What are heat pumps and what types are available?

While checking the possible systems for heating our house, we can come across a number of devices. There are many different factors to consider, while selecting an appropriate option for our house. One of the them, which enjoys more and more popularity worldwide, is the possibility of heating and cooling the house with the use of heat pumps.

Heat pumps

Heat pumps is the term referring to any equipment that transfers the heat energy from its source to the heat sink. These devices take the thermal energy from a cold place and move it to a warm place. They use electricity in order to move heat from cool space to a warm space and the other way round. In this way they makes cool places cooler, and warm places warmer.
Heat pumps do not need much external power for transferring thermal energy, they only require a little bit of electricity to work. They do not in fact generate heat but rather move it, and this makes them cost-effective and efficient in the long run.
We can distinguish three types of heat pumps. There are water source, ground source and air-source heat pumps. These devices gather the heat from water, ground and air and concentrate it in order to transfer it to the building.

Air-source heat pump

The most popular source of heat or heat sink in small installations is the air from outside. The air-source pump also uses a fan in order to improve heat exchange efficiency. It is reported that the users of this type of pumps may reduce their electricity bills by 50% in comparison to electric resistance heaters.
In the case of bigger installations, which deal with more heat, the water is used as a source of heat. Among the devices heating the water in these installations we can distinguish solar panels or boilers. They can be used in areas with extreme temperatures, as opposed to air-source heat pumps, because the temperature of water does not depend largely on the temperature of the air.

There are also geothermal heat pumps, which transfer heat to or from the ground. These pumps utilize the earth as the source of heat in the winter and heat sink as a source of heat in the summer. Geothermal heat pumps take advantage of relatively constant ground temperatures throughout the seasons, which makes it possible to decrease the costs of operation of heating and cooling systems. Moreover, ground is a store of thermal energy.

Best heating method

The United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that ground source heat pumps decrease the consumption of energy up to 44% in comparison to air-source heat pumps and up to 72% in comparison to electric resistance heaters.

Heat pumps have numerous applications. They act as heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, especially in countries, which have moderate heating and cooling needs. These devices can heat the house or provide it with hot water. In colder climates, it is better to use water and ground as a source of heat, because if the temperature is often near zero degrees, the air-source pump may not be enough to heat the house.

The main reason for their increasing popularity is the cost-effectiveness and efficiency. The cost of purchasing a heat pump is approximately twenty times higher than common heaters, but it is economical in the long run. What is more, some countries participate in the costs of purchase of heat pumps, by providing financial support for those who want to invest in renewable heat-energy systems. The purchasers can acquire a return on investment after three to ten years of exploitation, and the longevity of the pumps is about 50 years.

These systems are relatively new, and they are constantly improved. Recently, heat pumps have been equipped with two-speed compressors, which leads to more electricity savings and the reduction of compressor wear and tear. Another innovation that allows to maximize electrical saving are variable or dual-speed motors on their indoor or outdoor fans, or both of them. In addition to saving electricity, it also allows to reduce noise generated by the blower that operates at full speed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s