Think Pump Up the Heat.
Various heat sources exist which have the ability to power a hydronic heating system. On this page we will touch on several of the most common heat sources – some with clear advantages over the rest!
Heat Pumps offer the single most efficient source of heat for a hydronic heating system.
With a heat pump you are taking existing energy direct from an air or ground source, magnifying it and then transmitting it into your home.
Operating Principles of a Heat Pump
A heat pump system converts latent environmental energy in your home into heat. First, heat is transferred to the refrigerant by a heat exchanger (evaporator) in the ground or outdoor air. The refrigerant, with the help of a compressor, increases this energy to a higher temperature level, making it suitable for heating your home or your hot water system via another heat exchanger (condenser).
COP (Coefficient Of Performance)
A good COP should be a legal requirement for heating sources. Coefficient of Performance is a handy term to know if you’re investigating your heat source efficiency and money saving capability.
Look for a COP of about 5, this means that for every 1kW of ‘work’ energy that the system does, it will produce 5kW of heat energy output. The higher the COP, the more energy is transferred, the lower your operating costs.
Air Sourced Heat Pumps
There is always heat energy present in air.
Domestic heat pump technology can now extract heat energy from the air in temperatures as low as -20°C. Even in Siberian temperatures your heat pump will still be producing heat.
Heat Pump systems that extract energy from the air (air source) are easy to install, with no extensive ground work or well drilling.
Geothermal (Ground Sourced) Heat Pumps
Geothermal (ground source) systems take bit more installation than air. To extract heat from the ground, you need to lay down some pipe-work or drill a bore hole. This comes with the additional requirement of local government approval or notification to the water board.
Heat Pump Performance
Heat pumps are really the all-round, all climate, all situation performers.
Quality well-engineered heat pumps perform with minimal output fluctuations in moderate or extreme temperatures – the temperature set is the temperature you get – and the ability to convert environmental energy into warmth or cooling is infinite with low to zero maintenance.
Heat Pumps & The Environment
A thoughtful install or design with a high COP Heat Pump is an ideal set-up for you and the environment. A high performing heat pump allows you to access infinite environmental energy.
Gas or Wood Fired Sources
Other heat sources like wood or pellet fired and natural gas can seem to be cheaper short-term.
But beware! A warm home shouldn’t cost the earth!
These sources fall far behind on the efficient conversion stakes, with a COP of 1 to 2. This low transfer of work to heat will make your hydronic system more expensive to operate, maintain and finance.
The low efficiency and non-renewable design also make for a nasty environmental impact, a large carbon footprint that draws on finite and old-fashioned polluting energy sources.