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What Does The Heat Strip Do In An Air Condition?

The heat strip, also known as an electric heating element or auxiliary heat, plays a crucial role in an air conditioner, although it is entirely concealed from view. Air conditioners perform a secondary role in regulating temperature during the winter months, even though their primary purpose is to chill indoor environments; here is when the heat strip is useful.

Air conditioning systems have evolved into vital tools in modern climate management, especially in areas where sweltering summers occur regularly. Various parts and technology are behind the scenes of these cooling miracles, creating a cozy environment. The heat strip stands out among these essential components as a lesser-known but critical air conditioning system component.

In this article, I will take you through the heat strip’s multiple functions in an air conditioning system. I will help you understand the component’s role in sustaining the appropriate indoor climate by diving into its function, operation, and significance. This voyage into the world of heat strips will be helpful and educational, whether you are a homeowner looking to optimize your HVAC system or are simply curious about how air conditioners operate.

So, let’s explore the finer points of climate management and solve the riddles of the heat strip’s role in ensuring our year-round comfort.

What Is The Work Of A Heat Strip In Your Air Conditioner?

What Does The Heat Strip Do In An Air Condition

Your air conditioner’s heat strip is essential for preserving indoor comfort, especially in colder months. Its major purpose is to supply additional heating when the air conditioner is in heating mode, keeping your living area warm and comfortable. Here is a detailed explanation of what a heat strip does and how it differs from other heating sources:

        Factors                                          Description
Supplemental heatingThe heat strip activates to help raise the temperature of the inside air when the thermostat is set to the heating mode. It works by running an electric current through a coil or resistive wire, which causes heat to be produced. The blower fan then disperses this warm air throughout your house, substantially raising the temperature.
Quick responseRapid heating is one of the things that sets heat strips apart from other heating devices. Heat strips have a faster start-up time than other heating types, such as heat pumps or gas furnaces. This prompt response is especially helpful when temperatures suddenly decrease, or it is chilly in the morning.
Zoned heatingHeat strips can work with zoned heating, letting you regulate the temperature in particular rooms in your house. This adaptability helps preserve comfort while reducing energy use in vacant places.
Energy efficiencyAlthough heat strips produce heat efficiently, they are not the most energy-efficient heating source. Compared to heat pumps or gas furnaces, they often use more electricity. As a result, they are frequently utilized as a backup heating option when necessary rather than as the main source of heat.
Backup heatingHeat strips can also be used as backup heating in areas with bitterly cold weather. The heat strip can offer extra warmth to maintain the ideal temperature when a heat pump has trouble drawing heat from the cold outdoor air.

The function of an air conditioner heat strip is to offer additional and prompt heating as necessary. Its distinctive features include quick reaction, zonal heating capability, and adaptability as a backup heating source. Heat strips might be less energy-efficient than other heating solutions. Therefore, it’s crucial to use them sparingly.

How Does The Heat Strip Operate?

What Does The Heat Strip Do In An Air Condition

A heat strip in an air conditioner works in a fairly simple manner. It works by producing heat through electrical resistance. Here is a detailed description of how a heat strip works:

  • Activation: The heat strip is turned on when your thermostat is set to the heating setting and the inside temperature falls below the required level. This usually occurs when the heat pump does not adequately meet your heating requirements.
  • Electric current flow: When the heat strip is turned on, an electrical current is passed through a coil or wire of resistance. High electrical resistance suggests that this wire or coil hinders the flow of electricity by design. It produces heat as electricity flows through the resistance.
  • Heat production: The wire or coil quickly becomes hot due to its electrical resistance. The surrounding air gets warmed as a result of this heat transfer.
  • Air circulation: Blower fans, an air conditioning system component, blow air over the heated coil or wire. The chilly air from your living area is drawn in by this fan, warmed by the heat strip, and then sent into your rooms through the ductwork.
  • Temperature control: As the heated air is dispersed around your home, it mixes with the ambient air to gradually raise the temperature inside until it reaches the set temperature on the thermostat. The thermostat instructs the heat strip to turn off when the specified temperature is reached to avoid overheating.
  • Intermittent use: Heat strips are used infrequently, mainly in exceptionally cold weather or when an immediate increase in indoor warmth is required. They could also serve as backup heating in heat pump systems during defrost cycles or when extremely cold temperatures reduce the heat pump’s effectiveness.

Different Types Of Heat Strips In An Air Conditioner

Heat strips come in various varieties, each having unique properties and uses in air conditioning systems. Here are some popular heat-strip varieties, each with an example:

Electric Resistance Heat Strip

Electrical current is passed through a resistive element – commonly constructed of nichrome wire – in electric resistance heat strips, the most popular variety. The resistance of this wire produces heat and is subsequently dispersed into the atmosphere by a fan. During colder months, these are frequently used with heat pumps to offer additional heating.

  • Example: The Goodman Electric Heat Kit is made by a reputable HVAC company selling electric heat kits compatible with their air handlers or heat pump systems.
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Hydronic Heat Strips 

Hydronic heat strips employ a heated liquid, like hot water or glycol, to generate heat. These systems warm the air disseminated throughout the residence by circulating the heated liquid through coils or pipes. Hydronic systems are renowned for using little energy.

