One of the biggest differences between a heat pump and an AC unit is that the heat pump provides heat and cool air and the AC unit can only cool.Though the two units look similar in design they operate differently.
An AC unit limits the amount of cooling that is spread to the indoor coils to provide cool air. A heat pump allows the indoor coil to be expanded to cool or compressed to provide heat.
An AC unit is more cost effective to use for cooling, but cannot be used in colder months to warm the home. In areas with longer periods of winter weather, a heat pump is the most cost-effective unit.
Another difference in a heat pump and an AC unit is the cost. An AC unit tends to be more expensive to purchase upfront. Installation costs for the two units depend on the size of the unit and the location where it is installed.
Another difference between the heat pump and AC unit is that the heat pump's operation can be reversed. The pump can reverse the flow of the refrigerant and allow for heating or cooling. The heat pump is also more environment-friendly than the AC unit.