Heat Pump (What is it?)
A heat pump is a device which is used for thermal energy transfer. Heat will naturally flow from warm areas into colder places; what the heat pump does is absorb this heat for a cold space and then transfer it to another place for release. A heat pump requires electricity to operate.
Heat pumps are an economical option as they require less high grade energy to function that the amount of heat that they release would suggest, this means that they use only a fraction of electricity to operate, as most of the energy is provided from the outside environment.
However there are some heat pumps which use a compressor and do require a high grade energy source. In the majority of electric powered heat pumps the output can be up to four times more than the energy required to run them. A number of different kinds of heat pumps are available for different purposes.
Types of Heat Pumps
There are many different kinds of heat pump available, with each type being designed for a specific range of uses. There are three main varieties of heat pump, these are the air source, ground source and water source pumps.
In an air source pump the unit, which is placed outdoors uses air for its method of heat exchange. A water sources uses liquid which could be either water of a fluid such as glycol for the purpose of heat exchange.
A ground source pump works in a similar way to a water source pump, but in this case the pump is buried in the ground inside a closed loop.
Duel fuel or hybrid heat pumps are often used in areas where the temperature can reach extremes of heat and cold.
Solar heat pumps are powered by solar panels and are the greenest, most environmentally friendly kind of heat pump available.
Heat Pumps Benefits/Disadvantages
Electric heat pumps are an efficient way of heating the home. They have the function of being able to work as a heat source during periods of cold weather, and as a source of cool air when the weather is warm. One of the main advantages of an electric heat pump is that it uses heat from the atmosphere or from the ground to provide heat, rather than directly converting electric power, making it fairly cost effective.
One of the main disadvantages of using an electric heat pump is the cost of the initial outlay, though this would be recovered over time from the economy which it provides. The system must also be professionally installed which ads to the overall purchase cost. Electrically powered heat pumps are more quiet and emit less pollution than gas powered heat pumps, they are therefore cleaner and better for the environment, which can ultimately add value to the home in which they are installed.
On the downside, maintenance is an important issue, in order to ensure effective performance throughout its lifetime the unit needs to be regularly and professionally maintained. Occasionally, if being used in areas that experience extreme cold weather a back up system may be required and extreme cold can limit the way that the unit functions.
Buying a Heat Pump
There are a number of things to take into account before you purchase a heat pump. This can be a costly purchase and the buyer needs to ensure that they are purchasing the right product for their needs. Is a heat pump the right choice for the property it is going to be installed in?
Are you looking at the right sized unit for your property? How efficient is the model you are thinking about? Is there a more efficient model available that will save you money in the long term? Which units come highly recommended and who should you get to install it, as professional installation is always required.