Air Source Heat Pump

Air source heat pump? Water source heat pump?

What is the "source" and why is it important?

In heat pump terminology, there are two important terms:

  • Load
  • Source

The "load" is the gas (air), liquid (water), or solid (ice cream stone) that requires temperature control. In residential applications, the air in the house is the "load".

During the summer, the house requires a cooling "load".

And during the winter....a heating "load".

Now let's discuss "source"....

The "source" is the gas, (air), liquid (water), or solid (soil) volume that "sources" heat in the winter and provides a sink for heat rejection in the summer.

Going back to our residential example:

The outside air (or soil for geothermal applications) is considered the "source".

When the house requires a heating "load", the "source" (air outside) supplies heat to the outside unit.

During summer months, when the house requires a cooling "load", the "source" (air outside) absorbs heat from the outside unit.

Below is a process diagram for each mode:

Air Source Heat Pump Diagram - Cooling Mode

air source heat pump diagram - cooling mode

Air Source Heat Pump Diagram - Heating Mode

air source heat pump diagram - heating mode

Whenever there is a fan blowing air across a coil in the outside unit, it is of the air source type.

It may look like the Carrier heat pump unit below:

Carrier air source heat pump

This type of heat pump is called a split system.

The outdoor unit is "split" from the indoor unit. It is connected only by two copper lines carrying refrigerant to and from the outdoor unit.

Usually the indoor unit consists only of a coil and a fan, which is then connected to the air duct system of the house.

Below is a Carrier packaged heat pump.

Carrier packaged air source heat pump

The difference here?

A packaged heat pump is fully self-contained. The "indoor" and "outdoor" sections are packaged into one unit.

So there is no refrigerant piping that is installed in the building or home.

Only air duct is installed between the building and the unit This allows for cooled or heated air to flow into and out of the building.

So...both split and packaged heat pumps can be considered air source.

Where can I get one?

The market is full of air source manufacturers. Below is a list of the most popular ones:

York heat pump
Carrier heat pump
Trane heat pump
American Standard heat pump
Rheem heat pump
Lennox heat pumps
Heil heat pump
Bryant heat pump
Mitsubishi heat pump
Payne heat pump
Coleman heat pump
Rudd heat pump
Frigidaire heat pumps
Armstrong heat pump
Sanyo heat pump
Tempstar heat pump
Ducane heat pump
Gibson heat pumps
Maytag heat pumps

If you would like an in-depth discussion of each manufacturer, see Compare Heat Pumps.

My favorite air source heat pump is the Carrier Infinity with Greenspeed.

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