Heat Strips Unleashed: Supercharging Heat Pumps

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By Debarghya Roy

Understanding The Function Of Heat Strips In Heat Pumps.

To better understand how your heat pump operates, especially during the colder months, you may want to know more about heat strips, an important component in your heating system.

heat strips in heat pump

 In this section, we will explore what heat strips are and their role in heat pump systems. We will also go over how heat pumps work and the importance of understanding the function of heat strips. 

So, let’s dive into these topics and learn more about how you can optimize your heat pump’s performance during extreme weather conditions and save energy on your utility bill.

What Are Heat Strips?

Heat strips are key components in heat pumps. They’re electric resistance heaters, usually fitted in the indoor unit. They convert electricity to heat, then transfer warmth to air in ducts.

Heat strips boost the primary heat source, keeping the indoor temperature comfortable. How much heat they provide varies depending on factors like outdoor temperature and thermostat settings. Homeowners need to understand their heat pumps, to get the most efficiency.

Using heat strips a lot increases energy consumption and electricity bills. Use them only when necessary and consider insulation or adjusting thermostat settings for energy-savings.

The Department of Energy says that efficient multi-stage or dual-speed heat pumps with proper installation can lower energy consumption by up to 50%. 

Knowing the ins and outs of heat pumps might not be worth the effort; they just keep you warm and your wallet light.

How Do Heat Pumps Work?

Heat pumps transfer heat from the air or ground at low temperatures and release it at higher temperatures inside a building. This lets them provide heating in winter and cooling in summer. Depending on the mode, the operation of the pump differs. It’s an efficient system with low carbon emissions.

Refrigerant is evaporated to gaseous form at low pressure to draw heat from the surroundings. Then it’s condensed back to liquid form, releasing warmth. In cooling mode, the valve is reversed to absorb warmth outside and reduce stuffiness inside.

Heat strips are extra electric heating elements added to most HVAC systems with heat pumps. They give a quick boost when primary elements cannot keep up during cold weather, but consume much electricity.

Peter von Rittinger developed a Carnot cycle heat pump during the mid-19th century. Robert C. Webber improved this to create a more efficient residential-sized electric version. Without heat strips, a heat pump is powerless in tough times.

Importance of Heat Strips in Heat Pumps.

Heat pumps are an integral component of heating and cooling systems in buildings and homes. Heat strips are essential for providing supplemental heat when the heat pump can’t generate enough warmth.

Let’s delve deeper into heat strips’ features, benefits, and drawbacks about heat pumps. The table below gives more info.

Feature of Heat StripsBenefitDrawback
Backup heatEnsures efficient heating in extreme temperatures.Increases energy consumption.
Electric-poweredSimple installation.Can be costly.
IntegratableEasy operation and maintenance.Higher op. costs.

Heat strips guarantee efficient heating, especially in extreme temperatures, but they also increase energy consumption. Although electric-powered heat strips are easy to install, operate, and maintain, they can be costly.

In conclusion, understanding heat strips’ role as heat pumps helps people make informed decisions and provides a backup plan for cold weather conditions. 

Don’t forget to include heat pumps in your HVAC system. It’s wise to have both a primary heating source and a reliable backup system. 

Think of your heat pump’s emergency setting as an ex: good for emergencies and you hope never to use it.

Emergency Heat Setting In Heat Pump Systems.

To ensure your home stays warm during extreme cold weather conditions, the emergency heat setting in heat pump systems with heat strips is a valuable option. 

You might be wondering what exactly is emergency heat and when you should use it. In this section, we will explore the answers to these questions and more. 

We will describe how emergency heat mode works and its pros and cons. By the end of this section, you will have a better understanding of how to use this option effectively for heating your home.

What is Emergency Heat?

Emergency heat is a mode for heat pump systems that kick in when it’s too cold outside and the heat pump can’t pull enough heat from the air. Instead, an electric heating element takes over to warm up indoors. But it’s only a temporary solution as it consumes a ton of energy and will skyrocket electricity bills.

When emergency heat is on, it bypasses the normal heat pump operation and uses electric resistance heating. This means electrical power generates the heat instead of the outdoor unit absorbing it from outside and transferring it in. It’s not meant to stay on for long as it can damage the equipment and cost a lot in repairs.

Regular maintenance by a certified HVAC technician is key for efficient system operation. With regular maintenance, you can avoid problems when you need your heating system most.

To prevent frequently activating emergency heat, make sure your home is properly insulated, windows are sealed, and doors have good weather stripping. Maintaining your system and making sure your house is insulated will help to use energy efficiently during winter.

