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How Do Air Source Heat Pumps Work?

Air source heat pumps provide heat to your home without using as much energy as conventional heating systems. They’re a great option if you want to become more energy efficient and eco-friendly – not to mention save money. But how do they work? And would they work for your home?

Read on as we take a closer look at how air source heat pumps work and when they work best.

The science behind air source heat pumps

As the name suggests, air source heat pumps (ASHPs) source heat from the air. In contrast to ground source heat pumps, which use underground pipes, ASHPs simply extract heat from the air outside your home.

This heat is firstly extracted as a fluid, which is compressed – by the pump – into a gas to increase its temperature. As it condenses back into a fluid, it releases its heat which can then be used by the system to heat your property in multiple ways.

The pump which is used to compress the extracted fluid is powered by electricity. So, unlike some other forms of renewable energy, ASHPs do require some conventional power to work. However, they typically deliver around 3 to 4 times this energy as a result. In short, you get out a lot more than you put in.

Air-to-water vs air-to-air

What happens next depends on the type of ASHP you have installed.

Air-to-air heat pumps feed this heat into your home through fans. The warm air circulates through your home and gradually increases the temperature. Alternatively, air-to-water heat pumps heat water, providing hot water to your taps or even feeding this hot water into heating systems.

Because they create heat by compressing fluid, air-to-water heat pumps provide hot water at a lower temperature than standard boilers normally do. That’s fine if you’re using them for taps or showers but isn’t suitable for conventional central heating systems. For maximum efficiency, air-to-water heat pumps should be used with larger radiators or underfloor heating systems, where lower temperatures are effective over longer periods.

When do they work?

Another frequently asked question for ASHPs is when they work. Because they source heat from outside air, it would make sense that they only work when the exterior air is above a certain temperature. Like solar panels, many people think ASHPs only work through the summer.

Fortunately, this isn’t true – nor is it for solar panels. There is always heat within the air, even if the air isn’t necessarily hot. While the pump may need to work harder, requiring more power and temporarily reducing the efficiency of the ASHP, they can work at temperatures as low as -15°C. To put that into context, UK temperatures rarely dip below -5°C, so your ASHP should be fine to work all year round.

Time to find out more

If you’re considering an air source heat pump for your property, there’s no need to rush into things. At NBEC, we specialise in renewable energy technology, with an experienced team committed to 100% customer satisfaction. To find out more about air source heat pumps, their benefits and the cost of installation, feel free to contact us today or get a quote online.

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