You Are At: AllSands Home > Home > The heat pump - furnace and air conditioner
The same appliance can act as a furnace in cold weather and an air conditioner in hot weather. This appliance is the heat pump. How it works is based on long used technology that can be applied anywhere. This technology is the same as used by your refrigerator, air conditioner, or freezer.

The heat pump in simplest of terms is a very large refrigerator that has the ability to switch the direction in which it moves heat. If you are not familiar with the way a refrigerator works an explanation would be that it uses a coolant to carry heat from one place to another.

In the refrigerator the heat is taken by the coolant from the inside of the refrigerator and discharged on the outside of the refrigerator along its exterior coils. This is done by changing the state of the coolant. Heating is accomplished when the coolant is changed from a gas to a liquid where it gives off heat as a by-product of the process. Cooling is accomplished when the coolant is turned to a gas by absorbing the heat from its surroundings. The process is driven by an electric motor that acts as a compressor and coolant pump. The standard air conditioner works exactly the same way, only its heat disapation coils are on the outside exposed to open air. The heat pump works on the same principles except that the Heat Pump has the ability to change the direction of heat flow using a dual system.

The heat pump's ability to switch the direction of heat flow allows it to work in the summer as an air conditioner, and in the winter as a heater. In warmer climates the high effeciency of the heat pump makes it is an ideal appliance. In the winter the air contains enough heat that can be extracted to warm an interior space. In colder climates during the winter the air does not contain sufficient heat, but to combat this problem heat exchangers can be buried below the frost line or submerged in a water source such as a lake or stream.

Since most heat pumps are electrical, and the energy needed to drive this process is just what it takes to operate the compressor motor and a fan. The Heat Pump can operate as a furnace and air conditioner and can switch between the two almost instantly.

Its familiar technology, simplicy, and cost effectiveness has already made it a popular form of climate control throughout the southern United States. As its features become better know it is sure to gain supporters throughout the rest of the country.