Heat Pumps Explained
Heat pumps work in much the same way as your refrigerator except there are two separate, but integral parts to the system. There is an outside unit housing the compressor that is similar to the exterior back of your fridge. It draws in warmth from the outside air even in cold weather. That warmth is then transferred inside your home using a refrigerant process through a piping system powered by an indoor fan unit.
In summer, the reverse happens. Warm air is drawn from inside your home and expelled by the outside unit. This is why the system is also often referred to as a heat pump as well as an air conditioner.
In essence, a heat pump is really an air conditioner that contains a valve that lets it switch between "air conditioner mode" and "heat pump mode." When the valve is switched one way, the heat pump acts like an air conditioner, and when it is switched the other way it reverses the flow of refrigerant and acts like a heater.
Benefits of Inverter Technology
Most heat pumps use inverter technology which automatically controls the power output of the indoor heat pump unit by adjusting the speed and output of the outdoor compressor unit to match it.
Unlike older air conditioners that run at a constant speed and power load, irrespective of the conditions, the latest heat pump inverter units adjust the amount of power they require based on the conditions at the time.
Because they don’t have to constantly operate at full power inverter heat pumps are more economical and much quieter. Plus, you won’t experience the uncomfortable temperature variations that are normally associated with older, constant speed units. That’s one of the great benefits of inverters.
Inverter heat pumps are more efficient, and electricity companies like them because they don't create surges in the demand for electricity. In fact, the New Zealand consumer watchdog, www.consumer.org.nz strongly recommends inverter heat pump and air conditioning systems.