heat strips for residential heat pumps

What to Know About Heat Strips for Residential Heat Pumps

Are you curious about the tiny heat strips on the back of your heat pump? If you’re a homeowner looking to maximize comfort and warmth during cold months, heat strips are a reliable and effective heating solution. These heat strips for residential heat pumps serve as an additional heating element that you can use in extremely cold temperatures.

However, have you ever wondered how heat strip starts to work? In this article, we’ll discuss what heat strips are and when should you use them to get the most out of your heating system.

What are Heat Strips

Heat strips are supplemental heat sources that are installed inside an air handler, which you can find in air conditioning units. When it’s cold outside, heat strips increase the heat pump’s production of heat. Although they function similarly to an electric stove or a toaster and may be turned on to warm your house, they are unable to produce enough heat to keep you warm and toasty. These are especially appropriate for the spring and fall seasons when the temperature is neither excessively hot nor chilly.

They are usually used to provide emergency or supplemental heating in electric furnaces and heat pump systems. When the primary heating source is insufficient to maintain the required indoor temperature, heat strips for residential heat pumps come into play. Here’s where heat strips are useful. Installing a heat strip in your system is something you should definitely consider if you want to enhance your home’s comfort.

How Do Electric Heat Strips Work?

Similar to a toaster, an electric heat strip produces heat by use of electrical resistance. When an electric current flows through a resistive material, it encounters resistance, and this resistance generates heat. Electric heat strips are made of components such as an electric heating element, insulation, and a metal enclosure. Their purpose is to give extra warmth when needed.

The heated wire elements produce heat, which heats the cold air traveling over them and turns it into warm air that is spread throughout the house.

  • Activation —- When the heat strips are activated, an electrical current flows through them. The resistance in the coils causes them to heat up quickly.
  • Heat Transfer —- As the heat strips reach high temperatures, they transfer the generated heat to the air passing over them. The blower fan then circulates the heated air through the ductwork and into the living spaces.
  • Temperature Control —- To maintain the desired temperature, a thermostat or control system monitors the ambient temperature and regulates the activation of the heat strips accordingly. When the set temperature is reached, the system may cycle off the heat strips to avoid overheating.
  • Supplemental Heating —- Heat strips are often used as supplemental heat sources in heat pump systems. During extremely cold weather, when the heat pump’s efficiency decreases, the heat strips can provide additional heating capacity to meet the heating demand.

When Should You Use Electric Heat Strips for Residential Heat Pumps

Heat strips for residential heat pumps are a good option for homeowners searching for an affordable way to regulate the temperature in their homes. This will allow you and your family to have warm air.

Here are when it is appropriate to use electric heat strips:

  • Cold Weather Operation with Heat Pumps -— Heat pumps are efficient in moderate temperatures but may struggle to provide sufficient heat during extremely cold weather. Electric heat strips are often used as supplemental heat in heat pump systems during cold spells. This helps maintain comfort by providing additional heating capacity.
  • Emergency Heating -— Electric heat strips for residential heat pumps can serve as an emergency or backup heat source when the primary heating system, such as a gas furnace, is temporarily unavailable or not functioning.
  • Quick Boost in Temperature —- Electric heat strips for residential heat pumps can provide a rapid boost in temperature when there’s a need for quick heating, such as when occupants feel chilly or when a space needs to be heated rapidly.
  • Zoning or Room-Specific Heating —- In some HVAC systems, electric heat strips for residential heat pumps can be used in specific zones or rooms to provide localized heating. This allows for greater control over individual areas of a building.
  • Stand-Alone Electric Furnaces —- In systems that rely solely on electricity for heating, such as stand-alone electric furnaces, heat strips are the primary heat source. These systems are commonly found in regions where electricity is a cost-effective and readily available energy source.
  • Residential Air Handlers —- Electric heat strips are often integrated into residential air handlers as auxiliary or backup heat. This configuration is common in regions with milder winters, where a heat pump is the primary heating source.
heat strips for residential heat pumps

Frequently Asked Questions

When do the electric heat strips in a heat pump come into play?

Electric heat strips are typically activated during extremely cold weather conditions when the heat pump alone may struggle to extract sufficient heat from the outdoor air. The heat strips serve as a backup or supplemental heating source to ensure comfortable indoor temperatures.

Are electric heat strips energy-efficient, and how do they impact electricity bills?

Electric heat strips are less energy-efficient than the primary heating mode of a heat pump, as they consume a significant amount of electricity. As a result, using heat strips for residential heat pumps extensively can lead to higher energy bills. It’s advisable to use them sparingly and rely on the heat pump’s more efficient operation whenever possible.

Can I control when the electric heat strips are activated?

Yes, the activation of electric heat strips is typically controlled by the thermostat. Modern thermostats often have settings that allow users to customize the conditions under which the heat strips for residential heat pumps are activated. This control helps homeowners manage energy usage and costs effectively.

Do all residential heat pumps come with electric heat strips, and are they necessary?

Not all heat strips for residential heat pumps come with electric, but many are equipped with them as a supplemental heating option. Whether they are necessary depends on factors like climate, local temperatures, and the heat pump’s efficiency. In milder climates, heat strips may be used less frequently, while in colder regions, they serve as crucial backup heating elements.


If you’re one of the many Sarasota homeowners who use heat strips for residential heat pumps to warm the chilly air in your homes, we can assist you. At Tropic Air Conditioning, we understand the challenges associated with finding trustworthy HVAC services. Our professionals can help you with any kind of HVAC problem and provide expert services. Contact us today.