What Is an Air to Air Heat Pump?
An air to air heat pump falls under the category of air source heat pumps, and by using renewable energy and hybrid solutions, it is able to provide you with both heating and cooling for your home.
This type of heat pump is not only sustainable and efficient but also one of the most affordable heat pumps on the market. In the long run, it will allow you to significantly cut your monthly heating bills, and furthermore:
- Reach up to three times higher heating efficiency.
- Easily navigate between heating and cooling, depending on the season - an air to air heat pump can act like an air-conditioner in the hot months, and as a heating source in the wintertime.
- Get an air source heat pump with a long lifespan: the lifetime of an air to air heat pump ranges between 10-15 years.
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- What Is an Air to Air Heat Pump?
- How Does an Air to Air Heat Pump Work?
- How Much Do Air to Air Heat Pumps Cost?
- Efficiency Rates of Air to Air Heat Pumps
- Advantages of Air to Air Heat Pumps
- Disadvantages of Air to Air Heat Pumps
- FAQs about Air to Air Heat Pumps
- Leading Heat Pump Manufacturers in the UK
Air to air heat pumps draws in air from the outside, which then travels through a compressor that extracts the heat from the air, to then pump it through the house to heat it. This technology can also be reversed to cool the house in the summer months.
It uses the principles of vapour compression refrigeration to absorb heat in one place, and release it to another.
Air to air heat pumps are thought to be the most effective in terms of the heat energy output per kWh of electricity they consume. A specific yield indicator known as COP is used to measure the efficiency rate of a heat pump. An air to air heat pump is able to generate up to 4.5 times the energy it consumes.
The interactive graphic below illustrates how the process works. You can click each point to read about the steps in more detail:
Air to air heat pump prices for the average UK household of two people ranges from £1,600 to £3,100.
Although an air to air heat pump is cheap to install and comes with many benefits, you should also consider some factors that will affect the running costs of it. Thus, always keep the following in mind:
- Size and layout of your room
- How often the heat pump is used
- Insulation of your home
- Energy efficiency and number of windows
- The general surrounding climate
- Room orientation
Air to Air Heat Pump Installation Cost
The installation costs of an air to air heat pump are low because the installation process is fairly straightforward.
Unlike an air to water heat pump, an air to air heat pump only needs the outdoor unit that extracts ambient air, and the indoor unit to expel that air as heating (or cooling). You will not need to have radiators or pipeworks installed, as you would with the air to water system.
Are Air to Air Heat Pumps Eligible for the RHI Scheme?
The air to air heat pump is the only type of air-source heat pumps that is not eligible for the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive. However this shouldn’t worry you, because the installation and running cost of the other types of heat pumps are higher, hence an incentive is used to balance out the costs.
The efficiency of any type of air-source heat pump is measured by the Coefficient of Performance (COP). A COP of 4, for instance, means that the heat pump produces 4 units of heat energy for every 1 unit of electricity it consumes.
In simpler terms, for each kWh of electricity used, 4 kWh of heating energy is created. This way, the higher the COP value, the better.
COP is very dependent on the outside air temperature. Usually, the COP of heat pumps is fairly stable between 3-3.5, if the outside temperature ranges between -3°C to 10°C. What this means is that, in very mild weather, the heat pump COP is higher and the machine works efficiently. On colder days it is quite the opposite: it will take the heat pump more work to transfer the same amount of heat, hence the COP will be lower.
It is safe to say that air source heat pumps are more efficient in warmer countries, however, if properly installed and combined with the right components, it can be just as efficient in colder countries. For instance, most of the modern air to air heat pumps use inverters to reduce wear and tear of the heat pump and to increase the COP.
- Easy to install. These types of heat pumps are very easy to install. Only a hole in the wall is needed and the installation can be done in a single day.
- Compatible. It can be easily installed in a house with an existing conventional heating system. Additionally, your house does not need a hydronic heating system or any other additional intervention.
- Reversible. Air to air heat pumps can easily be switched to cooling mode and used as an air conditioner during the summer. Together with the built-in air filters, this will create a desirable microclimate in the room.
- Low maintenance. They require little to no maintenance. Usually, your installer will check the condition of the pump once a year.
- Safe. Unlike other heating solutions, air to air heat pumps do not bring potentially flammable fuel into the home, and therefore reduce the chances of accidents.
- Seasonal dependency. Air to air heat pumps are dependent on the outside air temperature. They work most effectively if the outdoor temperature is between 0 and 10°C. When the temperature drops to -10°C or below, the electric power consumption of the pump increases.
- Dust. The dust contained in the air moves from one medium to another.
- Lower supply. It provides a lower heat supply compared to oil or gas boilers, meaning that you would need bigger vents.
- Extra expenses. If you live in colder parts of the country, you would need to invest in some additional elements, to ensure optimal results and electricity usage of the heat pump. However, the additional parts are not high in cost, hence it is not a huge disadvantage - and they pay off in the long run.
If you are still unsure about how to choose the right air to air heat pump in your home, have a look at these FAQ below.
Does an Air to Air Heat Pump Work below Freezing Point?
Most heat pumps are constructed to work functionally at temperatures as low as -15°C. Households living in regions that experience periods of subfreezing temperatures during winter, and at the same time have high humidity levels, might consider a ground source heat pump instead.
This is due to the fact that air source heat pumps are more weather-sensitive, in the sense that they absorb the outdoor air into the compressor of the heat pump. A ground source heat pump, on the other hand, generates energy from the solar heat stored in the ground.
Does an Air to Air Heat Pump Make a Lot of Noise?
Air to air heat pumps have a moderate noise level. However, the bigger the system, the louder it is likely to be. In addition, the system will get louder over time as the machinery ages. For this reason, the outer block should preferably not be installed near a bedroom, or close to a neighbour’s patio.
Most modern heat pumps have a low noise level, but the sound might be perceived differently from person to person.
Can I Have More than One Inner Block?
In bigger houses with multiple floors, it is common to install one inner block downstairs and one upstairs. It is important to strategically install the blocks so that the warm air can easily circulate between the rooms.
How to Maintain an Air to Air Heat Pump?
Heat pumps require almost no maintenance. However, it is recommended to have your certified installer check the condition of the heat pump once a year. You might also want to clean or change the air filters in the inner block of the heat pump regularly.
When the outdoor temperature gets below freezing point, the air to air heat pump could suffer from ice forming on the outer block. During normal circumstances, the heat pump will automatically defrost, however, it might need some help. Make sure to turn off the heat pump before defrosting it.
Investing in a heat pump shelter spares your heat pump from harsh weather conditions, and prolongs its lifespan. You can either buy a shelter or build it yourself.
It is always recommended to consult your certified installer before servicing your air to air heat pump. Alternatively, you can check with your installer to find out what kind of service agreement they provide.
Check out some of the most popular heat pump brands for air-source units:
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