Heat pumps are very popular in households and the three most popular types of Heat Pumps are Ground Source Heat Pumps, Air Source Heat Pumps & Absorption Heat Pumps. These three works very much like each other. However, they differ in source and some other aspect.

Knowing the differences between these 3 different types of heat pumps will help you decide whether or now you need a Ground Source Heat Pump or an Air Source Heat Pump or an Absorption Heat Pump.

First of all, just to get you caught up, here’s what a heat pump is –


What is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is very much like a refrigerator. They are not like a traditional central air conditioner. While traditional air conditioning units push the air of your room to outside, these heat pumps push the air inside the room. What they do is, extract the heat form any cold space and then releasing the heat into an even warmer one. So, basically what they are doing is, extracting heat from the outer environment where it is colder and then transfers the heat into a controlled environment like your bedroom, living room or kitchen.

You must be wondering – what happens when you need to cool the room instead of heating it.

Well, the heat pumps can handle that too.

When situations like this arrive when you require cooling instead of heating, the heat pump just reverses the cycle. Since they are capable of both heating and cooling, they have grown to be one of the most popular HVAC system equipment. The market is literally filled with heat pumps for Trane systems, Carrier system, GoodMan, etc.


1.      Air Source Heat Pumps

Air Source Heat Pumps is very common to see in the households because people are familiar with the functionality.

It has an outdoor fan that brings air from outside to the refrigerant-filled coil section. There are 2 sets of these refrigerant-filled coils. These 2 sets of coils transfer the heat inside and there the air is blown away to the controlled room by another fan. This second fan distributes the air evenly into the room which is one of its primary jobs.

Some of the Air Source Heat Pumps are included with one single packaged unit. This unit consists of both of the sets of refrigerant-filled coils. Then this box with the coils inside is installed on a building’s roof where it connected to the room via air ducts. Due to the lack of HVAC installation hassles, these are very popular among the commercial community and this rooftop setup is also dawned for these commercial uses.

Many big commercial buildings use them to ensure heating and cooling inside the building is at optimal for energy efficiency and comfort. On the other hand, the air source heat pumps that are used in the households are fairly compact and implemented in the home as a split system. Here, an outdoor component is set up outside your house and the indoor one is mounted on the wall inside your home. But depending on the size of the house and the layout, you could be needed several indoor & outdoor components.


2.      Ground Source Heat Pump

Ground Source Heat pumps are often called Geothermal Heat Pumps. Unlike the air source heat pumps, these ground source heat pumps absorb the heat from the ground. The ground source can also be a water source if needed. As you have guessed by now, these units are also capable of both heating and air conditioning. They absorb the heat from the water source of the ground and then transfers the heat indoor or vice versa depending on your need.  

The most popular and common types of ground source heat pumps use the buried pipelines that are filled with refrigerant or water. These pipes with liquids filled in them are either open-loop system or closed-loop system. When it is an open-looped system, the liquid is flushed out and when it is a closed system, the liquid is reused over and over again. The heat was extracted from the water and then the heat is transferred indoors.


3.      Absorption Heat Pump

While air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps are used in households these absorption heat pumps are being used in large-scale facilities and commercial application. People can install it on their houses too but it being bigger than usual houses would help with the AC Repair and air conditioning service expenses.

The biggest difference between a standard air source heat pump and an absorption heat pump is the fact that standard air source heat pump compresses the refrigerant and in the absorption heat pump, ammonia is absorbed into the water. Following this internal event, a low powered pump then pressurizes it. The ammonia is then boiled out by the heat source and the entire process starts all over again.


Which one would you need?

Well, just like which central ac unit will suit my home the best, this question also depend on a few factors.

First of all, you need to ask yourself what source is more easily and effortlessly available to you. Then you consider how big your house is. And lastly, make sure the expenses for the entire house ventilation gets under the budget your planned for.


Bottom Line

When you get to know the Ground Source Heat Pumps, Air Source Heat Pumps, and Absorption Heat Pumps all well, you can safely estimate the AC Replacement costs as well as the HVAC cost for purchasing a new unit. Besides, they can also help you with the estimation of the AC maintenance & repair cost which includes, some general costs of HVAC system maintenance like the air duct cleaning cost. But most importantly, you would now be able to make a sound decision now that you know the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of them.