When to Use Emergency Heat Setting?

Emergency heat settings in heat pump systems should be used only when the primary heating source can’t keep the room warm. It kicks in an extra heating unit for better warmth and comfort. Sadly, it also leads to higher energy bills.

So, use emergency heat as a last resort for severe weather conditions. It’s wise to get professional help instead of relying on temporary solutions.

For better maintenance of HVAC systems, proper user training is a must. Seek professional advice if you’re unsure of repairs or lifting off components.

Don’t settle for a warm embrace with a costly bill. Implement preventive measures to avoid expensive repairs or premature system replacement.

How Emergency Heat Works?

Emergency Heat Setting also known as Auxiliary Heat is a backup system for Heat Pumps. It has a heating element or burner which generates heat, independently of the outdoor unit’s fan and compressor.

When needed, this system activates. It increases efficiency and avoids energy loss. Emergency Heat can be manually or automatically switched on. It sustains warmth until professionals can repair the system.

When your Heat Pump stops working completely, emergency heat provides temporary relief like traditional heating. It’s important to know how your Heat Pump works, and if it has emergency heat.

Pro Tip: Have regular maintenance checks to avoid unexpected emergencies with your Heat Pump. Emergency heat is just a Band-Aid solution. It’ll keep you warm but won’t fix the underlying problem.

Pros and Cons of Using Emergency Heat Mode.

Emergency Heat Setting is a typical part of Heat Pump Systems, especially when temperatures drop below freezing. This automated system kicks in when it senses an issue with the outdoor unit, or when the temp dips too low.

Know the pros and cons of using Emergency Heat Mode:

  • Pros:
    1. Provides heat while the regular system is being serviced.
    2. Suitable for short-term use in frigid temps.
    3. Helps protect the Heat Pump System from damage.
  • Cons:
    1. Uses more electricity, which can lead to higher bills.
    2. Using it for too long can cause damage.

Only use Emergency Heat Mode when needed. It’s expensive and can harm your Heat Pump System

To prevent this, carry out maintenance regularly and check refrigerant levels. It’s also a good idea to get a certified HVAC contractor to check your system periodically. Following these tips will keep your heat pump working efficiently.

Auxiliary Heat In Heat Pump Systems.

To ensure your heat pump system is functioning properly during extreme weather conditions, you may need to use the auxiliary heat setting.

 In this section, we’ll explore the need for auxiliary heat in heat pump systems and how it works. You’ll learn when to use this setting, how it supplements heat pumps and the costs associated with it. Understanding these subsections will help you use this feature efficiently and save on your utility bills.

Understanding the Need for Auxiliary Heat.

  • In colder temperatures, heat pumps become less efficient and can’t always heat a home. 
  • To counteract this, an auxiliary heating system is used to provide extra warmth. Its need depends on outdoor temperature, insulation, and building design.
  • When selecting a system, consider any optional or supplemental heating options.
  •  Integrated systems with backup electric or gas heaters help with extreme weather conditions.
  • Properly sized and installed units help reduce the need for supplementary heaters
  • “Backup resistance heating strips” are often used as auxiliary heat sources in air-source and some ground-source heat pump systems.

Think of auxiliary heat as a backup dancer; it’s there to help when needed. Understanding how auxiliary heating works can lead to significant savings and comfort levels.

  • How Auxiliary Heat Works?

Auxiliary Heaters provide supplemental heating when the primary source cannot keep up with demand. This backup works with the heat pump to maintain indoor comfort.

However, overuse of Auxiliary Heaters can cause higher energy consumption and costs.

To optimize efficiency & environmental friendliness, homeowners and HVAC professionals should take measures like regular maintenance, filter replacement, weatherstripping, and insulation upgrades. This can reduce dependence on auxiliary heat.

It’s like when your friend asks for help moving – Auxiliary Heaters are just there for emotional support!

  • When is Auxiliary Heat Needed?

In colder climates, or during extreme weather, a heat pump may be pushed to its limits. This is when auxiliary heating steps in to provide warmth and comfort. It helps keep temperatures stable even when the primary source can’t meet demands.

Afterward, the system reverts to normal functioning. That’s why auxiliary heating is an important part of a working heat pump system.

To keep the system running efficiently, regular maintenance is essential. This reduces reliance on auxiliary heating, which requires huge amounts of power. Get professional help before purchasing or installing an auxiliary heating system.

If you live in a place with temperature extremes, consider adding auxiliary heating to your heat pump system. Don’t miss out on steady warmth – install an efficient support system today!

  • Using Auxiliary Heat to Supplement Heat Pumps.

