You’d think that knowing the difference between a heat pump and a conventional air conditioning system would be a no brainer, but these different units often look near identical. There are some ways you can distinguish the two from each other though, when you know what to look for. Let’s take a look at what you can do to tell the two apart, as well as the pros and cons of the two different systems.


During the summer months when it is warm outside and you need to cool your house, there is no functional difference between an air conditioner and a heat pump. Both expel hot air from your home while blowing cool, or conditioned, air inside. What sets a heat pump apart from a conventional air conditioning unit is that it can be reversed in the cooler months, to expel cold air and blow warm air into your home. While these units serve different functions, they can still be hard to tell apart just by looking at them. There are three relatively simple ways you can check to see if your unit is a heat pump or just an air conditioner. First and foremost, you can check to see if the unit says heat pump anywhere on it. Often units will say somewhere on them if they are a heat pump. Next, you can check the service ports on the unit. If there are three service ports, then you have a heat pump. And finally, you can determine if you have a heat pump or AC only unit by checking your thermostat. Heat pumps will have a heating option on the thermostat.


Heat pumps are a great option if you live in a more moderate climate that doesn’t have extreme highs and lows in temperature. Because heat pumps both cool and heat, they often don’t handle extreme cold or hot as well as an individual air conditioning unit and furnace. For our less extreme summers and winters here in Maryland, a heat pump is often a good option.


A traditional air conditioning unit is a great option if you prefer your home very cool in the warmer months, or if you live in an area with extreme temperatures. Heat pumps are very versatile but can’t keep up in extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold. If you live in an area with very hot summers, or prefer your home be kept at a lower temperature on hot days, a conventional system would be a better choice for your home.
If you are having issues with your home’s heating and cooling unit and need service, but don’t know what kind of unit you have, try these simple tricks to determine what you have. If you are considering replacing your current unit, and are trying to decide whether a heat pump or air conditioning unit is a better option for your home, give us at Cool Breeze a call today! We are experts in our field and are happy to help you determine what is the best option for your home and for your needs.