Air to water heat pumps for houses will be big business for plumbers and air conditioning engineers within the next decade. Many air conditioning engineers are now gaining the correct training to get the accreditation for entering a manufacturers installers program. The main players within the air to water heat pump market are Daikin with the Altherma and Mitsubishi Electric's Ecodan. Both units require the manufactures accreditation to install their equipment.
Lack of blending of skills:
The issue with the air to water heat pump market in the UK is that plumbers are installing equipment without a full understanding of heat pump technology and air conditioning engineers do not have the plumbing or heating engineer skills required to do a full heating system installation. This lack of blending of skills give plumbers a better chance of getting the installations as they have most of the skills involved to do the main installation such as fitting radiators and general plumbing services. The but is plumbers slip up with a lack of basic knowledge of a refrigeration cycle. A good example of this will be when a refrigeration component fails and a heating engineer will not have the skills to change it.
Heat pumps have a COP cost-efficiency of performance which basically means that electrical power going in is multiplied to produce more heat output. i.e if a heat pump has a COP of 4.2 it will produce 4.2kW of heat for 1kW of electrical input power. The COP figure is relative to outside ambient temperature so most heat pump air to water systems output is highly seasonal. In the middle of winter when temperatures in the UK can go sub -20DegC this COP figure will hit sub 1.5 COP. So your 15Kw air to water heat pump boiler in the middle of winter will only produce 7kW of heat.
Why air to water is different to ground source heat pumps:
In all my time in the air to water heat pump sales market I have seen drawing with heat allowances of 65watts / meter for houses under floor heating. This seems to be a common theme when plumbers quote on a air to water heat pump system. As in the above subject in the winter air to water output figures can be as low as 50% rated output when the cold season temperature is taken in to account. This is not an issue for ground source heat pumps because the ground at which the pipes are berried is at a constant temperature of around 10 DegC.
Things to remember:
Winner in the market:
The winners in the forthcoming air to water heat pump market
will be the companies that can effectively blend their
skills base. Plumbers and air conditioning companies will
not be able to do this by themselves and will have
to rely on each others skills. Air conditioning engineers
will benefit massively as units loose gas and compressors
fail and need changing. Councils will have to turn to air to
water to heat their council housing as there is no space for
ground source and as environmental protocols get tighter and
tighter on CO2 this will force housing developers to turn to
a effective way of heating their properties.
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