How Heat Pumps Work In Freezing Temperatures

  • March 16, 2023
  • By MR COOL

Heat pumps are no longer just for homeowners in warm areas. Advanced technology has created heat pumps for cold climates, so homeowners, regardless of location, can enjoy all of the benefits of heat pump systems. Still skeptical? We’ll admit, it does sound too good to be true. 

But heat pumps truly do work even below freezing. Let’s break down all the mechanics for you so you can see how zero-degree heating is not only real but also a superior option for homeowners. 

Will a Heat Pump Work in Freezing Temperatures?

Yes, there are heat pumps that work in below-freezing temperatures. Actually, heat pumps are a very practical option for homeowners who experience cold winters. In European countries like Norway, Sweden and Finland, homeowners are rapidly choosing heat pumps as their home heating and cooling system. 

In the United States, Maine residents are jumping on the heat pump trend, and other state governments such as New York, Massachusetts and California are pushing for the switch to heat pumps. With so many countries, cities and homeowners choosing heat pumps, they must work well even in various weather conditions, right? Absolutely — heat pumps can even function in temperatures below negative 15 degrees Fahrenheit

How Does a Heat Pump Work if It’s Freezing Out?

We know heat pumps can work in cold climates, but how does a heat pump work in the winter? Think of a heat pump as the opposite of an AC system. In the warmer months, your AC system will suck out the warm air in your home and push it outside to keep your home feeling cool. A heat pump does the same thing, except it works to push the warm air from outside into your home. 

Heat pumps are known as air-source heaters, so how can a heat pump work at zero degrees or below when there’s no heat outside to bring in? There is actually still warm air for your heat pump to bring in throughout the winter, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Even in cold temperatures, there is still energy in the air, and energy creates heat. 

How Heat Pumps Transfer Heat

Taking a look at the mechanics of a heat pump, heat pumps consist of two copper or aluminum coils — one inside and one outside — with aluminum fins and a compressor. Heat pump systems also contain refrigerant. Something important to note to understand how a heat pump works is that warm air likes to move to colder air. 

Think about opening a window in the winter. All of the warm air quickly rushes out. Heat pumps use this natural occurrence to their advantage, and the design of this system works with this process.

The liquid refrigerant in the outside coil is responsible for extracting warm air from the outside and pulling it into the system. While doing this, the refrigerant becomes a gas that carries the heat to the indoor coil. The indoor coil then condenses the refrigerant back into a liquid, which releases the heat trapped in the gas and ultimately heats up your home.  

This process of home heating is known to be much more efficient than other heating methods like traditional boilers or furnaces. A heat pump is able to produce three times more heat energy than it uses in electricity to run.

Since heat pumps transfer heat instead of generating it, heat pumps are pretty cost-effective, saving some homeowners upward of $900 annually. It gets even better — heat pumps use renewable energy, making them a much more environmentally friendly option.

6 thoughts on “How Heat Pumps Work In Freezing Temperatures”

  1. I have a Mr. Cool Universal with the Mr. Cool pre-charged lineset. I had to get the condenser replaced under warranty. Can I just shut and close everything off and disconnect the lines and install the new condenser? Or will it need to have the system evacuated and recharged? Is there refrigerant in the new condenser? Thanks!

    1. There should be refrigerant in the new condenser. The line sets are designed to only be installed once, so for the best guidance, please give us a call at 270-366-0457.

  2. I am interested in having this installed . If i hire it done, do i just have a local contractor come?

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