What are commercial heat pumps for business?

 

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    Contents

    Guide Author

    James Longley

    Managing Director

    min read
    Last Updated October 6, 2023

    Commercial heat pumps are an alternative to traditional gas boilers as they convert thermal energy into heat which can be used for heating systems or hot water.

    They are used to provide heating and cooling for various types of business premises, such as offices, retail spaces, hotels, hospitals, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities.

    Is your business considering investing in a heat pump? Within this everything you need to know guide, we will explain everything from how heat pumps work and the overall costings.

    How Does a Heat Pump Work and Why Use Them?

    Let’s start with how a used heat transfer pump works and why it may be suitable for your business. The basic principle behind the operation of a heat pump is the movement of heat from a lower-temperature region to a higher-temperature region, using a small amount of energy to drive the process.

    Here’s how a commercial heat pump works:

    1. Evaporation: The process starts with a refrigerant, a special fluid that has a low boiling point. The refrigerant evaporates at a low temperature, typically in an evaporator coil located outside the building or the space being heated or cooled. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the outdoor air or the indoor air, causing it to turn into a gas.
    2. Compression: The gaseous refrigerant is then compressed by a compressor, which increases its temperature and pressure. The compressor is usually located in the outdoor unit of the heat pump system.
    3. Condensation: The hot, pressurized gas then flows into a condenser coil, typically located inside the building or the space being conditioned. In the condenser coil, the refrigerant releases heat to the indoor air (in the case of heating) or the outdoor air (in the case of cooling). As a result, the refrigerant condenses back into a liquid state.
    4. Expansion: The high-pressure liquid refrigerant then passes through an expansion valve or metering device, which reduces its pressure and temperature. This prepares the refrigerant for the next cycle of evaporation in the evaporator coil.
    5. Repeating the cycle: The cycle repeats continuously as long as heating or cooling is required. The heat pump adjusts the direction of the refrigerant flow to switch between heating and cooling modes.

    What are the disadvantages of a commercial heat pumps for business?

    While heat pumps offer many advantages for businesses, they also have some potential disadvantages to consider. Here are a few disadvantages in a business setting:

    Initial cost

    A heat pump generally has a higher upfront cost compared to traditional heating or cooling systems. The cost of purchasing and installing a heat pump system can be significant, especially for larger businesses.

    Dependence on electricity

    A heat pump relies on electricity to operate. If the electricity supply is interrupted, the heat pump may not function, leading to a loss of heating or cooling.

    Temperature limitations

    A heat pump may struggle to provide sufficient heating in extremely cold climates. As the outdoor temperature outside air, drops, the efficiency of the heat pump decreases, reducing its ability to extract heat from the outdoor air.

    Space requirements

    Heat pump systems typically require both indoor and outdoor units. Depending on the available space and layout of the building, finding space for these units may be challenging, particularly in urban or densely built areas.

    Maintenance and repairs

    Like any mechanical system, a heat pump requires regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance. Filters need to be cleaned or replaced, and components such as compressors may require periodic servicing. Maintenance costs and potential downtime for repairs should be factored into the overall cost of ownership.

    Noise

    While newer heat pump models are designed to operate quietly, some older or larger units may produce noticeable noise, which can be a concern in certain business environments where low noise levels are desired.

    Complexity

    Heat pump systems can be more complex than traditional heating or cooling systems. They require specialized knowledge for installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

    Energy Price Cap

    How much do heat pumps cost?

    The cost of central heating used in the UK can vary based on factors such as the size and capacity of the system, brand, installation requirements, and any additional features or accessories. Here are some rough costingss for commercial heat pumps in the UK:

    For small to medium-sized commercial spaces, air-source heat pump systems typically range in cost from £5,000 to £15,000 per kilowatt (kW) of heating or cooling capacity. Larger commercial heat pump systems can cost anywhere from £8,000 to £20,000 or more per kW.

    Water-source heat pump systems, which utilize a water loop for heat exchange, tend to have higher initial costs compared to air-source heat pumps. On average, the cost for water-source heat pumps in the UK can range from £10,000 to £25,000 per kW.

    Ground source heat pump,-source heat pumps, also known as geothermal heat pumps, are highly efficient but can have higher upfront costs due to the cost of ground loop installation. The cost for ground-source heat pumps typically ranges from £10,000 to £20,000 per kW.

    It’s important to note that these estimates are rough averages, and the actual cost can vary based on specific project requirements, location, and other factors.

    Calculator on utility bills

    Can heat pumps help your business save money?

