How heat pumps work

How heat pumps work

A heat pump is a device which uses the refrigeration cycle to capture heat from the air (air source heat pump) or the ground (ground source heat pump).

In an air source heat pump, a fan blows outside air accross a series of fins which contain refrigeration liquid.

Heat is absobed into the refrigeration liquid which turns it into a gas and then the gas is compressed by a compressor.

When the gas is compressed, the temperature increases rapidly. The hot gas is then passed through a heat exchanger to heat the water in your heating circuit.

The beauty of a heat pump is that for every 1kw of electricity they use, they will typically output around 4kw of heat int your property

This makes them around 400% efficient.

A typical modern gas boiler is around 90% efficient

how heat pumps work

Air to water source heat pumps

  • extract heat from the air using an evaporator coil. This looks like the big fans on air conditioner units and is fixed on an outside wall of the building.
  • Using mains electricity, the heat pump boosts the heat from the air to the level needed by the heating system, heating water in a buffer tank.
  • The heating system is fed from the buffer tank.

Air to air heat pumps

extract the heat from outside, boost it to the required level, and blow out hot air into a room, or through vents around the building. They can also be used for cooling (air conditioning). Air to air heat pumps are not eligible for the renewable heat incentive.

Ground source heat pumps

  • A long loop of pipe, filled with water and anti-freeze, is buried in the earth. Depending on available space it can be in a trench at least 1.5m deep or down a borehole
  • The liquid in the pipe (or ground loop) absorbs heat from the ground which is a fairly stable 8 - 12 degrees C all year round
  • As it passes through an electrically powered heat pump, the absorbed heat is extracted, and the liquid goes back into the underground loop
  • Using mains electricity, the heat pump boosts the heat from the ground to the level needed by the heating system, heating water in a buffer tank
  • The heating system is fed from the buffer tank.
 

Videos

You may find the videos below useful in explaining how heat pumps work



Factors affecting heat pump performance

  • how well insulated the building is
  • attitudes and behaviours of the pump's users
  • the quality of the installation
  • temperatures of the heat source and the flow temperature
  • sizing of the heat pump in relation to heat demand
  • the control system.

Any Questions?

We will be more than happy to answer any questions that you have

Please Contact Us for a FREE heat pump appraisal and advice for your property.


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