Air source.....water source....hybrid....dual fuel....absorption.....ground source.....ground coupled......mini split......ductless
and yes, the list goes on.
What are these many types of heat pumps?
How different are they?
What application begs for one type over another?
Let's start simple.
What is the difference?
Simply put, both devices are the same except a heat pump can heat a home in the winter....where an air conditioner can only cool.
If you're still looking for more difference between the two, we have devoted an entire page to answering the heat pump vs air conditioner debate.
One of the most exciting technologies out there right now is the mini split heat pump.
If you are asking yourself:
"Why is mini split an exciting technology?"
Please......click on the link above to learn more. It is becoming the equipment of choice very quickly as more attention is being given to energy efficiency and green solutions.
Note too that "mini split" and "ductless heat pumps" are different names for the same system.
Much like the window air conditioner, some manufacturers also supply a heat pump version of the common household device shown below.
Before buying a window heat pump, be sure that it is worth the extra cost.
If you would like more window heat pump information, we have developed an entire web page to help. Otherwise, below is a discussion on other other types of heat pumps.
You may hear and see terms used for many different types of heat pumps.
However, all heat pumps can be categorized into one of these types:
Many residential heat pumps are of the air-source type. If the outdoor unit contains a fan that moves air...then it is air-source.
I say "many" residential heat pump because a greatly increasing number of residential heat pumps are water source.
The only technical difference between an air-source heat pump and a water source is:
For all intents and purposes a ground source heat pump is very similar to a water source heat pump. The only difference is the the ground source is always in a closed loop buried in the ground.
Watch this video! It gives a great, short explanation of air source, water source, and ground source.
Also, some students at Purdue University published a paper which compared the payback period of two types of heat pumps, air source and ground source.
The quick and easy answer is
Carrier and Trane both offer a hybrid heat pump for which they also use the term "dual fuel".
So then when would you use a dual fuel heat pump?
Usually hybrid heat pumps are useful for areas whose climate can range from very warm in the summer to very cold in the winter.
Hybrid heat pumps give you the best of both worlds....
Solar heat pumps utilize solar energy gathered by solar panels to power a standard or even geothermal heat pump.
Talk about green technology!
A solar, geothermal heat pump could potentially result in your entire house being heated and cooled solely by renewable energy.
It appears more confusing than it really is.
Heat pumps can be used to heat or cool air.
Heat pumps can also be used to heat or cool water (or another fluid).
Hopefully the diagram below can help sort everything out.
Absorption heat pumps (link coming soon!) are used quite frequently in the industrial world.
Many industrial buildings have excess heat from industrial processes which they reject into the atmosphere.
This heat can be used as the energy required to operate a heat pump. This heat pump can in turn, cool or heat their processes or environment.