aux heat strips

Lockouts and Heat Pumps

We love heat pumps and they really do work. I know there are doubters out there who disagree will me. But fancy this: an AC unit is a Heat Pump!  An AC unit pumps heat from the inside of a living space to the outside environment. Intuitively many know this because they have felt the hot air coming out the top of their outside condensing unit. AC professionals are truly heat pumping specialists!

But some strange things can happen with all of the new (and often more sophisticated) thermostat controls. These controls can have lock out settings to either lock out the outside unit from running or lock out the inside aux. heat strips. When it is really cold outside, say 20 degrees F, there isn't much heat in the outside air to pump inside the house. There is a balance point for heat pumps where the outside unit starts trailing off heat production and the inside strips need to run at the same time to make up the difference. Typically, this is assumed to be 35 degrees F, but we design our systems to outperform that common number. I've designed systems to provide the right amount of heat at 17 degrees F. It really has to do with the equipment performance and installation. For example, a slightly oversized Goodman unit may outperform a mismatched Rheem system at lower outdoor temperatures. It all depends on the equipment design, selection, and installation.

So, the indoor heating strips can also be locked out. Typically they shouldn't be needed in 50 degree weather. The heat pump should have no problem heating the house. Oftentimes, they are not and the homeowner pays more for heating than necessary. The power company appreciates that! Additionally, the heat strips can be locked out from running with the outside unit. This can lead to chilly rooms at lower outside temperatures.

Confused by all of this technical jargon? Give us a call or lets talk about this over a cup of coffee. Heat Pumps have stood the test of time and we use them in many new construction homes. Our geographic location is ideal for them. It's only on the really cold days, like these past few, where the lockouts play a really noticeable role.