Considering the increasing popularity of renewable energy sources, heat pumps are now looked at as popular eco-friendly alternatives to fossil fuels. Did you know that the heat pump will not only provide clean energy but also reduce the amount on your utility bill?

In its most simplistic definition, a heat pump is a piece of equipment that moves heat from a single location to another. This transfer of energy is performed using renewable energy, making the heat pump an ideal way of reducing one’s carbon footprint. There are two primary forms of heat pumps available to use – pumps using air and pumps using the ground as energy.

What Are The Different Types Of Heat Pumps?

There are several types of heat pumps available from which you can choose. Your choice is dependent on several factors, including the characteristics of the property and its energy requirements. The two primary categories, when discussing heat pumps, are air source pumps and geothermal pumps. Below is a description of each type of heat pump.

1. The Geothermal Heat Pump

Ground Source Heat PumpsThere are various types of heat pumps falling into the category of geothermal heat pumps, also known as a ground source pump. This type of heat pump is sometimes referred to as a horizontal or vertical system, pond heat pump, open-loop or closed system. Below is further information regarding the geothermal heat pumps.

The Closed-Loop System

One of the most common types of geothermal heat pumps in the United Kingdom is the closed-loop ground system. This category includes the circulation of antifreeze liquid through a closed plastic tube buried in the ground. The most popular types of closed-loop geothermal systems are the horizontal and vertical heat pumps.

The Vertical Ground Source Heat Pump System

If you do not have a lot of space available on the property, it is recommended that you use the vertical ground source heat pump system. This involves holes bored into the ground every five metres, each hole being between 15 and 122 metres deep. Ground temperature is not affected below 15 metres, meaning that the water in the heat pump will remain at the necessary temperature. For instance, when pumping water through closed pipes at a deep level, the temperature can increase dramatically; thereby, warming the cold water. The water will leave the heat pump using an exit hole. The exit hole heats the antifreeze and remains in the house using a second system. While the energy can be utilised for various reasons, it does have a drawback in its high initial investment.

The Horizontal Ground Source Heat Pump System

The horizontal ground source system differs from the vertical option because it is used when there is a large amount of space available. It operates by having pipes put in place in either large circles or using a coiled-spiral manner along the ground. When the tubes are put in place, water is sent via the ground heating up the antifreeze in the second system. Unfortunately, unlike the vertical ground source option, this system is highly influenced by seasonal changes. It can become troublesome during the winter months because the pipes are placed closer to the ground surface. However, it is cheaper than the vertical ground source heat pump.

2. The Directional Or Radial Drilling Heat Pump

Radial or directional drilling heat pumps are typically used when buildings have already been built on the ground surface. It involves drilling small holes into the ground as a means of pipe insertion. It is not necessary to open gardens, houses or yards if you choose this system. Another benefit is that the cost of the directional or radial drilling system is less costly than the vertical pump but slightly more expensive than the horizontal system option.

3. Systems Using Direct Heat Exchanges

This particular type of heat pump system utilises a liquid refrigerant passing through copper tubing placed below the ground surface. As it is underground, it is heated using geothermal means. The heated refrigerant is sent back to the property where it is used in various applications.

4. The Open-Loop Heat Pump System

Open-looped heat pump systems are also known as ground water heat systems. This is due to the fact that the system pumps water from below the ground at a specific temperature. Once the temperature is extracted, the water is sent back through the pipes into the ground. An open-loop system requires constant maintenance and checking to ensure the water is not being negatively influenced.

5. The Pond Heat Pump System

One of the most unique heat pump systems is usually available in the presence of water, making the open-loop system more preferable. The pond system includes pipe coils being sent to the bottom of a pond where the temperature remains stable. The main drawback of this heating system is the need for proximity to a pond. Furthermore, the pond needs to be deep enough for the pump to be capable.

6. The Standing Well Heat Pump System

The difference between a pond system and a standing well system is that temperatures can be exchanged using rock formations in the latter system. In all other ways, it is the same as a ground water heating system.

