Installing an air source heat pump as an alternate solution to heat your rooms could be a complex project requiring expert help in installation and maintenance. In this handy guide, our experts outline the working, its cost, and the entire air source heat pump installation process before helping you choose the right installer for your needs.
Let’s start with an overview of the Air Source Heat Pump and its working process.
What is an Air Source heat pump?
If you have installed a heating system, you would know they either work on electricity or burn fuel to produce heat. However, heat pumps tend to move the heat energy from the outdoors into your homes instead of generating heat. In other words, instead of using traditional fuel sources to generate heat, the heat pumps move the heat from one place to another.
The Air Source heating system is energy-efficient and makes use of renewable energy. When accurately installed, an air source heat pump can reduce your energy dependency, delivering close to 3 times more heat than the amount of electrical energy consumed.
How Does an Air Source Heat Pump Work?
In a nutshell, air source heat pumps transfer external heat into water, and this heated water works through your radiators to heat your room. This water can also be diverted to your hot water cylinders for your shower and baths.
Do you have a refrigerator at home? Your air source heat pump works much like it – although in reverse.
Step 1: A complex network of tubes filled with refrigerant takes in outside air. As the air warms up the refrigerant, it turns into a gas from the liquid state.
Step 2: As this gas passes through the compressor, it increases its pressure and heat.
Step 3: This hot, compressed air makes its way into the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is surrounded by cool water or air. The heat is transferred into the cool water or air, turning it hot.
And, this hot air or water provides the necessary heating to your house as it is circulated around your home.
Step 4: The cycle starts as the refrigerant condenses and turns into a cool liquid instead of being in the gaseous state.
Points to Note Before Installing an Air Source Heat Pump
Installing an air source heating system is a complex task and, as such, involves several critical steps.
Selecting a place with good airflow is the right choice when choosing the right location for installation. It is best to keep it outside in open spaces rather than confining it in narrow alleys.
It is crucial to consider legal regulations when choosing the right place to install. For example, air source heat pumps are legally mandated to be installed at least a one-metre distance from property boundaries.
When choosing the site, go in for a place that allows easy access – for ease of installation and maintenance.
Time Required for Installation
The entire installation process could take a day or two, depending on the complexity of the installation work and the completion of preparatory work.
Cost of Installation
The installation cost could be between £10,000 to £15,000, depending on the type of project. For instance, the installation cost could be significantly higher in buildings when home improvement, removal or replacement of current heating systems are required.
Type of Air Source Heat Pumps
Air-to-water air source heat pumps:
The air-to-water heat pump installation is the most common type demanded in the UK. In this system, the outside air is converted into heat and transferred into a wet central heating system. These systems are predominantly used for underfloor heating or radiators as they need larger surfaces to disperse the heat.
Air-to-air air source heat pumps:
Unlike air-to-water heating, air-to-air heating is fed into your home using fans. The pumps draw heat from the outside air and, using the refrigerant and compressor, circulate the heat through your homes using fans. However, this system is incapable of producing hot water. Yet, the operations can be reversed during summers and work like an air conditioner to cool down your home.
Hybrid air source heat pumps:
A hybrid air source heat pump works with your existing boiler and heating system. It can be used to deliver a base load for your everyday heating and cooling needs or as a heat booster during a cold spell.
In general, most air source heat pumps do not require permission for installation. Yet, it is always a good idea to get it checked before going ahead with the installation process.
Air Source Heat Pump – The Entire Installation Process
The installation process comprises three crucial steps, although it might vary from one project to another.
Pre-Installation Site Survey
For proper installation of air source heat pumps, the installer should conduct an on-site survey to ascertain the suitability of the location, repair or remove existing heating systems, and determine the right size of the heat pump required. Based on the observations, a detailed plan should be drawn to ensure fast and efficient installation.
Installation of the Unit
Like conventional heating systems, the air source heat pumps also have indoor and outdoor units. The larger outdoor unit is installed outside the house in an airy and accessible location. The indoor units are connected with underfloor heat pipes or radiators.
