Heating the house with a heat pump. How it works and how much it costs

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Is it realistic to reduce the cost of heating a country house up to 70%? The answer can be found in a very unusual source of energy – the bowels of the earth. We will tell you about the device and the principle of operation of heat pumps, as well as help you make the right choice of heating system.

Heating a house with a heat pump

The constant rise in energy prices gives an excellent reason to think about more modern and economical means of generating heat and hot water. Today, there are already dozens of innovative ways to equip efficient heating schemes, making it absolutely free..

Heat pumps and geothermal air conditioning units

Almost a quarter of the energy generated in the world today is environmentally friendly, and one-eighth is obtained without burning biological masses. The most effective and practically inexhaustible source of energy can rightfully be considered a resource hidden in the depths of our planet – geothermal heat. It is noteworthy that the direction of energy transfer can be reversed: in the hot season, the soil can effectively absorb heat. This two-way process is commonly referred to as geothermal conditioning..

To collect and convert heat energy, special installations are used – the so-called heat pumps. Due to their high efficiency and low energy consumption during operation, they are becoming increasingly popular..

Heating a house with a heat pump

The very idea of ​​the operation of such installations is far from new. In the 50s of the XIX century, the first prototype, oriented to mass production, was already designed and patented. Lord Kelvin’s idea at that time did not receive practical application due to the fact that the concept of an energy crisis was still unknown, but after almost one century, Robert C. Webber began to successfully apply such systems in everyday life and industry. It is striking that back in 1931, geothermal heating technology based on the operation of heat pumps was used in the famous Empire State Building. In Russia and in the post-Soviet space, geothermal energy sources have been used since the times of the USSR, and industrial complexes make it possible to produce the necessary equipment without involving foreign partners.

Thermal energy of low potential. Operating principle

The second rule of thermodynamics states that the transfer of thermal energy is possible only from a more heated body to a less heated one. But if a substance with variable physical properties is placed between two media with a small temperature difference, it can serve as an intermediary that can reverse the natural process of heat transfer. The chain of such transformations is carried out during the operation of the heat pump. When gases are strongly compressed, a large amount of heat is released, and the gas itself is cooled and turns into a liquid state. This is called compression, and the end result of this process is warmth in the home. In order to repeat the compression cycle indefinitely, a refrigerant with a very low boiling point is used as the gas. It can be returned to a gaseous state during evaporation at temperatures up to + 10 ° C. Thermal energy with low potential, as a rule, is extracted from the ground below the freezing depth, but can be obtained in any other way. In general, the principle of operation of a heat pump is directly opposite to that of a refrigeration unit, although it is based on identical processes..

Heating a house with a heat pump

Modern heat pumps

Such systems used in the modern world are more advanced in comparison with their predecessors. Complex gas compounds are used as a refrigerant, all structural elements and actuators are made with a large margin of wear resistance and reliability. The development of precision engineering has made it possible to recreate geothermal installations in miniature. Portable heat pumps are indistinguishable from their industrial cousins, and low prices and increasing competition make the units available to a wide range of consumers.

A feature of heat pumps that distinguishes them from traditional heating devices is the ability to operate within a clearly defined range of outdoor temperatures, which is determined by the physical properties of the refrigerant substance and the type of system. Air heat pumps can extract heat energy from air at positive temperatures, but do not work well at negative temperatures. Ground source pumps are capable of heating a house even in severe frost, but their use in the autumn-winter period is not always justified. For each climatic zone, the choice of equipment is carried out individually. In the household, a combination of different types of devices best recommends itself.

Top six questions about heat pumps

Although heat pumps are widely known, it is common for many to question their economic benefits. However, there are only six questions, the answers to which will give a complete picture of the benefits of heat pumps..

What is a geothermal system in a private house

In a country house, the system takes up as much space as an ordinary gas boiler room would take. The installation can be divided into two parts: visible and hidden. The owner will have functional elements in sight: heat and circulation pumps, piping, taps, filters, measuring instruments and automation. The primary heat exchanger hidden deep underground will remain hidden from human eyes. The system is completely silent and can be placed even outdoors. Assembly and commissioning can be done independently, but if you wish, you can contact a specialized installation company, a full range of services will cost from $ 1000.

Heating a house with a heat pump

How efficient is the pump

To ensure a comfortable climate in living quarters, a water temperature in the heating circuit of 40–45 ° C is sufficient. If gas boilers heat water in excess, and their automation is designed for a much wider temperature range when triggered, then heat pumps maintain a constant temperature by operating continuously. If the premises are closed and only periodically ventilated, you can be sure that the temperature inside them will reach 30 degrees. With the use of more powerful units, it becomes possible both to have running hot water for domestic needs and to heat swimming pools..

