What is a Heat Pump and What You Need to Know

With the colder months right around the corner, you might just be in the market looking for something more than only sheets and blankets to keep yourself warm.

But with the temperatures nearing and at times surpassing 0 degrees, closed windows and blankets can never truly be enough.

Sure! You can invest in an artificial heater, but the amount of energy and electricity that it consumes per day is guaranteed to leave a big hole in your savings by the end of the month.

So, this is precisely where a heat pump comes in. Not only are they a more viable heating alternative for your home, but they are incredibly efficient as well.

From heating your water to keeping your rooms warm, a heat pump can help you do a lot.

And in our guide today, we will be going over the different types of heat pumps you will get in the market today, along with each of their various perks and features.

So, sit back and read along.

So what exactly is a heat pump?

Keeping the laws of thermodynamics in mind, heat energy in nature is generally transferred from a warmer location to a cooler one. 

However, a heat pump is a device that makes it possible to transfer heat from a lower temperature to a place that has a higher one.

Though this goes against the natural state of things, this is not the first time something like this was done when it came to home appliances.

Devices like refrigerators and air conditioners pretty much work under the same principle.

But the influence of these appliances is rather limited. The heat pump, on the other hand, apart from keeping your bathwater warm, is capable of heating your homes and office spaces.

Heat pumps, much like refrigerators, and air conditioners work on electricity, but they are some of the most energy-efficient devices out there today.

The amount of energy they need is far less in comparison to room heaters, and you will be able to save up a lot on your bills every month.

Moreover, every type of heat pump and heat pump model is eligible for the government’s renewable heat incentive scheme. So you will be able to earn money back with the energy that it’s able to produce.

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Types of Heat Pumps 

With the advancements in technology, it’s really not all that surprising that there are a variety of heat pump types and models in the market. 

So, if you’re in the market for one such, here are some of the primary types to look out for:

  1. Air Source Heat Pumps 

The air source heat pumps are just perfect if you live in a place that has a moderate or rather a settled climate.

Air source pumps don’t work all that well if your neighborhood sees a lot of extreme weather changes every now and then. So, do conduct a thorough research before investing in one.

Additionally, these pumps work by drawing in air and then transferring the heat by means of compression’ This is the primary reason behind air heat pumps being installed by the side of the building and not inside the building itself.

The compression done in these pumps is usually conducted with the help of copper tubings. So, when heating is required, the liquid refrigerant which is kept outside the coils is made to extract the heat from the drawn-in air and made to evaporate.

The air then travels up some additional coils and starts to dissipate heat as it cools down returns to liquid form.

It’s this dissipated heat that produces the warmth which is fed into the heating system installed around the house. 

  1. Ground Source Heat Pumps 

When it comes to neighborhoods that see a lot of extreme climate changes throughout the year, the ground source heat pumps are a perfect choice.

Air is not the only natural source from which heat can be extracted. There is a lot of trapped solar energy stored in the ground, as well as in water bodies, and can be very easily utilized to run these types of heat pumps.

As it uses the heat of the earth, such heat pumps are often referred to as geothermal heat pumps and are much more efficient than the air source models. 

They are capable of producing heat to your homes constantly and are not dependant on the prevalent weather conditions to work.

However, geothermal heat pumps don’t just come in a single variety; there are essentially 3 you need to be aware of:

  1. Horizontal Array Pump. These ground source heat pumps are placed beneath the surface of the ground, preferably beneath your garden.
  2. Vertical Heat Pump. These models are placed directly below the ground, several meters deep with the help of a borehole.
  3. Water Source Pump. These ones, instead of using geothermal energy of the earth, draws its heat from the surrounding water bodies. 

Though a very efficient type of heat pump, ground source heat pumps are usually very expensive and out of reach for most average customers.

  1. Absorption Heat Pumps 

Absorption heat pumps are at times run with the aid of alternative heating sources such as solar-heated water or geothermally heated water.

However, more often than not, they use the energy of natural gas to heat the water and is also the reason why they are referred to as gas-fired heat pumps. 

They are more commonly used in industrial processes, and it’s only recently that newer and more commercial models are being developed or residential houses and complexes.

  1. Hybrid Heat Pumps

This variant of heat pumps is actually a mixture of two separate devices.

