Heat pump versus central air conditioning: Which one to choose?
You are considering replacing the air conditioning system in your home or you want to have it installed in your new home. However, there are different devices available on the market, so much so that you don’t know which way to turn. The most common devices used by Canadians are heat pumps and central air conditioning. But which one to choose? Find out the main advantages and disadvantages of each of the two systems.
Central air conditioning
Central air conditioning, also known as air conditioning, is a device that cools all the rooms in your home. Not only will the air in your home be cooled, but its humidity level will also decrease. The air conditioner will, in the first instance, draw warm air into the rooms. It is equipped with a refrigerant that will transform it into fresh air. This last one will be redistributed in the house in order to cool the occupants. Thanks to an integrated air purification system, the air blown into each room will be of better quality.
The advantages of central air conditioning
A central air conditioning system offers many advantages, including the following:
- High cooling capacity: an air conditioner is available in different capacities, which allows it to cool a larger or smaller area. This power is expressed in BTU/hr which is the unit of measurement for cooling power. The higher the number, the more cooling capacity the unit offers for a large room. For example, a unit offering 5,000 BTU/hr can cover between 100 and 150 square feet;
- A more affordable purchase price: from an overall point of view, a central air conditioner costs less than a heat pump, whether it is for purchase or installation. However, the price depends on its size and power;
- A multifunctional device: the air conditioner is equipped with a whole range of features that make its use more convenient. For example, the heating option can be present if the air conditioner has a reversible valve, the air dehumidification allows to rid the air of humidity in the summer, the air purification function improves the quality of air in the rooms, the timer allows to program the time of operation of the unit and the thermostat allows to set the temperature in the desired range ;
- Possibility to connect via Wifi and Bluetooth: some very sophisticated air conditioner models can be connected to your smartphone in order to be managed remotely. This way, even if you are not at home, you can adjust the operation of the device as you wish.
The disadvantages of the air conditioner
Nevertheless, the air conditioner has various disadvantages that are important to highlight:
- Cooling function only: Most air conditioners only cool rooms, unlike heat pumps, which also provide heating. Thus, they will only be usable for a few months of the year, especially during periods of high heat. Only sophisticated models with a reversible valve can perform a dual role;
- Less economical in terms of energy consumption: the use of an air conditioner will have to be coupled with a heater, since it does not allow to heat the house in winter. This is relatively expensive in terms of energy consumption.
The heat pump
The heat pump is a heating and cooling device that is becoming increasingly popular with Canadians. This unit draws in air from outside the house, transforms it into cold or warm air and distributes it to the rooms in the house. Thus, the heat pump systematically fulfills a dual role of air conditioning and heating.
Nevertheless, it is not as efficient as a traditional heating system. In fact, it can heat a house in winter up to -25°C. Below this temperature, a heater must take over.
The advantages of a heat pump
Using a heat pump has a whole range of benefits, including
- A very long life: this type of device is designed to last more than a decade. This gives you peace of mind for many years without having to think about replacing it. Nevertheless, to achieve such a long life, you must make sure to properly maintain your heat pump;
- A 2-in-1 appliance: while the central air conditioner generally only cools the air, the heat pump plays a dual role of heating in winter and cooling in summer;
- Possible savings in perspective: of course, the purchase and installation price of a heat pump is higher than that of an air conditioner, but in the long term, it is more profitable. It has a longer lifespan and can replace the heating and cooling system, saving you a lot on energy bills;
- Subsidies for the purchase of a heat pump: by asking your municipality, you will be surprised to see that the installation of a heat pump in your property can make you benefit from a subsidy for the ecological aspect of this device.
The disadvantages of the heat pump
The heat pump does have a few drawbacks that are important to note. Here are some of them:
- More regular maintenance: the heat pump is used almost all year round, unlike an air conditioner which is only used a few months a year. As a result, it requires more maintenance to ensure its longevity and optimal operation. It is recommended that you hire professionals to perform maintenance on your heat pump. Not only will they clean it, but also inspect and replace any defective parts;
- An annoying noise: heat pumps generally produce a fairly high noise level from the outdoor unit. That is why it is necessary to be methodical about the location of this unit so as not to disturb the neighborhood or the occupants of the house;
- A more complex installation: the heat pump sometimes requires some modifications to the existing ductwork before it is operational. It is therefore necessary to foresee additional costs related to its installation.
In the end, what to choose between the two?
In the end, the heat pump is more interesting, whether it is for its dual function of cooling and heating, the possible savings in the long term, or its longevity. That’s why it’s so popular with Canadians. Air conditioning is more interesting for its low cost of acquisition and installation and its additional features.