Geothermal. Ductless. Ground source. You’ve heard the buzzwords, but what do they mean? If you’re clueless about varieties of heat pump, or just want to learn more, read on.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a heating system that provides warm air by collecting it from outside and pushing it into your house. The principle is the same as that of a refrigerator, but working in the opposite direction. There are several types of heat pumps that all function a little differently.
Air-Source Heat Pump
These are “regular” heat pumps, which pull in heat from the outside air and push it into your home through a ducted HVAC system. These are the most inexpensive heat pump systems to install, but are less efficient and reliable than some of the alternatives.
Geothermal Heat Pump
Also called a “ground-source heat pump,” geothermal heat pumps are better at heating because they draw warmth from the earth, which is generally hotter than the outside air. In addition, the consistency of underground temperatures makes for highly efficiency operation, as there is little variation in the amount of heat the pump draws in.
Geothermal pumps can be expensive to install, but can often save money in the long run, not only in energy savings but also in saved maintenance costs.
Dual-Source Heat Pump
Of course, you can combine both air-source and ground-source heat pumps into a single “dual-source” system. These systems are nearly as efficient as geothermal-only pumps, but cost significantly less to install. However, with an exposed air-source pump, you’ll have all the problems that come along with that system.
Ductless Heat Pump
Also called a “mini-split heat pump,” ductless heat pumps are often used in houses that don’t already have duct systems, or extended to new or renovated rooms. These systems function like window-mounted AC units, drawing air in from the outside and pumping it directly into a room.
They can be very cost-effective when heating small spaces, especially because they don’t rely on ducts (which waste up to 30 percent of energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy).
However, ductless heat pumps can be obtrusive, as they aren’t built into the walls like a ducted system. In addition, they can be more expensive to install and require technicians with more expertise.
Absorption Heat Pump
Absorption pumps are a little more exotic, as they can be operated using heat sources like gas, propane, or even water heated by geothermal or solar energy. This means they can work in homes without access to electricity, but it also means that they don’t make sense for many residential applications.
However, if you’re interested in exploring more varied sources of energy, absorption heat pumps might provide the flexibility that you’re looking for.
Which Type of Heat Pump Is Right for You?
If you’re confused by these options—and who wouldn’t be—you might want to call a professional. GAC Cooling & Heating can provide expertise and a free estimate for the cost of installing the perfect heat pump system for your home in Maryland. Contact us now to learn more.