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What Kind of Heat Comes from Your Heat Pump?

August 8, 2019 | Blog

Heat pump heatThree types of heat are involved when you run a heat pump for heating purposes. As you probably know, heat pumps may be designed only to cool, or else to cool and heat by reversing a switch.

Heat Pump Heat

The principle is the same for heating or cooling with a heat pump: refrigerant is pumped between the outdoor condenser and the indoor evaporator and air handler, and heat that is absorbed outdoors is exhausted indoors for heating, while heat that is absorbed indoors is exhausted outdoors for cooling.

That type of heat could be referred to simply as heat pump heat, or pumped heat. A heat pump works pretty well for heating purposes as long as the outdoor air doesn’t fall below freezing. Then, it may become challenging for the heat pump to gather enough heat from the outdoor air to adequately heat the home. That’s when the homeowner requires some kind of auxiliary or supplemental heat.

Auxiliary Heat

The heat pump may be designed to switch to a form of auxiliary heat by electric resistance or strip heating. This heating can be expensive to use, so some homeowners have a heat pump system that switches over to a gas furnace (dual fuel heat). A hydronic coil in the air handler is another method for obtaining auxiliary heat.

Emergency Heat

Some heat pumps have a setting for emergency heat. Perhaps you were instructed by the installer to switch to this heat whenever it’s really cold outside and your heat pump isn’t doing its job. This is essentially the electric resistance or strip heating we mentioned in the above paragraph. Just keep in mind, you may not want to run this type of heating very long because it is not efficient.


Heat pumps are very efficient, especially in a warmer climate such as ours. Further, newer models have improved their ability to heat when it’s very cold outside, so check these out with your HVAC consultant when you’re ready to buy.

For more on heat pump heat, contact CCAC. We serve Corpus Christi and the surrounding area.

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