Introduction to Heat Pump Technology

A heat pump is a central air conditioning and highly efficient heating system that will "extract" heat from the air in the winter time for cost effective heating comfort in all but the most severe winter climates. The system "reverse-cycles" in the heating mode and captures heat from outside and "pumps" it into your home.

Unlike a furnace it doesn't burn fuel to make heat - It simply uses electricity to move heat from one place to another. In the cooling mode, an air conditioner simply captures heat from inside your home and transfers it outside. In heating, a heat pump "reverse-cycles" and captures heat from outside and moves it inside.

This process is more efficient than electric heat as it is much less expensive to transfer existing heat than to actually generate it. There is usable heat in the air down to about 0 degrees Fahrenheit. It feels cold to us because our skin temperature is 98.6 degrees. A heat pump's heating capacity is rated at 47 degrees ambient (outside) temperature. As the outside temperature drops the heat pumps capacity drops in a linear fashion relative to the outdoor temperature.

Most heat pumps will produce about half of their rated capacity at 12 degrees ambient. An electric heating element provides supplemental heat to assist the heat pump as its capacity declines. The heat pump monitors both the outdoor temperature and inside supply air temperature and energizes the assist as needed, automatically.

Begin with the right system type for your home

There are 3 fundamental types of air conditioning and heating systems that are commonly used :


1. "Split System"


Approximately 90% of the homes in the US use this configuration. “Split” simply means that your equipment is split into two main components: indoor and outdoor. The outdoor section is variously referred to as a condenser, condensing unit, or simply the outdoor unit. The indoor section is also called an air handler, (all electric), furnace, (typically gas or oil), or, simply the indoor unit. If you have an air conditioner unit outside your home and an indoor unit (typically in a closet, garage space, or attic with ducting attached to it), then you have split system.

2. "Package Unit"

These systems are used primarily on mobile or modular homes or older homes on a crawl space with the ductwork beneath the floor. Occasionally package units are installed on residential flat roofs with exposed ductwork. The easiest way to determine if you have a package type system (or self-contained as they are sometimes called) is to look outside at your air conditioner.

Package units are generally large and will always have 2 large, square or round ducts connected directly to them. If you notice this, then you have a package unit. Package systems are identified on our site under “package unit” or “mobile home” selection links in blue navigation bar at the top of every page.

* Sometimes, in rare instances, the air conditioning package unit will reside outside with a separate, ducted heating unit inside, but this is very unusual and changes  nothing for our purposes of determining system type.   


3. Ductless "mini split"

These are not referred to as central air conditioners and are normally used in single-room applications such as porch enclosures, bonus rooms, music studios, etc.

This is technically a split system with a wall hung indoor unit connected to an outdoor section via refrigerant lines routed through a 3 inch hole in the wall. Multiple ductless type systems can be purchased to provide whole-house cooling where ductwork is costly, impossible, or prohibitive.

Sizing Calculator

How do I size a heat pump and the supplemental heating element for my home?

Assuming you've determined that a heat pump is right for your climate , the standard and technical explanation links below describe the only proper way to size both the heat pump itself and the supplemental heating element that is included with all of our heat pump systems.

Here is the simple explanation of how a heat pump is sized .

Here is the simple explanation of how a heat pump is sized : Back to Top

When sizing a heat pump for your home we begin by determining the required cooling capacity just as we would with any air conditioning system. Heat pumps are offered in the same tonnage increments as you expect from standard air conditioning so pick the proper tonnage based on the cooling requirements of your home. Our air conditioning sizing calculators are available here .

You can use our climate-based sizing chart to get an idea of sizing based on your climate. We suggest that you complete a load calculation on your home or that a local contractor visit you to provide a detailed analysis for proper sizing of both the heat pump and supplemental heating element.

Once you have determined the sizing requirements for the cooling side of your heat pump system, you then need to select the proper supplemental heating element that is included with all of our heat pumps. If you are replacing an existing heat pump system simply locate your main breaker panel and identify the heating breaker. Look for a number where you grasp the breaker. The following breaker sizes indicate the heating element shown:

30 amp - 5.0kw
40 amp - 7.5 Kw
50 amp - 8.0Kw
60 amp - 10.0 Kw
80 amp - 15.0Kw
110 amp - 20.0Kw

If you are not replacing an existing heat pump system you can use the heating element sizing guidelines below. The average low temperatures shown below are considered to be the average low temperature you would expect to experience just about every winter, not the coldest you would ever expect to see over a 5-year period for example. Central Florida has an average low of 35 degrees but can experience temperatures in the low 20's every 6 or 7 seven years.

Supplemental Heating Element Kw by climate and tonnage

Very warm winter climates (Average low winter temperatures of 35 degrees and up)

1.5 - 3.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 5 Kw
3.5 - 5.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 10Kw

Mild winter climates (Average low winter temperatures of 25 degrees and up)

1.5 - 2.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 5 Kw
2.5 - 5.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 10Kw

Colder winter climates (Average low winter temperatures of 0 degrees and up)

1.5 - 2.5 tons Heat Pump - Use a 10 Kw
2.5 - 3.5 tons Heat Pump - Use a 15 Kw
4.0 - 5.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 20 Kw

Coldest winter climates (Average low winter temperatures of -10 degrees and up)

Heat pumps are not recommended for these climates unless no other choice exists.
1.5 - 2.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 10 Kw
2.5 - 3.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 15 Kw
3.0 - 5.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 20 Kw

Remember, the sizing above is informational only and not is intended to replace proper sizing from either a local contractor or from our sizing calculator .

 

Brand Selection

Choosing a heating and air conditioning brand can be confusing, but a little information goes a long way in making the right choice. Not all brands are right for every person, every time. Price, configuration, and capabilities must factor into the decision. We polled our personal advisors and warranty fulfillment techs and came up with some facts (and opinions) about the various brands we carry that may help you decide:

Ruud / Rheem

Ships from: Southeast and Mid West

In business since: 1950's

Quality: Excellent

Limitations: Pricey in some categories but many heat pump models offer excellent value

Warranty Fulfillment: Average

Pricing points: Mid to upper end

Value: Very good

Name recognition: Well known

Availability: Very good

We have offered the brand for over 7 years and have experienced a very low warranty failure rate on the entire product line. We feel Ruud is a very good value (especially when you are considering a heat pump) and quality is top rated by the leading consumer reporting agency for 7 years in a row. Product offerings are extensive and wide ranging. Exceptionally good values available in the tax credit-certified heat pump offerings.

Ruud has been about average in terms of warranty part fulfillment. Most customers know either the Ruud or Rheem brand, sister companies with identical product offerings.

Goodman

Ships from: Southeast

In business since: 1984

Quality: About average

Limitations: Limited offerings in mobile home equipment

Warranty Fulfillment: Average

Pricing points: Lower end

Value: Good

Name recognition: Well known

Availability: Mostly very good

We have offered the Goodman brand for over 9 years and have experienced about average warranty failure rates. We feel Goodman is a good value and quality is about mid pack. Product offerings are extensive and wide ranging, much better than most

Goodman has been about average in terms of warranty part fulfillment. Many customers know the brand.

 

Local Utility Rebate Finder

Call our Personal Advisors with your city and utility company name and we will provide you with any local, state, federal, and utility rebates or incentives that may be available in your area. Only from AC4life. Just call toll-free 1-866-862-8922

Frequently Asked Questions

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