Heat exchanger placement options

Many people faced with TRP systems are interested in the placement of the primary heat exchanger. It can be located up to three meters underground and has a horizontal orientation. At the same time, in the area adjacent to the house, a deep pit is being dug, in which the annular coil of the heat exchanger is located.

Heating a house with a heat pump

Modern systems are also capable of working with a vertical arrangement of the primary circuit. This option is more preferable from the point of view of maintaining the landscape of the personal plot, although it requires additional equipment – high-pressure circulation pumps. With the vertical arrangement of the primary circuit, three wells are drilled in the area, the depth of which can in some cases reach 100 m. A pipeline loop (probe) is placed in the well, which is connected to a common reservoir. Well drilling cannot be done without special equipment, and therefore one should resort to the help of professionals. The cost of such a service depends on the conditions of work and the depth of drilling, but you should not count on less than $ 450 per device for one well..

Heating a house with a heat pump

Equipment service

The principle of operation and design of automation systems in heat pumps are very different from their counterparts used in tandem with gas equipment. It is also characterized by high technical complexity and a number of functional units: evaporators, compressors and intermediate heat exchange systems. Despite the obvious complexity, heat pumps do not require maintenance during operation. The only element subject to strong wear is the compressor, which has a service life of over 30 years and is easy to replace. The factory-assembled pump itself can serve up to a hundred years without scheduled repairs. The automation system also does not require special maintenance and is easily controlled through a single digital controller..

How much does it cost to produce energy by this method?

Heating systems based on heat pumps are characterized by extremely low energy consumption. With the largest temperature difference in the primary and secondary heat exchangers, the system produces a thermal power three times greater than the consumed electrical power. With a minimum temperature difference between the air and the heat source (up to 12-14 degrees), energy consumption will be seven times less than the amount of heat produced. If the consumer wants to go further, ensuring full autonomy of the system and avoiding material costs for electricity, you can resort to using solar energy: a 3 kW installation will be compact and will not require large cash investments.

Heating a house with a heat pump

With which authorities do you need to coordinate the installation of such devices

Installation of the heat pump does not require any special permits or design documentation. The only exception can be commercial facilities and municipal institutions, the equipping of which with such heating must be accompanied by acts of environmental compliance and certificates for the equipment used. Fortunately, heat pumps of any type are environmentally friendly and comply with all industrial and household sanitation standards..

Heat pump manufacturers

The global and domestic markets for heat pumps are actively developing, which creates high competition and significant price dumping. This is not to say that some manufacturers have absolute superiority over others: each has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, it is possible to split the hardware market into three segments..

Heat pumps made in Europe

One of the main suppliers of geothermal equipment is Europe, where such installations have been used for a very long time, and the technology for their manufacture has been carefully developed. There are no special differences between European brands, except that some companies are striving to make installations more compact and quiet. The technical characteristics of heat pumps from the Swiss concern NIBE are perfectly combined.

Heating a house with a heat pump

The advantages of this manufacturer include vast experience in mass production of heating equipment. The company specializes specifically in the creation and improvement of installations operating on environmentally friendly energy sources. Since 1949, NIBE has acquired over twenty of the largest precision equipment manufacturers in Europe, Asia and North America. This allowed the company to provide its units with the longest service life through the use of components from the world’s most famous manufacturers. But the price for such an acquisition will be appropriate: from 7 thousand euros for a pump with a thermal power of 5 kW.

Russian manufacturers of heat pumps

The Russian market is also moving forward. In just a couple of decades, several large companies specializing in the production of heat pumps appeared and developed in Russia..

The largest and most actively improving their products are PEA, ALTAL and Henk. The main feature of the domestic manufacturer is the best price-quality ratio. If the equipment has a service life of 50 years and provides warranty and service maintenance, low-power pumps will have a price in the range of 2.6-3.7 thousand dollars.

Heating a house with a heat pump

Most Russian companies produce equipment under foreign patents and franchises, and this gives a guarantee that the equipment is of high quality and suitable for use in domestic conditions.

Heat pumps made in China

Heat pumps made in China have the lowest cost. There are no manufacturing companies as such in China: each pump has a narrow model range, which is called a short abbreviation.

A distinctive feature of Chinese manufacturers is a very low price and dubious quality. Thus, a heat pump with a useful power of 12 kW will cost $ 1100-1300 excluding customs duties and transportation costs. Regarding the quality of the products, it is impossible to give an unambiguous conclusion: some units work for a year and fail, but there are those that have been regularly generating heat for 5 or 7 years. Fortunately, Chinese pumps have a block design and all components can be easily replaced..

Over the next decade, many energy companies say that 95% of household heating equipment will be heat pumps. This is facilitated by their safety and unpretentiousness, as well as the growing desire of mankind to conserve natural resources. Still, the main argument is the constantly growing price of gas and electricity, which forces consumers to look for alternative, less expensive heating options..

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