Homeowners In The Northern United States: Keep Your New Heat Pump Free From Snow

Thanks to new developments in heat pump technology, homeowners in northern states that see harsh winters can use heat pumps to keep their homes warm. According to The Boston Globe, the latest heat pumps are capable of heating homes when the temperature outside is as low as minus 20°F. If you're enticed by these modern heat pumps, though, make sure you have a plan to keep them clear of snow. For, heat pumps won't work when they're covered in several feet of snow.

Recent Advancements in Heat Pump Technology

As The Boston Globe reports, new models are much more efficient, even at much colder temperatures, than older air-sourced heat pumps, thanks to several advancements in the technology used. The most advanced heat pumps on the market today have:

  • variable speed motors that don't shut off entirely
  • better electronic components and systems
  • insulated tubes instead of uninsulated ducts
  • an enhanced mixture of refrigerants and gasses

Still The Same Concept

Despite all these advances, heat pumps still work on the same premise they always have. They remove heat from the air outside and transport it inside, to heat your home. The temperature exchange has become more efficient, which is why they are effective at lower temperatures. The method used remains the same, though. They still need to circulate air.

Without a free air flow, no heat pump can heat a home because it has nothing to extract heat from. This is equally true for an old heat pump in the Southern United States and a state-of-the-art one in New England. Air flow is a bigger issue, however, in states where it snows.

Snow and Airflow

In moderate climates, homeowners generally don't need to worry about their heat pump's air flow. Occasionally leaves or grass may cling to the heat pump and need to be hosed down, but this is all homeowners typically need to do. If it does snow in the Southern United States, the amount of snow is minimal and quickly melts. It doesn't pose a significant hazard to the heat pump.

In states that see below-freezing temperatures and snow for extended periods of time in the winter, such as New England and the Northwest United States, snow can be a major issue for heat pumps. As it accumulates, it prevents air from freely flowing through the unit, and the heat pump has no way to heat the home. If ice builds up on the unit, the problem becomes even worse.

Homeowners in cold states who are installing these new, efficient heat pumps need to keep their unit free of snow and ice. If you live in the Northern United States and are thinking about installing one, you might need to:

  • brush off the unit each day
  • dig the unit out after a major snow storm
  • run the unit's defrost cycle regularly
  • build a shelter for the unit

Any shelter you build will need to keep snow off of the unit but let air pass through. Depending on where your unit is, you might be able to create a roof from plywood or a two-sided structure that faces the wind. Both of these solutions minimize how much snow falls on the unit but let air flow freely.

If you're looking for an energy-efficient way to heat your home and live in a cold climate, a modern heat pump might be the best system for your home. Before purchasing one, though, be sure you have a plan to keep snow off of it so that air can flow freely. This will ensure that it meets your expectations and operates efficiently all winter long.


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