A heat pump can indeed do both the work of heating and air conditioning, but an air conditioner can not do the job of heating. They are the same in a way but still different in another way. 

So a heat pump is an air conditioner, but an air conditioner does not function as a heat pump. 

Give this article a read to learn about more differences and similarities between a heat pump and an air conditioner.

is heat pump air conditioner

What Is A Heat Pump? 

First, let’s learn what a heat pump is. A heat pump is a machine that converts and transfers heat to an interior of a building from an exterior cooler area using mechanical energy. 

In simple words, a heat pump is a machine that uses heat from the ground or surrounding air and transfers it to a comfortable room temperature by increasing. 

What Is An Air Conditioner? 

On the other hand, an air conditioner is a machine that passes cool air inside a building/room by removing heat and moisture from the air, shifting the heat and moisture outside. 

The main motive of the air conditioner is to remove the heat and make everything cooler around us and give us every comfort a machine can give. 

Where Can We Use A Heat Pump? 

Heat pumps are mostly used in cold-atmospheric countries to stay safe from extreme cold and stay comfortable. 

Best to use when the atmosphere is over 40 degrees. 

Where Can We Use An Air Conditioner? 

Air conditioners are used mostly in countries having warm atmospheres along with high humidity. 

You can fit an air conditioner anywhere you want. From the office to home to educational institutes, shopping malls, etc., anywhere you want except outside. Because air conditions are not made for using it like that. 

The Similarities Between A Heat Pump And An Air Conditioner

A Heat Pump is a device that generates heat inside a room to increase the temperature within & provide protection and comfort from the cold outside. 

Along with that, a heat pump can do the reverse function, too, that is, providing cold air inside a room to decrease the temperature and protect from the heat outside.

On the other hand, Air Conditioner is a device that protects from the external environment’s heat by decreasing the temperature inside a room by providing cool air.

So from one angle, we can say Air conditioner and heat pump are the same in terms of providing cool air, and from another angle, we can say they are different in terms of providing heat. A heat pump is a 2 in 1 device, being able to do both functions.

The Difference Between A Heat Pump And An Air Conditioner 

The main and basic difference between a heat pump and an air conditioner is that a heat pump is a machine that transfers the heat inside a building/room from outside. An air conditioner is a machine that transfers heat outside from a building/room. 

Another difference is, a heat pump can do both functions, as in providing heat/ cool air inside a room while an air conditioner can only provide cool air inside the room.

Types Of Heat Pump 

There are types of heat pumps in existence currently: 

  • Air-to-air: This type of heat pump collects heat from the air and concentrates it inside the room. 
  • Water source: Water source collects heat from outer domain’s water body 
  • Geothermal: Lastly, geothermal one collects heat from the ground from the outer domain. 

Air-to-air is people’s favorite because it is comparatively less expensive, very efficient, and easier to install than others.

Types Of Air Conditioners

Air conditioners are offering many types of services at this moment. Each of them works differently than one another. 

There are eight types of air conditioners available in the market, and they are – 

  1. Central air conditioner: These types of AC’s are for larger houses. This air conditioner works centrally so that it can be used in multiple rooms at a time. 
  2. Ductless mini-split: You can fit this AC anywhere. It will cool down a certain portion of your home. Its temperature will be in your control, plus it’s much more affordable.
  3. Window air conditioner: This one is the most common type of air conditioner. It is labeled as the best for cooling, especially in smaller homes. Besides, this one is easier to maintain.
  4. Portable air conditioner: This one is quite similar to a window air conditioner. This one is a free-standing unit. It can be moved anywhere very easily and very quickly, and easily to set up. 
  5. Floor mounted air conditioner: If you lack space in your home for any Air conditioner, then this one’s for you. You can keep it on the floor or anywhere in your house. 
  6. Smart air conditioner: If you want to save energy and control your air conditioner by staying anywhere in the world through an app, including many other facilities, then this one is for you. Smart air conditioners are a mixed type of mini-split and both window and portable. 
  7. Geothermal air conditioning system: This type of heating and cooling method are new in town. Since the temperature under 4 to 6 feet of the earth remains intact all year, This new method utilizes heating or cooling down our home. It also has a longer lifespan. 
  8. Hybrid air conditioner: It unites a gas boiler with an electrical air source to the heat pump and delivers a low-cost but effective heating and cooling system. But the problem is its initial setup is very costly. 

The central air conditioner is the most popular and commonly used because of its lower energy bills and better indoor comfort, cooler temperatures, and lower humidity. Its conditioning components are located outside, so one can easily control its cooling with a virtually invisible, silent system.

How Do The Heat Pump And Air Conditioner Work? 

Air conditioning has a similar working process as a refrigerator, where heat is captivated in the system and eliminated from the room. 

Meanwhile, in the heat pump’s working process, the air is blown over an evaporating coil, transferring heat energy to the refrigerant from the air. That heat energy is circulated towards the refrigerant and then to a condenser coil, where it is being let out as a fan blows air past the coil. 

Which One Is Cheaper?

Air conditioners are cheaper, as even if a house is a duct wired, a heat pump will cost 1.5-2 times more than a whole-house Air conditioner. A heat pump has a high upfront cost. Installation is difficult and also needs permissions, so it is costly. But on the other hand, if you use the air conditioner all day long, it will increase your energy bills. So you see, it depends on how much money you want to spend and how you want to spend it. 

Can A Heat Pump Replace An Air Conditioner? 

Yes, a heat pump can replace an air conditioner. A heat pump is an air conditioner, along with the functions of an air conditioner, which can do the reverse function too, which is providing heat to the room.

A heat pump can do both heating and cooling functions, but an air conditioner can only function as cooling. So yes, a heat pump can replace an air conditioner. 

But there is a catch. The heat pump needs regular maintenance, which is often costly. However, good things don’t come for free. 

Advantages Of Using A Heat Pump 

Advantages of Heat Pumps are:

  • The running cost of heat pumps is low.
  • Requires very little maintenance.
  • Ensures good safety. 
  • Helps reduce carbon emissions. 
  • Besides heating, it can also provide cooling.
  • Long-lasting.
  • Eligible for RHI scheme

Disadvantages Of Using A Heat Pump 

Disadvantages of Heat Pumps are:

  • High upfront cost
  • Installation is very difficult.
  • Requires significant work
  • Faces issues when the weather is cold. 
  • It is not totally carbon neutral.
  • Requires permission. 

The Advantages Of Using The Air Conditioner 

The advantage of using an air conditioner is bellowed: 

  • Prevents dehydration and sunstrokes 
  • Improves quality of the air by cooling it down
  • Helps to lower the moisture 
  • Helps to reduce asthma or any other respiratory problem.
  • Helps to have better rest 
  • Reduce the chances of having infections

The Disadvantages Of Using An Air Conditioner 

The disadvantage of air conditioners:

  • Makes skin dry
  • Increase cost 
  • Increases health problems 
  • Increases carbon dioxide in the environment
  • Contributes indirectly to many pollutants like greenhouse gas


Air conditioners provide cool air inside a specific place, a room, or a building.

But a heat pump can do the same function, too, along with providing heat and warm air increases the temperature of the room/ building. It’s like a heat pump is a 2 in 1 machine, both air conditioner and heat provider.

So yes, in the end, it can be stated that heat pumps are air-cooled. Both heat pumps and air conditioners come with many facilities, but if you want a dual experience, then a heat pump will be the best option.

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