Auxiliary Heat is the perfect addition for Heat Pump Systems in cold outdoor temps when the heat pump isn’t enough. No need to shiver indoors! Its benefits include:

  1. Boosts comfort in low-temp conditions.
  2. Maintains heat system effectiveness in extreme climates.
  3. Lessens wear and tear of equipment, reducing repair costs.
  4. Keeps energy bills from skyrocketing.
  5. Electric resistance auxiliary heaters are common with Heat Pumps.
  6. Can be manually or automatically controlled with programmable thermostats.

Remember, to size your auxiliary heat source correctly. Avoid overworking or underperformance. Get the most out of your Heat Pump System with this cost-effective solution! But, be warned: the cost of auxiliary heat could leave you feeling cold.

  • Costs Associated with Auxiliary Heat.

Auxiliary Heat in Heat Pump Systems demands extra energy, causing electricity bills to soar. Let’s check out the costs related to this system!

Costs Linked with Auxiliary HeatPrice Tags
Installation charges.$2,500 to $7,500
Maintenance costs.$100 to $300 each year
Fuel/Gas/Propane expenses in peak months.$65 to $200 on average per month
Electricity bills can shoot up when primary heat can’t cope and auxiliary heat jumps in.The cost varies based on usage. It may cause an overall rise of up to $50 monthly or as per grid demand charges.

Plus, there are special things to consider such as zoning your heating system to maximize efficiency and cut costs. In warmer climates, the need for supplementary heat is less than in colder regions.

 Still, if you’re puzzled about the system’s functioning or installation costs related to auxiliary heat, consider consulting a certified HVAC expert.

Don’t miss out on chances to reduce auxiliary heating costs by exploring the most reliable equipment around. Put money aside by buying low-capacity units now with high SEER ratings and Heating Season Performance Factors for future savings.

Electric heat strips: The backup singers of heat pump systems; they may not be the stars, but they sure aid in keeping the show alive.

Benefits And Limitations Of Electric Heat Strips In Heat Pump Systems.

To maximize the efficiency of your heat pump system, electric heat strips can offer a viable solution

In this section, we will explore the benefits and limitations of using electric heat strips in heat pumps. 

First, we’ll take a closer look at what electric heat strips are and how they work as a supplemental heating option.

 Next, we’ll examine the pros and cons of using electric heat strips in heat pumps, including the impact on your electric bill.

 We’ll also discuss how to properly turn on/off the heat strips and provide tips for maintaining them for optimal performance.

What are Electric Heat Strips?

Electric heat strips are a type of heating element found in heat pumps. Made of nickel-chromium alloy, they are placed in air handlers to provide heat even when outdoor temperatures are low. But they consume more energy than the primary system, so electricity bills can be high.

Some manufacturers address this by having automatic systems that turn the strips on and off depending on the weather. Keeping electric heat strips in good shape involves regular maintenance and inspection. Compatibility with the HVAC system is key too!

Pro Tip: See if your HVAC system has a feature that switches off the electric heat strips when not in use. This helps save energy!

Pros and Cons of Using Electric Heat Strips in Heat Pumps.

Electric heat strips are a key part of heat pump systems. They provide warmth in freezing weather when the heat pump can’t. But, there are both benefits & drawbacks to these strips. Here’s an overview.

Pros & Cons of Electric Heat Strips in Heat Pumps:

Extra heating capacity.High energy use (big bills).
Steady temperature.Inefficient in cold temps.
Emergency heating source.Needs regular maintenance.

Also, the use of electric heat strips may vary based on climate. If you’re in a place where temps often go below freezing, using electric resistance for heat isn’t ideal as it raises electricity bills.

Pro Tip: Install a smart thermostat to manage temp better & save on energy bills.

Electric heat strips? Play a game of hot potato your heating bill is the potato!

How to Turn On/Off Electric Heat Strips?

Electric Heat Strips are a must-have for heat pump systems to combat the cold. To turn them on/off, follow these steps:

  1. Find the thermostat display button.
  2. Choose “emergency heating” from the list.
  3. Switch it to either “on” or “off”.

Beware! Improper use of your electric heat strips can harm your system and cost you more.

You should know that when using Electric Heat Strips for heating without other components, it’s called auxiliary heating.

Thomas Edison invented electric heat strips in 1882 while researching electric resistance heating.

Taking care of electric heat strips is like a relationship: ignore it and you’ll be left in the cold.

Maintaining Electric Heat Strips for Optimal Performance.

