Heat Pump Benefits

The popularity of Heat Pumps has risen dramatically over recent years. This has not been purely for their high energy efficiency ratings, but is also due to the numerous practical, convenient, and environmentally friendly benefits that ownership and installation can bring.

Heat Pumps can be used for Heating

The most obvious benefit of a heat pump system is its ability to provide warmth. This can be achieved with the simple touch of a button: at the wall; or on the remote; and even from the comfort of your chair. Heat pumps can very quickly increase the temperature of a room.

Heat Pumps can be used for Cooling i.e. Air Conditioning

The “reverse cycle” in the full name of a heat pump refers to its ability to work backwards. In addition to extracting heat energy from outside and bringing this in to your home, your heat pump also has the ability to extract heat from inside your home and transfer this outside (in exactly the same way as a fridge works). The term “Air Conditioning” is more commonly used for the cooling cycle or function of your heat pump.

Heat Pumps control the climate

Your comfort is the single most important feature of a heat pump, and you are in control. Although most of us are comfortable living within a small bandwidth of temperature all year round (20-23 degrees C whether heating or cooling) we all have our own definition of warm enough or cool enough. A heat pump provides you with the ability to easily control and maintain your climate to your own exacting levels.

Heat Pumps are convenient

A heat pump enables you to increase or decrease the temperature of your room, or switch from heating to cooling in an instant and at the push of a button. Heat pumps can heat up or cool down a room within a few minutes, then, once the room reaches your preferred temperature, the heat pump will maintain that temperature for as long as you require it to. You can even leave your heat pump on when you go out and it won’t cost you a fortune to have the luxury of returning home to a comfortable temperature. Many heat pumps have the additional benefit of programmable timers which allow you to warm up your room prior to getting up on a cold morning or before your return from work.

Heat pumps don’t create smoke, ashes, moisture or any other waste material for you to remove. There are no trips required outside in the cold and rain for wood or pellets or to the petrol station to fill up your gas bottle. When cooling or dehumidifying your home there is no need to empty the reservoir of water as your heat pump is plumbed in and has a permanent drain to the outside.

Heat Pumps are safe

Unlike gas heating or wood burners, there are no flames or hot surfaces that children or pets can touch and burn themselves on. They can also be safely left on while you’re out or asleep.

Heat Pumps do not burn oxygen

Gas heaters need oxygen in order for gas to burn and release its heat energy. This can cause stuffy rooms and condensation on windows. Heat Pumps on the other hand do not need oxygen as they merely transfer heat energy from one place to another. Heat Pumps enable you to create just the right indoor environment tailored to your own personal preferences.

Heat Pumps improve air quality

Heat pumps don’t create smoke or add any fumes to the air. Also, as your Heat Pump circulates the air in your room, the filters clean and purify the air removing dust, mold spores, odours, smoke and other particles. They are excellent for people who suffer from asthma and allergies.

Heat Pumps add value $

As Heat Pumps become more popular, they are adding value to your home. A warm, dry, comfortable environment with the addition of air conditioning will always be first choice over a house without such sought after benefits.

Heat Pumps save space

Unlike a fire your heat pump does not need centre stage or to become a focal point in your room (taking up valuable floor space). Also there is no need to sit near the unit in order to benefit from the heat as the air in the room is warmed and circulated for the benefit of all.

Heat Pumps are very energy efficient

Heat Pumps are currently the most cost-effective form of heating using electricity and most good quality systems achieve average COP (Coefficient of Performance) figures of four or more. This means that to achieve four kilowatts of heating or cooling power, they use an average of less than one kilowatt of electricity.

A conventional heating system such as an electric fire or gas boiler has a COP of less than one. This means that it burns more than one kilowatt of power to produce a kilowatt of heating power. The higher the COP the cheaper a heating appliance is to run. In comparison to other forms of heating, Heat Pumps offer the most energy efficient heating with between 300% to 400% efficiency.

