Heat Pumps Versus Hydronic Heat Pumps – What’s the Difference?

Heat Pumps Versus Hydronic Heat Pumps – What’s the Difference?

As homeowners work to create high performance homes that maximize efficiency, traditional gas furnaces are becoming a thing of the past. Heat pumps and hydronic heat pumps are the future of home heating and cooling. In fact, there are many variations of heat pumps for heating and cooling applications–which one is best depends on your specific needs. Check out Upton Air’s Ultimate Guide to HVAC for Your Home to learn more about heat pumps.

To sum it up, heat pumps are alternatives to furnaces that are affordable, environmentally friendly and efficient. You can save money on monthly utility bills while also enjoying a more comfortable home. Learn more about the differences between heat pumps and hydronic heat pumps and find the best solution for your HVAC needs. 

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are ideal for warmer climates that don’t experience extreme cold temperatures. A heat pump relies on an evaporator and a condenser system that can reverse the heating and cooling process according to the season and the weather. During the summer, the indoor coils act as an evaporator and draws heat from the indoor air and sends it outside so that the home remains cool and comfortable.  

When outdoor temperatures turn cold and you need to heat the home, the heat exchange process reverses and the outdoor unit will act as an evaporator. The system will extract heat energy from the outdoor air and send it inside to heat the home. Unlike furnaces that create heat, heat pumps simply move heat to different locations as necessary. HVAC heat pumps come in a variety of styles and forms depending on the existing systems in place or specific requirements for new builds. 

HVAC heat pumps include heat pump mini-splits (also known as ductless mini splits), heat pump package units (sit on rooftop or back patio), and traditional split systems that are heat pumps (no furnace and sometimes called ‘ducted mini-splits’). These systems are ideal for new cut-ins as they are lower-cost to operate than traditional gas systems. Rebates are also typically available for higher efficiency systems and make heat pumps attractive for heat pump installation or replacement.

Hydronic Heat Pumps

In contrast, hydronic heat pumps rely on the same principles of heat exchange as regular heat pumps. The main difference is that hydronic heat pumps use water to distribute heating and cooling capabilities. Instead of using fans to push air through the home, hydronic systems use water to deliver radiant heating and cooling. 

If you need to heat the home, the hydronic heat pump will draw heat energy from the outdoors and use it to heat water before sending the warm water through tubing in the floor or baseboards that will release the heat. When you need to cool indoor temperatures, the system will work to draw the heat from the home and send it over the coils where it is cooled before being sent back through the home. This creates a continuous loop where water is the medium for heat exchange and you never have to add water to the system.

In the past, hydronic systems were mainly used for heating, but certain innovations have made them more efficient and effective for both heating and cooling. Hydronic heat pumps are common in new home builds and hotel settings, where limited space is available. The use of an existing water source is ideal to maximize space and deliver an efficient heating and cooling system.

Which Heat Pump is Best for Me?

Both traditional and hydronic heat pumps offer a more efficient and environmentally friendly way to heat and cool your home. If you have found your way to reading this article, you are likely living in a home or residence with an existing hydronic heat pump system. Hydronic heat pumps are a specialized type of system with limited manufacturers. If your system is currently in need of a repair it may be more difficult to find contractors trained in servicing these types of units. Lead times for replacing existing hydronic heat pump systems can also be longer as local suppliers do not carry these types of systems.

In contrast, if you want to upgrade your existing HVAC system and save on monthly utility bills, a traditional heat pump can be easily installed.

If you would like to learn more about the advantages of heat pumps and whether you should invest in a traditional heat pump or hydronic heat pump, contact the experts at Upton Air. We have years of experience working with homeowners to provide the best in affordable and efficient HVAC solutions.    












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