  • Example: The Uponor Wirsbo Radiant Floor Heating System is a product from a respected company that sells hydronic radiant floor heating systems. For this kind of system, there are numerous parts and kits available.

Gas Heat Strips 

To generate heat, gas heat strips burn either natural gas or propane as a fuel. They can frequently be found in residential furnaces and business HVAC systems. Electric resistance heating is frequently less energy-efficient than gas heating.

  • Example: The Rheem Gas Furnace is from a well-known manufacturer of gas furnaces. For household heating requirements, they provide a variety of gas furnaces.

Backup Heat Strips For Heat Pumps 

Backup heat strips are specifically for heat pump systems. They consist of electric resistance coils turned on when a heat pump cannot provide enough heat, usually in extremely cold weather.

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Ductless Mini-Split Heat Strips

Heat strips for ductless mini-split systems are an additional option. In specific zones or rooms served by a mini-split system, these are frequently electric resistance coils that offer additional warmth.

It’s important to note that brand availability and specific product offerings are subject to change over time. Always check Amazon or other relevant merchants for their most recent listings for the most recent heat strip selections and costs. You could also speak with HVAC professionals or consult user reviews to make a knowledgeable choice when buying heating equipment for your unique needs.

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03/07/2024 12:36 pm GMT

Pros And Cons Of A Heat Strip In Your Air Conditioner?

Using a heat strip in an air conditioner can bring comfort; however, you must consider some disadvantages. Here are the benefits and drawbacks of having a heat strip in your air conditioner.

          Aspects                      Pros                    Cons
Supplemental heatingWhen your primary heating source, such as a heat pump, is insufficient; heat strips offer additional warmth. This guarantees that you’ll be cozy during the cooler months.The disadvantage is that heat strips can use a lot of electricity, which could result in greater energy costs, particularly if used frequently.
Quick responseHeat strips are the best solution for handling abrupt temperature reductions since they provide rapid heating, which allows them to swiftly reheat your environment.However, this speedy response comes with the penalty of greater electricity consumption when in use, which may influence your energy costs.
Zoned heatingIncorporating heat strips into zoned systems enables you to accurately regulate the temperature in various rooms of your house for individualized comfort.Zoned heating systems may cost more to install initially than conventional heating systems.
Backup heatingHeat strips are dependable emergency heating options that keep your house warm in freezing temperatures or when your main heating system is malfunctioning.When used frequently, their lower energy efficiency than other heating techniques can result in higher energy expenses.
VersatilityDue to their adaptability and ability to be integrated into different HVAC systems, heat strips can be used in various settings and configurations.They are often utilized as supplemental heating rather than the main heat source because of their energy usage.
Convenience and comfortHeat strips contribute to increased comfort and convenience in your house by helping to maintain a constant interior temperature.You must use heat strips sparingly and consider the effect on your energy expenses to balance comfort and energy efficiency.

Ultimately, you should decide whether to put a heat strip in an air conditioner based on your heating demands, energy efficiency objectives, budget, and general comfort needs. You can choose the best course of action for your circumstance by balancing these considerations.

Where Do Heat Strips Come In Handy?

What Does The Heat Strip Do In An Air Condition

Heat strips are useful when additional heating is needed to maintain comfort or meet particular needs. Here are some situations where heat strips are especially helpful:

  • Cold winters: Heat strips are useful backup heating sources in areas with cold winters when the main heating system, such as a heat pump, struggles to heat the space sufficiently.
  • Extreme cold snaps: Heat strips can offer quick and responsive heating during abrupt and severe decreases in temperature to keep indoor spaces warm and comfortable.
  • Commercial rooms: Heat strips are frequently used in commercial buildings, offices, and retail establishments to maintain suitable indoor temperatures, particularly in bigger rooms needing additional heating.
  • HVAC system design: You can incorporate heat strips in HVAC system designs to give flexibility and versatility, guaranteeing that the system can efficiently satisfy heating demands.
  • Backup heating: If the main heating system fails, you can use heat strips as backup heating sources to avoid discomfort and possible property damage from freezing temperatures.
  • Precise temperature control: Heat strips can be used with other heating techniques to create the desired conditions in specialized areas where accurate temperature control is essential, such as laboratories.
  • Ductless mini-split systems: Ductless mini-split systems are adaptable for different home layouts because they frequently come with heat strips as additional heating options for certain zones or rooms.

Heat strips in HVAC are adaptable system parts useful when preserving indoor comfort and meeting heating needs are top priorities. They are useful additions to air conditioning systems in various home and commercial settings due to their quick response time, adaptability, and capacity for backup heating.


The straightforward heat strip in an air conditioning system is a silent hero, ready to face indoor comfort challenges. My analysis of the heat strip’s capabilities and intended use shows that it performs a crucial task, particularly in certain climatic conditions.

