What are the Different Types of Heat Pump?
Heat pumps are an increasingly popular choice with homeowners as they offer a more efficient and cost-effective solution for heating and cooling. There are three main types of heat pump:
- Air Source
- Ground Source
- Water Source
These all work by extracting heat from natural sources, transferring it from one environment to another via a refrigerant (a fluid with a very low evaporation temperature). Heat pumps are integral to air conditioning systems; when operating in reverse, they pump heat out of an internal space into the outside air to provide cooling.
Air source heat pumps, recognised as a renewable heat technology, are fairly easy to install and commonly used in domestic and commercial properties. They work well in warmer climates, absorbing heat from the ambient air as their primary source of energy, but they can still remain operational in temperatures as low as -20°C.
According to GreenMatch, air source heat pumps are currently "the most popular in the UK and account for roughly 87% of all sold units, while ground and water source heat pumps account for 9%".
Ground source (or geothermal) heat pumps are very efficient, absorbing thermal energy stored underground through a series of ground loops. Installation can be quite disruptive and expensive due to the need for excavation and underground piping, so geothermal heat pumps are better suited to new build developments or locations where this temporary disruption is not an issue.
Water source heat pumps draw heat energy from water sources either through an ‘open loop’ system (using flowing water as the energy source) or ‘closed loop’ system (submerging pipes filled with fluid beneath the water). One of the least common types of heat pump, they can be used in areas with a significant quantity of water available.
Installing a heat pump is a great way to ensure efficient heating and cooling in your property. They also provide a range of other benefits, including:
- Reduced heating costs - heat pumps move heat rather than generating it, meaning they have low running costs
- Financial assistance - you may receive payment from the government through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
- Long-term solution - heat pumps can be used year-round for both heating and cooling, and last for many years
Although heat pumps can be quite expensive and sometimes difficult to install, they are a worthwhile investment in terms of the money and energy that you will save in the long run.