In dollar terms this means a Heat Pump is one of the cheapest methods to heat a home. By comparison: for every $1 you spend you get the following equivalent heat output:

  • Gas 0.82c
  • Electric Bar Heater 0.98c
  • Wood Burners 0.45c
  • Heat Pump $3 – $4
  • Heat Pumps are “eco-friendly”

The combustion process of wood burners causes fumes, soot and smoke which provide a major burden on the environment in terms of its carbon emissions. As the Heat Pump does not burn anything at the heat energy source, there are no additional carbon emissions other then the small amount of electrical energy required to run the compressor. Heat Pumps are environmentally friendly – most new heat pumps use R410A refrigerant which does not harm the ozone layer if released and is also more energy efficient.

Heat Pumps reduce condensation

During summer, when you are using your heat pump for cooling, the room is automatically dehumidified as a function of the Heat Pump. As the warm air circulates through the unit moisture forms on the cold surface of the coil and then drains outside.

During winter the heat pump prevents condensation forming on cold surfaces such as windows by circulating warm air around the room similar to demisting a car windscreen on a cold morning.






    Heat pump suppliers recommend filters are cleaned approximately every three months. This can be easily done by the owner, or for those that are unable to for any reason, we do offer to clean the filters for you.

    A full heat pump service includes:

    • Clean & disinfecting the indoor unit to prevent bacteria build up on the coil and throughout  the unit
    • Application of anti-microbial tablet treatment in condensate drip tray to inhibit bacterial growth within the indoor unit.
    • Clean the indoor unit’s filters, vanes and outer covers
    • Check the condensate drain, flushing with disinfectant and unblock if required
    • Check electrical terminals and components for signs of soot
    • Run the unit in both heating and cooling mode to check air-out temperatures
    • Check the outdoor unit base and ensure the unit is level and secure
    • Check for obstructions in and around the unit, coil, drain and electronics to improve efficiency and performance
    • Check flare joints and fittings
    • Tighten valve caps, check electrical connections
    • Check and clear coil
    • Clean the outside of the casing
    • Inspect for presence of insects and vermin in case of damage to the electronics

    Our servicing / maintenance technicians are regularly rotating through Auckland area and will contact our existing customers when their service is due.

    We do, however, maintain any heat pump/air conditioning unit, so if you need a service please contact us to book in an appointment time that suits.

    WHICH HEAT PUMP IS BEST?

    Heat Pumps have become very popular over the last few years because they provide cheap, clean heat and ‘touch of a button’ convenience. They are widely recommended by anyone that has one and are actively promoted by government and energy saving bodies.

    Heat Pumps are, however, a significant investment for most people and a permanent fixture to a property so its important to make the right choice (you can’t send it back).

    Choosing the right Heat Pump

    All manufacturers claim to have the best, quietest and most energy efficient Heat Pumps. Add to that they are constantly updating models and improving specifications. Finding out which one is best for you is not so straightforward.

    It is important to get the right Heat Pump for your needs. Each property is unique and has individual features that greatly affect the airflow around a space as well as the heat loss. These include: property location, typical ambient air temperatures and humidity levels, aspect to the sun, insulation in ceilings and walls, window surface area, positioning of walls, etc.

    So unfortunately, what is right for your friends and neighbours is not necessarily right for you.

    The Right Type

    Heat Pumps come in a variety of types: High walls, Floor consoles, Ceiling cassettes, Concealed, etc. all with different power outputs and airflow characteristics.

    The Right Size

    Heat Pumps must be sized correctly for the volume of air it needs to condition. Too small and the unit will be over working at full speed trying to achieve the desired temperature, never reaching its inverter state and therefore will cost more to run and wear out prematurely. Too big and the Heat Pump will short cycle, turning on and off repeatedly.

    1. Regardless of what you might get told, DO NOT buy a bigger heat pump in the hope it will do multiple rooms or the whole house. A Heat Pump constantly measures the temperature of the room it is in and will back off as it reaches the set temperature. It cannot know what the temperature is in the rooms down the hall so won’t try to heat them.

    The Right Performance

    All Heat Pumps come from overseas where they are designed predominantly for cooling. Not all Heat Pumps perform the same in the colder and often humid New Zealand climate. It is important to understand the performance capabilities of Heat Pumps in New Zealand and the impact of the Heat Pump defrost cycle.

    The Right Installation

    Correct installation is CRITICAL for the correct energy efficient performance and long term life of a Heat Pump. Unfortunately there are no regulations covering Heat Pump installation and Heat Pumps are readily available at trade outlets. Do not assume because someone can supply a Heat Pump that they have the right equipment or are accredited installers.

