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AAction Air Conditioning & Heating Co. Blog

Why Does the Outside Unit for the Heat Pump Run in Winter?

Many of us grew up with conventional furnaces as whole-house heating systems. This system is separate from an air conditioner, which means that—of course—the air conditioning unit does not run when the heater does.

However, a heat pump is different. It’s an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that utilizes refrigerant in a process that completes two different tasks, heating and cooling. You may be surprised to hear your outdoor unit running when the heat comes on—but that’s just how it works.

The Ins and Outs of Your Heat Pump

A heat pump has many of the same parts as a standard air conditioning system. It looks similar too, with an outdoor unit and an indoor blower fan and coil. The difference is in the reversing valve (and a few extra parts) that help refrigerant to move in the other direction.

Typically, refrigerant essentially removes heat from the air in your home, allowing it to cool. That’s why the outside unit of your air conditioner always radiates warmth; that heat needs somewhere to go.

Under the right pressure and temperature, refrigerant, a chemical blend, is able to absorb heat. So, when it moves in reverse, refrigerant can absorb heat from the outside air and move it indoors. This is true even as temperatures take a dramatic plunge, though it may become less efficient, and you may need an alternate heat source when freezing temperatures hit.

So, you will hear the outside unit running when you turn on the heat. But that’s only because the compressor and motor in the outside unit are required to move refrigerant from outside to in, absorbing heat from the air and bringing it indoors. It’s one of the most efficient ways to heat your home with an electric appliance, too, because exchanging heat is a process that requires less energy than generating heat.

Call AAction Air Conditioning & Heating Co. Inc. for quality service at a fair price. We install and service heat pumps in Savannah, GA.

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