Heat Pump Systems Explained
In a world where being environmentally conscious is a growing trend, these heating and cooling systems are some of the best available. Rather than utilizing any kind of power source that could generate carbon emissions, they use naturally processes to simply transfer heat through a set of passive systems. There are a lot of different options available, ones that can take advantage of just about every environmental condition you can imagine.
Some of them are organized in a way that utilizes multiple methods at once, hybridizing them together to create systems that are not just more efficient, but are in fact made to enhance their own functioning by moving heat to places it can be stored until it’s needed. There have been many advances made since this system was first created, and all of them take advantage of the newest understanding of thermal systems. You can read more about the basics of heat pump systems here.
There are a number of different types of heat pumps, the most common being an air-source heat pump. This is a simple device which transfers heat between the outside and inside air of a building. If you currently use electric power to heat your home, you could see a savings of up to 40%, and are more effective than an air conditioner. They also have the bonus of being far more efficient at reducing the humidity in the air than a typical air conditioner, which results in a more comfortable cooling experience.
These sort of heat pumps are easy to install, and have the extra benefit of being relatively inexpensive. These two traits have made them one of the most popular forms, but they are limited by the process they work on. During periods of extreme temperatures, they become much less efficient due to the temperature differential. There are more expensive forms that are optimized to be able to operate during these time periods, but they are essentially hybrid systems utilizing more electricity to help them function.
These systems have also been utilized to take advantage of the process to enhance or replace existing water heating systems. In these systems the heat is collected and moved through the heat exchange process to dump it into a domestic water heater storage tank. Often these aren’t used as systems in and of themselves, but are instead utilized as a backup to pre-heat the water, taking the full strain off of the electrical systems themselves.
Ground Source Heat Pumps
These are also known as geothermal heat pumps, and are much more efficient on the whole than air heat pumps. They take advantage of the thermal properties of the earth or large bodies of water that have them remaining at approximately the same temperature year round once you get below about 30 feet. These do have the disadvantage of being more expensive to install as drilling boreholes or digging trenches for the pipes that are utilized in exchanging the heat with fluid.
There are a couple of types, the first being a closed loop system, which has a tendency to accumulate cold if there is stagnant ground water around the pipes, or if the soil simply is incapable of transferring heat quickly. The closed loop system is actually composed of two separate fluid and heat exchange systems, one that pumps water, the other pumping a form of anti-freeze that is exceptionally good at carrying heat. The heat exchange takes place at a transfer point, and is then recycled through the building and its various systems.
There are also open loop systems, which take advantage of available water systems to pump naturally occurring water from ponds or wells through the exchange. These systems can be exceptionally good, as water is a terrific transfer point for heat and energy, but it does come with the somewhat less beneficial aspect of tending to build up scale and deposits inside the pipes which regularly need to be clean. There is also the possibility of blockage if you’re in a place where the water can freeze.
Overall however, these systems are particularly diverse, able to take advantage of a lot of different forms of ground composition. A list of the various types are provided below.
- Ground-Air Heat Pumps (heat is transferred to inside air)
- Soil-Air Heat Pump (heat is extracted from the soil)
- Rock-Air Heat Pump (Heat is extracted from rock)
- Water-Air Heat Pump (Heat is extracted from water, such as a lake, river, or groundwater
- Ground-water heat pump (Heat is transferred to a heating circuit and a hot water tank)
- Soil-Water heat Pump (Heat extracted from ground)
- Rock-Water heat pump (Heat extracted from rock)
- Water-Water heat pump (Heat extracted from water
Exhaust Air Heat Pump
A lot of buildings have various sources of exhaust type air, whether from laundry systems, furnaces, grills, and many other forms of heat producing systems. Exhaust heat air pumps take advantage of this waste heat from these systems. It is often used as a backup for heating tap water, warming the building, or even heating the floors. Since this method requires another source of heat to function, it is not an effective as a primary source of heat, but is merely a way of recapturing heat already being produced.
Just think of all that wasted heat coming out of the auxiliary systems in your business, and how much of that can be turned back into useful heat elsewhere in the building. These systems are one of the more creative ways of reusing the power you’re already paying for. Electricity heats your grill, which produces waste heat, which heats your water, which gets run through your dishwasher, what better form of recycling is there?
Water Source Heat Pumps
These are an incredibly efficient form of heat system, being able to transfer heat to and from available sources with much more ease than any other system available. These are primarily used to extract excess heat from places within the building which they are installed in, and transferring it to places it’s needed. These are exceptionally good at meeting the needs of an entire home, but again are not a great opportunity for using to heat an entire home. They excel at moving heat, not producing it, just like every other heat pump system.
Hybrid Heat Pump
These systems are an extremely efficient melding of air and ground form of heat pump, switching between the most efficient methods available to it as the temperature changes. One of the great functions of this system is it permits the heating of the actual groundwater by exchanging the heat from the air into the ground during the colder times of year, actually enhancing its efficiency by about 4% per degree of temperature increase in the ground source.
With all the options out there today, you’re sure to find one of these magnificent systems that will suit your home or business. With the cost of heating, and the rising cost of electricity and other forms of fuel, these systems can give you a definite edge in keeping your check-book balanced, or keeping your company in the black.