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The Language of Heat Pumps: Terms You Should Know

October 31, 2013 | Blog

A heat pump is a highly efficient way to cool and heat your home, and it’s a popular choice among the residents of our region. If you’re in the process of choosing a heat pump for the first time, you may be encountering some terms that you’re unfamiliar with. To make the best choice, it’s helpful to learn the language of heat pumps. Here are some terms you should know. 

Heat Pump Components 

  • Refrigerant: A heat pump works by circulating a liquid/gaseous substance, which absorbs, transports and releases heat. This substance is refrigerant.
  • Reversing valve: Heat pumps can work in heating or cooling mode, depending on the direction of the flow of refrigerant. The system requires a reversing valve to control the refrigerant’s directional flow–one way when it’s in heating mode and the other way when it’s in cooling mode.
  • Condenser: This is the heat pump’s outside unit. It contains a coil where the gaseous refrigerant circulates to allow heat to escape to the surroundings.
  • Compressor: This is a component that pumps the refrigerant through the system and increases it’s pressure. The increase in pressure also increases its temperature.

Other Heat Pump Terms

  • Coefficient of performance: This is the ratio of a heat pump’s energy output to the amount of electrical energy required to operate at a specific temperature. The COP represents the efficiency of a heat pump.
  • Seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER): This is a measure of a heat pump’s cooling efficiency, with regard to the amount of energy required to achieve a specific cooling output.
  • Energy efficiency ratio (EER): This is the measure of a heat pump’s steady-state cooling efficiency, determined by the ratio of the heat pump’s cooling capacity to the amount of electrical energy input at a specific temperature.
  • Thermal balance point: At times, the outdoor temperature reaches a point where the heat pump’s heating capacity is equal to your home’s heating requirements. In other words, the amount of heat loss from your home matches the amount of heat that your heat pump is providing. This is the thermal balance point.

For more information on heat pump terms, contact CCAC. We serve homeowners throughout the Corpus Christi area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Corpus Christi, Texas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about heat pump terminology and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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