HVAC experts often recommend heat pumps as an alternative to traditional furnaces and AC units as they conveniently heat and cool interior spaces. The main benefits of heat pumps include their energy efficiency and fewer repair bills. However, some people may wonder at “what temperature do heat pumps stop working” as some models struggle at or below freezing.
Today, these expert HVAC contractors in Ocean County, NJ, will break down how heat pumps work, why some fail in cold temperatures, and how freezing temperatures can affect energy efficiency in your system.
How Do Heat Pumps Work?
Heat pumps work by transferring heat to the inside of a building or outside of it. The most common models in Ocean County, NJ, include air-source heat pumps, which pull heat from the outdoor air. Another common type of heat pump is a ground-source system, which draws heat from the ground and transfers it inside.
Both types of systems simply reverse this process to cool down a building, pulling heat from indoors and either transferring it into the ground or air outside. Because air-source pumps are the most common, we will break down their heating and cooling process.
First, air-source pumps pull hot air from outside and pump it into coils filled with refrigerant. A fan then blows the hot air from these coils into your home’s interior, thus heating the house.
To reverse this process and thus cool your building, heat pumps use a reversing valve. This valve simply changes the direction in which the refrigerant in the coils flows, pushing indoor heat outside.
This process of heating and cooling compares to how refrigerators work. Both heat pumps and refrigerators use the Carnot cycle, which is how a net amount of heat flows in and out of the system. This process makes heat pumps highly energy efficient, as few electrical components (such as the fan and reversing valve) require power.
What Temperature Do Heat Pumps Stop Working in Ocean County, NJ?
This low-energy heating and cooling process means that most standard heat pumps stop working at 10 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if you have a heat pump, you may notice that your system begins to struggle when temperatures start to drop. Moderate to extreme cold causes difficulty because most standard systems lose energy efficiency below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cheap air-source heat pump models start to lose efficiency (or stop working) during the New Jersey winter because they cannot absorb enough heat from the outdoor air to pump into your house. Thus, though heat pumps efficiently use energy (saving you money), cold weather can drastically impact their performance.
Top Three Heat Pump Models and Their Energy Efficiency
Though standard heat pumps may fail in cooler temperatures and weather conditions, property owners who do not wish to invest in backup heating systems do have alternatives. Manufacturers use the Coefficient of Performance or COP to measure the efficiency of a heat pump’s heat production based on how much electricity the system must use to produce said heating. To calculate the COP, one must divide the BTUs by the energy used.
Let’s look at three different types of heating models and energy efficiency statistics based on models from each category.
1. Standard Heat Pumps
Standard heat pumps make the least-efficient option and may stop working at below-freezing temperatures as manufacturers install backup electric heating strips to increase heat production in cold weather. Where standard models average 85-100% effectiveness at a temperature of 47 degrees Fahrenheit, their energy efficiency reduces to 0-33% at temperatures below 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cold Climate Heat Pumps
These systems, known as ccASHPs or cold climate air-source heat pumps, perform well in cold temperatures. These heat pumps draw heat from the outside air, making their heat production more effective. However, this type of unit usually works in conjunction with another heating system.
3. Mini-Split Heat Pumps
Mini-split systems consistently perform better in cold temperatures. These units do not require electric backup strips like standard pumps to work in cold temperatures. For example, the Daikin MXL Aurora has a COP of 1-2.3 at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, producing 1-2.3 times more heat than the energy it took to gather that from the outdoors.
Reliable Heat Pump Installation and Repair in Ocean County, NJ
If you need heat pump services from qualified technicians in Ocean County, NJ, contact Eastern Shore HVAC. We specialize in servicing all HVAC systems, from gas furnaces to electric air conditioners. For more information on “what temperature do heat pumps stop working” or our HVAC services, call us at 732-800-9416 or fill out our convenient online form today!