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How heat pumps work and what are the benefits of using them?boja - 29 July 2020
Heat pumps are heating devices that are increasingly used in modern and energy-saving buildings. They can be used both for heating rooms and for obtaining domestic hot water. In addition, some types of heat pumps have a permanent or periodic cooling function. Thanks to the comfort and safety of use, a wide range of applications and high energy efficiency, they are becoming a solution that more and more people reach for. In addition, it is a virtually maintenance-free and automated technology, environmentally friendly and conducive to reducing the consumption of conventional fuels, while using renewable energy. Consequently, it is possible to significantly reduce the costs of heating buildings.
Components of a heat pump
The device consists of several basic elements. The first component is the exchanger, thanks to which heat is obtained (evaporator). Depending on the type of pump, it can be obtained from water, air or soil. The pump also includes a second exchanger made of stainless steel, the role of which in turn is reduced to heat dissipation (condenser). The next components are the compressor and the expansion valve. Heat pumps to operate, they only need a small amount of electricity supplied to drive the compressor. Systems based on the operation of this type of pump consist of a top and bottom heat source and a heat pump unit. The pump components form a system that allows the flow of thermal energy from the heat source to the heat source. The first may be the previously mentioned ground, water or air. The upper source is the heating installation. Importantly, the bottom source should have a relatively stable and high temperature and a significant heat capacity.
The principle of operation of the heat pump
The first element responsible for heat consumption is the evaporator, in which the working medium, which is a mixture of gas and liquid, evaporates and thus receives heat energy from the ground source. Then, in the form of low pressure steam, it is directed to the compressor, which is responsible for increasing the pressure and temperature of the medium. The latter in gaseous form goes to the condenser in the next stage. There, it cools down and condenses, which releases heat energy to the environment. The liquid formed as a result of condensation is supplied to the expansion valve, where the pressure is lowered and its temperature drops. The cycle repeats when the refrigerant reaches the evaporator again. The aforementioned expansion valve is responsible for rationing its quantity and closing the thermodynamic cycle. Due to the fact that the system is a closed system, the working medium circulating inside undergoes cyclical and continuous changes, thus enabling the flow of heat. Consequently, to power the compressor a small amount of electricity is sufficient, the operation of the heat pump is very economical.
Types of heat pumps
Types of heat pumps can be distinguished according to the nature of the source from which the heat is obtained. Therefore, we distinguish heat pumpsground, air and water. The first of them are among the most frequently used installations for supplying heat to the heating circuit and for heating utility water. Thanks to their high efficiency, they allow one pump to be the only source of heating the building. The second type, i.e. air pumps, works by taking air from the outside, which can be transported to the inside (air-to-air type) or to the heating circuit and hot water tank (air-to-water type). The downside of this type of pump is the need to equip the building with a supplementary heating source, which is to support the air pump at the time when the temperature difference is greatest inside and outside the rooms. The last type are water pumps, which, like the ground ones, are characterized by very high energy efficiency. In this case, the heat source is flowing water. The downside of this type of pump, however, may be the high cost of the installation itself.
Advantages of using heat pumps
One of the most important reasons why heat pumps is gaining popularity is the economic benefits of using them. By using renewable energy from the ground, water or air, with a simultaneous low demand for electricity to power the compressor, they allow for a significant reduction in space heating and water heating costs. Another plus is the fact that they do not emit any pollutants. This makes them environmentally friendly. It is also essential for users that the heat pump are highly automated and require no maintenance, which significantly improves the comfort of use. Devices of this type are also quiet at work and very safe. This is mainly due to the elimination of the necessity to use traditional fuels such as natural gas, heating oil or solid fuels for their operation.
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