A heat strip has many advantages. When winter’s chill sets in, it provides additional heating to keep you cozy and warm. When integrated into zoned systems, its short response time gives you immediate respite on those unseasonably chilly days. It gives you exact control over the temperature in different parts of your house.

Heat strips in commercial settings keep people comfortable, fostering an atmosphere favorable to output and economic success. They also act as reliable backup heaters, guarding against discomfort and damage to property when main heating systems fail.

With heat strips, it’s not all warmth and sunshine, though. Their voracious thirst for electricity might result in higher energy costs. Therefore, careful consideration must be taken when using them. However, when used appropriately, they strike a crucial balance between comfort and energy efficiency.

In conclusion, even though it may not be the show’s star, the heat strip ensures that your house or place of business is welcoming and pleasant even when the temperature drops. It is an invaluable asset in the field of HVAC, quietly working to keep you warm when winter’s chilly grip takes hold thanks to its adaptability, speed, and function as a solid backup.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

How long do heat strips normally last, and do they need routine maintenance?

Some maintenance is necessary for heat strips in air conditioning systems to work well and have a respectable lifespan. The heating coils should be inspected for damage or corrosion and cleaned to remove dust or dirt buildup. Electrical connections must also be examined for tightness and safety.

Regarding durability, heat strips can endure for 10 to 15 years with continuous use and good maintenance. However, usage patterns and the components’ caliber may impact their longevity. Their lifespan could be shortened if they are frequently utilized as a major heating source.

Heat strip durability and effectiveness are both increased by routine maintenance. A qualified HVAC specialist is recommended to execute maintenance duties and inspections once a year to guarantee safe and dependable functioning. You may reap the rewards of heat strips for many more heating seasons if you take care of them.

How can you use heat strips effectively without using more energy than necessary?

To prevent excessive energy costs, using heat strips effectively is essential. To ensure their effective use, consider the following helpful advice:

  • To avoid using more heat strips than necessary, don’t set the thermostat much higher than you consider comfortable. Aim for a warm interior environment that is comfortable but not oppressively so.
  • Invest in a programmable thermostat that enables you to schedule temperature changes. When you’re sleeping or away from home, turn down the heat; when you’re home, turn it up. Thus, unauthorized heat strip activation is avoided.
  • Maintain your HVAC system regularly, paying special attention to the heat strips. Regularly clean or replace air filters to prevent airflow obstructions that make the heat strips work harder.
  • By reducing heat loss and insulating your home properly, you can increase the effectiveness of your heating system, including heat strips.
  • If your system enables it, employ zoning to heat only the spaces you use. As a result, the house doesn’t need to be heated as much.
  • Think about alternative heating: Before using heat strips in milder climates, turn to your primary heating source, such as a heat pump. If you need a backup, use them.

These are a few common ways to get the best out of the heat strips without unnecessary energy expenses.

What differentiates heat strips from an HVAC system’s main heating unit, such as a heat pump and furnace?

The main distinction between heat strips and the main heating appliance in your HVAC system, such as a heat pump or furnace, is their function and efficiency.

              Factors            Operation             Efficiency
Heat strips (electric resistance heating)Heat strips function by running an electrical current through a coil of resistance that produces heat. A fan then circulates this heat into your home.Compared to other heating techniques, they are less energy-efficient because they tend to use more electricity while providing rapid warmth. As a result, they are frequently utilized as additional or backup heat sources.
Primary heating source (heat pump or furnace)Heat pumps generally absorb heat from the outdoor environment or the ground to the indoors. Meanwhile, furnaces burn fuel such as oil or gas to produce heat to distribute through the ducts.Heat pumps can be highly efficient for moving the existing heat instead of generating the heat.  The furnace’s productivity depends on the fuel source and its maintenance.

Although heat strips are quick at providing heat, they are less energy efficient. Still, primary sources of heat pumps or furnaces can give you various energy efficiency levels based on their type and maintenance.

How much does installing or swapping heat strips in an HVAC system cost?

The type of heat strips, the size and complexity of your HVAC system, and local labor rates can all affect how much it costs to install or replace heat strips in an HVAC system. Here’s what you may anticipate generally:

  • Installations cost: Installing heat strips in a new HVAC system might cost anywhere from $500 to $2,500 or more, depending on the size of the system and the installation’s complexity. Both the cost of the heat strips themselves and the installation labor are included in this.
  • Replacement cost: The price may be reduced if you’re replacing heat strips already in your HVAC system; it normally ranges from $300 to $1,500. The type and size of the heat strips you’re putting will determine the actual cost.
  • Additional charges: Keep in mind that, depending on the particulars of your HVAC system, there may be additional charges for materials, such as ductwork changes, electrical cabling, or controllers.

It’s recommended to speak with HVAC experts in your region to obtain an accurate quotation. They may evaluate your system’s specifications and offer a precise price based on your requirements and preferences. Consider obtaining different quotations to compare costs and ensure a fair bargain.


  • Alanna Greene

    Alanna is an avid traveler who lives in Michigan. In addition to writing for Temperature Master, he also sells crafts on Etsy and takes long walks through the forests near her home.

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