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An overview on heat pumps

It doesn't take a Physics major to fully explain the dynamics of the heat pump. The law of thermodynamics has truly made possible a very useful group of electrical gadgets known as heat pumps.

Heat pumps are all around us. Not always recognized as such, but at this moment, a heat pump is probably hard at work to make your life easier and more comfortable.

If it's summer and the weather is hot outside, you might adjust the thermostat to the air conditioner to bring the temperature in a room down to a more comfortable level. Likewise, during cooler seasons. Likewise, during cooler seasons of winter, you can might the temperature on the furnace to make the room warmer.

Next, you might get up and go into the kitchen to eat some baked goodies, or indulge in some desert or juice you find in the refrigerator.

These are just a small number of examples to illustrate how we live more comfortably because of heat pumps. In general, heat pumps function by transferring heat from a higher temperature area from a lower temperature area, aided by energy usually coming in the form of electricity.

How heat pumps work

Perhaps, the easiest general demonstration of how heat pumps work is found in the dynamics and principles behind the function of the refrigerator.

When you were a kid, you probably wondered how the refrigerator makes food cold and avoids spoilage. Sure it makes things cold because a fridge is cold, but how does the fridge get cold. You might have thought that there is an ice-making machine inside the fridge that causes the temperature inside to be much, much colder. Your next question would have rightly been - how does it make the ice.

The refrigerator works by removing the heat, or pumping the heat coming from the objects placed inside. Because the surroundings inside the refrigerator is already cold, the heat in newly placed objects start to adjust to the prevailing temperature the moment they are placed in there and the door closed.

Laws of thermodynamics state that - in an environment, the temperature tends to be equal among all the components of that given environment.

Adhering to that statement, if an object is warm, and its surroundings are cold, then that objects temperature adjust to an equality with the prevailing temperature in the environment.

The thermal heat pump works by moving that warm temperature from the object and transferring it outside, where the temperature is warmer. Perhaps you've noticed that the sides and the back portion of a refrigerators exterior constantly feels warmer than the surroundings - a heat pump in action.

The air conditioner

The same idea works for another example of heat pumps, the air conditioner. The air conditioner adjusts the air temperature to the desired and optimal temperature by moving the warmth outside the home. Perhaps you've stood near an air conditioner during an on cycle and noticed a great deal of heat coming off the unit - again, a common heat pump  in action.

Heat pumps can also be found in nature. But to understand heat pumps more, just think of the refrigerator and the air conditioner examples presented here, and you have a simplistic understanding of this complex concept of nature.

Thermal heat pumps are truly one of the most useful concepts or invention devised by, and for mankind. For sure, you could hardly imagine life without heat pumps. Whether you think of these things as heat pumps ever again or not, you surly would not want to be without them.


Common typos: hiat, heet, heta, haet, ehat, punp, pupm

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