Understanding the Different Types of Heat Pumps: Air Source, Ground Source, and Absorption

Understanding the Different Types of Heat Pumps: Air Source, Ground Source, and Absorption

The quest for renewable, efficient, and sustainable energy systems has brought profound attention to the realm of heat pumps. These ingenious devices, designed to provide heating, cooling, and sometimes, hot water, have been considered as a key player in energy transition and climate mitigation.

However, as with any technology, heat pumps are not one-size-fits-all. Their efficacy and efficiency are contingent upon several factors, including the type of heat pump in question. Broadly, heat pumps can be categorized into three main categories: Air Source, Ground Source, and Absorption. Each type presents a unique set of characteristics, benefits, and potential drawbacks that make them better suited for certain applications and environments over others.

Whether you are considering a switch to renewable heating or simply curious about these energy marvels, this comprehensive guide from Corman and Sons will arm you with the knowledge you need to navigate the landscape of heat pump technology.

Air Source, Ground Source, and Absorption: Your Ultimate Guide to Heat Pumps

1. Air Source Heat Pumps

Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) are the most common type found in residential settings. These systems transfer heat between the indoor and outdoor environments using refrigerant-based technology.

How They Work:

During the heating season, ASHPs draw heat from outdoor air, compress it to increase the temperature, and distribute it throughout the home using an air handler or ductwork. Conversely, in the cooling season, the heat pump extracts heat from indoors and releases it outside, thus cooling the living space.


Relatively low installation cost compared to other heat pump types
Can deliver both heating and cooling, providing year-round climate control
Generally more energy-efficient than traditional heating and cooling systems, reducing energy costs


Efficiency may decrease in extremely low temperatures, requiring supplemental heating solutions
Outdoor units can be noisy and may be subject to local zoning regulations

2. Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs), also known as geothermal heat pumps, tap into the stable temperatures of the earth or a nearby water source to provide heating and cooling.

How They Work:

GSHP systems consist an indoor heat pump unitors and a series of pipes (ground loop) buried beneath the ground or submerged in a nearby water source. During heating, the ground loop extracts heat from the earth or water, while in the cooling season, the process is reversed, with heat being absorbed by the ground or water source.


  • Consistent high-efficiency performance, even in extreme outdoor temperatures
  • Longer lifespan and lower maintenance requirements compared to ASHPs
  • Lower operating costs due to higher efficiency, resulting in long-term energy savings


  • High upfront installation cost due to the need for excavation and ground loop installation
  • Space requirements and geological considerations can impact installation feasibility

3. Absorption Heat Pumps

Absorption heat pumps (AHPs), sometimes referred to as gas-fired heat pumps, differ from other types by using renewable energy sources and an absorption process instead of a compressor to generate heating and cooling.

How They Work:

AHPs utilize a heat source, such as so, geothermalrgy, or natural gas, to evaporate a refrigerant mixture (typically ammonia and water). A generator then heats the mixture, causing the ammonia to separate from the water. The ammoncondensessed aexpandsded, releasing heat, this en reabsorbed by the water before the cycle repeats.


  • Sustainable and environmentally friendly by using renewable energy sources or natural gas
  • It can be a viable option for remote locations without access to electricity


  • Limited availability and specialized expertise required for installation and maintenance
  • Less efficient than other heat pump types due to additional energy conversion steps

Selecting the Right Heat Pump for Your Home

When deciding which type of heat pump is best for your home, consider the following key factors:

  • Climate: Local weather patterns and ambient temperatures can impact the effectiveness of certain heat pumps. ASHPs may not be the most suitable option in regions with consistently low outdoor temperatures, whereas GSHPs can maintain efficiency even in extreme conditions.
  • Space Requirements: Adequate space is necessary for the installation of each heat pump type. The outdoor unit of an ASHP requires sufficient clearance from walls, windows, and neighboring properties, while GSHP systems need ample space for the ground loop installation.
  • Energy Preferences: For those seeking alternative energy sources, AHPs offer a sustainable solution by utilizing renewable energy or natural gas as a primary power source.
  • Budget: Installation, operation, and maintenance costs should be carefully considered when selecting a heat pump type. While GSHPs have higher upfront costs than other options, they typically offer long-term energy savings with lower operating expenses over time.

Determining the most suitable heat pump option for your home may require consultation with a knowledgeable HVAC professional from Corman and Sons. With our expertise and understanding of system specifications, energy efficiency, and local climate conditions, we can guide you through the decision-making process and ensure proper installation.

Making the Smart Choice for Year-Round Comfort

The realm of heat pumps is vast and multi-faceted, with each type holding distinct characteristics and advantages. To help you navigate the selection and installation process, Corman and Sons Air Conditioning and Heating is here to share their expertise and provide reliable guidance.

Don’t hesitate to contact our HVAC company in Clermont for assistance in selecting the right heat pump system to keep your home comfortable, energy-efficient, and tailored to your specific requirements.

Experience top-notch service and valuable support as you choose a heat pump solution that simplifies your heating and cooling needs!