HVAC Fundamentals: Heat Pumps

A heat pump is a refrigeration system used to transfer heat from one room or area to another. The heat pump is designed to take heat from a medium-temperature supply, comparable to outdoor air, and convert it to higher-temperature heat for distribution within a structure. By means of a specifically designed reversing valve, the pump can also extract heat from the indoor air and expel it outdoors.

Because a heat pump system makes use of the reverse-cycle principle of operation, its operating principle is usually referred to as reverse cycle conditioning or reverse-cycle refrigeration. The latter term is just not appropriate because there are elementary variations between the working principles of a heat pump and a true refrigeration unit. The confusion probably stems from the fact that throughout the cooling cycle, the operation of a pump is equivalent to that of the mechanical refrigeration cycle in a packaged air conditioning unit. The indoor coil perform as an evaporator, cooling the indoor air. The out of doors coil is condenser, in which the hot refrigerant gas releases heat to the outside air.

Heat Pump Operating Ideas

The 2 principal phases of heat pump operation are the heating and cooling cycles. A third part, the defrost cycle is used to protect the coils from extreme frost buildup.

Heating Cycle

The heating cycle of a heat pump begins with the circulation of a refrigerant through the outdoor coils. Initially, the refrigerant is in a low-pressure, low-temperature liquid state but it quickly absorbs sufficient heat from the outdoor air to lift its temperature to the boiling point. Upon reaching the boiling point, the refrigerant modifications right into a sizzling vapor or gas. This gas is then compressed by the compressor and circulated under high pressure and temperature by means of the indoor coils, the place it comes into contact with the cooler room air that circulates across the coils. The cooler air causes the gas to chill, condense and return to the liquid state. The condensation of the refrigerant vapor releases heat to the interior of the structure. After the refrigerant has returned to a liquid state, it passes by way of a special pressure-reducing machine and back by means of the coils the place the heating cycle begins all over again.

Cooling Cycle

Within the cooling cycle, the reverse valve causes he movement of the refrigerant to be reversed. In consequence, the compressor pumps the refrigerant within the opposite direction in order that the coils that heat the building or house in cold weather cool it in warm weather. In different words, the heat is extracted from the interior, cycled by means of the heat pump after which expelled outside the building or area throughout the condensation of refrigerant.

Defrost Cycle

Because the outdoor air is relatively cool when the heat pump is on the heating cycle, and the out of doors coil is appearing as an evaporator, frost forms on the surface of the coil under certain conditioners of temperature and relative humidity. Because this layer of frost on the coils interferes with the environment friendly operation of the heat pump, it must be removed. This is completed by placing the pump via a defrost cycle.

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