    The Right Backup

    Make sure the company you deal with is going to be around if something goes wrong. The manufacturer’s warranty is only valid for correctly installed Heat Pumps. If something goes wrong, you will have to contact them to put it right.. Even if you buy from a reputable retail outlet you will still have to find the original installer.

    Summary

    Getting the right Heat Pump for your home is a combination of accurate calculation of the space to be heated (or cooled), taking into account all property characteristics, plus an up to date knowledge of the performance specifications of all makes and models available.

    Heat Pump Guide

    We hope the information in this guide is of interest and answers any questions you may have. Please feel free to contact us if you have any other queries.

    HEAT PUMP PERFORMANCE

    For a Heat Pump to perform effectively and efficiently, it needs to be:

    • Sized correctly for the room(s) being heated
    • Properly maintained
    • Suited to the climate

    How to use your Heat Pump to ensure maximum performance:

    Only heat spaces actually being used and shut doors and curtains to keep the heat in.
    Keep the temperature between 18 – 22˚C during the day/evening, and 16˚C overnight if required.
    Learn how to operate the timer feature (24 hour or 7-day). Set it to switch on an hour before you arrive home or wake up instead of leaving it on all day or night.
    Clean the filter regularly as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
    Install the outdoor unit according to the manufacturer’s guidelines as insufficient airflow will affect how the unit performs and could affect the validity of your warranty.

    Understanding Defrost Cycle

    During winter months many heat pumps will need to go through a “defrost” cycle during operation. Often this has not been explained well before installation, which leads to a lot of confusion about why the heat pump is not working. This document is provided to help users understand the defrosting cycle and address any concerns.

    What is a “defrost cycle”?

    In heating mode a heat pump extracts heat from the outside air and transfers it inside your premises to warm it. When the ambient temperature outside gets very cold (close to 0°C or below) the moisture in the air freezes on the outdoor unit’s heat exchanger as the fan blows the air across it. A defrost cycle is simply the system recognising that ice has formed or begun to form and automatically fixes this.

    Why does my unit have to do a defrost cycle?

    Any ice building up on the outside heat exchanger reduces the airflow across it, which will affect the efficiency, sometimes reducing it dramatically. In extreme cases this can also cause damage to the outdoor unit.

    How do I tell if my unit is in a defrost cycle?

    Inside you will notice the unit will stop heating, the indoor fan will stop and depending on the model there will usually be some form of visual indication like a light on the unit (usually the “run” light) will blink continuously. Outside, the outdoor fan will also have stopped and the compressor will be running.

    How often will my unit go into defrost mode?

    There are a number of factors that influence how often a unit will go into defrost mode. Some of these include:

    • The outdoor temperature and humidity
    • The amount of heating load the unit is trying to deliver
    • The condition of the heat pump system

    There are timers built in to the computer control of the unit that restrict how often defrosting can occur. Generally a unit must run for a minimum of around 35 minutes after starting up before completing its first defrost. From there defrosts should occur no more frequently than approximately every 35 minutes.

    Once my unit is defrosting how long will it take?

    Either of two factors can bring the unit out of a defrost cycle. Firstly, if the sensors on the outdoor unit detect that it’s heat exchanger temperature has risen enough, the unit will stop defrosting. Secondly, if the sensors do not stop it beforehand, the maximum time a unit will be in defrost cycle is around 10 minutes.

    It is important not to stop the unit before the defrost cycle has ended because if the unit is restarted shortly afterwards it will run very inefficiently and may cause damage to itself.

    My unit is defrosting frequently / not delivering enough heat – what could be wrong?

    Regular defrosting, or a lack of heat could be caused by a number of factors.

    If the unit has operated like this since it was first installed (first cold snap), you may be operating it incorrectly or it may be undersized for the space it is trying to heat. Initially you should consult your instruction manual to ensure you are operating the unit correctly. If this doesn’t remedy the problem you should consult your installer or another reputable heat pump installer. They can assist you to ensure correct operation, and correct sizing.

    If the unit is undersized for the space it is not faulty. The responsibility for correctly sizing the unit initially rests with the installing company – they will need to remedy the situation if the unit is too small.

