If you’re a heating installer, chances are you’ve already heard a thing or two about heat pumps. Their role in the heating revolution is no longer up for question. The Government has promised to roll out 600,000 of them per year by 2028 and that’s just the beginning. One million will be needed per year by 2030 to increase the performance of homes in line with the legislated Net Zero target. The future demands greener heating systems and for installers like you, that means one thing: getting to grips with heat pump technology as soon as you can. Ready to find out more? It’s time to revisit what you have heard before and to separate the myths from the realities.
Here are 5 things every installer needs to know about heat pumps, says Neil Hope, Head of Installer Development at NIBE Energy Systems
Heat pumps are relatively simple to install
Have you heard that heat pumps are difficult to install? You’ve been misinformed. Heat pumps are actually relatively simple to install, providing they are installed by a qualified engineer and the installation is well planned. Most UK homes can be heated with a single-phase heat pump. Manufacturer controls are often supplied to control the technology, complete with onboard commissioning guides to assist with the initial system set up.
Pipework and wiring requirements are minimised
While heat pump installations vary depending on the technology type, pipework can be minimised in many cases. Air source heat pumps can be installed in close proximity to the property and when installing a mono-bloc air source heat pump, the pipework leaving the heat pump can be connected directly to the heating pipework in the house. This means that no refrigerant qualifications are required for installation or commissioning. Many ground source heat pumps and indoor modules for air source heat pumps contain integrated hot water cylinders, pumps, valves and controls, removing the need for excess pipework and wiring.
Heat pumps are not complicated to design
Heat pumps require attention to detail – they are not complicated to design. While it is essential to design a heat pump correctly so that it performs as it should, this is considered best practice across all heating systems and is something every good installer adheres to. Many of the crucial aspects of heat pump design are related to flow temperatures, with most heat pump manufacturers recommending a maximum temperature of 50-55⁰C. A heat pump is most efficient operating at low temperatures, which means that extra care is needed to ensure that pipes and heat emitters such as radiators and appropriately sized. It is essential that a room by room heat loss calculation is carried out to ensure this is the case. Low flow temperatures don’t just make heat pumps more efficient; even the traditional gas boiler can benefit, and so it is hoped that this will become standard practice for all heating systems over time. It has recently been consulted on in Wales for existing homes.
Heat pumps are suited to all types of homes
One of the great things about heat pumps is that they can be installed to operate effectively in all types of properties – whether it is a brand-new build, an old historic farmhouse or a high-rise flat. The choice of heat pump may vary dependent on the type of property in question, but the different options available mean that there is a solution for every type of home. Ground source heat pumps are great for new builds since the groundwork infrastructure can be done at the same time as building works, for example, but they are also suited to retrofits providing there is a bit of outdoor space. Air source heat pumps don’t require the outdoor space that a ground source collector would but are an ideal replacement for an old heating system and are expected to be the primary heating system in new build homes from 2025 at the latest.
Demand for heat pumps is on the rise
Like-for-like boiler replacements simply will not do in this new era of green growth. Targets have been set by the Government to drive down costs and carbon emissions from homes and buildings and consumers care about reducing their carbon footprints more than ever before. But the big projections aren’t just coming from the Government. The Heat Pump Association (HPA) recently revealed that the UK market is set to double this year, and heat pumps have been the most popular choice among homeowners who have applied for Green Homes Grant vouchers.