Does a Heat Pump Need Refrigerant to Function?

October 20, 2022
Heat Pumps in Beaumont, TX

Many Beaumont homeowners have opted to use a heat pump because it is a reliable choice to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. But you may wonder, does a heat pump use refrigerant?

The Role of Refrigerant in a Heat Pump

Heat pumps use refrigerant. Without refrigerant, the heat pump could not transfer heat from one location to another. Refrigerant is a vital part of a heat pump’s ability to function.

The type of refrigerant and the amount of refrigerant used by a heat pump will vary based on the model and how it goes about cooling or heating a space. To understand the role refrigerant plays in a heat pump, you need to know how a pump works.

Why Do Heat Pumps Need Refrigerant?

When most people think about using refrigerant, they think about it in connection with air conditioners and refrigerators. You may also be surprised that a heating system uses refrigerant. Refrigerants evaporate at a very low temperature and are relatively easy to compress. During this heating and compressing phase, warm air can be transferred from outdoors into the house. Most heat pumps use R-410A to accomplish this process.

How Do Heat Pumps Work?

The first thing you need to know about heat pumps and how they use refrigerant is that regardless of the temperature outside, even if it’s well below zero, there is some thermal energy. This thermal energy can be in the air or the ground. A heat pump absorbs enough outside energy to warm your home during the winter. During the summer, it absorbs enough energy from inside your home to cool it.

The second thing is that, on its own, heat always moves from a warm place to a cold place. This is why if you heat your house during the winter and then turn off the heat source, with time, the inside of your home will be as cold as the outdoor temperature. Your heat pump uses refrigerant to take advantage of this natural transference property of heat, allowing you to warm up your home or cool it down.

Your heat pump carries refrigerant in a copper coil. During the winter, this coil absorbs heat from the outside air, and then an electrical compressor is used to compress the refrigerant, increasing its temperature. The heat is then transferred indoors. During the summertime, you reverse the process.

Air-source heat pumps will get their warmth from the air, whereas ground-source pumps will get it from the earth. Ground-source units are a bit more expensive but tend to have a broader range of cooling and heating options.

Refrigerant in Heat Pumps

There are a variety of heat pumps with different features on the market today. Hydrofluorocarbons and fluorinated greenhouse gases are the more popular refrigerants used in residential settings. Examples of these are R-410A, R-407C, R-1234ZE, and R-32.

The type of refrigerant used is essential for HVAC professionals, like those we have at Reed Service Company, to consider when it comes time to install, repair, or refill a heat pump. Refrigerants used in pumps are divided based on their combustibility and toxicity.

The combustibility is marked with digits, with 1 designating something non-combustible and 3 noting something combustible or explosive. Toxicity is defined with the letter. The letter A is low toxicity, and B represents high toxicity. These two factors are critical aspects to consider when deciding the type of refrigerant used in a heat pump.

Propane, known as R-290, is gaining popularity in some circles as a refrigerant because it is ecologically compatible. The use of propane is not new. It has been used in various refrigerant applications in the past. However, there is an increased interest in it as people focus more on climate protection.

Working With a Top-rated Heated and Cooling Service in Beaumont

At Reed Service Company, we have close to half a century of experience in the HVAC industry. Our NATE-certified technicians are on a mission to provide our clients with honest work and unparalleled service and do all of this with a smile. We are proud to have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. In 2015, we were inducted into the Carrier Hall of Fame.

Our services include Heating and AC installation, repair, and maintenance. We offer indoor air quality testing and services and work in residential and commercial settings. We are available for 24-hour emergency repair service. Contact Reed Service Company today to see why we are the team with the equipment and services you need.