The Ultimate Guide to Heat Pumps for HVAC Contractors

How confident do you feel talking to your customers about heat pumps? If your answer isn’t a resounding ‘very confident’ you might want to brush up on the basics, because more and more homeowners are asking for heat pump installations instead of traditional HVAC systems.

Heat pumps have been gaining a lot of traction recently as highly efficient alternatives to traditional heating and cooling systems. According to BC Hydro, heat pumps are as much as 300% more efficient than electric baseboards and 50% more efficient at cooling than a window AC unit. This makes them an attractive option for homeowners who want to reduce their energy consumption while also saving on their utility bills. 

For HVAC contractors, that means it’s critical to understand the ins and outs of heat pumps, including how to choose the right type and size for a specific home. It also means being able to educate customers on the pros and cons of heat pumps, as many may not be aware of their inherent advantages. 

If you want to level up your heat pump game, here’s a quick rundown of the things you need to know. 

Types of Heat Pumps: Ducted vs. Ductless 

There are two primary types of heat pumps that dominate the market: ducted and ductless. Ducted heat pumps rely on the ductwork in a home to circulate air, while ductless heat pumps employ individual units to control the temperature in each room separately. 

Each of these systems has its unique benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to weigh your customer’s specific needs before making a decision.

Ducted Heat Pumps 101 

Ducted heat pumps use a central unit to heat or cool air throughout the home. The system draws air either from outside or from within the home, passing it over a heat exchanger that adjusts the air’s temperature as needed. This conditioned air is then channelled through the ducts and dispersed through vents located in ceilings or walls, delivering uniform heating or cooling throughout the residence.

Advantages of Ducted Heat Pumps

Ducted heat pumps that use a home’s existing ductwork are highly efficient systems that are also typically quieter than their ductless counterparts. This is because the central unit resides outside the home. For this reason, they’re also more visually appealing, since no indoor units are required to be installed throughout the home. 

Disadvantages of Ducted Heat Pumps

If a home doesn’t have an existing system of ductwork, ducted heat pumps can be more costly, since ductwork will need to be installed first. In some situations, ducted systems can also be less efficient than ductless alternatives, as some energy loss can occur as air travels through the ducts. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Ducted Heat Pumps

The main factor to consider for ducted heat pumps is whether the home already has existing ductwork, and if it does whether that ductwork is laid out effectively. For instance, are there any rooms or areas of the home that aren’t being covered by ductwork? Is any of the ductwork in a state of disrepair? 

Ductless Heat Pumps 101 

Instead of using a central unit, ductless heat pumps operate by using individual units to regulate the temperature in each room separately. Each unit consists of an outdoor compressor unit and an indoor unit mounted on the wall or ceiling of the room to be heated or cooled. 

Conduit connecting the units carries refrigerant and electrical wiring between them. The outdoor unit draws in air from outside, adjusts its temperature as needed, and sends it to the indoor unit for distribution throughout the room.

Advantages of Ductless Heat Pumps

Ductless heat pumps are growing in popularity and offer several benefits, including their energy efficiency, as they don’t lose energy through ducts. They also provide more flexibility than ducted alternatives, as each unit can be controlled independently, allowing for greater temperature control and customization per room. 

Disadvantages of Ductless Heat Pumps

Ductless heat pump systems can be more expensive than ducted systems, especially if multiple units need to be installed throughout a home. For some homeowners those units can be a bit of an eyesore, as well as a nuisance since they’re noisier than ducted systems.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Ductless Heat Pumps

If a home doesn’t already have ductwork in place, a ductless system is probably the more cost-effective option. If the home is large, then the cost can increase depending on how many room’s the homeowner wants to be temperature controlled, as each of these rooms will need its own unit. 

Find the Right Heat Pump for Your Next Project

At ECCO, we offer a range of heat pumps from a variety of leading brands, including Armstrong, Napoleon and Samsung. Our team is always on hand to help you find the right one, based on the specific needs of your project. 

Visit us in store or contact us today to learn more about what’s available, or to discuss your next project with one of the experts on our team.

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