Do Heat Pumps Work in the Bay Area?
If the constantly changing seasons make you evaluate your home’s HVAC and electrical systems, it may be time to convert or upgrade your existing heat pump. This unit is a great option to replace an older or inefficient system and maximizes your energy savings.
But do heat pumps work in the Bay Area? Is this the right choice for California’s climate? Yes, California’s temperate climate is ideal for a heat pump. They’re efficient in areas that don’t get too cold, and their zero emissions are what the state prefers for homeowners.
What is a Heat Pump?
You may be thinking that a heat pump does what the name suggests – pumps air. While yes, it does pump air, that’s not all a heat pump can do.
Electric heaters convert electricity into heat through a direct process. A heat pump works by pulling the heat from the air around your house and transferring it indoors, or in warm weather, it pulls the hot air from inside into the outdoors. In this way, it can be used for heating and cooling.
Depending on the weather, a heat pump can move hot air in either direction. When it’s cold, the pump pulls the heat from outside to make it warm. In hot weather, it pulls the heat from inside your home to the outdoors to keep it cool. It’s a simple setup, but one that works well in the right climate conditions.
How Does a Heat Pump Work?
A heat pump is a straightforward device with two main components: an outdoor unit and an indoor air handler unit. Each of these components have sub-components.
The outdoor unit operates with a coil and a fan. The coil acts like a condenser in cooling mode or an evaporator in heating mode. The fan blows the air across the coil to exchange heat.
The indoor unit works much in the same way and comes with a coil and a fan. The coil is an evaporator in cooling mode or a condenser in heating mode. The fan moves the air across the coil and throughout the ducts to enter your home.
The refrigerant is necessary to maintain the heat exchange. It absorbs and rejects heat as it circulates through the heat pump, and the compressor pressurizes the refrigerant and circulates it through the system.
Another key sub-component is the reversing valve, which reverses the flow of refrigerant to let the system operate in both directions. It can be used for outdoor to indoor heating or indoor to outdoor cooling.
The expansion valve acts as a metering device that regulates the flow of the refrigerant in the system and reduces its temperature and pressure.
One important thing to understand about a heat pump is that it uses the natural flow of heat to its advantage. Heat naturally wants to move from an area that’s hot and pressurized to one that’s cool and lower pressure. It simply puts the heat in contact with the preferred environment, encouraging the natural transfer.
This is basically cooling mode, but it works similarly for heating mode. The reversing valve allows the flow of refrigerant to reverse, which makes the heating source the outside air.
Advantages of a Heat Pump in the Bay Area
The Bay Area can get both hot and cool, but never extreme, which is perfect for a heat pump. They’re strong and energy efficient, using the air both indoors and outdoors to keep the temperatures comfortable without added energy costs to produce hot or cold air.
Unfortunately, heat pumps are not ideal in extremely cold temperatures. The heat pump can’t get enough heat from the outdoors to keep the house warm, and it may struggle with efficiency issues. This isn’t a problem in the Bay Area, however, since it rarely gets extremely cold out, even in winter.
Essentially, a heat pump works like an air conditioner and circulates refrigerant by compressor to pump the heat from one spot to another. Heat pumps work with the natural environment, rather than against it. With a heat pump, air can transfer in either direction for heating and cooling.
Disadvantages of Heat Pump in the Bay Area
As mentioned, a heat pump isn’t a great choice for all climates or situations. If you have a natural gas-powered furnace that heats your home, it’s better to go for a furnace and air conditioning unit. The heat pump can only be used for cooling in this case, and you’re missing out on a lot of its efficiency and capability.
A heat pump also has a high upfront cost, which is the tradeoff for lower energy bills. It’s generally less expensive to purchase an air conditioner if you’re not intending to replace your entire HVAC system.
Contact the Bell Brothers to schedule your appointment for a heat pump upgrade!