What is a heat pump?
What is a Heat Pump?
Technically, a heat pump is a mechanical-compression cycle refrigeration system that can be reversed to either heat or cool a controlled space. Installation for this type of system typically consists of two parts: an indoor unit called an air handler and an outdoor unit similar to a central air conditioner, but referred to as a heat pump. A compressor circulates refrigerant that absorbs and releases heat as it travels between the indoor and outdoor units.
How it works:
Think of a heat pump as a heat transporter constantly moving warm air from one place to another, to where its needed or not needed, depending on the season. Even in air that's seems too cold, heat energy is present. When it's cold outside a heat pump extracts this outside heat and transfers it inside. When it’s warm outside, it reverses directions and acts like an air conditioner, removing heat from your home.
Heat Pump Advantages
Heat Pumps can be used for Heating. The most obvious benefit of a heat pump system is its ability to provide warmth. This can be achieved with the simple touch of a button: at the wall; or on the remote; and even from the comfort of your chair. Heat pumps can very quickly increase the temperature of a room.
Heat Pumps can be used for Cooling i.e. Air Conditioning. The “reverse cycle” in the full name of a heat pump refers to its ability to work backwards. In addition to extracting heat energy from outside and bringing this in to your home, your heat pump also has the ability to extract heat from inside your home and transfer this outside (in exactly the same way as a fridge works). The term “Air Conditioning” is more commonly used for the cooling cycle or function of your heat pump.
Heat pumps don’t create smoke, ashes, moisture or any other waste material for you to remove. There are no trips required outside in the cold and rain for wood or pellets or to the petrol station to fill up your gas bottle. When cooling or dehumidifying your home there is no need to empty the reservoir of water as your heat pump is plumbed in and has a permanent drain to the outside.
Heat Pumps are safe. Unlike gas heating or wood burners, there are no flames or hot surfaces that children or pets can touch and burn themselves on. They can also be safely left on while you’re out or asleep.
Heat Pumps do not burn oxygen. Gas heaters need oxygen in order for gas to burn and release its heat energy. This can cause stuffy rooms and condensation on windows. Heat Pumps on the other hand do not need oxygen as they merely transfer heat energy from one place to another. Heat Pumps enable you to create just the right indoor environment tailored to your own personal preferences.
Heat Pumps improve air quality. Heat pumps don't create smoke or add any fumes to the air. Also, as your Heat Pump circulates the air in your room, the filters clean and purify the air removing dust, mold spores, odours, smoke and other particles. They are excellent for people who suffer from asthma and allergies.
Heat Pumps add value $. As Heat Pumps become more popular, they are adding value to your home. A warm, dry, comfortable environment with the addition of air conditioning will always be first choice over a house without such sought after benefits.
Heat Pumps save space. Unlike a fire your heat pump does not need centre stage or to become a focal point in your room (taking up valuable floor space). Also there is no need to sit near the unit in order to benefit from the heat as the air in the room is warmed and circulated for the benefit of all.
Heat Pumps are very energy efficient. Heat Pumps are currently the most cost-effective form of heating using electricity and most good quality systems achieve average COP (Coefficient of Performance) figures of four or more. This means that to achieve four kilowatts of heating or cooling power, they use an average of less than one kilowatt of electricity. A conventional heating system such as an electric fire or gas boiler has a COP of less than one. This means that it burns more than one kilowatt of power to produce a kilowatt of heating power. The higher the COP the cheaper a heating appliance is to run. In comparison to other forms of heating, Heat Pumps offer the most energy efficient heating with between 300% to 400% efficiency. The combustion process of wood burners causes fumes, soot and smoke which provide a major burden on the environment in terms of its carbon emissions. As the Heat Pump does not burn anything at the heat energy source, there are no additional carbon emissions other then the small amount of electrical energy required to run the compressor. Heat Pumps are environmentally friendly – most new heat pumps use R410A refrigerant which does not harm the ozone layer if released and is also more energy efficient.
Heat Pumps reduce condensation. During summer, when you are using your heat pump for cooling, the room is automatically dehumidified as a function of the Heat Pump. As the warm air circulates through the unit moisture forms on the cold surface of the coil and then drains outside. During winter the heat pump prevents condensation forming on cold surfaces such as windows by circulating warm air around the room similar to demisting a car windscreen on a cold morning.