The outdoor unit is securely secured into the base on the ground using brackets. Based on the distance between the units, a hole in the wall might be required to allow electrical wires and refrigerant lines to pass.
The post-installation finishing usually means setting up the thermostat and fixing the heat sensors to send heat signals to your thermostat. It is also the time to ensure proper electrical wiring, filter and fan cleaning, and refrigerant quantity.
Air Source Heat Pump – The Pros and Cons of Installation
Installing an air source heat pump has a few advantages and disadvantages. Let’s discuss a few here.
Reduced carbon footprint
The installation process demands expert assistance.
Due to its higher energy efficiency, you can save money on your electricity or energy bills.
The heat is lower than in conventional heating systems such as boilers.
It serves both heating and cooling purposes.
Separate installation is required for installing underfloor heating units.
Some units can be converted into air conditioners that provide ample summer cooling.
The heat loss depends on the existing insulation in your home.
Longer lifespan with proper maintenance
Perfect for maintaining pleasant temperatures but not for a heat boost
Unlike ground source pumps that need to be installed underground, these systems do not require digging up your gardens.
Pre-installation and installation could take up to 5 days in complex cases.
Doesn’t require dedicated space for fuel storage
You need ample outdoor space to install the outdoor unit and indoor space for placing the water storage tank.
Can I Install the Air Source Heat Pump on my own?
Unless you are a certified technician and an expert in installing air source heat pumps, we do not suggest undertaking the installation process as a DIY project.
Several parts are involved: complex electrical wiring and proper connections for the system to work efficiently. One misstep and you could be heading down a very long and weary road of rework, excessive maintenance, loss of time and additional repair costs.
Why do I need Expert Installers for Air Source Heat Pump Installation?
You don’t require certain certifications for installing air source heat pumps. However, if you want to be eligible for a renewable heat incentive, contact a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certified installer.
Since the air source heat pump repair and maintenance process is complex, hiring someone with experience and specialised knowledge of air source heat pumps is a good idea.
How to Decide on the Right Installer for Your Needs?
Selecting the right installer is one of the most crucial decisions you might make regarding providing heating and cooling solutions for your home. Therefore, we suggest you always compare the installers you have in mind based on these five points to check whether they meet all your requirements.
Choosing the right installer will help you get the maximum out of your heat pump and reduce the cost and time of installation.
Does the System Satisfy my Needs?
You need to determine if the type of heat system in mind is the right one for your needs. Then, the installer will undertake a heat loss calculation for your particular property based on the heating requirements, the size of the property, climatic conditions, and the insulation levels present. The installer should then be able to suggest the right heat pump for your home based on your budget.
Is the company certified to undertake the installation?
As already mentioned, you have to ensure the installer is MCS certified to avail of its benefits. It is a benchmark for the installation quality and use of standard materials during installation.
Do they provide a warranty for the installation?
Asking for an installation warranty is necessary to ensure you are insured against unexpected breakage or damage to the product and property. The heat pump parts are expensive to repair or replace. So, while discussing the warranty, it is a good idea to also ask about air source heat pump maintenance and service plans provided by the installer.
Is the cost competitive when compared to other installers?
Always make sure the cost quoted by the installer is competitive and within the prevailing market range by comparing it with other installers. It is also mandatory to ask for a written quote detailing the cost breakup, estimated installation time, materials required and warranty.
Does the company come with good references?
Good references show that the company is trustworthy and reliable. Always go through their website to understand who their clients are, the reviews received, the number of years it’s been in existence and its general health before making the final decision.
Installing an air source heat pump might be a complex process, but with the right installer, it needn’t be a daunting experience. With the right installer, such as Hamilton Air, you can have the peace of mind you deserve. They have the certification, experience and expertise to deliver impeccable, customised and quality work at all times. Get in touch with us to explore our expertise.