Are Air Source Heat Pumps Suitable for UK Homes?

Blog post

Air is all around us, so it makes sense to utilise it for heating. Twenty years ago, an air source heat pump was relatively unheard of in the domestic world, but times have changed, and they are all the rage.

The question is – how well do they perform in UK homes?

Installation

One of the greatest benefits of air source technology is the fact no carbon is produced when in use, but installing an air source heat pump is not just plug and play.

An electrical heating installation is a very simple process, but the same cannot be said for an air source heat pump. You have to consider the pipe run from the external pump to the unit within the home, the electrical connections for both the pump and the water tank, the electrical demand on your property, the water storage tank that must be installed inside the home, as well as the noisy and rather large fan in your garden.

An air source heat pump external fan. Image from greenscapeenergy.co.uk.

Performance

An air source heat pump works on the premise of taking in air, extracting the heat, sending that heat in to a refrigerant, and generating more warmth through compressing said refrigerant.

The air is inducted through an external fan, which sits outside of your home. The external fan unit is usually rather large, causing issues when it comes to choosing a position for its installation. This is an excellent way to generate heat, but often doesn’t produce enough warmth for a radiator system.

In the winter months, the UK gets very cold, with temperatures often dropping below zero. Inducting air at a cooler temperature will force the supplementary element to kick in to boost the temperature, as the air is too cold at the point of induction, significantly reducing the benefit of an air source heat pump altogether. You are now relying on an electrical element once again, but the process is made much more complex by using air in the first place.

Even with the element kicking in, the maximum temperature output for a heating loop from an air source heat pump is around 65 degrees. From a boiler, the water temperature for a heating loop would be over 80 degrees. Even the warmest of people would notice a significant difference in temperature between an air source heat pump and a boiler. This forces people to either install different radiators altogether, or radiators which are twice the size of the existing ones.

In an attempt to combat this issue, many people either oversize their radiators, or run the air source heat pump alongside a secondary form of heat, again negating the benefits of an air source heat pump.

With the kW requirement of an air source heat pump often in excess of 10kW, having enough spare electrical load in a domestic property is often difficult, further adding to your woes.

A good level of insulation is also vital in an attempt to retain as much heat as possible. Most UK homes are not air tight enough to use Air Source heat pumps for heating. Heating is all sized based on watts per square metre, but for an air source heat pump to function, your property must require a very low amount of watts per square metre, something which is only achieved through high levels of home insulation.

For newer properties, this may not be as much of an issue, but if your property is older, you might struggle to retrospectively insulate it.

A recent report by the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) also states that a, “majority of UK homes are not suitable for a heat pump.”

Alternative Uses for Air Source Technology

Despite all of that, air source technology is a very efficient way of heating water for use in showers, baths and sinks. Using air, which is free, is a no-brainer.

Hot water is something we require 365 days a year. Whether it is for washing or cleaning, it is something we all need. This is why an air source water heater is an excellent way to utilise air source technology.

For years now, we have been offering efficient hot water solutions, including our Aquafficient range.

Aquafficient Eco+

We are now pleased to introduce a new addition to our ever-growing range of heating and hot water solutions – Aquafficient Eco+, our brand new air source water heater.

Air source water heaters can be two to three times more energy efficient than a conventional water cylinder.*

Thanks to the special design of the compressor, hot water is available at 60 degrees centigrade and with a power requirement of less than 10amps, Aquafficient Eco+ requires only a standard 13amp socket to install.

Aquafficient Eco+ also contains an automatic anti-legionella disinfection system to remove the risk of legionella bacteria.

Much like the Aquafficient, it can be installed alongside a heating only boiler, allowing you to both heat your home and water efficiently.

You can also use Aquafficient Eco+ as a stand-alone hot water system, or even combine it with Fischer dynamic clay core radiators. The opportunities are endless.

Built with a stainless steel casing, 80mm of highly efficient insulation and finished in white, Aquafficient Eco+ has a sleek, modern design perfect for any home.

Wall mounted and floor-standing options are available, and the unit can be installed in a loft where possible, ensuring you save valuable space within your home.

To find out more about our Aquafficient Eco+, you can request a free catalogue, or give us a call on 0800 103 2700.

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