Electric heat strips are key for heat pump systems. To keep them running right, maintenance is a must

  • Cleaning coils helps remove dust and debris, which can lessen efficiency. 
  • Check electrical connections and wiring for corrosion and looseness. 
  • This is important to save energy and keep safe. Inspect heat sequencers, relays, and controls, too. 
  • Switch out parts that are worn out with quality ones. 
  • This will keep the system in top performance and save money.

Also, it’s wise to monitor temperatures throughout the system. Professional inspections can identify potential problems early. 

Professional maintenance ensures electric heat strips run optimally in heat pump systems. 

Electric heat strips are like a backup parachute; you don’t want to use them, but it’s great to know it’s there.

Common Issues With Heat Strips In Heat Pump Systems.

To tackle common issues with heat strips in heat pump systems, we need to find solutions for electric bill increase, the strain on system components, freezing and defrost issues in winter, and repair costs.

 In this section, we’ll discuss these subsections while keeping in mind that heat strips can be useful as an auxiliary heat method in extreme weather conditions. We’ll also provide ways to avoid unnecessary strain on your heat pump system, reducing energy costs, and keeping your home comfortable.

  1. Electric Bill Increase Due to Heat Strips:
  • Heat Strips are often used in heat pumps, and this can lead to bigger electricity bills. 
  • Poor insulation or an incorrectly sized system can also cause the same issue. So, homeowners must be aware of their energy usage and get good insulation to prevent extra expenses.
  • To reduce energy consumption, families can look into other heating methods such as geothermal heating or programmable thermostats. This can help with energy costs when using Heat Strips.
  • It’s important to maintain heat pumps and make sure they’re the right size for their purpose. This helps to avoid extra electricity costs from Heat Strips. By using these tips, people can stay warm and keep their finances in check.
  1. The strain on Heat Pump System Components:
  • Heat strips in heat pumps can put a lot of stress on system components, potentially causing problems. The reversing valve, compressor, and defrost parts can break down earlier as a result. This also makes repairs more expensive and lowers the pump’s efficiency.
  • Heat strips use more energy than regular heating methods and this extra power increases strain on other components. Over time, this can cause major damage to the system.
  • If these issues aren’t fixed soon, it could lead to complete component failure and expensive replacements. To save money and make sure your HVAC works well, use a different heating method instead of just relying on heat strips.
  • It’s important to keep your HVAC unit in good condition with regular maintenance. If you don’t, you could have a lot of problems later and it won’t be good for homeowners everywhere.
  1. Freezing and Defrost Issues During Winter:
  • Winter can cause issues for heat pump systems with heat strips (aka backup heating). These issues can be caused by low refrigerant levels, faulty sensors, or improper installation
  • Icing up the outdoor unit and clogged filters can make the heat pump run in defrost mode a lot, leading to higher energy consumption.
  • Frost accumulating on the outdoor unit’s coils can cause poor temperature regulation in indoor spaces. To avoid this, regular and proper maintenance of heat strips and the heat pump system is essential.
  • Heat pumps used to have big problems with defrosting in winter when they first appeared in the 1970s. 
  • Now, manufacturers have included advanced tech like variable speed compressors and improved defrosting processes, making them more efficient and effective.

Heat strip repair can cost a lot, but not as much as explaining why you decided to heat the house with the oven!

  1. Repair Costs Associated with Heat Strips:

Heat Strip Repair Expenses can be costly. It depends on various things: the degree of damage, the system’s model, and labor charges. It’s best to get professional help.

The table below gives general prices for typical repairs. Costs may differ.

Type of RepairEstimated Cost
Heating Element$300-$400

If you do not address a damaged heat strip quickly, it can cause further problems, maybe even needing a full system replacement.

DIY repairs come with risks. If done wrong, they can cause more damage to the pump. A homeowner shared how they tried to repair their heat strip but ended up making it worse. After hours of trying, they had to get a professional to fix it

Going with other solutions for your heat pump system is like exchanging an ex for someone better.

Alternative Solutions To Heat Strips In Heat Pump Systems.

To solve the problem of ineffective heat strips in heat pump systems, let me share some alternative solutions. 

Using other supplemental heating options, such as space heaters or gas furnaces, can be effective and cheaper than electric heat strips. 

Upgrading to higher-efficiency heat pump systems can also help reduce energy consumption. Improving home insulation and sealing windows and doors can further enhance the system’s performance.

 These three solutions can help you avoid relying entirely on heat strips and can save you money on your energy bills.

  1. Using Other Supplemental Heating Options.

Supplemental Alternatives to Heat Strips in Heat Pump Systems.

