A heat pump is a machine or device that diverts heat from one location (the 'source') at a lower temperature to another location (the 'sink' or 'heat sink') at a higher temperature using mechanical work or a high-temperature heat source. A heat pump can be used to provide heating or cooling. Even though the heat pump can heat, it still uses the same basic refrigeration cycle to do this. In other words a heat pump can change which coil is the condenser and which the evaporator. This is normally achieved by a reversing valve. In cooler climates it is common to have heat pumps that are designed only to provide heating.
Common examples are food refrigerators and freezers, air conditioners, and reversible-cycle heat pumps for providing building space heating. In heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) applications, a heat pump normally refers to a vapor-compression refrigeration device that includes a reversing valve and optimized heat exchangers so that the direction of heat flow may be reversed. Most commonly, heat pumps draw heat from the air or from the ground.