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Carolina Climate Control Blog

HVAC Explained: Air Conditioning vs Heat Pump HVAC Systems

If you find your HVAC system in need of replacement in Charleston, you may be doing a bit of research online to see what air conditioning & heating options are available for your home.

Most likely, you’ll come across people who have reviewed and posted about who have had air conditioning units or heat pumps in their homes. We often get questions about what the differences are between these two units and which is best for homes in Charleston.

To help you out with your research, below is a quick review of heat pumps and air conditioning units, the differences between the two types of HVAC systems, and what you should think about before moving forward with each.

A/C Units & Heat Pumps Are Similar…

When it comes to keeping your house cool during the warmer seasons, air conditioners and heat pumps function exactly the same. They both pull heat from inside of the home and push it outside, giving you the cool, comfortable air you need during those summer months.

Both systems use a compressor to compress refrigerant contained in the system. When gas is compressed in the compressor, its temperature rises significantly and the gas flows through a condensing coil where most of the heat is removed by the condenser fan.

The gas (which is now liquid) travels to the evaporator coil, which is located in the house, it expands and rapidly drops in temperature and cools the evaporator coil.

Again with both systems, an air handler is used to bring the warm air in your home through the cooled evaporator coil and provide the newly “conditioned” air all throughout your home.

…But Different.

While both air conditioners and heat pumps pull the warm air from your home to cool it, a heat pump can reverse the process to help keep you warm during the colder temperature months by moving warm air outside into your home. Essentially with a heat pump you have one unit that can do twice the work.

With a conventional air conditioning unit, you’ll have to have a separate heating system, like an electric or gas furnace.

What’s Best For Your Home In Charleston

Heat pumps are especially great for places that have more mild climates, where temperatures don’t dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit very often. They’re able to simply transfer the heat, rather than generating it, keeping your energy bills down in the process. If temperatures do dip below 40, heat pumps are equipped with an emergency heating source that makes sure that you stay warm.

Many Lowcountry homeowners still prefer having a traditional a/c & furnace setup, but since much of the year here in Charleston stays relatively mild, heat pumps are a great way to keep your annual energy savings down and are becoming more popular here in Charleston, Summerville, Mt Pleasant and other areas in the Lowcountry.

Whichever option you choose to go with, be sure to fully review the system with an HVAC professional as they’ll help you find the best, most affordable option to keep you comfortable all year round.

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