Heat pumps are a combined heating and cooling system that works great in moderate climates like Los Angeles. Heat pumps and Central Air are the two most common heating and cooling systems you will run into in LA. Heat Pumps ability to heat goes down when outdoor temperatures drop below freezing so they are not used in cold winter climates. Recent technology improvements to Heat Pumps are making them better at heating at very lower temperatures. For Los Angeles this isn’t an issue.
Because heat pump systems work by transferring heat instead of creating heat, a heat pump uses significantly less energy. Heat Pumps are the most energy efficient method of heating and cooling. They use electricity as their power source. One drawback of a Heat pump system is that they don’t warm up a space as quickly as a furnace does.
Heat Pumps systems use the same equipment (thermostat, blowers, filters, and ducting) as central air for moving conditioned air throughout the house. The main difference between these two systems, is that with a heat pump system there is no furnace. The condenser unit or AC is instead run in ‘reverse’ to create heat. Some people wonder how a heat pump can get heat from the outdoors when temperatures are very cold. This is because the refrigerant has an extremely low boiling point, so even cold temperatures outside are still ‘hot’ for the refrigerant.
How Heat Pumps Work
A heat pump is basically a just pump. It can reverse the flow of its refrigerant with a reversal valve, depending on whether you want the pump to heat or cool. Even at very low temperatures the heat pump can ‘pump heat’ out of the air. It uses the refrigerant cycle to transfer energy. When a liquid turns into a gas (boils) it absorbs heat. When a gas turns into a liquid (condenses) it releases heat. Heat pumps work by forcing the refrigerant in the system to evaporate and condense in a specific location (indoors or outdoors)over and over again.
There are five main components of a heat pump system:
Indoor Coil – allows evaporation or condensation to take place inside and transfers heat or cooling to the air
Outdoor Coil -allows evaporation or condensation to take place inside and transfers heat or cooling to the air
Compressor– condenses the refrigerant into liquid using very high pressure and heat is released.
Expansion Valve– lowers the pressure of the liquid refrigerant which changes its boiling point and heat is absorbed.
Reversing Valve– changes the direction the coolant moves through the compressor and expansion valve.
Cost of the heat pump?
If you have to buy the entire system because you are upgrading from a Wall Furnance, or have NO AC- then you will need to purchase the heat pump, air handler and ducting. The Higher the BTU or Ton rating of the heat pump the more expensive. Bigger units are used for heating and cooling larger houses. In addition, higher SEER ratings will also increase the price of the heat pump.
You are looking to spend:
$2,000-$3,000 for the standard heatpump brands -Amana, American Standard, coleman, fridgadair, goodman, york
$3,000 -$4,000 for the high end manufacters: Bryant, Carrier, Lennox, Trane, Rheem
The whole system will cost between $10,000 and $12,000 for a 2,000 sqft home. It has similar cost as Central Air.