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Heat Pumps vs. Central AC: Differences, Costs and More

Views: 299     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-09-28      Origin: Site

When it's time to replace or install your home's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, you may have to decide between a heat pump and a central air conditioning system. When it comes to heating your home, these systems operate somewhat differently from one another, even though they typically perform the same function when it comes to cooling your house.

This article will help you decide between a heat pump and an air conditioner by explaining the fundamental differences between the two, their operation and the aspects you should consider before purchasing, such as cost, energy efficiency, and local climate.

Heat pumps vs. Air conditioners

Since they both work by pumping heat from inside a building to the outside, central air conditioners and heat pumps are both examples of HVAC systems that fall into the "central air" category.

The main benefit of a heat pump over an air conditioner is that, unlike AC units, heat pumps have a bidirectional valve integrated into the compressor, allowing them to transport heat from the exterior to the interior.

Central HVAC systems, on the other hand, generate and distribute heat by gas furnaces or electric resistive heat strips located within the air handling unit.

The Difference in Price Between Heat Pumps and Central Conditioners

Expect to pay a little extra for heat pump installation, even though heat pump systems themselves are typically only around 5% more expensive than the cost of central air conditioners. This is because heat pumps are used for both heating and cooling, so they run constantly throughout the year.

Unfortunately, this causes them to wear out much more quickly than a standard air conditioner, which can increase the cost-of-service contracts via your HVAC provider and even void the warranty altogether.


a SPRSUN heat pump in a snowy environment


When deciding between a heat pump and a central air conditioner, it's important to acquire an estimate. However, remember that the final price can be affected by factors unique to your home or workplace, such as the local temperature.

Get in touch with potential heat pump installation companies in your area today to discuss the specifics of your project and get accurate quotes.

How a Heat Pump and an AC Work

Despite their differences, heat pumps and traditional air conditioners use the same fundamentals to regulate indoor air temperature. A compressor is used in both systems to compress the refrigerant housed within them.

The compressor compresses the gas inside, raising its temperature substantially. The gas is then routed through a condensing coil to bring its temperature down to room temperature. Because of its rapid expansion upon entering the evaporator coil, the gas's temperature drops quickly, resulting in rapid cooling of the coil.

The air handler's blower or fan assembly sucks outside air via the cooling coil so it can be distributed throughout the house. The heat pump can increase indoor temperatures by reversing the roles of the condenser and evaporator coils, which is the fundamental distinction between the two systems.

Picking the Best Option

It's important to consider your local climate while deciding between a heat pump and a central air conditioning system. The leading manufacturers of central air conditioning units almost universally include heat pump installation choices within their product lineups. However, heat pumps are not recommended in regions where temperatures often drop below 40 degrees for long periods. This is because heat pumps have to work more to maintain the same comfort level when the temperature outside drops. A higher energy bill is the direct outcome of this increased consumption.

It's also worth noting that when the temperature falls below 40 °c, most heat pumps lose their heating effectiveness and must convert to heat mode, which employs electric-resistant heating strips.

Heat pump efficiency

There is a chance that the federal government, your state, or even your local utility company will offer you a tax advantage or refund if you buy a heat pump HVAC system rather than a conventional central air conditioning system.

The heating capability should bear the greatest weight when deciding between a heat pump and a central air conditioner because both provide adequate cooling. Heat pumps supply conditioned air more efficiently, resulting in lower monthly energy bills, but central air conditioners are cheaper up front, in the long run, and for regular maintenance.

In the coldest parts of the country, where temperatures often drop below 40 degrees, central air conditioning is best used in conjunction with another form of heating. Generally speaking, heat pumps work best in places where winters are not particularly harsh.

Heat Pump Types

Heat pumps can be divided into two broad categories: air source and geothermal. Heat pumps that draw their heat from the surrounding air are known as air-source heat pumps, while heat pumps that draw heat from the ground are known as geothermal heat pumps.

There are two primary configurations to choose from when shopping for a heat pump: split-system and packaged. A packaged unit has all the system's components in a single cabinet, while a split-type HVAC system has an indoor and outdoor unit that is kept apart.


Spilt-type Heat Pump


When it's particularly cold outside, a heat pump isn't enough to keep a house toasty, so a packaged unit may also include a gas furnace or an electric heating coil to supplement the pump.

Advantages of a Heat Pump

●       Heat pumps are more economical and efficient than gas or oil furnaces for heating a home in a mild climate.

●       These systems are safer and more eco-friendly than their predecessors, reducing energy use.

●       Heat pumps can both cool and heat, so there is no need for a separate heating system.

●       Today's heat pumps are not only dependable, but they also last for a decade or more without breaking down.

●       Investing in a heat pump that is both energy-efficient and environmentally conscious may qualify you for financial incentives in the form of tax rebates.

●       In contrast to conventional cooling and heating options like fireplaces and wood stoves, heat pumps are low-maintenance options.

Price of a Heat Pump

Heat pump installation costs are affected by many variables, such as the type of heat pump desired, its size, its energy efficiency score, the location of the installation, and the amount of ductwork required.

Prices for heat pumps for the home can range from around $4,100 for a standard model to over $20,000 for geothermal systems.

Consulting a professional HVAC installer is the most thoughtful way to get reliable information about heat pump prices and sizing for your home or business.

Air Conditioners

Air conditioners and heat pumps move heat from one location to another, but air conditioners can only remove heat. This means it removes warm air from the inside and vents it outside.

Air Conditioner Types

There are a variety of air conditioners to choose from, such as those installed in a central location, those that are split, those that are installed in windows, and those that are portable. However, the underlying principle is the same across all possible configurations.

All three components of an air conditioner—evaporator, condenser, and compressor—are housed in one compact unit typically mounted on the roof. The ductwork in a building's walls serves as the connection between the unit and the air supply and return.

Unlike window or wall-mounted models, split-type air conditioning units have indoor and outdoor units that work independently to supply conditioned air via ductwork. Mini-split air conditioners are another option; they can be installed almost anywhere and don't call for a dedicated duct system. Instead, air conditioning is provided by a slim wall-mounted indoor unit.

A wall unit is another option that integrates all the components into a single container that can be mounted on a wall or a window. The cooling capacity of this model is sufficient for a tiny bedroom. Portable air conditioners function similarly to window units but can be moved relatively easily.

Advantages of an Air Conditioner

●       Even on the hottest days, you can relax in the comfort of your home thanks to the cooling power of an air conditioner.

●       Because it maintains a constant, comfortable temperature in the room, air conditioning can help you get a better night's rest.

●       By lowering humidity and cooling the air, an air conditioner helps to decrease pollutants and allergens in the home.

●       Rooms with adequate air conditioning can prevent people from becoming dehydrated.

The Price of an Air Conditioner

It's possible to spend anywhere between $150 and $10,000 on a new air conditioner, with that price being determined by features like energy efficiency scores and the size of the system.

The installation cost should also be factored in; it can vary from $1,000 to $6,000, depending on several factors, such as the unit's size, the installation's difficulty, and the number of vents and ducts required. Long-term savings on energy costs are another benefit of upgrading to an energy-efficient model.


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