What is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is a device which utilizes a refrigerant and the refrigeration process to move heat energy.  Most homes already utilize heat pumps.  They are refrigerators, AC units, ice machines, and dehumidifiers.  Each of these devices use the same principle of moving heat vs. creating heat from burning a fossil fuel.  The very exciting aspect of the refrigeration process is that it optimizes the electrical energy used by multiplying that energy by as much as 5 times.  Because the geothermal heat pump’s energy source is so vast and stable, the heat pump can easily achieve the ratio of 1 unit of energy purchased to as much as 5 units of energy delivered.

The heat pump has just a few components that make up the system as you can see from the diagram below.  The compressor is the main component inside the heat pump that adds some heat energy through compression, but also moves the refrigerant so it can absorb heat energy in other areas, and then release all the energy in another.  There are always two heat exchangers within the heat pump system.  One heat exchanger will absorb heat energy, and the other will release heat energy throughout the process.  Depending on the style of heat pump these can be made up in different fashions such as an air – to – refrigerant heat exchanger coil, or a water – to – refrigerant heat exchanger coil.


The last two main parts are the thermal expansion valve which isolates the high pressure refrigerant from the low pressure refrigerant.  This is very important as the pressure of the refrigerant needs to be reduced so the refrigerant can boil or absorb heat energy at a very low temperature (below 50F which is the earth temperature), and the last part is the reversing valve which allows the same unit to heat and cool by just reversing the flow of energy.  Because the heat pump doesn’t have many moving parts and the parts are very similar to a refrigerator you can expect 20+ years of service life out of the heat pump.