What is a Heat Pump?

So what is a heat pump? I get asked this a lot so I've created this series of articles to help you negotiate your way around the various types of heat pumps available.

Heat pumps still aren't that common so it's not surprising a lot of people don't fully understand what they are and what they do. Some of you will already know that they extract heat from places where there doesn't appear to be any a heat in the first place like witchcraft.

They sound magical but in reality they're actually quite straight forward and very clever.

They come in a variety of types including ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps and water source heat pumps.

what is a heat pump

To explain the initial question above "what is a heat pump?" in the simplest terms, I'll assume we're talking about an air source pump (the principle is the  same for them all).

First I want you to think about the fridge in your house (which is actually a heap pump) it takes heat out of the air inside the fridge and transfers it to the air at the rear of the fridge through that little black grill attached to the rear of the fridge. 

So, if you visualise the metal grill on the back of your fridge as the radiators or under-floor heating system in your home and the air inside your fridge as the air outside your home you will start to see how heat pumps work. I go into more detail in the following articles.

What is a Heat Pump - The Details

Throughout this section I'll share heat pump information and elaborate on the following topics:

  • How heat pumps work - in this section I explain heat pump operation in more detail; exactly how heat pumps manage to get heat out of the ground, air or water when there doesn’t appear to be much heat in these places to start with!
  • Air source heat pumps - very common in continental Europe and becoming more common in the UK. These are now the most popular heat pump in the UK as they're easier and less costly to install when compared to ground source heat pumps.
  • Water source heat pumps - the least common but not without their benefits.
  • Heat pump prices - explaining "what is a heat pump" is all well and good, but you will also need to know what the cost of installing a heat pump is likely to be. This will obviously vary greatly depending on your site size and availability of local resources such as water etc.
  • Heat pump pool heaters - some heat pumps are better suited for heating swimming pools than others.
  • Heat pump efficiency - depending on the type of heat pump you install, you will get differing efficiencies depending on your specific site conditions and your particular family’s requirements for hot water. You will need this information if you are to find the best heat pump for your requirements.
  • Heat pump problems - here I will discuss the issues and common problems you may encounter with the different types of heat pumps.

By the time you've read the specific articles surrounding the heat pump technology that you are interested in, I hope I'll have answered the initial question “what is a heat pump?”

I also hope you'll understand the differences between the different types of heat pumps and which will best suit your application.

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