The HVAC Battle: AC Unit vs. Heat Pump. Which is best?

When searching for the ideal solutions for heating and cooling a home, many of us often come to the conclusion that an air conditioner is better than a heat pump because it can provide heating and cooling at the same time.

What is the difference between a heat pump and an air conditioner?
Although an air conditioner is technically classified as an air-to-air heat pump, there is a big difference between a standard air conditioner and a low-temperature or high-temperature air-to-water heat pump.

But before we get into the details of which system is better, let’s first look at some basics.

How does air conditioning work?

In hot weather, an air conditioner works much like a refrigerator, trying to cool the air in an enclosed room and let the heat out. The air passes through the cold heat exchanger in the indoor unit, where the refrigerant absorbs the heat, passes through the compressor and blows it outside through the heat exchanger in the outdoor unit. When the air conditioner is on in cooling mode, this cycle is repeated continuously.

Using the same physics in reverse, air conditioners also work to heat a room, making them a sensible heating solution.

How does a heat pump work?
In cold weather, a heat pump takes heat from the outside, from the air or ground, and transfers it to a refrigerant. The hot refrigerant then passes through a heat exchanger where the heat is transferred to water and then transferred to various heat sources such as radiators, underfloor heating, hot water cylinders or even fan coils, which can be used for cooling during the warm season.

A heat pump is a more comprehensive solution, so it makes sense to say that it acts as a kind of “intermediary” that manages the heating, hot water and cooling needs of the house by connecting to different heat sources.

What are the advantages of air conditioning system?

  • Air conditioners usually require less investment compared to home comfort systems such as heat pumps. While the cost varies by model, size, capacity and manufacturer, they are usually an affordable solution for heating and cooling.
  • Many modern air conditioners have special filtration and air purification filters that take care of your home’s indoor air quality and help cleanse it of allergens (like pollen) and viruses.
  • Installing an air conditioner is usually much easier, and whether you’re heating or cooling, you’ll always need three things: an outdoor unit, an indoor unit and a remote control or app.

What are the advantages of a heat pump?

  • All-in-One: Heat pumps offer a complete package for heating, hot water and, in some cases, cooling your home. It’s a customizable solution that must be selected and customized to meet the needs of your home, whether it’s an existing or newly constructed building.
  • Future Ready: Due to the nature of the system, a heat pump is a longer term solution to manage the thermal needs of the home and can provide heating, hot water and cooling whenever and wherever needed. Heat pumps should also perform better in colder temperatures and have the engineering and design to ensure they work even in the harshest winters.

What’s the conclusion?
Air conditioning is an efficient heating solution, but it is a single-room solution, whereas a heat pump is designed to fully meet heating, hot water and supplemental cooling needs. Heat pumps can have extensive installation requirements, while the air conditioning installation process is less invasive and less time consuming.

The key difference is what need the heating system is designed to meet and which option is best for your lifestyle and your home.

Need help choosing the best solution for your home? Call SDAC Heating & Air Conditioning specialists.

SDAC Heating & Air Conditioning is a company valued by customers from San Diego County, CA for its honesty and integrity. We always help to find the most cost-effective solution to the problem without compromising the performance of the  whether a A/C or Heat Pump. We provide transparent fixed prices and regular special offers. That is why we have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

To get answers to all your questions or call our specialists for equipment diagnostics, contact SDAC Heating & Air Conditioning manager right now!

Contact us.

(858) 788-1777

[email protected]