In this short article I will explain what a heat pump system is, how it works and what are its advantages and disadvantages. The most important feature of a heat pump system is the use of a pump to transport water in the heating system. An alternative heating system is gravity heating.
Table of Contents
Heat Pump System
In a heat pump system, the heating water is forced to circulate in a heating circuit with the help of a circulation pump. The circulation pump can be installed in the flow pipe (FP) or in the return pipe (RP). However, it has become generally accepted to install the pump in the flow pipe. If you can’t imagine a circulating pump, you will find a modern circulation pump in Fig. 1.
Function of heat pump system
For the function of a heat pump system, the heating water in a heating system is transported by using a pump. In the first step, it is heated in the heating source and then pumped into the heating circuit by the circulation pump.
It flows via the flow to the radiators and returns via the return to the heating source. As long as the pump is in operation, there is a permanent circulation and thus a circulation of the heating water in the heating circuit (see sketch of the diagram of a heat pump system).
Advantages and disadvantages
Advantages of pump heating
In contrast to a gravity heating system, the heat pump system has several advantages, for example, radiators can be placed further away from the heat generator or can be located below the heat generator. This means that with a heat pump system, the heat generator can be installed anywhere in the building, for example in the attic.
Further advantages of a heat pump system are smaller pipe cross-sections and thus lower pipe costs. As a result, there are fewer line losses, less heating water is required, and thus the heating times of the heating water are also shorter.
However, one thing is mandatory: when installing a heat pump system, hydraulic balancing is necessary to ensure proper operation of the system.
Tip: What is a hydraulic balancing, you can read in my article on hydraulic balancing.
All the advantages are listed here once again:
- Small nominal diameters of the pipelines and thus lower piping costs
- Lower water volumes and thus faster heating of the heating water
- Inert system and good controllability
- Arrangement of the radiators is arbitrary
- Arrangement of the heat generator is arbitrary
Disadvantages of heat pump system
A major disadvantage of the heat pump system is the necessary power supply for the heating pump. However, this disadvantage plays a minor role in Europe.
For this reason, I see the biggest disadvantage as being the mandatory performance of hydraulic balancing, which, however, is usually forgotten, neglected or not even considered in existing buildings, for example when converting from gravity to heat pump systems.
A lack of hydraulic balancing leads to flow noise in the heating network, unintentional short circuits, so that areas of the building are overheated or undersupplied, and suboptimal flow behavior of the heating water.
Here once again listed all the disadvantages:
- Electricity connection for the circulating pumps is mandatory
- If hydraulic balancing has not been done, there will be problems in the heating network
- Flow noise in the heating network as well as pump noise
- With stage-controlled circulating pumps, the share of the total power consumption is relatively high (can amount up to 5% of the total consumption) – see article “7 reasons for replacing the heating pump”.
Due to the advantages mentioned above, today’s hot water heating systems are almost exclusively planned as heat pump systems and gravity heating systems are converted to heat pump systems. Only in remote areas without power supply the use of a gravity heating system is still reasonable.
I hope you know the heat pump system a bit better now. If you have any questions I’m looking forward to see your comments
Best regards! Martin
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