through a compressor.

The compressor increases the refrigerant’s pressure, raising its temperature and boiling point in the process. Upon leaving the heat pump’s compressor, it is still a vapor, except that it’s now around 120°F. The now-hot vaporous refrigerant then travels into your home to the heat pump’s indoor unit.

Inside the indoor unit, the refrigerant passes through another heat exchanger. There, a blower fan blows indoor air across the heat exchanger, extracting heat from the refrigerant. Eventually, this allows the refrigerant to cool enough to condense back into a warm liquid.

Finally, the warm liquid refrigerant travels back outside to pass through the expansion valve once again. The heat pump will then repeat the cycle until your home reaches the temperature you desire. In the summer, the process is identical except that it happens in reverse.

The Efficiency of Heat Pumps

As you may have guessed, heat pumps’ reliance on existing heat energy makes them incredibly efficient. In the summer, some air-source heat pumps can be more than 50% more efficient that an air conditioning system.

Your Trusted Heat Pump Experts

If you’re interested in a new heat pump, you should know that we’re the heat pump leader in Orlando, FL. We sell and install the latest in quality heat pumps from leading manufacturer Trane. So, contact Frank’s Air Conditioning today to inquire about a new heat pump for your Orlando, FL home.

Image provided by iStock

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