The large variety of PTAC unit manufacturers, makes, and models can be confusing all in itself; however, one of the biggest questions about these packaged air conditioners is, “What is the difference between the heating options?” Heat pump air conditioners are available, as well as air conditioners with electric heat, so which one should you purchase?
PTAC Unit Heating Options: Heat Pump (PTHP) vs. Electric Heat
The Heat Pump Option
Many of the ptac air conditioner models are considered to be heat pumps. The heat pump option can be the most economical way to heat the area that you need the unit for, depending upon the cost of the different fossil fuels, like propane and natural gas, in your area. The heat pump option in a similar manner as an air conditioner, only in reverse.
In PTAC units, when cooling the desired area, air is transferred from the indoor area to the outdoor area, causing the room temperature to decrease, or to cool off. The heat pump works in a similar manner as it transfers usable heat from the outdoors into the inside area. Notice the term “usable heat” is used. This is because when heat is needed, the temperature outside is usually rather cool and then heating an area can be difficult. The end of effective heating temperature ranges of a heat pump air conditioner is 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that if the outside temperature drops below 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat pump will no longer be effective and the temperature of the inside area will also continue to decrease.
It is for this reason, that the majority of heat pump air conditioner units are typically installed in the southern states where the temperature is warmer. Heat pump air conditioners would not work as well when the outside temperatures get as cool as they do in the northern states in the winter time. For the northern states, the electric heat option might be a better option. Also, most heat pump air conditioners also come with a back up heating system. This is because just in case the temperature drops too low and the heat pump loses its ability to effectively heat the area, there will a backup system that is capable of kicking in in order to keep the room temperature comfortable.
The Electric Heat Option
There are several advantages to having packaged air conditioners with the electric heat option. As mentioned previously, you will typically find this kind of unit in the northern states where the temperatures fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The advantages to electric heat are:
- Safer than gas, etc.
- Installation costs for electric heat systems are cheaper than other heating options.
- Cleaner, no combustion process
Not much more can be said about the electric heat option that is contained within the packaged air conditioners. It’s pretty cut and dry; meaning that as long as there is electricity, the area will always have heat.
In the End
If you have any concerns about which heating option would work best for you, consult your local HVAC expert. Many consumers in the southern states opt for the heat pump air conditioners because the heat pump option actually helps them to save money; however, this option would not work well for northern states where the temperature falls well below the recommendations for the heat pump option; therefore, it is advisable that packaged air conditioner units with the electric heat option be used in the northern states.
Each manufacturer produces several different makes and models of the PTAC units. Some will offer the heat pump option, while others will offer the electric heat option. To make sure that you are purchasing the right packaged air conditioner unit for the area that you need it for, consult with the representative of the manufacturer and through the recommendations by the manufacturer, they will be able to suggest just which heating option would work perfectly for you and in the climate in which your structure that needs the packaged air conditioner unit is located. This is a large investment, so you will want to make sure that you get the right PTAC unit to fit your needs the first time around.