All of the heat pumps described here can be categorized as air source heat pumps, which means they strip heat from the air in order to provide heat. When it comes to air source heat pumps, there are many different types of heat pumps and systems to choose from.
Split System Heat Pump
A split system heat pump has two parts: an inside unit called the air handler and an outside unit called the condenser. This is the same set up you’d find with a central air conditioning system.
The difference between a central air conditioning system and a split system heat pump is that it also has coils that absorb heat (evaporator coils) and that release heat (condenser coils) in both the inside and outside units. A split system heat pump can absorb heat from inside or outside, and release heat inside or outside. It can remove heat to cool your space or add heat to warm it up.
Packaged Types Of Heat Pumps (also known as rooftop units)
Packaged heat pumps work the same way as other heat pumps with one major difference: All the coils are located in a single “packaged” unit that often sits on the roof of a building. As you might have guessed, this is why they’re also referred to as rooftop units.
Heated or cooled air is delivered inside a building via ductwork that passes through the roof and/or walls, which is incredibly efficient.
So, why is a packaged heat pump a more attractive choice than a split system heat pump? Basically, it comes down to the space you have. If your rood if easily accessible, packaged heat pumps can be more affordable to install and maintain. However, they are not as efficient in buildings more than 10 stories tall.
Ducted Or Ductless Heat Pumps
Sometimes using ducts is impractical and inefficient, especially when renovating an older building or when adding heating and cooling to a space like a garage or home addition.
In that case, a ductless mini-split heat pump can be a great solution. Instead of ducts, these systems transfer heat through refrigerant lines to a fan/coil unit installed in the wall or ceiling. The downside of these units is that you need the fan/coil unit in every room that needs climate control. Also, they don’t remove humidity as effectively as a ducted system.
Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Heat Pumps
These types of heat pumps are also referred to as VRF heat pumps. They’re one of the newer types of heat pumps with newer technology. VRF heat pump systems are more energy efficient, quieter, and can precisely control comfort conditions in multiple zones with different heating and/or cooling needs. In fact, they can provide both heat and cooling to different areas at the same time!