Air and Ground Source Heat Pumps

Despite the name, heat pumps actually use a form of refrigeration system to heat or cool controlled environments, such as offices and factories. Heat pumps use renewable energy to help lower bills and operational costs.

Air or Ground source pumps?

There are two types of heat pump to choose from – ground source and air source – so called because of where the pumps draw heat from. But how do you choose which is the right type for your installation?

Air source heat pumps

Air source heat pumps extract heat from the air outside a building, before directing into the internal heating systems. Air source heat pumps can then be used to heat underfloor heating systems, air convectors or radiators according to your building design.

Air source heat pumps work on a similar principle to common refrigeration systems, extracting heat even when conditions are as low as -15˚C. Heat is extracted from the air into a fluid within the air source heat pump. The liquid is then compressed, raising its temperature, before being transferred into the internal heating systems.

Typical heating systems used with air source heat pumps include air-to-water and air-to-air variants. The air-to-water system connects directly to a “wet” heating system – ideal for use in underfloor or large radiator applications, or to create hot water. The air-to-air system produces warm air that can be circulated by fans across the building.

Air source heat pumps are easier to install than ground source heat pumps.

Ground source heat pumps

Ground source heat pumps use geothermal energy – heat released from the earth – to provide heating.

A series of pipes filled with water and antifreeze are laid under the earth outside your premises, absorbing heat as the fluid circulates. The fluid then passes through a compressor to increase the temperature and into the heat pump proper. Heat generated can then be used to heat water for heating and hot water applications.

Even in the coldest conditions, the earth maintains a fairly constant temperature, providing heat for the system all year round. Depending on the size of your building, you may need an extensive underground pipework system to provide sufficient heat. Normally this involves digging a two-metre deep trench to lay the pipework, which could be problematic if you lack sufficient space surrounding your building.

Ground source heat pumps tend to be more efficient than air source heat pumps.

Advantages of heat pumps

Both air and ground source heat pumps require some energy to operate the compressor and circulate heat. However, there are several significant benefits of these pumps over traditional fuel-powered systems:

  • By using freely available energy, heat source pumps help to lower utility bills.
  • Utility bill savings helps to reduce the total cost of ownership and recoup the original investment.
  • Heat source pumps are particularly reliable and efficient when well-maintained, ensuring further reducing the cost of ownership.
  • Heat source pumps help to reduce your carbon footprint, helpful for meeting government targets and regulatory obligations.

Heat pump maintenance

Heat pumps require routine maintenance to ensure that the equipment functions reliably. With good care, a heat pump system should last 20 years.

A typical maintenance routine involves:

  • An annual inspection to ensure that the system is still functioning correctly and that all seals and fittings are in good working order. The check will also need to look for signs of corrosion.
  • A full inspection every three-to-five years is needed to check the electronics and pipes for failure or inefficiency.

Who can maintain heat pumps?

To extend the operating lifespan of your heat pump equipment, you should always choose a reputable Certified F gas engineer who offers a full warranty on work completed

Your next step

Carlton Services provides full maintenance and servicing for a range of heat pumps. Call the team today on 01793 512550 for further help and advice.


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