A dual fuel heat pump is a type of heating system that combines the benefits of both a heat pump and a furnace (gas or propane). It uses an electric heat pump as the primary source of heat, but switches to a gas or propane furnace when either outdoor temperatures drop too low for the heat pump to be efficient or the user selects a different parameter by which the backup furnace is engaged. This system provides the energy-efficiency of a heat pump and the backup heating capability of a furnace, making it a more versatile option for areas with extreme temperatures.
On the other hand, a standard heat pump is a heating and cooling system that uses electricity to transfer heat from one location to another, either from the outside air to the inside of a building, or vice versa. It operates efficiently in moderate climates, but can struggle in extremely cold temperatures. When outdoor temperatures fall below a certain point, the heat pump may struggle to extract enough heat to keep the indoor temperature at the desired level. An electric heat kit, also known as an electric backup heat strip or electric heat strip, is a heating element that is typically installed in a heat pump to provide supplementary heating when the heat pump is not able to keep up with heating demand due to low outdoor temperatures or other factors.
The electric heat kit consists of electric coils that are heated by electricity, and these coils then provide heat to the indoor air that is circulated by the heat pump's air handler. When the heat pump is not able to extract enough heat from the outdoor air to maintain the desired indoor temperature, the electric heat kit is automatically activated to provide additional heat to the home. Electric heat kits tend to be less energy-efficient than a heat pump, so they are typically only used when necessary to supplement the heat pump's heating capacity.