The Heat Pump Balance Point -- What It Is and Why It Matters

by Greg Leisgang on August 7, 2013

Posted in: Heat Pumps

heat pump balance point, Greater Cincinnati, OhioMuch of the terminology used in the HVAC industry is misunderstood by Cincinnati homeowners and many heat pump repairmen. It all has meaning and importance. Understanding your heat pump balance point helps you choose the best system and be better prepared for extreme weather.

Heat pump balance point

The balance point is based on the system capacity and current load demand. The capacity of a heating and cooling system is how much heating and cooling it is capable of producing. The load is how much heating or cooling is needed for your home. The capacity of your system is rated by the manufacturer under controlled conditions. With fuel-fired furnaces, electric resistance heaters or boilers, the capacity should not change as the outdoor temperature drops. Air-source heat pumps use outside air as the heat source. As the temperature drops, the capacity decreases. The load demand also increases as the temperature drops. The balance point is when the system capacity and load demand are equal.

What this means to you

If your system drops below the balance point, it needs supplemental heat. The balance point for most homes is about 30 degrees. The balance point of energy efficient homes is lower than that of homes without proper insulation and other energy efficient features. Supplemental heat is only used to boost the system when the temperature is below the balance point. Supplemental heat is not auxiliary heat. Auxiliary heat only comes on when the main system is not working and needs repair. It is less than the rated capacity for the system.

When you choose a system, the heat pump installer should explain each of the following:

  • The load calculation for your home
  • The manufacturer's specified capacity for different outside temperatures
  • Your heat pump balance point chart
  • Different types of supplemental heat and which is best for your home

For more information about your home's balance point, contact the professionals at Tri-County Heating & Cooling. We have been providing quality service to the West Chester area of Ohio for more than 40 years.

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