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Old 05-18-2007, 08:38 PM   #1
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Good Explanation Needed Please


Can somone give me a good explanation of the difference between afurnace and a heat pump - or a good reference website for questions like this?

Thanks in advance...

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Old 05-18-2007, 10:59 PM   #2
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Good Explanation Needed Please


With a furnace, you burn a fuel like gas that heats the air which is circulated by the blower in the air handler. This method of heating offers immediate heat, but can be dry as the fire removes moisture from the air.

With a heat pump, an air handler is used also. A refrigerant is part of the system, and depending on how the refrigerant is compressed and cycled by the compressor (outside unit), heat is either absorbed from the outside air to heat the inside of the house or it is reversed during the summer where heat is absorbed from the inside of the house and transferred outside. During the heating season, a heat pump becomes inefficient when the temperature drops below freezing, so it will normally switch to emergency heat mode where resistance heating is used. This can be very expensive as you're running electricity through a heating element.

In some HVAC units these days, they offer a combined heat pump with gas backup. Heat is provided by the heat pump until it drops below freezing which is when the gas furnace kicks in. Heat pumps generally don't provide instant warmth like gas heat, as many complain that you will always feel cold as it's blowing cold air.

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Old 05-20-2007, 08:35 PM   #3
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Good Explanation Needed Please


OK thanks. That helps. So what really then would be the benefit of having a heat pump? Humidity?
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Old 05-20-2007, 09:38 PM   #4
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Good Explanation Needed Please


Benefit of a heat pump is if you live in a warmer climate (ie. not northeast) where it doesn't drop below freezing often so you would not need a gas furnace or oil heat. I'd say maybe around 40F during winter.

Benefit of a heat pump is that it can provide both heat and AC. If you live in a climate where a heat pump can't do the job, you'd need gas heat or oil heat or propane furnace, and then a compressor outside for AC.
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Old 05-20-2007, 09:43 PM   #5
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Good Explanation Needed Please


OK, well then I am a little confused still. I just got the listing yesterday (I had been talking with her last week), but, the lady who owns the house said that she just had a new compressor AND a new heat pump installed and she paid extra for the heat pump...Are you saying that this is all contained in one unit as opposed to a furnace and a seperate compressor? I saw the new compressor outside.
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Old 05-20-2007, 10:15 PM   #6
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Good Explanation Needed Please


Compressor is outside. Heat pump is essentially the air handler unit on the inside. During heating or cooling season, the compressor will always be running unless emergency heat kicks in.

If you did not have a heat pump, but an air conditioner with gas heat, you would still have the condenser outside for AC, but a gas furnace as part of the air handler. During the summer, the condenser would run, but during the winter, you would get heat from the furnace and the condenser would not run. Since you live in Atlanta, the heat pump would probably suffice.

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