    A recently developed problem may be an indication of a fault or maintenance required. You can perform some basic maintenance yourself by cleaning the filters on your indoor unit, and ensuring that your outdoor unit is clear of foliage and the heat exchanger is not blocked. If this doesn’t remedy the problem you should consult your installer or another reputable heat pump installer.

    Is there any way I can help to reduce defrosting?

    Yes there certainly is. Keep your unit well maintained (as above) and ensure you are operating it correctly. This will help a lot.

    Of course the less load you place on the unit the less frequently it will need to defrost in cold conditions. Ultimately permanent fixes such as installing insulation in ceilings, walls and under floors will help reduce your heating requirement (and ultimately save you money). More immediately, keeping doors closed and curtains drawn will also help to reduce the heating required.

    HEAT PUMP RUNNING COSTS

    Heat Pump Air Conditioners have become popular because they are an extremely energy efficient way to heat your property.

    Because heat pumps don’t create heat, they simply move it from one space to another, heating costs are greatly reduced when compared with other forms of heating (electric heaters, gas, wood-burners, etc.).

    Heat Pumps are currently the most cost-effective form of heating using electricity, and most good quality systems achieve average COP (Coefficient of Performance) figures of four or more. This means that to achieve four kilowatts of heating or cooling power, they use an average of less than one kilowatt of electricity.

    A conventional heating system such as an electric fire or gas boiler has a COP of less than one. This means that it burns more than one kilowatt of power to produce a kilowatt of heating power. The higher the COP the cheaper a heating appliance is to run. In comparison to other forms of heating, Heat Pumps offer the most energy efficient heating with between 300% to 400% efficiency.

    In dollar terms this means a Heat Pump is one of the cheapest methods to heat a home. By comparison: for every $1 you spend you get the following equivalent heat output:

    • Gas 0.82c
    • Electric Bar Heater 0.98c
    • Wood Burners 0.45c
    • Heat Pump $3 – $4

    Tests on newer heat pumps show that by choosing the correct size unit for your home, maintaining it correctly and running it efficiently, you can receive up to $3 heat for every $1 spent on heating.

    NB: It is important that a heat pump is sized correctly for the volume of air it needs to heat and the climate in which it operates. If the unit is too small it will not reach its inverter cycle and therefore achieve its stated energy efficiency (COP).

    HEAT PUMP INSTALLATION

    The installation of your heat pump is a critical step in ensuring the heat pump performs effectively, is located correctly and the warranty is honoured by the manufacturer.

    Many people opt for the cheapest install, trying to save on overall costs, but this is a decision that can easily be assisted by understanding that the cheapest option may cause untold problems for them in the future.

    Experienced, accredited installers are generally qualified refrigeration technicians and/or registered electricians. They understand how a heat pump system works and what affect location and position of both the indoor and outdoor units will have. They have the specialised equipment required to complete the installation and have more often than not attended manufacturer courses on the correct installation and servicing of these systems.

    The time it takes to install various heat pump systems can be as short as 3 hours for a very simple back to back installation (e.g. indoor and outdoor units located on either side of the same wall and virtually back to back) or up to an entire day for larger, more complicated installations. Multi or ducted systems may take a few days, depending on the number of units being connected.

    Installation costs can be significant, so any adverts for extremely low installation costs should be investigated fully before signing on the dotted line. Make sure the cost of installation is included in your quote. Simple uncomplicated installations will obviously be cheaper than more involved installations. Some of the factors influencing the cost may be:

    • the size of the heat pump system being installed
    • the length of pipe run connecting the indoor and outdoor units
    • whether the system can be wired into a local circuit or has to go back to the switchboard
    • the length of capping required to cover pipes to protect them from the elements
    • outdoor unit needing risers (feet) and pavers if not on a concrete path or slab
      the path the drain will need to take (concrete drillers required, plumbed into existing plumbing, etc.)

    After completion of the installation, you should receive an Electrical Code of Compliance certificate. If he is a qualified electrician, he will do this immediately. If not, he may arrange for the electrician to visit you to provide the sign off. This certificate should be kept in a safe place and confirms that all wiring meets New Zealand’s current safety standards.