How Do Heatpumps Work?

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As the world continues to search for renewable and planet-friendly systems and resources, air-source heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular. One of the main concerns about these systems, however, is the amount of noise that they generate – and we have decided to take a closer look to help ensure that you have all the information that you need.

How Does A Heat Pump Work?

A heat pump takes heat from outside and moves that heat inside your home. It uses electricity to deliver heat into your home, but the quantity of heat delivered is far greater than the quantity of energy used to power the system itself.

A heat pump captures energy from the environment and uses a small amount of electricity when producing warm (35-50 degree) water, so they emit much less CO2 – this is good news for the planet, as well as your energy bills!

Is An Air-To-Water Heat Pump Right For Me?

Heat pumps are suitable for many kinds of homes, air to water heat pumps are the main type of domestic heat pump used in the UK. There are a few things you need to consider before deciding whether a heating system is right for you.

The first thing to do is check the heating requirements of your property – there are some limitations when working with certain types of heat pumps.

Do You Have Somewhere To Put It?

You’ll want a space outside your house where a unit can be installed on a wall or placed on a ground surface. It must be large enough so that there’s plenty of room for airflow.

There are two main categories of air-to-water heat pumps: monobloc and split systems. A monobloc heat pump system has all the components for pumping water into your house in one outdoor unit, with pipes running from the outdoor unit to an indoor unit where the water circulates through the heating system and a hot water cylinder.

A split system separates indoor and outdoor components. Depending on your budget and the size of your property, whether a monobloc or a split system is right for your property will depend on your budget.

Monobloc tends to be cheaper, quicker to install, and take up less space in your home, but they’re usually slightly less energy-efficient than split systems. Efficiency gains from split systems come from some heat being transferred inside the building where it’s warmer, resulting in less energy being lost.

If you don’t have any limitations regarding space inside your home, then it might be worth the extra cost to install a split system. Your installer should be there to help you choose the design you want, and will help you to make the smartest choice depending on the needs of your home.

How Loud Is A Heat Pump?

For both monobloc and divided heat pumps, the external unit is exactly the same. Fans move air across the heat exchangers, creating noise.

Unless the heat pump works very hard (for example, in cold weather or when producing hot water), you can expect its noise to be similar to that of a refrigerator, if you were standing close by.

You could easily hold an ordinary conversation next to it without raising your voice, making it ideal for your home. As it gets colder out, this noise will increase, but should still allow for easy conversations, only raising your voice slightly.

The inside unit for an air conditioning unit only contains valves and pumps, making very little noise at all. Ultimately, heat pump noises are unlikely to be something that you need to worry too much about – the level of noise is unlikely to be a real issue.

How Will You Heat The Rooms In Your Home?

It may seem like magic when you try to figure out how a heat pump works, but it is quite  simple. The mechanism at hand essentially transfers heat from one place to another and only uses a small amount of energy in the form of electricity.

That’s right, no direct burning of fossil fuels but an innovative method of heat transfer.

The most typical heat pumps will be those in a property or business that work via an air source process where the air inside is effectively heated.

There are also ground source heat pumps that work by transferring heat from the soil or an outside water body to heat your home.

If you were looking to reduce your carbon footprint and use smart and effective energy-efficient devices then this is certainly one.

What Is A Heatpump?

A heat pump is a relatively new form of technology that is used to heat or cool an enclosed space by transferring thermal energy.

Effectively, the heat pump will capture energy from outside then move it into a property to be converted into heat. This heat can then be circulated in a heating system, including its hot water system.

The heat pump is part of a range of products that perform HVAC which is heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. They are mainly used to heat properties through radiators, warm air convectors, and underfloor heating systems.

Heat pumps can also heat the water for use in a property’s hot water taps, showers, or baths.

They can also work as air conditioners to provide climate control capabilities in whichever environment you use one in.

What Is A Heatpump Made Of?

The heat pump comprises two parts: the compressor and the condenser unit (also known as a condenser coil). The condenser unit is usually found outside and this is the part that does the hard work in absorbing the thermal energy from the outside air via the fan.

This outside air is then transferred into the refrigerant circuit through heat exchanger coils.

A compressor is an indoor unit that typically sits on a wall. The unit uses refrigerant which is a chemical compound, that flows through a compressor using electricity to compress it and  make it superheated.

This compound is pressurised, and more pressure means a higher temperature.

Once superheated, it flows through the condensing coil. This heat is then transferred to the heating system via a heat exchanger to heat a property.

Once the refrigerant heat is transferred into the property through the heat exchanger, It cools and expands . Allowing  the refrigerant to absorb more heat from outside and so the cycle repeats.

How Does A Heatpump Work?

Using electricity, the heat pump will run various components that include a fan, compressor, and circulating pumps which move the energy from a heat source into an internal heating system.

Using a relatively small amount of energy, the heat pump transfers heat from one location to another, from outside the home to inside it.

An air-source heat pump works by extracting heat from the air that flows outside your home, similar to how a fridge extracts heat from its interior.

These heat pumps work best when the air is warmer as they do become less efficient in the colder months. Despite this, they are still incredibly energy efficient and are better for the environment due to the lack of direct fuel combustion, though they do still use electricity.

There is also a ground source heat pump that works similarly but extracts the residual warmth from the outside soil and moves that heat inside.

The ground source heat pump can be more expensive to install as a one-off payment but generally has lower operating costs so reduced energy bills.

Ground source heat pumps and Geothermal heat pumps work better in warmer geothermal areas as the higher the input temperature found in the ground, the less work the heat pump has to do.

If less energy is expended, the lower the operating costs. However, as modern technology has improved, heat pumps can still work even if the outside temperature is -15C.

Is A Heatpump Suitable For All Properties?

How Do Heatpumps Work (1)

Short answer, no. A heat pump works best when heating water to a much cooler temperature (34-50C) than a boiler (70-80C). This is why a heat pump works so well with underfloor heating, and not so well with radiators that require a higher temperature of water to emit heat.

If you are considering getting a heat pump, you need to think about your property first. If it suffers from drafts and is largely considered to be poor at energy efficiency, a heat pump will struggle to work as effectively as it should. Or may end up costing you more

You may be more inclined to stick with your current heating system and invest in fully insulating your home first. Or consider using a retro-fit underfloor heating system which will save you money immediately even with a gas, electric or oil boiler as it uses much lower temperature water.

Why Should You Get A Heatpump?

Alas, you will still receive an energy bill even after buying a heat pump. The devices still use a relatively small amount of electricity to be powered but can prove to be a long-term investment.

Compared to conventional heating systems such as a boiler, there is a reduced carbon footprint with higher energy efficiency too.

There should also be peace of mind from a heating system that you should not have to regularly check. A heat pump should require only a minimum level of maintenance and should last for twenty to thirty years.

You likely only need an annual check which is carried out by a qualified engineer. Think of the device as a long-term investment into creating an energy-efficient property.

Final Thoughts

If you want to future-proof your home and save energy, you should seriously consider getting a heat pump. Not only should you see lower operating costs but a more effective way of heating your property.

However, there are other more accessible ways to immediately save energy and make steps towards future proofing your home, such as loft insulation, using a zoned heating smart control system like WundaSmart, or a retrofit underfloor heating system – which will both increase your energy efficiency.

Higher heating efficiency and a reduction in your carbon footprint and energy bills should be more than enough to consider getting one.

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