What types of renewable energy heat pumps are there?
Heat pumps can use a range of heat sources and operate through a wide range of temperatures from 40°C up to 130°C. They can be used in many applications and make use of any suitable heat sources that are available. Heat pumps can be categorised into four key types: air source; ground source; water source; and high temperature – for use in industry.
There are four main types of heat pump
Air source heat pump - Air to air : produces warm air which is circulated by ventillation units to heat your home; also for cooling in warmer weather. - Air to water :distributes heat via radiators or underfloor heating and also heats your hot water
Ground source heat pump Requires pipes to be buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground to heat radiators, underfloor or warm air heating systems and your hot water.
Water source heat pump An alternative to a ground source system extracts heat stored in water or a lake
High temperature heat pump These are used in industry for high grade, high carbon intensity heat processes, such as drying, pre-heating and distillation. A waste heat interface recovers heat from site processes or CHP plant and supplies it to the heat pump, which then upgrades the heat to a higher temperature. This can be used in processes, to generate low pressure steam, or provide high temperature hot water.
Air to Water Heat Pumps
Most of the heat pumps installed in the UK are air to water heat pumps, which provide both space and water heating. They can be installed on almost all properties, including flats. A normal pump is about the size of a fridge, and you just need a place outside where it can be fitted to a wall or placed on the ground, with space around it to get a good flow of air.
All air source heat pumps do produce some noise, as they contain a fan, but the modern ones are much quieter which is rarely a problem.
Air-to-water heat pumps are simple to install and require little maintenance..They are an economical replacement to oil fired, coal and electric central heating, and a boon if you don’t have mains gas. And, as you won’t need a boiler, it frees up space in the home too. (Although electricity is needed to power the pump, extracting the heat from the outside air, a limitless renewable resource, even in temperatures as low as -18°C, far outweighs the cost of the electricity.)
Image right demonstrates an air-to-water air source heat pump
(Image via Home Heating Guide)
Air to Air Heat Pumps
Air to air heat pumps are essentially air conditioners that work in reverse.
It pumps heated air into your house, therefore, you need another mechanism to heat your water. This is essentially seen as a hybrid system - which is a heat pump and traditional boiler combined. The concept being that the heat pump does most of the work, but falls back on the boiler to help out in particularly cold weather, when the heat pump may struggle.
However an air to air heap pump hybrid does have some advantages. The pumps are cheaper and have a good efficiency. Since they don’t use radiators, you won’t need to install bigger ones, although you may need ducting (pipes) in order to carry the hot air around to different rooms.
Image left demonstrates an air-to-air source heat pump
(Image via Home Heating Guide)
Ground Source Heat Pumps
Ground source heat pumps are the most energy efficient but, due to the cost and complexity of installation, are better suited to new builds during the later construction phases
Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) use pipes that are buried underground to extract heat from the ground, which is then used to heat radiators, underfloor or warm air heating systems and hot water in your home.
A ground source heat pump circulates a mixture of water and antifreeze around a loop of pipe, called a ground loop, which is buried in your garden. Heat from the ground is absorbed into the fluid and then passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump. As the ground stays at a fairly constant temperature under the surface, the heat pump can be used throughout the year.
The length of the ground loop depends on the size of your home and the amount of heat you need. Longer loops can draw more heat from the ground, but need more space to be buried in. If space is limited, a vertical borehole can be drilled instead.
A water source or lake heat pump effectively works in the same way as a ground source heat pump. By using heat stored in the lake water and lake bed. The collector circuit is laid on the bottom of the waterway and carries heat to a waterside home. Using heat from water reduces energy consumption in an efficient way.
How do Air Source Heat Pumps Compare with Ground Source Heat Pumps?
Three important differences ...
Ground source heat pumps generally require a large garden or piece of land within which to be installed. Alternatively they can be installed in deep boreholes - as such both types of installation results in excavation costs before the physical system is integrated, within the property. The condensing unit is usually quite large and is sited inside of the premises.
Air source heat pumps however do not require any intensive installation, and the condenser unit is simply sited in a box on the outside of a property. .
The efficiency, or the measure of the heat energy output per kW of electricity, is stated as the COP (Coefficient of Performance) or SCOP (or Seasonal Coefficient of Performance — the SCOP is the average COP over a defined period of time such as a year). A typical 'SCOP' figure for an air source heat pump might be 3.2; the comparable figure for ground source heat pumps is more like 4, so for every 1kW of electricity, 4kW is generated. So ground source heat pumps appear to be slightly more efficient. However as the compressor and the refrigerant is very similar in both systems you need to check the temperature of the heat source, so the ground and the air. Towards the end of the heating season (December onwards) the ground could be colder as the heat is extracted. If the air temperature is then warmer than the ground temperature then it can be argued that the ASHP could be more efficient. Geographical location and ground condition and important when making this choice.
We are positioned next to the A12 with easy access to central London and M25 links for project and commercial work where we serve postcode areas : E, EC, WC, RM, IG, EN, N, NW, W, SW, SE, MK, AL, SG, SS, IG
Locally we serve the postcode areas of CO ,CM, IP, SS and CB - across Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire areas of East Anglia.
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