Hansberger Refrigeration Blog: Your AC Repair Resource

The Language of Heat Pumps: Some Terms You Should Know

The more you learn about your HVAC equipment, the better you’ll understand your HVAC technician when he discusses repairs or recommended service items as they come up. Knowing a handful of heat pump terms will allow you to communicate more easily with the technician.

Increase your HVAC IQ by learning some of these heat pump terms. Your technician will be impressed.The Language of Heat Pumps: Some Terms You Should Know

Refrigerant. This is the liquid used by the heat pump to alternately absorb, transport, and release heat. It is unique in that it transitions back and forth between a liquid and a gas throughout this process. If you have an older heat pump, ask your technician what type of refrigerant it uses. R-22 refrigerant is being phased out, which might make it worth replacing your old heat pump if it still uses R-22.

Reversing valve. This valve changes the mode of the heat pump, from heating to cooling and vice versa. It does this by controlling the direction the refrigerant flows in the heat pump.

Coils. This is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a loop, or loops, of usually copper tubing that the refrigerant flows through, and where the heat transfer takes place. Sometimes the coil has fins in order to increase the surface area even further. Heat pumps have two sets of coils, one in an outside compressor/condensing unit and the other inside near the air handler.

Evaporator and condenser. This is where the refrigerant really works its magic, absorbing and releasing heat and transforming from a liquid to a vapor. When the heat pump’s in cooling mode, the inside coil serves as the evaporator, absorbing heat from the inside air, while the outside condensing coil, combined in a cabinet with a compressor, releases that heat energy into the outside air. In heating mode, the outside coil absorbs heat energy from the air and brings it inside.

EER. This acronym stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio. It is calculated by dividing the cooling capacity of a heat pump’s Btu/h by the by the amount of electrical watts required to generate that cooling capacity at a given temperature. Higher EERs demonstrate increased energy efficiency.

SEER. This stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It measures the cooling efficiency of your heat pump through the entire cooling season. The higher the rating, the more efficient the heat pump.

HSPF. This stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor and measures a heat pump’s heating efficiency. The higher the HSPF, the better.

Interested in learning more HVAC and heat pump terms?  Contact our Yuma HVAC experts at Hansberger Refrigeration and Electric Co.




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Our goal is to help educate our customers in Yuma, Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about heat pump terminology and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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