Heat pump schematic (C) Carson Dunlop Associates Heat Pump Strategy - installing a heat pump in building interior space?

  • HEAT PUMP STRATEGY - Indoors? - CONTENTS: Can I install a heat pump in the building's interior space?Guide for installing a heat pump inside of a solar-gain sunspace. Use of heat pump water heaters in conditioned building space
  • Solar Age Magazine Articles on Renewable Energy, Energy Savings, Construction Practices
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about installing & using a heat pump

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Heat pump installation:

This article discusses the location of heat pump equipment in building interior spaces, considering heated living spaces and solar gains in buildings. Accompanying text reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.

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Heat Pump Equipment Location Strategy

The link to the original Q&A article in PDF form immediately below is followed by an expanded/updated online version of this article.

  • Q&A on Heat Pump Strategy - PDF version, use your browser's back button to return to this page

The question-and-answer article below paraphrases, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.

Can heat pumps be installed inside a building?


Can heat pumps be installed inside of a building? I plan to duct intake air through a buffered interior space to warm it before use. Your Solar Age July Issue speaks of a new Swedish technology that does this. -- Wilbur Rhodes, Kittery ME


In a northern climate, you should not install a heat pump in a building interior space unless it is isolated from the heated living space and has solar gains - such as in an isolated sunspace, for example.

This is because in the heating mode the heat pump will be cooling the space where the compressor unit is installed.

A sunspace installation for a heat pump can make sense, but it is tricky. On cloudy days and cold nights, outside air needs to be allowed into the sunspace to supply the unit or it should be shut down. On sunny winter days the space could get too hot for the heat pump unit to operate safely.

In cooling mode, the heat pump system will have difficulty dumping heat into the sunspace unless that area is sufficiently shaded and vented.

In short, well-planned heat pump controls are going to be needed. Also you will have to live with a noisy heat pump compressor in your sunspace.

Tips for Scavenging Heat in a Sunspace with a Heat Pump

A more promising way to scavenge heat in a sunspace would be through the use of a heat pump water heater. Heat pump driven water heaters (for making domestic hot water for washing and bathing) are designed to be located in a conditioned (interior) building space.

Since a heat pump water heater is smaller in capacity than a conventional heat pump (intended for building heating and cooling), they will not overcool the room where the compressor is located.

The Swedish systems you mentioned are heat-pump water heaters with the exhaust side ducted to the outdoors. In 1984 there were no U.S. heat pump units designed to operate in that fashion.

The question-and-answer article about location of heat pumps and heat pump water heaters, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.

Current references on ground and ground water source heat pumps:

  • Geothermal HVAC, [Amazon.com] Jay Egg & Brian Howard, McGraw-Hill Professional; ISBN-10: 0071746102, ISBN-13: 978-0071746106, quoting:

    This definitive guide covers commercial and residential geothermal heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technologies and explains how to take advantage of their money- and energy-saving features. Geothermal HVAC: Green Heating and Cooling reviews the array of choices currently available, offers market values for systems based on varying options and conditions, and describes how to pair the best systems for each application and budget. Whether you're a contractor or a consumer, you'll find out what you need to know to implement a geothermal HVAC system in a retrofit or new construction project, and start benefiting from this sustainable, affordable technology.
  • Geothermal Heat Pumps: A Guide for Planning and Installing, [Amazon.com], Karl Ochsner, Robin Curtis, Earthscan Publications Ltd. (December 2007), ISBN-10: 1844074064, ISBN-13: 978-1844074068quoting:

    Geothermal Heat Pumps is the most comprehensive guide to the selection, design and installation of geothermal heat pumps available. This leading manual presents the most recent information and market developments in order to put any installer, engineer or architect in the position to design, select and install a domestic geothermal heat pump system. Internationally respected expert Karl Ochsner presents the reasons to use heat pumps, introduces basic theory and reviews the wide variety of available heat pump models. Expertly reviewed and adapted for the most geographically broad application possible, the book offers the reader valuable tips for planning and system control using data, graphics and tables from a growing and innovative market.
  • Residential Geothermal Systems: Heating And Cooling Using The Ground Below, [Amazon.com], John Stojanowski, Pangea Publications LLC (March 17, 2010) ISBN-10: 0981922112, ISBN-13: 978-0981922119. Quoting from Amazon.com reviews:

    Readers will learn how heat pumps are able to extract heat from relatively low temperature water circulating in ground loops and raise it to a temperature high enough to heat a home. They will also learn how to estimate the size of the heat pump required and the ground loop size as well for straight 2-pipe, 4-pipe, 6-pipe and Slinky loop configurations. This is important in order to verify that the installer correctly sizes the system. Both horizontal and vertical loop systems, for GX and DX, are covered.

    Some of the technical issues that are addressed include: Loop water flow rates and Reynolds Number, heat of extraction/rejection, heating capacity, desuperheater setup, open-loop/closed-loop, SCW, pond loops, DX, Manual-J, COP. The final chapter consists of a set of flowcharts guiding the homeowner to ask the pertinent questions needed for a successful installation.

Watch out, the geothermal and groundwater source heat pump articles just below are ridiculously expensive documents also available at Amazon.com.


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