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What is a Heat Pump?

Heat pumps are machines that are used to cool or heat a building by emanating hot or cold air when needed.
Heat pumps used for commercial buildings are typically large.
Refrigerators use heat pumps to keep their insides cool.
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  • Written By: Shannon Kietzman
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2014
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A heat pump is typically used to assist with heating and cooling systems both in the home and in commercial buildings. The device is designed to emanate cold or hot air when needed. A common example of this type of device is a refrigerator. In a refrigerator, a special working fluid is placed around the refrigeration circuit in order to operate the heat pump. The refrigeration circuit contains four elements: the condenser, evaporator, compressor, and expansion valve.

As heat is drawn away from the source, the working fluid evaporates with the help of the evaporator. Heat is then released, resulting in the area being cooled down. As the heat is released to cool the air, the working fluid is condensed by the condenser. As this occurs, a reversing valve creates cool air and the direction of the working fluid is reversed in order to start the process over again. Just like with a refrigerator, a heat pump removes the heat from the source in order to keep a specific area cool.

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Heat pumps are generally used in locations where heating or cooling is needed, but where the current heat or cooling source is inadequate. Therefore,they are often used with space heating and cooling systems, with domestic and industrial dehumidification, and in the heating of domestic water. In standard heating applications, a heat pump separates the heat from various sources such as water, air, soil, and bedrock. In cooling applications, on the other hand, heat is discharged rather than separated. This device is the preferred choice in industrial and domestic settings where heating and cooling are needed because it uses less energy than electricity and other methods.

There are several different heat pump types available, each with its own specific benefits. One of the most popular forms is the ground source heat pump. This does not have an external fan. Therefore, it is very quiet. In addition, it carries a lower risk of damage than models with external fans. It generally also has a life span of over forty years.

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Discuss this Article

satyen4uall
Post 4

Yes, I agree with the cost of heat pumps increasing day by day.

Domido
Post 3

@mabeT – Hi! I don’t think you're run of the mill heat pump for a house or an office is going to get that good a life span – actually I think nine or ten years is pretty average. Buying a new heat pump can be tricky, that’s for sure, so I feel for you!

I recently had to change out, too. First the compresssor went out and then the thermostat was acting up. After patching it up for a while, I called it quits and accepted defeat. I don’t know how much help I’ll be, but I’ll try. When you choose your new unit you should definitely listen to what your technician says – just make sure he’s got a good reputation and is trustworthy to begin with. I also run into some special requirements that I had to meet because mine is financed through an electric company.

The size of the building you’re putting it in is going to really affect the size of your unit – which, in turn, is going to affect your heat pump cost.

mabeT
Post 2

Wow – a life span of over forty years, huh? My last heat pump was only nine or ten when it finally keeled over. We are looking at getting a newer one but we aren’t sure exactly what to look for when we shop around. It’s so confusing. Would we be better off to just go with what the technician recommends for us, or are there other things we can do to help ourselves? What are typical heat pump prices?

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