When you look over the options for heating and cooling systems to have installed in your house, you’ll see something called a dual fuel system, a.k.a. a hybrid system. Part of it is self-explanatory: it uses two types of fuel. But what types of fuel? And what does it do with these fuels? And, most importantly, is it something that you need for your house?
We’ll answer these questions in order …
What Types of Fuel?
The dual fuels are 1) electricity and 2) something else. We know, that isn’t too helpful. But the “something else” is almost always propane. There are other choices, but in most cases dual fuel systems are installed in homes that don’t have a connection to a natural gas line, so the second type of fuel they use will be heating oil that can be stored.
What Does It Do With These Fuels?
Now we get to the heart of the system. A dual fuel system is a type of heat pump. Heat pumps run on electricity and operate similarly to an air conditioner. A compressor places refrigerant under pressure, forcing it to circulate between two sets of indoor and outdoor coils. The refrigerant absorbs heat from one set of coils and releases it through the other set. Depending on the heat pump’s mode, it can either release heat to the indoors (heating mode) or remove it from the indoors (cooling mode).
A standard heat pump only uses electricity to run. But with a dual fuel or hybrid heat pump, there is also a back-up system that runs from propane (or other heating oil). This backup system is a small furnace that will activate when the heat pump is in heating mode and is struggling to maintain energy efficiency in extremely cold weather. This efficiency drop is a potential drawback of using a heat pump in freezing weather, and the backup furnace makes up the difference to help warm the house.
Is a Dual Fuel System Something I Need for My House?
Maybe. This is a call we can’t make on a general blog post, because it depends on your house and the fuel supplies you have available. If your home has a natural gas line, then using a heat pump of any kind is usually not the best strategy. It’s better to rely on a natural gas furnace and an air conditioner for comfort around the year.
However, if live in an all-electric house, a dual fuel system may be ideal. A heat pump is an excellent way to provide warmth to a home as an alternative to an electric furnace because it costs less to run—and you get cooling as well. A technician can tell you if a heat pump may struggle during the coldest weather and if you should have a dual fuel heat pump instead.
We offer complete HVAC services in Marlton, NJ and have ten years of experience finding ideal ways to heat and cool local homes. Trust us to find the best HVAC system to meet your needs.
Gibson Heating & Cooling serves the greater Cherry Hill, NJ area. Call us to find out more about dual fuel systems.