Air-to-air heat pumps are energy efficient and economical to operate. Traditionally, they’ve been used in areas with warmer climates. This is because their heating capacity drops off substantially when outside temperatures drop below zero degrees. However, this is no longer the case due to advanced technological development. Now, air source heat pumps provide more than enough heat to keep a well-insulated home comfortable at temperatures well below zero degrees Celsius. As a result, they’re using heat pumps as far north as the Northwest Territories. Learn more by checking out the below guide to air-to-air heat pumps.

Your Guide to Air-to-Air Heat Pumps

Ductless Mini-Split

Developed in Asia, this newer version is often referred to as a “ductless mini-split” heat pump. It uses “inverter” compressor technology to pump air at 49 C (120 F) . This is at much lower outdoor temperatures than the conventional heat pump. The conventional version pumps air at 36 C (98 F).

Inverter technology is able to vary the output of the heat pump to match the needs of the home. This technology operates by using programmable “smart” controls which run almost continuously to maintain the home at a constant temperature. Whereas, a conventional heat pump provides full output to bring a home up to the required temperature. Then, it shuts down until the temperature drops enough to trigger the thermostat or electronic control to turn on again.

Further, the ductless unit distributes heated and cooled air through wall mounted free-air delivery units. There can be multiple units in a home. Whereas, a conventional heat pump distributes heated or cooled air through ducts.

Types of Air-to-Air heat pumps

Like an air conditioner, a heat pump consists of an indoor and an outdoor unit. Air source heat pumps can be either “add-on,” “all-electric” or “bi-valent.” Typically, they are powered by electricity, although there are a few natural gas fired heat pumps on the market.

  • Add-On Heat Pumps, as the name suggests, are designed to be used with another source of supplementary heat such as a gas, oil, propane or electric furnace.
  • All-Electric Heat Pumps are self-contained, with electric heating built-in.
  • Developed in Canada, Bi-Valent Heat Pumps use a gas or propane fired burner to increase the temperature of the air entering the outdoor coil. This allows the unit to operate at colder temperatures.
  • A relatively rare type is the Air-to-Water Heat Pump. These are used in homes that use hot water (hydronic) heating. They extract heat from the air and transfer it into the water used for heating the home through radiators or in-floor heating.

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