The main difference between a standard heat pump and an air source heat pump lies in their heat source and the principles of thermodynamics they utilise. While heat pumps in the UK can extract heat from various sources, air heat Heat pumps work by utilising the principles of heat transfer to move heat from one place to another.
During colder months, they extract heat from the outside (even when it’s cold, heat is present) and transfer it inside to warm your home. This process, measured by the SEER rating, reverses in the summer, with the pump extracting heat from your home and transferring it outside, thus cooling the interior.
The heat pump system contains a refrigerant, a substance that changes states between a liquid and a gas through a process of condensation and subcooling. When the refrigerant absorbs heat, it becomes a high-temperature gas, and when it releases heat, it condenses back into a liquid.
The heat pump uses a compressor to move the refrigerant through the system, absorbing heat from one location and releasing it in another. This cycle continues, providing a consistent temperature in your home.pump specifically uses the outside air.
This process involves an evaporator coil, which extracts heat from the air even in low temperatures, using refrigerants. The extracted heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems, or warm air convectors and provide hot water in your home. This is how an air-to-water heat pump works.
Being a versatile device, a house heat pump can be either a generic heat pump or an air source heat pump, depending on the heat source used. While the choice depends on the specific requirements and constraints of the house, it’s worth noting that air source heat pumps, with their SEER ratings and use of refrigerants, are generally easier to install and cheaper upfront.
However, the efficiency of an air source heat pump, measured by subcooling and use of refrigerants, can be affected by the outside temperature, unlike other heat pump types that use more consistent heat sources like the ground or water. A mini heat pump or a hybrid heat pump might be other options to consider.