The main difference is that a standard air conditioner does not provide heating. In other words, the air conditioner only cools your home, while the heat pump does both heating and cooling. Both use liquid refrigerant to absorb and carry heat from one place to another after compressing it. And both remove heat and humidity from your home or office as part of the cooling process. We typically just refer to any machine (heat pump or air conditioner) that cools your home as “air conditioning unit”, but yes, there is a difference.
Heat pumps are often referred to as "package units". The heat pump is an air conditioner when it needs to be an air conditioner and a heater when it needs to be a heater. It serves both purposes when the situation calls for it. A standard air conditioner requires a homeowner to have an additional source of heating such as a furnace or a resistance heater to provide heat. In Florida, the heat pump is the most common form of cooling system. Not only are heat pumps more energy efficient than resistance heaters, but they can warm your house using half the energy of a resistance heater. In other words, a heat pump uses less energy to produce more heat. Heat pumps don’t actually create heat, but rather move it. This is otherwise known as heat transfer.
The one drawback to heat pumps vs air conditioners is the higher installation price. The cost to install a heat pump varies depending on the brand and the size of your home. But in general, heat pumps have higher installation costs than air conditioners. For Florida climate, it’s better to have a heat pump installed because running a resistance heater during cold weather costs a lot more. Before deciding between the two, always consult with a factory-trained AC technician first. The experts at Super Heat & Air can help you make the right choice, so call us at 813-609-5015 if you need assistance.
Another common question that arises in our business is the difference between an air handler and a compressor. They are the two basic components to a split heating and air conditioning system. The air handler is typically located inside a home in a closet or attic. It blows hot or cold air through the evaporator coil and transfers it through a building via ductwork to ensure even cooling or heating. On the other hand, the condenser is located outside the home. It consists primarily of a compressor and condenser coil. The condenser moves heat by compressing refrigerant and pumping it through a system of condenser coils.
The condenser is basically the hot side of an air conditioner that transfers heat to air or heat to fluid to carry it away. The air handler is the cold side that conditions and circulates air.