Do You Know How a Heat Pump Works?

Heat pumps are an energy efficient way to generate heat. The concept of the heat pump is actually simply, though not many people know exactly how a heat pump works. Heat pump technology was actually developed by accident in the 1940s by man named Robert Webber. This American inventor was working with deep freeze equipment when he accidentally touched one of the outlet pipes and burned his hand.

Webber then decided to attempt to “harvest” the heat by connecting the outlet pipes to a water heater. He created a loop with the piping and then configured a small fan to force the captured heat into the air. Voila! The heat pump was conceived. Webber continued to experiment with his invention to perfect the unit as a heating system, harvesting heat from the ground. One year later, he sold his own coal-burning furnace and installed the invention in his home.

How a Heat Pump Works – Modern Technology

Modern heat pumps still operate based on the principles of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In simple terms, heat pumps operate like a refrigerator, only in reverse. The refrigerate removes heat from the items inside and deposits the heat into the air outside the unit. Modern heat pumps are much more powerful than household refrigerators, and are able to generate enough heat to warm a large building.

Types of Heat Pumps

There are basically three types of modern heat pumps: Ground source units pull warmth from the ground outside the structure. Air source units pull the warmth from the outside air, and some heat pumps use heated water, as did Webber’s original invention. All heat pumps operate on the same principle. They extract the heat from the source and redistribute the warm air into a home or building, either through an underfloor pipe system or through a radiator system.

Breakdown of the Heat Pump Heating Cycle

Heat pumps are designed to use coolant as the medium by which the heat is moved through the system. The cycle breaks down into four processes.

  1. Evaporation – Coolant moves through coiled pipes and collects heat from the source. The source may be the ground, the air or water. The collected heat causes the coolant to evaporate into gas form.
  2. Compression – The compressor of the heat pump unit compresses the evaporated coolant, which elevates the heat of the coolant even further.
  3. Condensation – The piped coolant is passed through water inside a radiator, which transfers the heat to the water. The coolant drops in temperature and changes back to a liquid, and the water in the radiator heats up.
  4. Expansion – The coolant is passed through an expansion valve and returned to the beginning of the loop, the Evaporation phase, in it’s cooled state to begin the process again.

If you would like more detailed information about how a heat pump works in a climate such as in Sulpher Springs TX, Wood Air Conditioning & Plumbing can answer all of your questions. Wood Air Conditioning & Plumbing has served the Hughes Springs TX area with reliable, professional HVAC service for more than 56 years.

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