Difference Between Heat Pump and Air Conditioner

The main purpose of Heat Pumps and Air conditioners is to maintain the temperature as per human body requirements. They are considered as replacements for HVAC equipment. The 2 machines perform their functions using a refrigeration cycle. The Hybrid technology of Heat Pumps has certain unique features which differentiate it from Air Conditioners. 

Heat Pump vs Air Conditioner

The main difference between a Heat Pump and Air Conditioner is that a Heat Pump can provide warm as well as cool air in reverse action whereas Air conditioner cannot perform this reverse action to provide heat air inside it only maintains the room temperature by eliminating the hot air. Unlike Air conditioners, the reverse valve design in Heat pumps makes it more useful.

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The term Heat Pump refers to the electronic device that transfers hot air from one area to another area by making the temperature cool. It uses mechanical energy to transport heat from the cooler area. It is mostly used in refrigerators and motor cars. It follows the refrigeration cycle to make the space cool or warm as against outside temperature. 

The term Air Conditioner refers to the heavy electronic machine that eliminates heat from the atmosphere air by transferring it outside. It helps to control the room temperature as per user requirements. It manages the humidity makes the environment comfortable for the people using it. Air conditioners are available in packaged as well as split systems. 

Comparison Table Between Heat Pump and Air Conditioner

Parameters of ComparisonHeat Pump Air Conditioner
Common NameThe Heat Pump is prominently known as an air compressor. Air Conditioner is commonly called AC or A/C. 
Basic Components.It has 3 basic parts namely: Condenser, Compressor, and Evaporator. It has 4 basic parts namely: Pump, Condenser, Expansion Valve, and Evaporator. 
Primary FunctionThe primary function of the Heat Pump is to warm up the space.The primary function of an Air conditioner is to make the area cool. 
Use of CondenserThe Heat Pump use Condenser to produce hot air. Air Conditioner uses a condenser to remove the heat from the cool air. 
CoefficientThe Coefficient of performance is always more than one i.e. >1. The Coefficient of performance is one or less than one i.e. 1 or <1 depending upon the temperature. 

What is Heat Pump?

The term Heat Pump refers to a machine used for transporting heat to thermal energy and vice versa for cooling and heating the temperature as per human body requirement. The Heat Pumps operate on a reverse vapor compression cycle. When the climate is freezing or cool the Heat Pumps helps to control the temperature in a warm state. They are usually installed outside the premises. 

In a Heat Pump, the condenser can be converted into an evaporator and the evaporator can perform the function of a condenser. The refrigerants used in the heat pump to convert energy are called CFC- (chlorofluorocarbons) and carbon dioxide. The mode of operation of a Heat Pump is completely depending upon the output desire of humans. They heat the premises without choking. 

The latest technology of Heat Pump contains air purifiers as well to make sure the surrounding pollution free inside. They are compact and convenient to utilize. Some models of Heat Pumps are environment friendly as well since they do not burn fossil fuels. They are more efficient in heating than furnaces as they convert mechanical energy into thermal energy. The most prominent category of Heat Pumps are Air -sourced and Ground Sourced. 

What is Air Conditioner?

The term Air Conditioner refers to electronic equipment that provides cold air. It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes but operates on a single phenomenon. It creates cooling by eliminating humidity and heat from the room temperature. A standard Air Conditioner devices use the refrigerant chemical to perform its cooling function. It mainly has three components namely a compressor, a condenser coil, and an evaporator coil and they operate together to transfer the refrigerant from gas to liquid and reverse. 

Air Conditioners also come in split-systems that are fan blowing air and releasing hot air outside are separated which is very common in use. Split-systems of Air Conditioner is also referred to as Central Air. The functions performed by AC also include controlling humidity and improvement of air quality. In the split Air Conditioner outdoor unit is called the condenser and the indoor unit is called the evaporator. 

The process of cooling through the Air conditioner is as follows: Initially, the cold liquid substance “Refrigerant” absorbs the heat from the area in the evaporator unit and cools the space. The refrigerant in the next step passes the heat to the compressor for converting the same into gas. That gastric refrigerant blows outside AC with help of a condenser coil. The whole process repeats to remove heating. 

Main Differences Between Heat Pump and Air Conditioner

  1. Cycle: The heat Pump follows the reverse refrigeration cycle on contrary the Air conditioners follow the vapor compression cycle.
  2. Ideal Usage: Heat Pump works better in places with moderate temperature whereas Air Conditioners are ideal for usage in hot places throughout the year. 
  3. Efficiency: The energy consumption of the Heat Pump is quite high in comparison to Airconditioner which is more energy-efficient. 
  4. Mode of Operation: Heat Pump can maintain both warm or cool atmosphere as per climate conditions and Air Conditioner can maintain the only cooling atmosphere. 
  5. Longevity: Life expectancy of Heat Pumps is less as compared to Air Conditioners as they are in use during summers only. 


In terms of cooling both Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps perform well giving high SEER ratings. Heat Pumps consumes a large amount of energy at low or freezing temperature. Conventionally Heat Pump is also a kind of Air Conditioner with a reverse jacket. A heat pump works wonders in areas with mild winters as they don’t require retrofitting. 

People have a misconception about Air conditioners that they add cooling in atmosphere adversely they subtract heating from the atmosphere by pushing it outwards and the same function is performed by the refrigerators. Heat pumps are versatile to deal with the climate and an expensive option to buy. 


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0022508884904119
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140700712001533
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