7. The Air Source Heat Pump Systems

Air Source Heat PumpsHeat pumps with an air source utilise the principle of vapour compression. This is also known as transporting air to the water heat pump or air to an air heat pump. The air source pumps utilise external air producing heat for the property. The system involves four separate elements allowing refrigerant to pass from a liquid state to a gaseous format. The parts are a condenser, a compressor, an evaporator, and an expansion valve.

Once the liquid refrigerant passes through the system, the increased temperature transforms it into a gas or vapour while still producing heat. The vapour passes through the compressor to increase temperature, and then through the expansion valve to enter the property. The condenser transfers the gas refrigerant into a liquid state once again, and the heat produced is sent through the evaporator. In this final phase, the refrigerant is sent to the heat exchanger once again to restart the process. This operation can be seen in radiators for residential hot water or underfloor heating systems.

What Considerations Need To Be Made Regarding Heat Pumps?

The Heat Pump Maintenance

The average lifespan of a heat pump is twenty years, but the pump requires frequent maintenance to remain operational. It is recommended that you check specific details of the system annually with a professional installer assessing the system every four years. After an inspection, a professional installer will provide written details regarding the state of the heat pump and indication of potential problems.

According to research from the Ground Source Heat Pump Association, maintenance criteria for heat pumps are low without any need for crucial security checks. Of course, it is recommended that one check the parts of the heat pump system before use, including the pipes, the electronic devices, components of fittings, and the pump.

The Warranty

The average warranty for heat pumps range between two and three years; however, this differs according to the type of sub-insurances. For instance, a heat pump warranty for workmanship can last for approximately ten years. Moreover, the Quality Assured National Warranties offer various kinds of protection for heat pump usage. Producers and professional heat pump installers also provide separate types of warranties.

The Incentives

According to a population survey, the British government offers two types of programmes to support the installation of renewable heat pump systems. The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, also known as the DRHI, is available to social landlords, homeowners, self-builders and private landlords. The Non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, also known as the NRHI, is available to all companies, industries and public sector organisations.

Regarding the DRHI, the incentives guarantee specific prices for any heat generated within seven years. The NRHI assists different helping schemes making it more vulnerable to research for individual cases.

The Planning Permissions For Heat Pump Systems

Since heat pumps typically fall into the category of favourable renewable energy, no planning permissions are required. However, there are some exceptions to this specific rule. For instance, if you reside in a listed building or conservation area, you must contact the local council to ensure requirements for geothermal heat pumps can be met. One should note that there are different rules regarding air-source heat pump systems in different regions across the United Kingdom.

Heat Pump Rules For England

Planning permissions for heat pump systems in England must meet the MCS planning regulations. Any additional wind turbines or air source systems need to be considered and reported. The heat pump cannot be installed on a pitched roof, near the end of a flat roof, or more than one millimetre from the property’s boundary.

Heat Pump Rules For Scotland

If you are installing a heat pump in Scotland, the system must be the only heat pump on that particular property. It must be installed a minimum of 100 metres from other buildings and cannot be placed in listed buildings or heritage sites. If the heat pump is built in a conservation area, the system must not be visible from the road.

Heat Pump Rules For Wales

All installation of air source heat pump systems requires planning permission.

The Cost Of The Heat Pump System

The price of a heat pump is typically high, particularly when taking the installation of the full system into account. Of course, the cost of the different systems varies. The average price for a complete heat pump installation ranges between £9,000 and £17,000 (without any operational costs included). The air to water heat pump system generally begins at £7,000 and increases to £14,000. Ground source heat pump systems can cost between £9,000 and £12,000. The operational costs of the systems are dependent on the insulation materials, the size of the system, and the household requirements.

Operational costs are often lower among the ground source heat pump systems, particularly if you change from one system to the other. This will help reduce energy costs while shifting from electricity in the property.