If you’re wondering how air source heat pumps work then you’re in the right place!
An air source heat pump captures fresh air from a unit that’s fitted outside a property. It then passes this air over refrigerant filled coils using an identical process to that of a domestic refrigerator.
In this case, the process is reversed with heat captured from the air transferred using the refrigeration process into a water heat exchanger. Even through the winter there will be enough ambient heat in the atmosphere to complete the process.
The heat is now ready for use in your heating system, supplying all of your domestic hot water and offering a sustainable alternative to oil, LPG and electric heating systems.
You can find out how they work in even more detail in our blog article, Your guide to how an air source heat pump works.
The process used by an air source heat pump has the capability of transferring far more heat than air or water, providing what is called a Coefficient of Performance or COP. The COP is the efficiency ratio of the amount of heating provided by a heat pump compared to the electrical energy consumed by the system; the higher the COP the more efficient the system.
For instance, a conventional electric system has a maximum potential COP of only 1 (for every 1kw of energy consumed, the unit produces 1kw of heat). However, heat pumps are designed for COPs in excess of 2.5 and can, under certain conditions, achieve between 3 and 4.
With a selection of MCS accredited and RHI-ready renewable heating systems available on the market, offering air to water heat pumps and solar thermal systems, now is the perfect time to think about the most effective way to heat our homes and hot water.
An air source heat pump requires plenty of space, either to mount on an external wall or be placed on the ground. The unit needs good air flow, and foreign objects such as boxes, containers, etc. need to be kept well away.
Buying an air source heat pump on top of an existing heating system will prove to be an expensive option, something you should always consider when replacing an older electric system or getting rid of an old oil-fuelled system. It’s worth remembering that an electric heater will convert 1kW of electrical energy to 1kW of heat energy and an air source heat pump will convert 1kW of electrical energy into 3.5kW (almost 4kW) of heat energy, so it can be a quick-win saving on your electricity bills.
The air source heat pump emits low temperatures but on a consistent basis. To maximise its efficiency, ensure that your home is suitably energy efficient by installing wall insulation and draught proofing. These are low cost measures that will make a big difference to your utility bills, so it’s worth investing in them prior to replacing your heating system with an air source heat pump.
Since a working air source heat pump uses both a fan and compressor it does make some noise when operating. The noise is approximately 40-60 decibels (depending on the system) from a distance of one metre away. It’s always best to ensure that it’s not placed directly outside a bedroom window. We will always suggest installing it outside somewhere on the ground floor that’s used infrequently, like a utility room or kitchen.
Generally there are fewer restrictions from local authorities in England and Scotland when looking to install an air source heat pump; noise being the main consideration, but please check with your council and installer before proceeding. In Wales and Northern Ireland an air source heat pump installation requires planning permission.