How Does A Heat Pump Work In Winter: Cold Weather Reviews

Introduction – A Heat Pump In Winter

Worried about how does a heat pump work in winter? Heat pumps have become increasingly popular as an energy-efficient alternative to traditional heating and cooling systems. However, when it comes to cold weather performance, not all heat pumps are created equal.

Understanding how heat pumps work in winter and selecting the right model can make a significant difference in your comfort and energy costs during the colder months. This article will explore the functionality and performance of heat pumps in cold weather, provide insights on top-rated models, and offer tips for optimizing your heat pump’s performance in winter.

Diagram of a Fujitsu heat pump

How Heat Pumps Work In Winter

A heat pump operates by transferring heat between the indoors and outdoors. In winter, it extracts heat from the outdoor air and transfers it indoors to maintain a comfortable temperature. However, as the outdoor temperature drops, the efficiency of a heat pump decreases, making it more challenging to extract heat from the cold air.

To overcome this challenge, some heat pumps come equipped with advanced technologies that improve their performance in cold weather. For instance, inverter-driven compressors can modulate their output based on the heating demand, while cold climate heat pumps incorporate features such as enhanced vapor injection and defrost cycles to maximize efficiency in freezing temperatures.

HSPF (BTU/Wh)COP (kWh/kWh)

Historical Reasons Why Heat Pumps Are Perceived As Useless In Winter

Heat pumps first gained popularity as an energy-efficient heating and cooling solution during the 1970s, primarily in response to the energy crisis. Early heat pumps were mainly designed for use in mild climates and struggled to provide adequate heating in colder temperatures. In areas where winter temperatures frequently dropped below freezing, heat pumps often relied on supplementary heating sources, such as electric resistance heaters or fossil fuel-based furnaces, to maintain indoor comfort. This limitation led to the widespread belief that heat pumps did not work well in cold weather.

As energy efficiency and environmental concerns became more pressing, manufacturers began to focus on improving heat pump technology for colder climates. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, significant advancements in compressor technology and control systems started to transform the performance of heat pumps in cold weather. The introduction of variable-speed or inverter-driven compressors allowed heat pumps to modulate their output based on the heating demand, improving their efficiency and performance at low temperatures.

Another notable advancement was the development of cold climate heat pumps, specifically designed for regions with freezing temperatures. These heat pumps feature enhanced vapor injection, optimized defrost cycles, and improved insulation to maximize efficiency and maintain heating capacity in cold weather. In the last couple of decades, heat pump technology has continued to evolve, resulting in models capable of providing adequate heating even in temperatures well below freezing.

Today, heat pumps are a viable heating solution for many colder regions, thanks to technological advancements that have overcome their previous limitations. However, the belief that heat pumps don’t work well in cold weather still lingers, largely due to the performance of earlier models and lack of awareness about the capabilities of modern heat pump technology.

Modern Heat Pump And COP Temperature Dependence

Reviews: Cold Weather Heat Pumps And Top Choices

When selecting a heat pump for cold weather, it’s crucial to consider factors such as the model’s heating capacity, coefficient of performance (COP), and low-temperature performance.

Based on these factors, some top-rated heat pumps for cold weather include:

Mitsubishi Hyper-Heating INVERTER Series

  • Pros: Excellent low-temperature performance, energy-efficient, quiet operation
  • Cons: Higher upfront cost, professional installation required
  • Performance: Capable of providing heating down to -13°F

Daikin Altherma Low Temperature (LT) Series

  1. Pros: High COP, efficient inverter technology, wide range of capacities
  2. Cons: Expensive, professional installation required
  3. Performance: Can operate efficiently in temperatures as low as -4°F

Fujitsu Halcyon Cold Climate Series

  1. Pros: Energy-efficient, compact design, low-temperature operation
  2. Cons: Limited capacity range, professional installation required
  3. Performance: Effective heating down to -15°F

User reviews and experiences may vary depending on factors such as location, home insulation, and individual preferences. Be sure to consult with a professional HVAC technician to determine the best heat pump for your specific needs.

Technical Comparison For The Three Brands

Here we show the three products side by side.

SpecificationMitsubishi Hyper-Heating INVERTER SeriesDaikin Altherma Low Temperature (LT) SeriesFujitsu Halcyon Cold Climate Series
Heating Capacity48,000 BTU/h4.40 kW (~15,018 BTU/h)36,400 BTU/h
Coefficient of Performance (COP)~3.84*55°C: 3.9, 35°C: 4.2Not provided
Low-Temperature Performance-13°F-13°F-15°F to 75°F
Noise LevelNot providedHeating: 61 dB, Cooling: 63 dBCooling: 53 dB, Heating: 55 dB
Warranty5-year parts, 7-year compressorNot providedNot provided

*The COP value is not provided directly in the description, but we can estimate it from the given EER value (13.1) for cooling mode using the following conversion: COP (cooling) ≈ EER / 3.412 ≈ 13.1 / 3.412 ≈ 3.84.

Mitsubishi, Daikin Altherma, and Fujitsu

When considering a low-temperature heat pump for your home, it’s essential to compare different brands and products to make an informed decision. The Mitsubishi, Daikin Altherma, and Fujitsu are three popular heat pumps from well-known manufacturers. The Mitsubishi model offers the highest heating capacity at 48,000 BTU/h, while the Daikin Altherma has a lower capacity of 4.40 kW (~15,018 BTU/h), and the Fujitsu model sits in the middle with 36,400 BTU/h.

The coefficient of performance (COP) is similar for both the Mitsubishi and Daikin units at different temperatures (55°C and 35°C), but information is not provided for the Fujitsu model. In terms of low-temperature performance, the Mitsubishi unit can heat down to -13°F, while the Fujitsu model has a broader operating range of -15°F to 75°F, and data for the Daikin unit is not available.

Noise levels vary across the models, with the Daikin unit being the loudest and the Fujitsu unit being the quietest. Warranty information is provided only for the Mitsubishi model, which includes a 5-year parts and 7-year compressor warranty. In conclusion, each of these heat pumps has its strengths and weaknesses, so it’s crucial to consider the specific requirements of your home and climate when choosing the most suitable option.

Heat pump will maintain comfortable temperatures in both winter and summer

Tips For Optimizing Heat Pump Performance In Winter

To maximize the performance and efficiency of your heat pump in cold weather, consider the following tips:

  • Proper installation and sizing: Ensure that your heat pump is installed by a qualified professional and appropriately sized for your home’s heating requirements.
  • Regular maintenance and servicing: Schedule periodic check-ups and maintenance to keep your heat pump running efficiently. Replace filters and clean coils as needed.
  • Additional measures: Supplement your heat pump with proper insulation, weatherstripping, and other energy-saving measures to enhance overall comfort and efficiency.

Conclusion – How Does A Heat Pump Work In Winter

Understanding how heat pumps work in cold weather and selecting a model that’s designed for low-temperature performance can make a significant difference in your winter comfort and energy costs. By researching top-rated models and following best practices for optimizing performance, you can enjoy the energy-saving benefits of a heat pump without sacrificing warmth during the coldest months.


For more information on heat pumps and their performance in cold weather, consider consulting the following resources:

These resources will provide you with a solid foundation for understanding heat pump technology, its performance in cold weather, and the available options in the market. Remember to consult with a professional HVAC technician to ensure you select the most suitable heat pump for your home and specific needs. With the right choice, you can enjoy comfortable temperatures and energy savings throughout the winter months.

Staff Writer
+ posts

Leave a Comment