The Difference Between Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps

Heat Pump Installation

Summer is in full swing, and you probably have your air conditioner or heat pump working hard to keep you cool. But have you ever wondered what the difference is between an air conditioner and a heat pump, and if the one you have is the right one for you and your family? Here are the main differences between the two:


The main difference between an air conditioner and a heat pump is the way they operate. An air conditioner runs on a “vapor compression cycle,” which means it produces cold air by evaporating a refrigerant product (such as Freon). It features a compressor that changes the refrigerant into a hot gas and once it’s hot, it then travels through coils. As it travels, it becomes liquid, which evaporates into cold gas and absorbs the warm air indoors.

While an air conditioner solely cools a home, a heat pump can both cool and heat a home. When in cooling mode, a heat pump runs on a “reverse refrigeration cycle” and uses a condenser to simply remove the warm air from indoors and send it outdoors. In heating mode, it does the opposite.


Both air conditioners and heat pumps feature filters that can collect dust and should be changed every 1-3 months. Otherwise, each should be maintenanced yearly by a professional to ensure that it’s running correctly.


Which piece of equipment you choose largely depends on where you live. Heat pumps are usually more efficient than air conditioners when it comes to cooling air, however, they are only efficient above 40 degrees. If the temperature is colder than that, your heat pump will have to consume more energy to heat your home. That means if you live in an area that gets very cold during the winter, a heat pump may not be a good choice unless you pair it with a furnace.


Heat pumps can cost anywhere between $1,500 and $7,500 while a central air system costs anywhere between $1,000 and $3,200. When you consider costs and before you choose an air conditioner or heat pump installation, keep in mind that a heat pump can also act as a heater.

No matter which cooling unit you decide on, the experts at Tim Off can offer quality air conditioning services and can install your unit quickly and carefully. Contact us today for more information.

Timothy Off Heating Cooling Plumbing

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