What Are Dual-Fuel Heat Pumps and How Do They Work?
You may have heard of geothermal heat pumps (earth-based pumps) and air source electric heat pumps (electricity-based) but what about dual-fuel heat pumps? These are actually a type of electric heat pump but also combine a gas furnace. The natural limitation of air electric pumps is that they do not perform well in extreme temperatures, like the dead of winter. They extract their heat from the air, and thus in below freezing temperatures, they are limited in their capacity.
That is where the dual-fuel pump comes in. This is an effective way to heat the home, as whenever the air electric pump system does start to wane because of low temperatures, a gas furnace activates and provides a more economic and a more effective form of heat. You are taking advantage of electrical power and gas power to heat your home.
Whenever the temperature is above freezing temperatures the system can easily use electricity to generate heat (or air, if it’s reversible). This type of heat isn’t as warm, but still distributes comfortable heat evenly throughout the living quarters. However, when the air gets extremely cold and below freezing temperatures, the pump starts to switch (automatically in most cases) to supplemental gas power. This makes the system not only affordable but also warmer.
There are definite disadvantages to gas power and electrical power in their own right; when combined the two systems complement each other, giving one the “best of both worlds.” The only potential disadvantage here is the startup cost, much like geothermal pumps. Dual-fuel pumps run upwards of $1,000 sometimes because you are basically buying two systems-in-one.
Nevertheless, if you can afford this expense then it’s best to invest in this technology, because over the long run you will be saving money on a superior and more economical system than electric-based heat pumps alone.
There are a variety of systems to choose from, including manufacturers like Bryant Evolution, Daikin, Friedrich, Fujitsu, Heritage and Sanyo. The most notable differences will be in price as well as whether the model is an inside or outside pump system. Some companies also offer financing on these dual-fuel pumps.
Some products like the Heil PDX4 Packaged Two-Stage Dual Fuel Heat Pump Series offer quiet operation, a two stage system, a direct spark ignition system and a 14 SEER performance level. This is a great way to lower your long-term electrical costs while ensuring a warm winter season.