    Yes, a heat pump can help businesses save money in several ways:

    1. Energy efficiency air heat pumps: Heat pumps are known for their high energy efficiency. They can provide heating or cooling using significantly less energy compared to traditional heating or cooling systems like furnaces or air conditioners. This can result in lower energy bills and long-term cost savings for businesses.
    2. Reduced operating costs: Heat pumps can be more cost-effective to operate compared to systems that rely on burning fossil fuels, such as oil or gas furnaces. By using electricity to transfer heat instead of generating it, heat pumps can help businesses reduce their reliance on expensive fossil fuels, especially if electricity is sourced from renewable sources.
    3. Year-round use: Heat pumps offer both heating and cooling capabilities, providing businesses with a single system for year-round comfort control. This eliminates the need for separate heating and cooling systems, reducing equipment and maintenance costs.
    4. Lower maintenance and service requirements: Heat pumps generally require less maintenance compared to combustion-based heating systems. They have fewer moving parts and don’t require fuel storage or combustion-related maintenance. This can result in reduced maintenance and service costs over time.
    5. Longer lifespan: Heat pumps are designed to be durable and can have a longer lifespan compared to traditional heating or cooling systems. With proper maintenance, a heat pump can last for 15 to 20 years or more, potentially reducing the need for premature heating system part replacements.
    6. Government incentives and grants: In many countries, including the UK and the US, there are government incentives and grants available to encourage the adoption of energy-efficient technologies like heat pumps. These incentives can help offset the initial installation costs and provide additional cost savings for businesses.

    It’s important to assess the specific energy needs, building characteristics, and climate conditions of your business to determine the potential cost savings from a heat pump system.

    Speak with our energy consultants who can provide a more accurate analysis of the potential financial benefits for your specific business.

    Are any government grants available for heat pumps?

    Yes, there are various government grants and incentives available in different countries to promote the adoption of heat pumps and other energy-efficient technologies. These grants can help offset the initial costs of purchasing and installing a heat pump system. Currently, the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme is the only grant available, find out more:

    Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI): This scheme provides financial incentives to encourage the use of renewable heating technologies, including heat pumps, in both domestic and non-domestic settings.

    How to get a heat pump for your business

    To get a heat pump for a gas boiler for your business, follow these general steps:

    1. Assess your heating and cooling needs: Determine the heating and cooling requirements of your business space. Consider factors such as the size of the area, insulation, climate conditions, and any specific temperature control needs.
    2. Research heat pump options: Explore different types of heat pumps available for commercial use, such as air-source, water-source, or geothermal heat pumps. Consider factors like efficiency, capacity, noise levels, and compatibility with your existing HVAC infrastructure.
    3. Consult with professionals: Engage with professionals or energy consultants who specialize in commercial heat pump systems. They can assess your specific needs, perform a site visit to evaluate your premises, and provide recommendations on the most suitable heat pump options for your business.
    4. Obtain cost estimates: Request quotes from multiple suppliers or contractors for the purchase, installation, and any necessary modifications or upgrades to accommodate the heat pump system. Consider the total cost of ownership, including installation, maintenance, and potential operational savings over the system’s lifespan.
    5. Consider available grants and incentives: Research government grants, incentives, or tax credits available in your country or region for commercial heat pump installations. Determine if you qualify for any of these programs, as they can help offset the costs and improve the financial viability of the project.
    6. Make a decision and proceed with the installation: Once you have gathered all the necessary information, including cost estimates and potential grants, decide on the heat pump system that best fits your business needs and budget. Proceed with the installation process by engaging the chosen supplier or contractor.
    7. Regular maintenance and monitoring: Once the heat pump is installed, ensure you have a plan in place for regular maintenance and monitoring of the system. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations for maintenance to maximize the efficiency and lifespan of your heat pump.

    Remember, the specific process and requirements may vary depending on your location and specific business circumstances. It is recommended to get in touch with our energy consultants, and relevant authorities to ensure compliance with local regulations and best practices.

    How efficient are heat pumps?

    Heat pumps are known for their high energy efficiency compared to traditional heating and cooling systems. The efficiency of a heat pump is typically measured by its coefficient of performance (COP) or seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) for cooling and heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) for heating.

    1. Heating efficiency: Heat pumps can achieve high heating efficiency by extracting heat from the outdoor air (air-source heat pumps), the ground (geothermal or ground-source heat pumps), or water sources (water-source heat pumps). The COP or HSPF rating indicates the ratio of heat output to the energy input. The higher the COP or HSPF, the more efficient the heat pump. In general, modern heat pumps can achieve COP values ranging from 3 to 5 or higher, meaning they can deliver three to five times more heat energy compared to the electricity they consume.
    2. Cooling efficiency: When used for cooling, heat pumps have a SEER rating that measures their cooling efficiency. Similar to COP and HSPF, a higher SEER indicates higher efficiency. Modern heat pumps typically have SEER ratings ranging from 14 to 25 or higher.

    It’s important to note that the efficiency of a used air source heat pump can be influenced by various factors, including the outdoor temperature, insulation levels, system sizing, and proper installation.

    To ensure optimal efficiency, it’s recommended to consult with professionals to properly size and install the heat pump system based on your specific needs and location. Regular maintenance, including cleaning or replacing filters and servicing the system, can also help maintain its efficiency over time.

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