What is a Dual Fuel System?
A dual fuel system sounds more Batman-like than it really is. It can solve a lot of issues for homeowners, but it’s really nothing more than a combined HVAC system comprised of a heat pump and a gas or oil furnace (or boiler). It’s got the best of both types of heating, allowing more homeowners––especially Oregon, homeowners––to take advantage of the efficiency of a heat pump, no matter where they live. Our Climate Control professionals are handling more and more requests for these installations than ever before.
How Does It Work?
A heat pump works differently than a furnace in that it removes the heat from the outside air and transfers it to inside your home. When it’s time to cool your home, it does the reverse by removing the heat from inside your home and sending it outdoors. Its heating process differs from a furnace, as a furnace actually uses its fuel (gas or oil) to create its own heat.
A dual fuel system relies on the heat pump to act as the air conditioner when needed, then turn around and heat the home when needed. However, a heat pump can only work well when outside temps remain above 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or so. After the temperatures outdoors dip below what’s specified, the furnace then takes over for heating with this system. It’s a tag-team affair, which opens up the geographical possibilities for heat pumps since the colder temperatures can now be handled.
Having a combination system like this definitely offers advantages over either just a heat pump or furnace alone. The biggest advantage is the efficiency of the system. The heat pump cools in the summer by removing the hot air from your home, so an air conditioner that creates its own cool air isn’t needed. Then in the colder weather, the furnace only runs when the temps fall below what the heat pump handles. Both these scenarios equate to an efficient system of less energy actually being used, which leads to less energy costs, i.e., less money you’re spending––which leads to another advantage. Less cost in the long run.
The initial installation of both a heat pump and furnace combo will be more than just a heat pump or furnace alone. But in just a few years, you’ll recoup your investment by what you’ve saved in energy bills. Also, if you’re purchasing the dual fuel system, that means you’re not purchasing an air conditioner. So it could all even out. Yet another advantage in relation to cost is the annual-maintenance costs. Instead of having separate appointments for a furnace in the fall and an air conditioner in the spring, you would have only one appointment for both the heat pump and furnace simultaneously.
Since we’re on the subject of costs and money, this subject covers one of the disadvantages of the system. It’s usually more expensive to install a dual fuel system over either only a heat pump or furnace, since you’re essentially getting two systems in one. Another disadvantage of the dual fuel system is some homeowners may not realize the colder temperatures in their homes that are possible with an air conditioner. The dual fuel system may need some help in cooling, depending on the indoor temperatures required.
If this type of system is something you’re considering, contact one of our Climate Control professionals at 503-453-4822 to discuss the pros and cons of such a system for your home. Our technicians are happy to help.
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We service and repair all makes and models. We service Tigard, Beaverton, the Greater Portland area and surrounding communities. If you need air conditioning or furnace service for residential or commercial buildings, please call us today or request service online. If you need home automation or service on water heaters or heat pumps or commercial maintenance, please call us today.