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What is an all-in-one heat pump? All-in-one heat pumps transfer heat from one place to another. Air source all-in-one heat pumps move heat between the air inside a home and the air outside the home, while ground source all-in-one heat pumps (known as geothermal all-in-one heat pumps) transfer heat between the air inside a home and the ground outside a home. We will focus on air source all-in-one heat pumps, but the basic operation is the same for both.
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All-in-one heat pump basis
How an all-in-one heat pump works - cooling mode?
How an all-in-one heat pump works - heating mode?
One very important point to understand when answering the question “how do all-in-one heat pumps work?” is that all-in-one heat pumps do not generate heat – they move heat from one place to another. A furnace creates heat that is distributed throughout a home, but an all-in-one heat pump absorbs heat energy from the outside air (even in cold temperatures) and transfers it to the indoor air. When in cooling mode an all-in-one heat pump and an air conditioner are functionally identical, absorbing heat from the indoor air and releasing it through the outdoor unit. Click here for more information about all-in-one heat pumps vs air conditioners.
The liquid refrigerant is pumped through an expansion device at the indoor coil, which is functioning as the evaporator. Air from inside the house is blown across the coils, where heat energy is absorbed by the refrigerant. The resulting cool air is blown throughout the home's ducts. The process of absorbing the heat energy has caused the liquid refrigerant to heat up and evaporate into gas form.
The gaseous refrigerant now passes through a compressor, which pressurizes the gas. The process of pressurizing the gas causes it to heat up (a physical property of compressed gases). The hot, pressurized refrigerant moves through the system to the coil in the outdoor unit.
The expansion valve reduces the pressure of the warm liquid refrigerant, which cools it significantly. At this point, the refrigerant is in a cool, liquid state and ready to be pumped back to the evaporator coil in the indoor unit to begin the cycle again.
An All-in-one heat pump in heating mode operates just like cooling mode, except that the flow of refrigerant is reversed by the aptly named reversing valve. The flow reversal means that the heating source becomes the outside air (even when outdoor temperatures are low) and the heat energy is released inside the home. The outside coil now has the function of an evaporator, and the indoor coil now has the role of the condenser. The physics of the process is the same. Heat energy is absorbed in the outdoor unit by the cool liquid refrigerant, turning it into cold gas.