What’s the Difference Between a Heat Pump and an Air Conditioner?

If you’re ready to upgrade the air conditioning system in your Chattanooga, Tennessee, home, you’ll naturally want the best based on your needs and budget. Choosing between a heat pump and an air conditioner can be confusing. They appear to be identical. So, what’s the difference between a heat pump and an air conditioner? While conventional AC systems and heat pumps share many similarities, a heat pump’s reversing valve sets these units apart.

How They Work

Heat pumps and air conditioners seem similar enough on the outside, but get down to the bones, and you’ll start to see the difference. Heat pumps and air conditioners both use a refrigerant to transfer heat from indoors to the outdoors. Both have an air handler that contains coils that cool the air as it passes over them. They rely on a network of ducts to distribute cooled air throughout your home.

The primary difference between a heat pump and an air conditioner is that air conditioners only provide cool air. Heat pumps, on the other hand, can provide heat and cool air. Heat pumps contain a reversing valve that changes the direction of the refrigerant flow. During the heating season, instead of sending heat outside, the refrigerant transfers heat indoors to warm the home. An air conditioner, however, has to team up with a heating system to keep you warm during winter.

Which System Is Better?

Since a heat pump contains both heating and cooling capabilities, does that automatically make it the better system for you? Not necessarily. Whether you need a conventional air conditioner or a heat pump depends on your preferences and needs. Air conditioning systems tend to be more affordable to maintain and repair since they do less work than a heat pump which works year-round. However, choosing an air conditioner might be more expensive, since you’ll also need to install a heating system.

We carry energy-efficient heat pumps and air conditioners that offer the comfort and efficiency you need. To install either an AC system or a heat pump, call Dalton Heating & Air at 706-619-2799.

Image provided by Shutterstock

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