What is a heat pump?

A heat pump moves heat. It does this by absorbing heat energy and moving it by means of refrigerant.  A heat pump system can be used to heat in the winter, cool in the summer, dehumidify the air, as well as circulate and filter the air.

Where does a heat pump get the heat?

There are no heating elements in a heat pump. Heating elements (or fossil fuels) may be used as an auxillary or emergency back up that has controls integrated with a heat pump.

  • Geothermal heat pumps absorb heat from the ground or a body of water (drilled vertical piping or a large area of horizontal piping). These are the most efficient heat pumps if they are designed correctly. Custom engineering is critical for each application. Installations can be cost prohibitive for the average home. For very large homes, commercial buildings, multi family dwellings or planned neighborhood schemes a geothermal system is a great option. BONUS: if you have access to a body of water, drilling equipment, or excavators and a good chunk of unused land the install cost can be brought down signifigantly.
  • Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the ambient air. Air source heat pumps are more popular for the average home as they generally have a lower total installation cost, and can be used with hot water tanks, in floor heat, ductwork or ductless variations.


But how does a heat pump collect heat when it's so cold outside?
Unlike water which has a boiling point of 100°C, the liquid refrigerant has a much lower boiling point, even lower than the cold outdoor air. This is why in heating mode, the refrigerant can still evaporate in the outdoor coil at low temperatures and draw heat from surrounding air, making the seemingly impossible heating with cold air possible. The now-heated gas refrigerant flows into the indoor coil and extracts the heat into the indoor air. Despite frigid temperatures the air will, unfailingly, contain enough energy to heat the home, even at -30°C.
Traditionally, heat pumps do not perform well when outdoor temperatures drop below 0°C, even though there is still heat energy out there. These systems need to be matched with a supplementary heating method,  however recent advancements have drastically improved cold weather operation in some models like Zuba-central and Mitsubishi ductless hyper heat series.

Can a heat pump really save me money?

Yes! Because a heat pump transfers heat energy  - rather than converting it from fossil fuels -  it can provide up to 4 times the amount of energy consumed (under ideal circumstances as high as 7 times) This means they can operate using up to 75% less energy than electric or gas systems.  The overall electrical consumption is significantly lower than even the most efficient domestic heating systems.  This also means you will be doing your part in reducing your families carbon footprint!

How much does a heat pump cost?

There are huge ranges in price depending on what you are looking for and what is included. As with most things in life " you get what you pay for ".  With us you will find there is no small print and our up-front prices are all inclusive. Some quotes look like they cost less, but when you add up all the little things it can turn out you are overpaying! Luckily, we at servicexcel have access to excellent discounted pricing on a number of brands as we do a lot of volume. We wont compromise on quality and we have already done the hard work and negotiated the best possible equipment pricing from our distributors. We encourage our customers to do their research and ask us a lot of questions.

What should I look for in an installation contractor?

Installation day is the most important day in the life of a heat pump. A heat pump is a refrigeration system, so it is very important to ensure that your installers are certified refrigeration mechanics.  A heat pump is only as good as the installation it receives.  Secondly, it is important to ensure that your contractor pulls all necessary permits associated with the installation.  For more information and helpful pointers please visit Live Smart BC’s website, they have prepared a best practices checklist for homeowners.



When selecting a heat pump what should I look for?

Check  three things -

1) Energy Guide label

2) Decibel Rating

3) Warranty 

The Energy Guide label features the Heat Pump’s heating and cooling efficiency rating, making it possible to compare different makes and models.  

Two different ratings are given to heat pumps under the energy guide program, a SEER rating and a HSPF rating.  The SEER rating (seasonal energy efficiency rating) measures cooling efficiency, the higher the SEER the more efficient the unit, which translates into lower energy bills.

The HSPF rating (heat seasonal performance factor) rates both the efficiency of the compressor and the electric-resistance elements.  The most efficient heat pumps have an HSPF of between 8 and 10.

Check out the Energy Guide label for the make and model heat pump of your choice:  http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=most_efficient.me_cac_ashp


Can heat pumps help people who suffer from allergies and asthma?

Yes.  Check out our section on Indoor Air Quality under "Products". Heat pump systems which include a furnace, air handler or other method of air movement can include a range of filters that clean and purify the air:

Catechin Filter:  Dust, mold spores and micro-organisms are absorbed onto the filter by static electricity and growth is inhibited and deactivated by the polyphenol ingredient extracted from apples.

Ion Deodorizing Filter:  The filter deodorizes by powerfully decomposing the absorbed odors using the oxidizing and reducing the effects of ions generated by the ultra fine particle ceramic.

Plasma Filter:  High performance electronic air cleaner removes dust and odor, improving indoor air quality

Lennox PCO Air \Purifier: UVA light waves bounce off a titanium mesh screen producing hydroxyl radicals that obliterate all carbon based life forms, viruses and mold  including voltile organic compounds (VOC’s) that are then trapped in a MERV 16 hospital grade pleated filter. http://www.lennox.com/products/indoor-air-quality-systems/PureAir/


What size of a heat pump will I need for my home?

Every home is as individual as its owner.  The key to selecting the right heat pump for your home is an accurate assessment of the heat that will need to be transferred into your home in winter for heating, and out of your home in summer for cooling.  This needs to be carried out by experienced and qualified specialists.  Click here to arrange a free onsite survey and quote


What factors will affect the size of heat pump that I need?

This depends on the potential for heat loss through walls, windows and roofs.  To minimize this loss, good insulation is recommended.  By insulating first, the size of the Heat Pump selected will generally be smaller and therefore cheaper to run.  Where the home is situated is also an important factor. For example, is it in an exposed location where there is a lot of wind?  A proper heat loss calculation takes all this into account.

Can I build a roof over my heat pump?

We get this question a lot! Your heat pump needs to breathe. If you block the air when it leaves the heat pump it can recirculate air through the unit. THIS IS BAD. The heat pump has already sucked the heat out of this recycled air once. If you keep recycling it it cant absorb as much heat and the heat pumps performance drops.

A heat pump with a vertical discharge fan (most North American models IE Lennox, Trane, Carrier, York etc.) Needs at least 6' of free area above the unit (this number may vary slightly by manufacturer)

A heat pump with a horizontal discharge fan (most Asian models IE Mitsubishi, Daikin, Fujitsu, Samsung etc.) needs about 2' to remove top cover for service work.

Can I build a fence around my heat pump?

The same principles apply as above. DO NOT block airflow. All installation manuals come with minimum clearance for each side of unit. You can probably get away with wire, chain link or lattice material for fencing if you need to hide it - but check minimum clearances.

Can I put my heat pump under a deck?

If it is horizontal discharge and blows out from under deck you can get away with it.

If it is vertical discharge (blows air out the top) dont do it! In defrost mode it will continually produce steam and rot your deck out. If its a solid surface above it will recycle air through the heat pump and reduce performance. 


Have another question? Email info@servicexcel.ca and we will do our best to answer it!