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What Is The Difference Between A Furnace & A Heat Pump?

Written on January 27, 2023.
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Arizona home

When temperatures drop in Phoenix, your home needs a reliable heating system to ensure your comfort. Whether you are looking to replace or install a new heating system, we suggest considering a furnace or heat pump. Both units can keep your home at a comfortable temperature, while providing several benefits. In this blog, we discuss everything you need to know about furnaces and heat pump systems in Gilbert, Arizona and surrounding areas.

Furnaces vs. Heat Pumps

We don’t expect you to be the heating unit experts, that is what we are here for! If you are looking to replace your heating system with a furnace or heat pump, it is important to understand the operational process of both systems and how they differ. The main difference between heat pumps and furnaces is how each unit produces heat for your home. Below we will explain how furnaces and heat pumps operate.

How Do Furnaces Work?

It’s hard to understand because furnaces have a lot of moving parts. The heat exchanger, the fan, the pilot light, and the thermostat are the five main parts of a furnace. To put the whole thing together, you need all the pieces, like a puzzle. These parts work together to quickly and well heat your home. These lights should be on and blue all the time. It gets warmer when this flame lights the burner. The burner burns fuel to make heat. The heat is then sent to the heat exchanger, which warms up cold air. Warm air from the heat exchanger is pushed into the ducts by the fan. The air is then sent all through your house. This is done over and over until the fan starts to spin.


  • Propane, gas, electric, and oil are the four main types of flues. They all do the same things, but they get their fuel from different places.
  • A furnace that runs on natural gas is the most common type. It’s not expensive and gets warm quickly.
  • Electric Furnace: An electric furnace is a good way to heat your home without putting out any harmful gases. But for some people, electric furnaces can cost more to heat their homes.
  • An oil furnace uses less energy to heat your home. Not as many oil furnaces are made because oil is so expensive.
  • An oil furnace makes more BTUs per gallon than a propane furnace, but the propane furnace is safer and cleaner.

How Do Heat Pumps Work?

Heat pumps transfer heat, while furnaces generate it. A heat pump has a compressor, refrigerant, reversing valve, expansion valve, indoor air handler, and outdoor unit. If one part clogs, the heating system may fail. The compressor moves coolant between indoor and outdoor units to absorb and release heat. The expansion valve controls refrigerant release. The type of heat pump may bring heat from outside into the system. After that, the coolant absorbs air heat. Your air ducts distribute heat to different rooms. The cycle continues until the thermostat is “on.”

As its name suggests, heat pumps can do more than just heat. They can also cool. The word “heat” in the name refers to the act of moving heat, which can happen in the summer or winter. In the summer, the reversing valve is used to flip the operational process. Heat pumps take heat from inside your home and send it to a source outside.

Heat pumps come in three different types: ground source, water source, and air source. All of them work and have parts that are mostly the same, but there are some small differences, like the heat source.

Air Source Heat Pump: These heat pumps take heat from the air and move it inside or outside, depending on the season. Because they are easy to set up, air source heat pumps are the most common type.

Source of Water: Heat pumps that use water get their heat from a lake or pond nearby. Depending on the season, heat is either pushed out of an interconnected water loop or taken in.

Ground Source: Heat pumps that get their heat from the ground can work very well in both summer and winter. In the winter, the ground is warmer than the air, and in the summer, the opposite is true. This makes the process of transferring heat more efficient.

Benefits Of Furnaces

Furnace systems can provide many advantages to your home. Below we have listed 4 benefits of installing a furnace in Phoenix.

  • Fast Heating. Furnaces can quickly heat your home and restore comfort quickly after adjusting the thermostat.
  • Affordable. When compared to other heating systems, furnaces can be an affordable up front purchase and have low maintenance costs.
  • Reliable. If properly maintained, furnaces are a reliable option to smoothly get you through the winter season.
  • Long Lifespan. A new furnace is an investment, but the unit will have a long lifespan between 15-20 years if proper care is given.

Benefits Of Heat Pumps

Similar to furnaces, heat pump systems can present many different advantages. Below are 4 of the many benefits to heat pumps in Gilbert, Arizona and surrounding areas.

  • Environmentally Friendly. Heat pumps do not burn fossil fuels to produce heat or release harmful gasses into the environment. Installing a heat pump can benefit the environment and lower your carbon footprint.
  • Energy Efficient. Due to the process of transferring heat rather than generating it, heat pumps use less energy to heat your home.
  • Provides Both Heating And Cooling. Heat pumps can keep your home comfortable year round by providing both heating and cooling. This allows a flexible option for weather fluctuations in Arizona.
  • Less Maintenance. Heat pumps use the same components for both summer and winter months, which can cut down on maintenance and repairs.

Both heat pumps and furnaces are a great heating option for your home. If you are interested in installing a heat pump or furnace in Phoenix and surrounding areas, give us a call! Our expert technicians specialize in heating unit replacement and installations and can help keep your home comfortable this season.

Written By Olive Air Heating & Cooling

Oliver is a trained technician whose passion is to make your home comfortable again.

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