Do Heat Pumps Work in Freezing Weather?
Yes, heat pumps work in extremely cold temperatures. In the past, some heat pumps have worked better than others in colder climates. However, thanks to technological advancements, most heat pumps on the market today will keep you and your family warm in coldest winter days.
Why heat pumps don't always work well in cold climates
Today, most heat pumps work well in extremely cold climates. But that's not always the case.
Why? Because, instead of heating a home or office building, a heat pump simply transfers heat from outside into the interior. Because heat pumps do not generate new heat by burning fuel, they are very efficient.
Some older types of heat pumps will struggle to operate efficiently if it's cold outside. This is because it requires more energy to transfer heat from a cold area (outdoors) to a warmer place (home). This can be a problem because heat pumps need to constantly pump heat into the house to keep it at a comfortable temperature.
Fortunately, many newer heat pumps have improved their ability to handle cold weather. Learn how heat pump technology has evolved to perform well in even the coldest climates, and how to choose the right heat pump for your home below.
Which type of heat pump is best for cold climates?
1. Geothermal heat pump
Temperatures range from 45°F to 75°F just a few feet below ground level. Geothermal heat pumps take heat from the ground and use it to heat a home or office building. Because the temperature fluctuates little, the ground can be a reliable source of heat.
Whether you're using a geothermal heat pump during sweltering summers or sub-zero winters, you can rely on consistent temperatures underground and throughout your home.
Geothermal heat pumps work well in extreme climates because the ground has enough heat to absorb in cooler temperatures and enough low temperature to absorb in warmer temperatures.
2. Water source heat pump
Some geothermal heat pumps use bodies of water, such as ponds or lakes, to heat homes or office buildings.
These heat pumps are a great option if your property has a body of water. Compared to ground source heat pumps, they cost less to install and provide a more stable temperature than air source heat pumps.
However, it is important to note that a large part of this cost efficiency is due to pre-existing bodies of water for which source pumps can be installed. If your property does not have a body of water, you may want to try a different heat pump for your home or office building.
3. Air source heat pump
Air source heat pumps are the most popular type of heat pump. They use outside air to heat a home or office building.
Air source heat pumps are generally considered inefficient at extreme temperatures. This is because the colder the air outside, the harder it is for the heat pump to find heat to transfer to the home.
However, in recent years, the technology of air source heat pumps has advanced a lot, and the devices now perform well in extreme climatic conditions. Several components of the air source heat pump have been improved:
1. Coil Design
2. Electric Motor
3. Two-speed compressor design
Technological advancements that contribute to better performance in cold weather include:
1. The thermostatic expansion valve can control the refrigerant flow of the indoor coil more precisely
2. Variable speed blower increases efficiency and offsets energy consumption from dirty air filters and coils and blocked ducts
3. Copper pipes with internal grooves to increase surface area
4. These are just some of the innovations that make air source heat pumps an effective, money-saving option, even in cold winters.
Ductless Small Split Heat Pump
The ductless small split heat pump is an air source heat pump. This system is ideal for homes that use non-ducted heating, such as radiant panels and space heaters. They can also be a good option for rooms or homes where new plumbing cannot be added or installed.
The advantages of ductless mini-split heat pumps include their small size and the ability to heat and cool a single room, an energy-efficient process called zoning.
How to choose the right heat pump for your home
Research can give you a basic understanding of the heat pump options available. Even after you've determined the type of heat pump you want, you may still need to research the various features to determine the kind of home you want.
For example, if you are looking into air source heat pumps, you may want to consider the following:
1. What is the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) for this heat pump?
2. Does the heat pump have on-demand defrost control? This minimizes defrost cycles and reduces the supplemental heat needed to heat your home on the coldest winter nights.
3. What is the outdoor sound insulation rating of the heat pump? The Department of Energy recommends a rating of 7.6 Bel or lower.
A good thermal insulation system:
How efficiently a heat pump operates and how often you may need to use a backup heating system depends on the type and efficiency of the heat pump, your climate zone, and the design and efficiency of your home. All heating systems work most efficiently in more energy efficient homes. When installing any type of new heating system, consider what additional upgrades you can make to make your home more efficient, such as upgrading your current insulation levels or upgrading windows and doors.