A heat pump is a device that uses a small amount of energy to transmit thermal energy against the natural flow of heat. There are several different types, but despite their different methods, they all achieve that goal. It differs from a standard air conditioning system in that it uses a heating and cooling system, whereas a standard system requires both. These pumps also tend to be more energy efficient than traditional systems. The only downside compared to traditional systems would be that it is not as capable when it comes to extreme temperatures. Even for use in a temperate climate, they are at least often a better choice than standard air conditioning systems.
How do they work?
Despite all they can accomplish, they are surprisingly simple systems consisting of a power supply, a coil filled with coolant, and a pair of fans. Operating in heating, the refrigerant is first pumped out of the building. Once there, the ultracooled liquid can absorb heat from the cold outside air. This refrigerant, now filled with external heat, is pumped through internal tubes, where it releases the heat into the air in front of a fan, which then pushes the hot air towards the fans. To cool, the system simply changes this process and takes the heat from inside and then emits it outside. It is often thought that cold air is being pumped into a building, but with this system it would be more accurate to say that warm air is being drawn in. This system, known as an air source heat pump, is the most common design, but certainly not the only one.
Other common types of pumps
Geothermal heat pump
In the ground source heat pump, the pipes are buried underground filled with water. Because the underground temperature is constantly below 60 degrees, so will the water in the pipes. This water can be pumped into the system, where thermal energy can be drawn in to generate heat, or thermal energy can be added to cool and allow it to dissipate without causing damage underground.
Absorption heat pump
Absorbent heat pumps are somewhat different from air source or ground source pumps. Most importantly, the suction pumps do not run on electricity and use ammonia absorbed in water instead of compressed refrigerant. Exposed to a heat source, this ammonia turbocharged water can boil rapidly and release stored energy, so the absorption and dissipation of heat are very effective. As an added bonus, the heat-removing water freezes into a large block of ice, which can then be used to cool more air without additional energy.
Less common forms of bombs
Mini separate heat pump Mini-Split heat pumps are perfect for older buildings and any other situation where plumbing is not feasible. Small indoor units are connected by small hoses to a larger outdoor unit. The large outdoor unit is responsible for heating and cooling the water, which is then returned to the smaller indoor units. Indoor units then use this hot or cold water to produce hot or cold air and return the used water to the outside.
Reverse a cooler cycle
In the reverse cycling cooler, air is ignored in favor of heating and cooling large amounts of water directly. This water is then stored in an insulated tank for later use. Air can be blown through the tank to reach an air conditioner, or water can be fed directly through floors and walls as in a heated floor.
All weather heat pump
Despite the name, all climate heat pumps are better heaters than coolers. Capable of operating in temperatures down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit, these are the most efficient heat pumps out there.
Future of the heat pump
Since energy efficiency is viewed more and more favorably, look for the spread of heat pump technology. Although it is quite an old technology, its combination with creative designs and new manufacturing techniques is aimed at making it a viable product in the future.