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How a heat pump works

The process of how a heat pump works

A heat pump is a mechanical system that transfers heat from one location to another. It works by absorbing heat from the surrounding air or ground . The most common type of ground-source heat pump absorbs heat directly from the ground through buried pipes filled with water or refrigerant . Absorption heat pumps, on the other hand, use thermal energy as their energy source and can be driven by a variety of heat sources, such as natural gas combustion, steam, solar-heated water, or geothermal-heated water. In heating mode, the heat pump extracts thermal energy from the cool outside air through the compression and expansion of a refrigerant.

The compression and heating of the refrigerant is a crucial part of the heat pump process. During compression, the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant increase. The refrigerant then undergoes adiabatic compression, where work is done on the refrigerant, which is saturated vapor at low pressure and temperature as it enters the compressor. As the refrigerant changes state, heat is absorbed and expelled by the system, lowering the temperature of the conditioned space. In heating mode, the flow of refrigerant is reversed by the reversing valve, allowing the heat pump to extract thermal energy from the outside and transfer it into the building.

The release of heat into the home or building is the final step of the heat pump process. The heat pump takes the absorbed heat and increases it to a temperature that keeps homes and businesses warm inside. Heat pumps are typically used to pull heat out of the air or ground to heat a home or office building, but they can also be reversed to cool a building. In the winter, a heat pump uses the same cycle in reverse to extract heat energy from the outside and transfer it into the building, providing warmth. Overall, a heat pump is a crucial component of a heating and cooling system, and it is installed outside the home.


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