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07 Feb 2020

What is a Heat Pump and How Does it Work?

By Lynn
  • Read time: 3 minutes
Are you considering buying a heat pump? With the climate and temperatures affecting our lives immensely, heat pumps have become a must-have for most households in the UK. This technology is allowing us to feel more comfortable in both home and working environments by regulating the environmental condition. Many manufacturers are also finding ways to make heat pump systems environmentally friendly in the effort of supporting nature. While this technology is for no doubt quite beneficial, what does it entail?

What is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is any system that can change the environment's temperature either from high to low or vice versa. Refrigerators and air conditioners are some of the most popular devices used around us that make use of heat pumps. Electricity is the primary propelling energy, and many countries are now embracing energy-efficient heat pumps that use less energy compared to traditional heat pumps.

Heat pumps use heating and cooling systems to change the vibration of air molecules to regulate temperature. They do not produce their air.

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

Like many other air conditioning systems, heat pumps ride on a relationship between temperature and pressure to bring out your desired results. With the help of a refrigerant, a heat pump system responds to air pressure, thus transferring warm air to a cooler place, and the vice versa is also true. With specific technical features in a refrigerant, heat pumps can bring in warm air from outside into a cold room and transfer the cold air from the space to the outside environment.

The most important part of the pump system is its compressor. You can view it as the heart of the entire system. This is where every cooling and heating cycle begins and ends.

On cold seasons such as winter, you will set the room temperature to be higher than the outdoor temperature. The compressor picks this up and ignites the reversing feature of the refrigerant. The indoor unit takes on a cold heat, which then passes over a heat exchanger. This leaves the indoor unit at high pressure. The reverse happens for the outdoor unit, which leads to a reversing effect of the temperature in a room.

During summer, when you turn down the heat pump for a cooling effect, the refrigerant passes outdoor heat to the exchanger fast. The outdoor unit's fan will then blow the air across a heat exchanger that carries away the coolant. This brings a condensing effect to the refrigerant, which loses its thermal energy. The air then goes through an expansion valve, and the filter drier then enters the room as fresh air.

As you can see, heat pumps work with different pressure altering systems to bring out the desired effect on the air's temperature. These cycles continue as long as a heat pump stays connected to an energy source.

Types of Heat Pumps

Heat pumps come in different shapes and sizes, but more profoundly, different ways of functioning. The cause of this difference is the medium used for heat exchange. We have the most common types of heat pumps elaborated below.

  • Air source heat pump: Here, the system collects heat from ambient air in the exchanger. Air source heat pumps make some of the most budget-friendly options and are also easy to install. The source temperature is profoundly affected by the environment's warmth, depending on your geographical position.

  • Ground source heat pump: Ground source heat pumps use a pipe loop as an anti-freezing solution. Installers place the loop in the ground horizontally then the heat pump extracts the heat from the ground. Some people refer to this as a ground to water heat pump since the system can easily assume that heat comes from the water in the pipes and not necessarily from the field.

  • Air to water heat pump: The recovering heat, in this case, comes from space heating that later goes through a water combustion system. After the expulsion, the air is sent back to the atmosphere. Such systems are more practical in low energy Passivhaus applications.

  • Water loop heat pump: Another water linked heat pump is the water loop source. Only a closed water loop is in play in this case, and it is not the same as the water source.

  • Water source heat pump: This can either use a closed or open loop. The closed-loop is sunk into a river that helps regulate the temperature of the water in the circuits. An open-loop regulates its heat from a ground aquifer, and sometimes the source can be the ground.

Advantages of Using a Heat Pump

All these types of heat pump systems come with several advantages. There are many reasons why people are starting to prefer them over regular air conditioners. Some of them include:

  1. More cost-effective systems: Heat pumps are more energy effective compared to many traditional temperature regulators. Given that some can use three times less the energy otherwise utilized, this means that your electricity bills can also reduce significantly. Maintenance and repairs are even more accessible and less expensive since you only concentrate on one system.

  2. Environmentally friendly: Using electricity for heat regulation instead of gas and oil or even fossil fuels has a less altering effect on the environment. If even large companies and factories could adopt such systems, then there will be less air pollution.


Now that you understand what a heat pump is and how it works, you can make more informed decisions when looking for a cooling system. This is both in light for home use and business premises. Different types will work uniquely, and you can always ask your seller which one is the best for you according to your geographical area. What all types can agree on is that they are energy-efficient and cost-effective renewable heat systems.

At 50five you can get a new Daikin or Mitsubishi air source heat pump (ASHP) with 0% APR finance! Press the button below to request a free quote or read all about our finance options and governmental grants for heat pumps.


Written by Lynn

Writes blogs about EV charging and climate solutions for 50five.