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Meet the Ductless Split Heat Pump: Your Affordable Heating & Cooling System!

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Heat pumps are enjoying a gradual rise in popularity across Canada. National Resources Canada reports that in recent years, heat pump technology has improved to the point where heat pumps offer the same affordability, efficiency and flexibility that traditional heating and cooling systems can provide.

Yet many people still are not aware of the benefits and advantages of moving to a heat pump-based heating and cooling system. Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, Heating & Electric, we are proud to carry three different brands of ductless split heat pump systems to serve you.

In this post, learn what you need to know about heat pumps to decide if this is the right heating and cooling system for your needs.

2 Kinds of Air-Source Heat Pumps

If you are just hearing about heat pumps for the first time, it is important to be aware there is more than one kind of air-source heat pump.

There is the air-to-air heat pump, which is by far the most common kind. And there is the air-to-water heat pump, which is used only when a homeowner has a hydronic (water-based) heat distribution system.

3 Types of Air-to-Air Heat Pump Systems

There are three basic types of air-to-air heat pump systems: electric, add-on and bivalent.

Add-on heat pump

The add-on heat pump is currently the most widely used. This type of heat pump is designed to be used with a secondary supplemental heating system such as a furnace. This helps support the heat pump on the few bitterly cold days during the average Canadian winter when a heat pump alone may not provide sufficient heat.

Electric heat pump

The electric heat pump is all-inclusive in that it has its own built-in supplemental heating system. This secondary heating system is an electric-resistance heater.

Bivalent heat pump

A bivalent heat pump is a special type of heat pump that is used only (and was actually developed) in Canada. This specialty type of heat pump has its own inbuilt burner that uses gas or propane to preheat the outdoor coils during very cold days.

3 Cycles of an Air-Source Heat Pump

A heat pump (regardless of the type used) has three basic operating cycles: cool, heat and defrost.

Summer: Cool

During the summer, a heat pump will take heat from your indoor air and transfer it outdoors to keep your home cool and comfortable.

This is the easier of the two main operating cycles to understand, since it is easy to visualize how your home could cool down if the hot air is being consistently removed!

Winter: Heat

During the winter months, heat is removed from the outside air and transported inside to warm your indoor air. This is definitely the operating cycle that most people struggle to comprehend. After all, how there could possibly be any heat in the outside air to use during a Canadian winter!?

But here, it is important to remember that our perception of hot and cold is based on our internal body temperature, which hovers around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius).

So what feels “hot” or “cold” to us isn’t an accurate measurement of how much available heat there may be in the outside air to keep our home at a balmy 20 to 22 degrees Celsius.

The refrigerant in the heat pump is responsible for ensuring it can extract sufficient heat from the outside air to warm your home to the desired temperature. This is also why there will nearly always be a few very cold days during the winter season when your heat pump might not be able to do its job without a bit of supplemental heating help.

Winter: Defrost

The defrost cycle happens during the winter season. It kicks into gear only when the outside temperature drops to near, at or below the freezing point. When this occurs, the outside coil will begin to build up frost as airborne moisture collects and freezes.

This frost buildup can impact a heat pump’s efficiency. The heat pump will sense when it is time to switch over to defrost mode to remove the accumulated frost buildup.

Most heat pumps have two defrost modes: time/temperature mode and demand/frost mode. The former runs the defrost cycle for a preset time period. The latter runs the defrost cycle as needed and for as long as needed to defrost the unit.

3 Excellent Air-Source Air-to-Air Heat Pump Systems

We carry three different heat pump systems: Frigidaire, Fujitsu and Water Furnace.

Our line of Frigidaire heat pumps offer varying SEER ratings and all use eco-friendly refrigerant and provide quiet, efficient operation.

Our Fujitsu systems offer both single-room and multi-room (zoned) options.

Our Water Furnace heat pumps use hydroponic (air-to-water) technology for a smart, earth-friendly geothermal heating and cooling solution.

How to Choose a Heat Pump System

Choosing a heat pump system isn’t so different from choosing a traditional air conditioner or furnace system. You have three main considerations to evaluate:

Size of your space

You want to match the capacity of the heat pump system to the size of the space that needs to be heated and cooled.


Working with a licensed contractor is vital to ensure your new heat pump system is properly and safely installed.

There are many considerations, including placement of your system to avoid damage from the elements and placement of the heat pump coils relative to other existing heating and cooling systems and ductwork.


Efficient operation can be achieved only if you select an appropriate-size unit that is properly installed.

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-877-885-3403 to learn more about our wonderful line of heat pump systems and to schedule your free consultation to find out what type and size of system is right for your space!

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