Some Questions You Might Have About Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning

When it's time to install a new air conditioner in your home, you have many options and one of them is a reverse cycle air conditioner, often called a heat pump. This can be a very economical choice for your home, but if you're unfamiliar with the system, you may wonder how it works and if it can actually cool your home properly. Note a few questions many consumers have about reverse cycle air conditioning and then discuss these with a contractor to know if this is the right system for you.

1. How does a reverse cycle air conditioner work?

A reverse cycle air conditioner works by taking hot air out of a room, cooling it, and then blowing it back into the room. This is different than a standard air conditioner that generates its own air with a blower unit and which then pushes that air over a refrigerant before it gets blown back into the room. This reverse cycle air conditioner can work as a heater as it can reverse this cycle, or remove cold air while taking warmed air and pumping it back into the room.

2. Where does the heat go when it's pulled from a room?

The heat that is pulled from the room with a heat pump doesn't just collect around the ceiling or the unit itself; the heat is expelled from the home through the refrigerant and by the outside condenser unit. This keeps it from getting trapped such as in the attic or along the ceiling.

3. Can the condenser unit be kept indoors?

Because a heat pump or reverse cycle air conditioner is different than a standard central unit, you might assume you can keep the condenser unit indoors. However, this isn't recommended unless the indoor space is large enough to manage the heat that is expelled. For example, if you have an office with a very large warehouse adjacent to it or have the heat pump connected to a large garage in your home that can capture the heat, this might allow you to keep the condenser indoors. Otherwise, it's best if it's placed outside.

4. Will a reverse cycle air conditioner ever blow hot air back into the room?

If you're worried about the air conditioner not functioning properly and just circulating the hot air, note that this would only happen if the unit needed repair, such as if the filters are very dirty and need replacing or if the unit is out of refrigerant. Since the air conditioner should be blowing air over the refrigerant before it returns it to the room, you shouldn't be experiencing any warm air circulation with a reverse cycle air conditioner.