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Do All Heat Pumps Have Emergency Heat? (Quick Answers)

If you live in an area where the weather hardly cares about your comfort, then you must have heat pumps at your house. Heat pumps are a savior during ice-cold days as well as in the summer as they can keep a place both cool and warm. 

If you have ever closely monitored your heat pump, you might have noticed a button saying EM heat or Emergency Heat.

The thought might hit your mind if it’s only your heat pump or all the heat pumps that include such service. You may even wonder when this emergency heat should be used.

So to clear your thoughts and confusions regarding emergency heat in a heat pump we’ve here explained what exactly is an emergency heat pump, how it works, and everything in between!

What is emergency heat on a heat pump? What does the emergency heat setting do?

The emergency heat setting is secondary heating on a heat pump that helps to keep your house warm whenever the main heat pump can’t pull heat inside the house due to super cold. 

Almost every heat pump has a backup heating source that can be gas, hot water, or electric. It’s for too cold weather like below 30 degrees. This setting is kept to prevent damage to the heat pump outside.

Emergency heat setting manages these secondary heat stripes. It is activated when the primary heat pump is shut down. It then collects heat from heat stripes and keeps heating the place.

When switched to emergency heat setting the main heating system stops running and provides heat. Instead, the indoor heating system runs and pulls warmth from the secondary or backup heating sources.

Do all heat pumps have emergency heat?

Most heat pumps have emergency heat. This heat is used when the pump can’t pull warmth from outside due to severe cold. Emergency heat is a backup heat that comes from a secondary heating source such as gas or electricity. However, a few used in warmer zones don’t include this setting.

A heat pump is installed in two units inside and outside of a house. As the house owner wishes heat pump collects heat from outside and vents it inside to keep the place warm.

Since it can reverse the flow of refrigerant, during hotter days’ a heat pump can cool a place by transferring the heat out of the place.

Not only that, even on very cold days when most outdoor machines barely run, you will find yourself in warmth because of heat pumps’ emergency heat settings. 

The emergency heat is kept as backup heat for very cold days when the pump cannot run as usual. At 20 to 30 degrees, the heat pump cannot collect the outdoor heat. They might even break down if tries to run the heater.

That’s why there are heat stripes that can be operated with gas, electricity, or fuel. In case of emergency the heat pump shuts down and these heat stripes take over the heating.

Almost all heat pumps have emergency heat. A few might not include this in their heating system, but they can be added later by spending some bucks. Otherwise, you’ll barely find a heat pump that doesn’t have emergency heat.

Why do heat pumps have emergency heat?

If you’ve noticed an emergency button on your heat pump, then you must have thought about why it’s even there. Well, now you can know the reasons: 

To keep you warm in too cold:

Heat pumps are meant to provide heat but when the temperature outside is less than 30 degrees, they cannot work as usual. 

Emergency heat saves you from freezing as it runs quickly to collect heat from the secondary heat sources as the usual process stops.

To prevent the heating system from damage:

In high cold, the primary pump installed outside cannot collect heat. If it continues running the heater high chance it will collapse along with the central heating. 

A damaged heat pump will cost you a lot of money and time to repair and reinstall. Emergency heat prevents the damage by taking over the responsibility of providing heat.

How do I know if my heat pump has emergency heat?

If you own a heat pump and are unsure if it has emergency heat you can look for the signs and features mentioned below:

There will be a label:

Your heat pump will have a button or switch that says “EM Heat” or emergency heat, or “Auxiliary Heat” in it. Usually, this switch comes with an indicator light, mostly in the color red. 

It will have heat stripes:

Heat pumps with emergency heat setting has extra electric or fuel heat source. If you notice electric or gas heat stripes in the inside unit, specifically with the air handler, it’s for the emergency heat. 

There will be an Add-on option:

If your heat up doesn’t include emergency heat, you can still use the mode by adding it later. Heat pumps suitable for emergency heat mode will have a setting saying “Add-on”.

Will my heat pump automatically switch emergency heat?

Yes, the emergency mode of a heat pump will activate automatically when the emergency occurs. You don’t need to switch on the emergency heat unless the main pump needs repairing.

A heat pump has advanced settings and features for all your situations. For example, the emergency heat setting. This mode is for the days when the heat pump can’t act as usual due to very low temperatures.

The emergency heat is an automated feature. It does have a manual switch but The heating system switches to emergency heat without any manual signal as soon as it finds out the outside weather is very cold.

Emergency heat mode gets activated below 35 or 30 degrees while the main pump is still working. This mode is designed in such a way that it quickly catches the temperature difference and in no time starts running.

Should I run my heat pump on emergency heat?

You should never run your heat pump on emergency heat unless the crisis is real. As the emergency heat requires electric or gas heat stripes to produce heat, it’s not a cost-friendly idea to pull off randomly.

Emergency heat is a great solution for freezing days but it’s expensive at the same time. It’s much costlier than your entire heating system as it consumes a lot of electricity or fuel. Thus it increases your bills too high.

You should only use emergency heat when it automatically turns on and the heat pump stops in too cold weather. That’s the perfect time for enjoying this service.

You may use it if the pump is on repair and you need warmth badly but try to keep the duration as short as possible. Or else you will find your pocket burnt with high energy bills.

Final Thoughts 

Almost all heat pumps include the emergency heat setting except a few made for southern climate zones. Emergency heat is a must-have for the areas that face low temperatures like 30 degrees or less very often. It works as a backup when the heat pump stops functioning as usual in too cold weather.