The basics of how heat pumps work

Heat pumps work by extracting energy from the environment. Low-grade energy is distributed as useful home heating. They are an efficient heating system.

heat pumps work

Heat pumps are an efficient answer to the problem of high-energy prices.  They can provide all the heat you need for both domestic and commercial projects.  By installing a heat pump you will also reduce your CO2 emissions, helping to slow climate change.


How heat pumps work:

Heat pumps work by collecting energy stored in the environment.  This energy could be in the ground, air or water.  There are heat pumps specialized in each of these energy sources.

The low-grade energy is passed through an evaporator and becomes a vapour.  The compressor then condenses the vapour.  This increases the temperature, which is passed onto the heat sink through a condenser.

The Basics of How Heat Pumps Work 600x280 The basics of how heat pumps work


The controller:

Heat pumps work with either an adjustable controller or a thermostat.  These can be used separately or they can be combined.  The controller is often fixed to the wall close to the heat.  It can even be built into the unit.

The controller allows you to decide how the heat pump works.  This includes:

  • Hot water temperature
  • Flow temperatures
  • Smart usage
  • Operation times

There are a number of other functions you can set with the controller.  There are two main types of heat pumps, ground source and air source.  I will give you the basics on how each of these heat pumps work.


Ground source heat pumps:

Ground source heat pumps work by extracting energy from the ground.  Pipes are buried beneath your garden.  The pump then circulates water and antifreeze (known as brine solution), through these pipes.  The ground stays at a constant temperature so this type of heat pump can be used all year.

These heat pumps work very efficiently.  They can increase the temperature of heat from the ground between 1.5 and 4 times.  So, say the ground temperature was 12C then the heat output would be between 18C and 48C.  The output will depend on the quality, design and installation of your heat pump.


Air source heat pumps:

Air source heat pumps by extracting heat from the air outside.  They work in similar to a fridge.  A fridge extracts heat from inside and emits it into the room through the back.  These heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air, even when it is as cold as -15C.

These heat pumps are far easier to install than ground source systems.  There is no groundwork needed.  This makes air source systems cheaper.

In the summer you can use these heat pumps to cool your home.  They can operate in reverse, this is known as active cooling.

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