Heat pump clear and comprehensive information

Heat pump clear and comprehensive information

renewable geothermal heat source, which will supply between 40 and 50% of our heat requirements.

A heat pump works on electricity. The heat pump extracts ‘free’ energy from the environment (renewable, green energy). With every kWh of energy from the ‘socket’ the heat pump generates 3 to 4 kWh ‘free’ from the environment.
Therefore, a heat pump is up to 5 times more economical than an electric central heating boiler.

The heat pump is most effective at low temperatures. And low temperature is best used in a well insulated building that requires little energy.

The technology is getting better and better. Companies are investing billions to optimize the technology ensuring more efficiency, sustainability and improved ease of use. But, the investment of a household is still an issue.

What is a heat pump?

Heat pumps are appliances that provide heating and hot water in an environmentally friendly way and sometimes also for cooling. A heat system uses mostly ‘free’ renewable energy. 65 to 80 percent of the energy supplied by the heat pump is ‘free’ extracted from the environment. This means that a heat pump installation will ‘consume’ less energy than a conventional heating system and is carbon friendly.

How does a heat pump work?

The heat pump system consists of 3 phases:

  1. Phase 1: the source such as air, water, or soil
  2. Phase 2: the cold, consisting of compressor, evaporator, condenser and expansion valve
  3. Phase 3: the delivery system: underfloor heating / boiler / convector

A heat pump draws energy from the source and gives a push to this energy with the compressor to the delivery system.

Source energy + added energy = released energy / necessary energy.

The most common types of heat pumps work by allowing a liquid to evaporate at low temperatures and allowing the vapor to condense at high temperatures. First, the boiling point must be lowered and / or increased in the second phase. The boiling point can be increased by increasing the pressure with a compressor and can be reduced again by lowering the pressure by increasing the space for the refrigerant (via expansion valve)

The compleet system of evaporating, compressing, condensing and expanding forms a closed cycle.

Energy is needed to bring the low temperature energy from the soil, water or ambient air energy to a higher level. Because the required energy is lower than the energy supplied, heat pumps contribute to a large reduction in CO2 emissions. The efficiency of a heat pump is expressed in COP (= delivered energy / used energy) and reaches values, depending on the application, of 2.5 to 5.

Heat pump types and source type

Household heat pumps can roughly be divided into four categories.

  1. Air-air
  2. Air-water
  3. Ground water
  4. Water-water

Which system you should choose depends on the type of house and the environment of the house. With a groundwater system, for example, it is necessary to have a certain ground surface to be able to utilize the heat that is in the earth.

  • Water-water
    This heat pump uses an ‘open source’.  Groundwater is pumped out of the soil, energy is extracted and the ‘colder’ water is returned to the soil at another location.
  • Brine water
    This heat pump, which is often exactly the same device as the water-water heat pump, extracts energy from the soil through a closed source. We speak of ‘brine’ because water is pumped around with an antifreeze additive (glycol) through a closed system. But there are also other sources available in this type than tubes in the soil: Surface water, PVT panels, heat retaining walls, sewer pipes, energy roof, ice buffer tank, mine shafts, residual heat from the industry, etc.
  • Air-water
    This heat pump uses the outside air. Air is sucked or blown over a plate heat exchanger (evaporator). From this air energy is extracted in the evaporator. As a disadvantage, the noise of the fan is often mentioned as well as the need to thaw the evaporator, which can occur colder than 6 degrees at outside temperatures.
  • Air / air
    Just like the air / water, this heat pump extracts energy from the outside air and also releases it as air. Outside, the fan blows air (on heating) over the evaporator and inside is a fan that moves air over the condenser.
  • Ventilation air / water
    This heat pump draws energy from the extracted air of the building, which is usually used to heat tap water. However, heating can also be done, but there will often have to be an extra source with other heat as an addition. A ventilation air heat pump that only heats tap water is also called ‘heat pump boiler’.

Pros and Cons

  • Air water: Investment low – energy costs average – maintenance low
  • Closed collector: Investment high – energy costs low – maintenance low
  • Open source soil water: Investment highest – energy costs lowest – maintenance high

Net efficiency

In addition, a COP of 2.7, is the financial turning point and the theoretical yield turning point.

  • Electric heat pumps for heating with a COP from 2.7 have a net efficiency of 107 percent
  • A COP of 4 to 5 results in a 160 to 200 percent return

You can find this net return in the certificates that belong to a heat pump energy label.


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