For all climates, heat pump system provides an effective replacement for furnaces and air conditioners. Similar to your refrigerator, heat pumps use power to move heat from one room to another, making the warm room warmer and the cool one cooler. In this article, we will learn more about the heat pump system’s operation and its advantages and disadvantages.

1. What is a heat pump?

A heat pump is installed outside of your house and is a component of a heating and cooling system. It has the same cooling and heating capabilities as an air conditioner. A heat pump carries heat from chilly exterior air to your home during the winter months, and during the summer months, it removes heat from inside air to cool your house. They are heated and cooled throughout the year using refrigerant, which is powered by electricity.

Homeowners may not need to build separate heating systems because they handle both cooling and heating. For extra functionality in colder locations, an electric heat strip can be connected to the inside fan coil. Heat pumps are more environmentally friendly than furnaces because they don’t burn fossil fuel.

heat pump systems
Combine heat pumps with solar panels

>> Read more: Types of heating system for home

2. How does a heat pump work?

A heat pump does not produce heat. It uses a refrigerant that circulates between the interior fan coil (air handler) unit and the outdoor compressor to transfer heat from the air or the earth.

A heat pump takes heat from within the house and releases it outside when it is in cooling mode. The heat pump releases heat indoors while it is in heating mode by absorbing heat from the ground or outside air (even frigid air).

3. Advantages and disadvantages

In milder areas, when the temperature rarely falls below freezing, heat pumps are more prevalent. They can also be used in conjunction with furnaces in colder areas to provide energy-efficient heating on all except the coldest days. The system will switch to using the furnace to provide heat when the outside temperature is too low for the heat pump to function properly. This type of technology, often known as a dual fuel system, is very energy and financially efficient.

3.1. Advantages:

  • Lower running costs: Heat pumps are less expensive to operate than combustion-powered systems. The longer-term energy savings increase with the systems’ energy efficiency. Despite the fact that ground source heat pumps can cost as much as £45,000, this ecologically responsible purchase can help you save up to £1,400 annually.
  • Less maintenance: Compared to heating systems that use combustion, heat pumps require less upkeep. Once a year, it is necessary to regularly check a few specific system characteristics, which you may simply do on your own. On the other hand, a professional installation must be inspected every three to five years.
  • Better Safety: Compared to combustion-based heating systems, heat pumps are safer. They are safe to use, and because they use electricity instead of fuel to produce heat, they pose fewer safety risks than similar appliances.
  • Long life-span: Heat pumps have a relatively long lifespan of up to 50 years, but their typical lifespan is closer to 14 or 15 years. Despite these figures, they are an incredibly trustworthy and consistent source of heat.
heat pump split system
Using heat pump system has both advantages and disadvantages

3.2. Disadvantages:

  • High upfront cost: Heat pumps have a high initial cost, but their operational expenses convert to long-term savings on energy bills and ultimately to a path of reduced carbon emissions.
  • Difficult to install: Given that research must be done to understand the movement of heat, local geology, specifically for ground source heat pumps, and the heating and cooling requirements for your home, heat pumps are extremely challenging to install.
  • Requires significant work: A heat pump installation process necessitates considerable labor and inconvenience to your home and garden. An appropriate illustration would be the requirement to make penetrations through building cladding.
  • Issues in cold weather: A few heat pumps have problems in cold climates, which can eventually harm the system and prevent them from operating to their full effectiveness. However, it is possible to overcome this issue with an updated heat pump system.
  • Planning permissions required: In Wales and Northern Ireland, special planning permissions are necessary, whereas in England and Scotland, it depends on your location and the size of your property.

>> Read more: 7 Things to Check When Your Heat Pump System Go Off 

4. Component of a heat pump system

Main parts of a heat pump system include:

  • Outdoor device with a coil that serves as an evaporator while it’s heating up and a condenser when it’s cooling down
  • A fan and coil are included in the indoor unit, which circulates air throughout your house.
  • The refrigerant that moves through the system absorbs and releases heat
  • pressurizing the refrigerant with a compressor
  • Reversing valve that alters the system’s refrigerant’s flow direction to allow switching between heating and cooling
  • Expansion valve that controls the system’s refrigerant flow

5. Types of heat pumps

Air-source and ground-source heat pumps are the two most used varieties. Air-source heat pumps are more widely used for domestic heating and cooling since they transfer heat from indoor to outdoor air. Ground-source heat pumps, also known as geothermal heat pumps, move heat from the ground outdoors to the air within your house. Due to the constant ground temperature throughout the year, these cost more to install but are often more effective and cost less to operate.

>> Read more: Common Kinds of Residential Heating and Cooling System

5.1. Air-source:

With an air source heat pump (ASHP), the exterior unit is where the cold refrigerant begins its journey (called an evaporator). Using fans, it absorbs the heat energy from the air that is passed over a heat exchanger. The amount of air that flows over the heat exchanger, despite the air being cool in the winter, means that there is a lot of energy available.

  • Ducted 

A ducted air source heat pump has a network of air ducts and vents that move conditioned air around the building and return it to the system. Most frequently, ducted systems are employed in newly built homes or to replace outmoded appliances in houses that already have a duct system in place.

  • Ductless

Air-source heat pumps are also available as ductless mini-split heat pumps for homes without ducts. Additionally, an unique kind of air-source heat pump known as a “reverse cycle chiller” produces hot and cold water instead of air, enabling it to be used in heating mode with radiant floor heating systems.

air source heat pump system

Air source heat pump for AIO system (Image source: menred)

5.2. Ground-source

A ground source heat pump (GSHP) uses water that is moving via underground pipes to collect heat energy, which is then transferred to a heat exchanger inside the home. The heat exchanger transfers heat to the refrigerant as it travels around the compressor circuit from the cool water, sometimes known as “brine,” which has been combined with antifreeze.

Because they take advantage of relatively stable ground or water temperatures, geothermal heat pumps have low operating costs. Ground source heat pumps have a number of significant benefits. They can control humidity, consume 30 to 60 percent less energy, are dependable and strong, and fit in a range of dwellings. Compared to air-source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps can be employed in more harsh regions, and customer satisfaction with the systems is very high.

To wrap up, heat pump systems are a tried and true technology that may provide year-round comfort management for your home by delivering heat in the winter, cooling in the summer, and, in certain situations, heating hot water. Heat pumps include different system types, the two main types are air-source and ground-source heat pumps. This kind of technology might also be more affordable than a furnace that burns combustion fuel or a typical heat pump by themselves. The amount of energy really saved depends on how much cheaper the combustion fuel is than electricity.

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