What Is Auxiliary Heat?

You must be wondering what the meaning of using auxiliary heat is. It means that the unit uses a supplemental system to generate the heat that is required by the homeowner or the house. Generally, you will be able to notice a sign in your thermostat that auxiliary heat is being used by the system. Here it must be noted that the heat pump process is effective when the outside temperature is anything between 25 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature falls below that level, the system uses supplemental heat to keep the house warm. The heat in this case is provided by an alternate source such as the gas furnace or electric heat. If the source of heat is the gas furnace, the heat pump turns off and if the source is electric heat then it works along with the heat pump. Auxiliary heat is greatly helpful even when the heat pump malfunctions.

Now let us have a look at the difference between units with and without auxiliary heating systems. First of all, units with auxiliary heating system has an additional section to the air-exchanger plenum right after the interior heat pump condenser. This section has electric resistance heating coils or finned electric heating elements. This is turned on, the moment the heat pump control system signals that it is not receiving adequate heat from the outside air. On the other hand, units without the provision of auxiliary heating system do not have this additional section and also they are devoid of the extra sensing circuitry to turn it on. At the same time, the auxiliary heat enabling switch is not included in the wall thermostat that controls the heat pump functions. Hence, heat pumps which do not have the auxiliary heating sections are mostly sold in regions with mild climatic conditions.

It is important for heat pumps to have an auxiliary source of heating because heat pumps are designed in such a way that it cannot extract heat from the outside air when the temperature falls below a certain point. As a result, then the heat pump is not much of use and the onus lies on the homeowner to find out alternate methods of providing adequate heat to the house.

In case energy becomes costlier in case of certain auxiliary heating system, there are options of using alternate methods of energy. For instance, some systems provide electrical control output signals that can send signals to other heating systems in the house to turn on when the heat pump is not getting adequate heat outside. The alternate heating sources could be geothermal pumps, natural gas, heating and others depending on the geographical climate of the region that is concerned.




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