During temperature extremes (very hot, very cold) the unit will run longer than normal to meet the temperature set on the thermostat. In fact, the unit may run continuously for several hours.
Heat pumps operate with much lower air temperatures than gas or electric furnaces. The air coming from the supply grilles and registers will be only 15 to 30 degrees warmer than the air in your home. It will feel cool if it blows directly on you.
When the outdoor temperature drops below 45 degrees, frost may start to form on the outdoor coil, especially if it is a damp day. Some defrost cycles operate on a timer anywhere between 45 minutes and 6 hours. The coil may almost be completely covered with frost at times. Don't worry unless it continues to build up a thick layer with areas of hard clear ice.
When the heat pump is defrosting, a cloud of steam may rise from the outdoor unit for a short time. This is normal and harmless. Make sure water can drain away from the unit and keep snow cleared away to prevent ice from building up and causing damage. If the outdoor unit is making a hissing or gurgling noise or you see a cloud of steam, these are all normal during the defrost cycle.
For basic information please refer to the owner information manual.