Because they combine home heating and cooling functionality in one convenient package, heat pumps are very popular HVAC systems among our friends and neighbors. While they are somewhat less familiar than traditional air conditioners and furnaces, these dual-purpose units actually operate on some very simple principles. Understanding how these great machines work is the first step toward making an informed buying decision or keeping an existing unit properly maintained.

The Cooling Cycle

Like ordinary split-level air conditioners, refrigerators and other similar systems, heat pumps use a refrigerant cycle to lower the temperature in your home. Located at one end of the machine, the evaporator coil absorbs heat into a special chemical called a refrigerant, which becomes gaseous in the process. The refrigerant vapor is then pumped to the condenser coil, where it gives off that heat and returns to a liquid state. While the refrigerant returns to the evaporator coil to repeat the cycle, a fan blows hot air out of the home. In short, the unit collects heat from inside the house and releases it outside, lowering the indoor temperature in the process.

Unlike similiar cycles in most other HVAC systems, however, this cycle can be reversed. On cool days, the unit collects heat from outside and transfers it into the home, heating the indoor air in the process. Thus, by using the same cycle in either direction these units can cover the functionality of both air conditioners and home heating equipment.

Some cutting-edge machines actually use the stable temperature of the Earth instead of the variable temperature of the outside air. These geothermal devices can be somewhat expensive to set up, as they require a shaft drilled deep underground, but once installed, they are highly efficient and last for decades. Although their technology is more advanced, the basic refrigerant cycle remains the same in these machines.


Because they combine heating and cooling in one relatively small package, heat pumps are great choices for smaller homes where there is little space available. They also tend to be highly energy efficient, saving the homeowner money throughout the year by reducing utility costs. These machines are especially efficient in areas where the year-round climate is fairly mild. As long as the outdoor air is neither too hot nor too cold, the unit can easily pump heat into or out of the home as needed.

At ISI Indoor Solutions, we specialize in installing, maintaining and repairing these great dual-purpose machines to better suit the comfort needs of our community. As a Bryant factory authorized dealer, we have met high standards of customer satisfaction and technical excellence, and our services are available throughout the Opelika GA area. If your home needs a new HVAC system to keep your family cool and comfortable throughout the year, don’t hesitate. Give us a call today and speak with one of our home comfort experts to find the system that will meet your needs at an affordable price.

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