Knoxville Heat Pump Installers
A heat pump is an air conditioner than can work in reverse. In addition, they can come with a backup heat source (usually natural gas), called a “dual fuel heating system” for those particularly cold months when the electricity can’t keep up.
Air source heat pumps come in a wide variety of efficiencies, and the efficiency and heating capacity will determine the price.
Overall, in our climate, with our fuel prices, these are the most cost-efficient (including installation and operation costs) of all heating systems, and this is due, largely, to the fact that they both heat and cool in the most efficient way possible.
More Info About Heat Pumps
Advantages of a Heat Pump
To reiterate, the main advantage of the heat pump is that it can both cool and heat your home. This means that you won’t have to purchase a furnace and an air conditioner which is the typical setup, but you can both heat and cool your home from one central heat and air unit.
Heat pumps can save about 30% on heating bills over using a conventional furnace and are easier to maintain. This is the cheapest way to heat your home in Knoxville, because the temperature generally stays above 30 degrees, even in the winter; however, when the temperature gets below 30 degrees, the heat pump alone cannot heat your home, so it switches to an alternative heat source, usually gas or electric heat strips
Here’s an interesting fact: air source heat pumps do not “cool” your home in the summer, they simply remove the hot air, and in the winter, the process is reversed; they remove hot air from the outside and relocate it inside. So, you see heat is never actually produced. This is why when the temperature gets down to 30 or so degrees, it is more efficient to just run the furnace or dual fuel (AKA Hybrid Heat). There is not enough heat outside to remove.
Different Types of Heat Pumps
There are three basic types of heat pumps: Air Source, Dual Fuel (Hybrid Heat), and Geothermal. Geothermal units have special requirements, so we’ll have a different page for them. Dual fuel heat pumps operate on electricity until it gets down to 30 or so degrees, then switch to gas which is more efficient at such a low temperature. Air Source Heat Pumps just operate on electricity and are only good for mild climates like Knoxville, but for those particularly colder days, they rely on electric heat strips to help keep you warm.
After you decide whether you want a dual fuel or air source, you must decide if you want split or packaged heat pump. The difference is that one is completely contained in one unit that is located outside, and one consists of two units, one inside (the heat exchanger) and one outside (the condensing unit). There is no real difference between the two, even in cost, but the packaged unit saves space, and the split system offers flexibility in installation.
Heat Pump Energy Efficiency
Heat pumps come in a wide range of energy efficiency. The efficiency of its heating capacity is measured in HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor), and the efficiency of its cooling capacity is measured in SEERs (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). The higher the energy efficiency, the more it costs.
The efficiency of heat pumps is constantly improving, both because of rising fuel prices and government regulation. You don’t really need to worry about the HSPF, as the SEER and HSPF are directly correlated, in other words, the higher the SEER, the higher the HSPF.
13 SEER is about the lowest rated system available right now. For each SEER level above that you can generally add $500 on the installed cost. Each SEER will save you about 3% – 5% on your heating and cooling bills which account for about 41% of your total utility bills. We will be happy to run through the math with you to see which system is right for you.
Heat Pump Sizing in Knoxville
This is where you really need a good contractor like HEP to properly size your heat pump, because if it’s sized too small, it will be constantly running, wasting energy, wearing out faster, and not keeping your home cool, and if it’s sized too large, it won’t humidify in the winter (or dehumidify in the summer) which will make you feel even hotter/colder.
We enter countless calculations into a software program (solar orientation, number of vents, size of duct work, number of windows, number of doors, amount of insulation, etc.) which will tell us the exact size of heat pump your particular home needs. This is also why we cannot give a price over the phone.
At HEP, we only hire the best HVAC contractors and use the best software to make SURE your heat pump is properly sized. We cannot stress enough the importance of hiring a reputable contractor to properly install your unit because so much can go wrong. You may spend a little more up front, but you’ll save a lot of time, money, and hassle in the long run.
Before we even give you a price, we make recommendations for insulation, windows, doors, and more because if you do improve the energy efficiency of your home later, your heat pump could end up being improperly sized. So it’s better to do everything you’re going to do for energy efficiency or duct work before you install your new system in order to get the most out of it.
How Heat Pumps Work
All right, now we’re getting into the excruciating detail, and if you’re not particularly interested, this probably doesn’t apply to you. Your heat pump basically consists of tubes, a fan, refrigerant, compressor, an expansion valve, an evaporator and a condenser.
Refrigerant (freon) is pumped through the system by the compressor. As it passes through the expansion valve and into the evaporator it absorbs heat. When it moves through the condenser all the heat is squeezed out.
In winter, heat is absorbed from outside air, pumped to the inside, squeezed out of the freon, then the house fan blows the heat squeezed out through the duct system distributing it throughout your home.
In the summer, the process is reversed, absorbing heat from the inside and pumping it to the outside.
This process of reversing the heat flow happens completely automatically, and sometimes leads people to think something is wrong with their system. Occasionally in the winter the system reverses in order to melt ice accumulated on the outdoor unit. This can be noisy and produce steam, which if you didn’t know better might make you think something is wrong. In fact, if this doesn’t happen and ice builds up on the outdoor unit, something really is wrong and you should call us for service.
Your heat pump, if it is dual fuel will also contain a furnace for when it gets below 30 or so degrees. The heat pump is less efficient at such temperatures because there is not much heat outside to absorb.
There are also split and packaged unit systems. They work the same, but as the names imply, split systems are two piece with half inside and half outside, whereas package units are all in one box outside.
Unless you’re trying to learn how to repair your own, that’s all you need or probably even want to know about heat pumps. Please call now for a free estimate.
Please, call, fax, or email, because we’d love to hear from you and answer any questions you have! We have experts in all kinds of heating systems who would love to give you a free estimate! (865) 329-7624
Our Service Areas
- Oak Ridge
- Lenoir City
- Telico Village
- Telico Plains
- Lake City