One of the devices is the heat pump itself, and the other is a separate energy source such as a gas boiler.

Now, the basic principle behind such a model is to provide a constant heat source for the home and is therefore made to be as reliable and as efficient as possible. 

Moreover, if you already have a source of heat, such as a gas or oil boiler already in your home, then you will not have to change out the radiator during the heat pump installation.

Another type of a hybrid heat pump set up that you can look into is a mixture of ground and air source mixed pumps. 

This type of model operates on a higher level of efficiency throughout the whole year, as it does not depend on just one particular source.

  1. Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pumps 

The mini-split variety of heat pumps are essentially individual heat pump units that cater to the needs of particular rooms and not the entire house.

They are generally wall mounted and require no ducts to be able to dissipate heat into the rooms. They are capable of suiting retrofits on houses as well, as they work very similar to those of air heat pumps.

However, their scale and capabilities are much more limited in comparison to the other types of heat pumps. 

Advanced features to look for in heat pumps 

Types are not the only thing that you should take into consideration when going for a heat pump. 

There are a number of innovations out there today, which helps to improve the overall performance of heat pumps. 

Here are some you can take into account:

  1. A two-speed compressor 

When compared to the more standard compressor heat pumps, the two-speed variants are much more energy-efficient and will help you save up on a lot of the electricity bills.

Two-speed compressors will allow the pump to operate at a closer proximity to the heating or cooling capacity, which may be needed at any given time.

Apart from decreasing the electricity consumption, this will also reduce the wear damage done to the compressors and help to improve the longevity of the heat pump.

An additional aspect of two-speed compressors, which we love, is how well it goes with zone control systems to help the heat pump keep the different rooms at different temperatures.

  1. A variable speed motor 

There are some heat pump models out there which feature a very convenient variable speed motor on their fans (indoors or outdoors or sometimes even on both).

The speed controls on the fans help the air inside the tubings move in an even velocity so as to minimize the chances of producing a cool draft and maximize efficiency.

A stable air velocity also keeps the noise of the heat pump at a minimum even when the blower is running at full throttle.

  1. A desuperheater 

The desuperheater technology in a heat pump is all about improving the overall efficiency of the device and minimizing the amount of electricity consumed for operations.

This feature allows the heat pump to ‘recover the waste heat from the heat pump’s cooling mode’ and use it as an extra source of energy to heat water.

A desuperheater can heat water almost 2-3 times more efficiently than any standard electric water heater, which you find in the market.

  1. A scroll compressor 

If you want your heat pump to be reliable, long-lasting, and able to take years of wear and tear, then go for a heat pump model that comes with a scroll compressor.

A pump model with a scroll compressor typically comes with two spiral-shaped scrolls, where one remains stationary while the other revolves around it and compresses the air into smaller spaces. 

When compared to the more standard piston compressors, the pump ones with the scroll variants last much longer, are easier to maintain and provide warmer air when in heating mode.

The scroll compressor provides an air that is around 5.6° to 8.3°C warmer than the air produced from piston compressors.

  1. A back-up burner 

This one may not be an absolute necessity, but it’s always nice to have a back-up source of heat for the coldest days if the primary source of heat fails to provide the required warmth.

There are some models you can look into that come with two types of heating, and though a seemingly expensive investment at first, its amazing efficiency will be able to cut down on electric bills in the long run.

Different Installation Types for Heat Pumps 

The heat pumps come in a variety of installation types, as well.

  1. A split system 

This is the most common variant of heat pumps and involves them getting installed on ducted systems. 

It has an indoor evaporator unit that can be located anywhere in the house, but the most common areas are the closet, basement, sometimes even the attic.

The compressor is then placed outside, along with the condenser.

  1. A package system 

All the mechanical components of this heat pump system are housed in a larger metal box placed outside. Its ducts are the only things that lead the air inside.

  1. The ductless system 

These are the mini-split varieties which we have explained before and works much like the air heat pumps but on a smaller scale, but perfect for heating up individual rooms.

Final Thoughts 

When it comes to providing the perfect heating solutions all throughout the year, the Heat Pump devices can indeed be an amazing option. From being efficient to budget-friendly and highly adjustable, these devices have indeed become a very popular choice for a lot of homeowners.

We hope that you were able to enjoy our guide on heat pumps today. 

Till next time!

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