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Heat Pump FAQs

Air Source Heat Pumps

What are Air Source Heat Pumps?

Air Source Heat Pumps are a renewable heating technology that can reliably supply significantly more energy than it uses, allowing a reduction in the running costs of many buildings even at temperatures as low as -20˚C. With no local CO₂ emissions, an air source heat pump can help to reduce the impact on the environment.

How do Air Source Heat Pumps work?

Air source heating systems, sometimes known as air-to water systems, use the refrigeration process to transform low-grade energy from the air outside into high-grade energy for heating and domestic use and advanced inverter technology improves efficiency over the entire year. The continuous cycle of changing the state of the refrigerant from liquid to vapour allows the heat pump to extract the maximum energy from the air.

How efficient is an Air Source Heat Pump?

ASHP are becoming ever increasingly efficient with leading brands such as Hitachi Yutaki reaching 250-400% efficiency. Most heat pumps are designed to still extract heat from the air in temperatures even as low as -20. However, as temperatures drop into negative figures the heat pump will have to work harder and for longer. As a result greater electrical use will be required in colder weather.

Heat pump performance is shown as a CoP or Coefficient of Performance, which takes into account a variety of factors which can affect efficiency, allowing different models to be compared.

Is an Air Source Heat Pump suitable for me?

Air source heat pumps are suitable for both new-build and renovation projects where levels of insulation are in line with current Building Regulation standards. The better the insulation of the building, the less the heat pump as to work. Consequently the heat pump will reach desired temperature quicker and will not have to work as hard to maintain temperature. The ability of the heat emitter to run at low flow temperatures will significantly improve the performance of the heat pump. Therefore we recommend underfloor heating where possible.

What Air Source Heat Pumps do we install?

We install a range of brands but we recommend The Hitachi Yutaki air source heat pumps supplied by Nu-Heat. They are amongst the most advanced and efficient models available in the UK and in conjunction with Nu Heats customer service, technical back up and experience the end user receives the complete package with no gaps.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages Disadvantages
Potential to reduce bills significantly depending on your current situation For hot water, we recommend a back up source.
Reduced carbon emissions Requires electricity to operate the pump.
Can be used for heating, cooling, domestic hot water or for heating swimming pools They are not as efficient in the winter. I.e. they work a little harder in order to reach desired temperatures
Need little maintenance
Cheaper to install than Ground Source Heat pumps
No fuel deliveries required
Highly efficient

 Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground Source Heat Pumps are a renewable energy source which utilizes heat from the underground. This heat energy is then transferred from the ground to the premises where it can be used for hot water as well as heating.

How efficient is a Ground Source Heat Pump?

Ground Source Heat Pumps are highly efficient as they are simply transferring energy rather than creating it. Ground Source Heat Pumps are becoming increasingly efficient, with some products on the market capable of producing 4KW of heat using just 1KW of electricity to power the pump. Making it 400% efficient (Co-efficient Of Performance, COP 4:1)

However, the flow temperature of warm water achieved at the point of consumption is usually between 35-55⁰C. Higher temperatures can be obtained by working the pump harder but this compromises the COP. Therefore, heat pumps are brilliant for central heating especially in premises that are highly insulated and have underfloor heating. But, domestic hot water demand will require a back up. This back up will act as a top up, to the heat the ‘heat pump’ has already generated.

How does a Ground Source Heat Pump Work?

A series of pipes known as the ground loop are laid in the ground. The ground loop can either be laid in trenches or in bore holes. The ground loop pipes are filled with a mixture of water and glycol (type of antifreeze). The soil surrounding the ground loop is of higher temperature (10⁰C – 13⁰C), which softly warms the glycol water mix as it is pumped through the ground loop.

  • Stage 1 -The small required temperature increase of 3⁰C-4⁰C is carried through the ground loop to the heat exchanger/evaporator. The evaporator collects the heat from the heat loop liquid and returns it cool for the next cycle. This is done by boiling a refrigerant (-10⁰C) which turns to vapour.
  • Stage 2 – The vapour produced in stage one is then forced into the compressor. The compressor acts as a catalyst by compressing the volume of the vapour. As the vapours volume reduces the temperature increases to temperatures between 75⁰C and 125⁰C.
  • Stage 3 -This hot gas is then fed through a condenser which allows the refrigerant to turn back into a liquid. As the refrigerant condenses its heat is passed into the Heat exchanger.
  • Stage 4 – Following the heat exchange the circuit is complete by an expansion valve, which reduces the pressure of the condense liquid.

Installation

The majority of Ground source heat pumps have two loops. Primary and Secondary. The primary loop being in the appliance itself and the secondary being in the ground. The secondary loop is placed below the frost line to acquire more stable temperatures and where possible in a wetter soil as the heat moves more freely across the soil to the ground loop.

The ground loop can be installed in 2 ways:

  • Vertical closed loop – The pipe simply runs vertically. A hole is bored vertically into the ground from anything between 25-150m deep. This is the more expensive option.
  • Horizontal closed loop – Pipe run horizontally in ground at a depth of 1.5-2m. However, the depth is dependant on the soil type. This is the cheaper option but will require more space to fit the ground loop in the given area.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages Disadvantages
High reliability (has few moving parts) For hot water, an auxiliary heat source is required
Lower CO₂ emissions than fossil fuels Pump needs to run for longer in the winter to reach desired temperatures
Long lasting Needs electricity to operate and control pump
Low maintenance costs Performance is exposed to weather conditions. Colder ground results in lower performance
No need to store fuel
No fuel delivery required
Potential to save money depending on existing system