Heat strips are a common way to add heat to heat pumps. But, there are other options too! Check out:

  • Geothermal Heating: 

Utilize the Earth’s natural heat. Buried pipes extract heat and convert it into warm air or water.

  • Ductless Mini-Splits:

 These systems are becoming popular due to their efficiency and flexibility. Each room has individual temperature control through wall-mounted units.

  • Solar Power: 

Solar panels on the roof or in the yard generate electricity and provide supplemental heating. Solar-powered heat pumps are also available.

These alternatives save money in the long run. They use less energy and require minimal maintenance compared to heat strips.

When deciding on a supplemental heating system, consider climate, budget, and home infrastructure. Talk to an HVAC professional to determine the best fit for your needs.

Upgrade your heat pump system and you’ll be so efficient, you could generate your electricity!

  1. Upgrading to Higher Efficiency Heat Pump Systems.

Maximizing energy savings? Enhance the efficiency of your heat pump system! Comparing different pumps via tabular form reveals their SEER rates and energy savings, compared to fixed-speed heat pumps. 

High-efficiency pumps have better SEER ratings and greater savings. Choose the best option for you!

Geothermal pumps draw energy from the earth instead of air, so you get great efficiency and savings. Variable-speed compressors provide on-demand heating & cooling, reducing operating costs & noise.

Add-ons like zoning systems or smart thermostats further save energy by adjusting the temperature according to occupancy. Convenience & savings all in one! Finally, seal your home like a cozy blanket saving money on heating bills.

  1. Improving Insulation and Sealing Home Windows and Doors.

Enhancing window and door insulation is a must-do! It not only increases the efficiency of your heat pump system but also lowers energy bills, minimizes noise pollution, and adds more comfort to your home.

Here are 6 simple steps to do it:

  1. Check for gaps or cracks in doors and windows.
  2. Replace worn-out weatherstripping on doors.
  3. Add caulking around window frames to seal tiny spaces.
  4. Install storm windows to keep cold air out.
  5. Add shades, curtains, or blinds to regulate sunlight.
  6. Use window films to reduce solar heating but retain natural light.

Double-pane window replacement is another great investment. This traps air between two glass panes, preventing heat loss in winter. Mrs. Angela’s experience shows how much this can help a family. 

With properly sealed exterior doors and double-pane sealed units, they enjoyed luxury even during winter. Find ‘the one’ that keeps you warm!

Frequently Asked Questions.

Q1. What are heat strips in a heat pump system?

A: Heat strips, also known as electric heat strips or auxiliary heat, are heating elements that are installed in the air handler of a heat pump system. They work by providing supplemental heat when the heat pump is not able to produce enough heat to warm the air to the desired temperature.

Q2. When should I use the emergency heat setting on my thermostat?

A: The emergency heat setting should only be used in extreme weather conditions or if your heat pump system is not functioning properly. This setting activates the electric heat strips to provide heat to your home, but it can significantly increase your energy and utility bills.

Q3. How do heat strips work?

A: When your heat pump system is in heating mode and is not able to provide enough heat to the air, the thermostat will activate the electric heat strips. The heat strips will then provide warm air to your home in degree increments, helping to supplement the heat produced by the heat pump.

Q4. What is the purpose of the defrost mode on my heat pump?

A: During cold weather, the outdoor coils of a heat pump can become covered in frost, which can cause the unit to strain and run inefficiently. The defrost mode engages the unit’s refrigerant to melt any ice or frost buildup on the coils, improving the heat pump’s function and preventing damage.

Q5. Can heat strips be used as the primary heating method in my home?

A: While heat strips can provide warm air to your home, they are not recommended as the primary heating method. They use a significant amount of energy and can increase your electric bill. It is best to use heat strips as a supplemental heat option when necessary.

Q6. What should I do if my heat pump system is not producing warm air?

A: If your heat pump system is not producing warm air, check the thermostat setting to ensure it is set to the heating mode. If the setting is correct and the system is still not producing warm air, contact a professional HVAC technician to diagnose and repair the issue.


As homeowners, finding the right heating solution can be tricky. It depends on climate, budget, and more. Heat pumps have different modes to help. Electric heat strips can be used as supplemental or emergency heat. This mode helps when outdoor temperatures drop below freezing. But, it increases your electric bill and puts extra strain on the unit. And, if you use it a lot, it may mean your HVAC system needs repair. As a rule, use the heat strip mode sparingly. Set your thermostat to ‘aux’ or ‘auxiliary mode.’ This lets the heat pump and electric heating element work together. You’ll save energy and still get enough heat.

Fun fact: Carolina Comfort provides professional consultation and installation services for better temperature management in South Carolina.

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