Many people now believe that air conditioning and heat pumps are basically one and the same thing. And while they are interchangeable terms for a lot of us these days,this New Zealand heat pump and air conditioning specialist says that, technically, there are significant differences, with one big one in particular.
In very basic terms, they say that an air-conditioner typically cools a space, while a heat pump has the ability to both heat and cool. It’s often said that a heat pump operates like an air conditioner, but one that can run backwards. The best example to explain this is when you put your hand behind your fridge. What do you feel? You feel heat! That happens because the fridge absorbs all of the heat from the inside, and then pipes it out the back, leaving nothing but cold air in the fridge – and that’s where it belongs. In basic terms, this is what a heat pump does. Let’s take a look at both air conditioning systems and heat pumps in greater detail to better explain.
An air-conditioner unit is typically made up of three key components. The outside unit houses a compressor and the condenser coil. Meanwhile, the inside unit is where you’ll find the indoor evaporator coil. A refrigerant is used inside the air conditioner to transfer heat to the outside unit and into the coil. This creates a chemical reaction when the refrigerant is compressed by the compressor. The unit then pulls heat out of the compressed refrigerant. Once cooled, it is sent back to the inside unit. The blower then pulls in warm air from your home, moves it over the evaporator coils which cool it, and then circulate it back into your home.
On the other hand, a heat pump is able to reverse this process so that it can heat your home as well as cool it. It brings in the warm air from the cool outside air – yes, there is still warm air inside all that cold air – and sends it through the home.
Modern air conditioning systems, as designed and installed by this company, have evolved to the point that they provide heating and cooling solutions. And that is why many people now use the term “air conditioning” to describe heat pumps. But given that new-generation air conditioning systems are large and complex designs, and a far cry from relatively diminutive heat pumps, then it is still not quite right to think of them as being one and the same. In technical terms, they’re different although they have one thing in common: they’re remarkably effective at keeping a home, office or workplace comfortable all year round.