Heat Pumps Edmonton & Sherwood Park

Heat Pump FAQ:

What is the difference between a heat pump and an air conditioner?

The basic explanation is a heat pump is an air conditioner that can work in reverse.

How does an air conditioner work?

It’s impossible to create cold like we can create heat. When we rub our hands together really fast, the friction generates heat. Your furnace burns natural gas to generate heat, and the blower fan pushes air through your heat exchangers into your ductwork and throughout your house. Unfortunately, we can’t do things like this to create cold, so the next best option is to remove heat. Your air conditioner condenser has a compressor that moves the refrigerant from the outside condensing unit into your house, where an evaporative A-coil that is on top of the furnace changes the liquid refrigerant into a gas. During this process, the refrigerant absorbs the heat from the air being pushed through the A-coil, from the furnace blower, into your ductwork and throughout your home.

  • A heat pump works the same way, but it can change the direction of the refrigerant flow. With the refrigerant flowing in the opposite direction, the heat pump absorbs heat from outside, and the compressor pushes the refrigerant into your A-coil on top of the furnace, releasing the heat into your ductwork and throughout your home.

If I buy a heat pump do I need to still buy an air conditioner?

No, with the new Napoleon 18 SEER heat pump you will have a heat pump to help heat your home and an 18 SEER high efficient air conditioner for the hot summer days.

Now that I have a heat pump can I throw my gas furnace in the metal recycle bin?

No, please don’t do this! While there may be some cases where moving away from a gas furnace is an option, for the majority of homes in Northern Alberta, gas remains essential. The best solution for these homes is the Napoleon Hybrid Heating System, which requires a dual-fuel thermostat, a gas furnace, and a heat pump. The Napoleon dual-fuel thermostat allows you to control whether your house is heated with electricity or gas based on the temperature outside.

Why not?

A heat pump uses electricity to produce both hot and cold air. However, in Alberta, gas is typically cheaper than electricity. Therefore, during colder months when heating demands are high, gas remains a better and more affordable option.

I heard that it is too cold in Northern Alberta for a heat pump to work properly, is this true?

The answer is both yes and no. While gas is typically cheaper than electricity in Alberta, there are now new styles of heat pumps available called Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pumps (CCASHP), which differ from the Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) that you may be familiar with. CCASHPs are capable of producing 100% efficiency even at temperatures as low as -25 Celsius. In contrast, traditional ASHPs would lose efficiency and capacity as the temperature drops, making them unable to keep up with heating demands.

What is the downside of a heat pump?

Let’s be upfront: there is one downside to using a heat pump, but this issue can be solved by combining the heat pump with your gas furnace in a hybrid heating setup. The limitation with a heat pump is that its heating capacity is limited to the size of the air conditioner. For instance, if you have a 1000-1300 square foot home and need a furnace with a heating capacity of 40,000 to 60,000 BTU/H to maintain a temperature of 21 C when it’s -40 C outside, you would likely need an air conditioner with a capacity of 18,000 BTU/H (1.5 Tons of cooling) to 24,000 BTU/H (2 Tons of cooling) for cooling. However, to achieve the necessary 60,000 BTU/H heating capacity for your home, a heat pump would require a model with 60,000 BTU/H (5 Tons of cooling) capacity. This is more than double the cooling capacity required for your home’s size. By using a hybrid heating setup, you can overcome this limitation and ensure that you have reliable heating even in extreme cold weather.

What is the solution?

The solution to the downside of a heat pump is to use it in conjunction with a gas furnace in a hybrid heating system. In Northern Alberta, the main goal when investing in a heat pump is to reduce gas consumption, not eliminate it entirely. The Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pump is designed to operate most efficiently between temperatures of -15°C and +15°C. During these temperature ranges, your home still needs to be heated, and with a heat pump, you won’t have to rely on gas for heating. Your furnace is sized to maintain a temperature of 21°C at -40°C, so if the temperature outside is only -10°C, your heat loss will be lower, and you won’t need the full 60,000 BTU/H of heating capacity. A 2-3 ton heat pump (24,000 BTU/H to 36,000 BTU/H) is ideal for heating a home during milder -10°C temperatures.

Knowing all of this, Heat Pumps must be expensive. Right?

Yes, they are more expensive than a traditional air conditioner, you can expect an upgrade price of $2,000 to $4,000 over your air conditioner installation price, BUT, with the Greener Home Grant you can get up to $5,600 in rebates, an interest free $40,000 loan, to complete any other upgrades in your home that qualify for the Greener Home Energy Grant.

Ignite Heating is also offering a $400 rebate on any 9600, 9700 Series furnace installations that are combined with a heat pump installations

Bonus – A heat pump will also run at lower temperatures when in air conditioning mode. For those with 2-storey houses this will be an added benefit to cool the house at a lower temperature when the sun shinning and heating up that second floor

Get the professional service of Ignite Heating & Air Conditioning Ltd. Call us for a free initial consultation.