Heat pumps have various appliances in a home. Most people use them to heat or cool their homes. Much like an air conditioner. But heat pumps are also used in conjunction with water boilers. Heat pumps can work either as stand-alone heat pump water boiler systems or as a combination of water heating and air conditioning system.
How do heat pump water boilers work
Heat pumps use electricity to transfer heat from one place to another. Instead of generating heat it employs a cleverer process and uses existing heat. In effect they can be more than 3 times as energy efficient than conventional electric water boilers. They work just like a refrigerator, only in reverse.
Therefore, a heat pump water boiler pulls heat from the surrounding air and transfers it into a tank to heat water. While you can buy a separate heat pump system that has a built-in tank and resistance heating elements you can also fit an add-on heat pump on your existing water boiler.
What are the installation requirements for heat pump water boilers?
Heat pump water boilers require significant air space around the water boiler, at least 28 cubic meters, and this space must remain between 40-90 degrees F for the whole year. It is best to install it in a hot room, such as a furnace room or a room with a lot of computer servers.
Heat pump water boilers cool the space they are in, so they serve the double purpose of air conditioning. Most heat pump water boilers are used in combination with another water boiler type, or are used as add-ons to existing water boilers, to provide hot water for the whole year.
How different is maintenance compared to conventional storage tank water boilers?
Heat pumps do not add too much in terms of maintenance compared to conventional water boilers. However, you will need to have a qualified plumbing and heating contractor to professionally install your heat pump. In case of a geothermal heat pump system they have special installers that will do the job for you.
Maintenance includes piping changes and periodic check on the various components. Many heat pump water boiler systems only need periodic evaporator air filter cleaning. You will also need to check resistance elements every few months, replacing only when necessary.
It is also important to repair any water leaks at the heat pump, to prevent corrosion in the water boiler components. In areas with hard water there is also a high probability for scale build-up on the condenser coil. The complexity of cleaning the scale varies from model to model.
Since heat pump technology is much more complex than conventional technology repairs are more pricey. This is especially true when parts replacements are required. During the years you will need to replace compressors, water pumps and many others. Warranties usually cover specific parts for one to four years.
Heat pump water boilers provide high energy savings and are worth the trouble due to their double role. The costlier maintenance and installation may be a problem, but otherwise they are solid investments.