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the heat pumps placed on metal board near wall

The owners of heat pumps frequently mistake their units for a conventional air conditioning system. That’s not surprising. It’s not a piece of cake to answer the question “How do I know if I have a heat pump or an AC?” at first glance unless you are an HVAC professional, for example.

As both units look near identical on the outside, we can’t tell the difference just by looking at them. This is a really important question. So let’s put some effort and figure things out. Go on reading and learn a few tried and tested ways to identify a heat pump.

Pros of Heat Pumps

Many people buy heat pumps due to their numerous benefits. What can be better than a unit that provides both warm and cold air?

A heat pump is an excellent option because it uses less energy and fuel than other heating and cooling systems. It also has a long lifespan of up to 50 years! A great choice for those who fancy long-serving units.

What is more, heat pumps are completely eco-friendly. No fossil fuels are being released into the air. It also helps heat pump owners to save a fortune.

Minimal maintenance, improvement of your air quality, low sound, and many other pros won’t leave you indifferent.

Difference Between a Heat Pump and AC

the air conditioners on the hotel wall

When talking about a cooling mode, air conditioners and heat pumps are essentially identical here. Things are different with the heating mode.

Heat pumps provide heating, but air conditioners don’t. Due to its reversing valve, a heat pump can extract heat energy from outside air, even when outside temperatures drop below freezing, and transfer the heat inside the house, releasing it into the air. A heat pump performs both functions: heating and cooling. As for the air conditioner, it’s only about cooling. This is the main difference between the two HVAC systems.

How to Tell If You Have a Heat Pump or an AC

Now, when you know how the two units work, let’s look at the best ways to identify a heat pump.

Check Out the Model Number

One of the least energy-consuming ways to check whether you have a heat pump or a conventional AC system is to check the manufacturer sticker on the side of your outdoor unit.

Find its Model Number (M/N) and take a picture or write it down. Get your phone, laptop or tablet and enter the model number into Google. The results will tell you what kind of system you have. Moreover, you’ll find lots of other useful info there.

In greater detail, each heating and cooling system comes with manufacturer and Energy Guide labels. Those bright yellow labels will tell you what kind of system you exactly have.

On the Energy Guide label, look for SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) or HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor). SEER is a common label used for air conditioners. If you have a heat pump, you’ll see HSPF. Only heat pumps will have a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor rating.

Inspect the Thermostat

A thermostat is one more clue to the answer to our question. Check it for the mark “Emergency Heat”. If it’s there, you are probably a heat pump owner. But let’s conduct a more detailed investigation.

First, turn your thermostat to heat mode and check if the outdoor unit turns on. If the condensing unit starts making noise and blowing air, you have a heat pump instead of a conventional air conditioning system.

What does emergency heat mode mean? This unique setting gives you the ability to switch to your backup heating source if there’s a problem with the heat pump.

A heat pump’s work significantly deteriorates when there are extremely cold temperatures outdoors. That’s why most heat pump systems include heat strips to serve as emergency heating.

Find the Reversing Valve

One more way to check out which unit you have is to go outside and look for a horizontal brass-like valve. If you notice the tool, then you have a heat pump.

With the reversing valve, a heat pump functions both as a cooler and a heater. Mind that the reversing valve may hide behind the access panel outside the coil. Pick a torch and look more attentively.

Ask HVAC Professionals

Whether you are hesitating about which unit you have: a heat pump or a traditional air conditioning system, or maybe you have other HVAC-related problems, such as your heat pump is blowing cold air, call professionals!

Specialists from the Meadow Air team are highly trained experts in HVAC services who are about to solve all your problems. Whether it’s a furnace tune-up, a maintenance check, or an emergency repair on a heating or cooling unit, they will do it all. Dial 602-812-0648 for more information.

The Bottom Line

As we’ve already mentioned, it’s really easy to confuse heat pumps with AC because they can both come in split systems or multiple packaged units. It’s important to know what system you own as all forms of heating and cooling come with unique needs.

Now you are aware of all tried and tested ways to make things clear: check out the model number, inspect your thermostat for the mark “Emergency Heat”, look for the reversing valve, and of course, ask HVAC professionals to be 100% sure.

On top of that, don’t forget to get your heating system inspected and set up at least once in a year. Meadow Air HVAC experts will do it quickly and effectively. Keep your heating unit working efficiently, reliably, and safely!