Last edited 26 Aug 2018

Solar-assisted heat pump

Heat pumps transfer heat from a lower temperature source to one of a higher temperature. This is the opposite of the natural flow of heat. They can be used domestically or commercially to provide hot water, space heating (either by providing hot water for under-floor heating or radiators, or supplying hot air) or other applications such as heating swimming pools.

A refrigerant fluid is run through the lower temperature source. The fluid ‘absorbs’ heat and boils. The resulting gas is then compressed, which further increases its temperature. The gas is passed into heat exchanger coils, where it condenses, releasing its latent heat. The process then repeats.

A solar-assisted heat pump (SAHP, sometimes referred to as a thermodynamic panel) combines heat pump and solar thermal technologies into an integrated system. Heat is typically absorbed by aluminium panels installed on an external wall or roof, generally 1 m x 2 m, although sizes can vary according to the building’s heat demand.

Compared to solar thermal systems, which are less efficient during winter months, the potential energy savings are greater.

If there is excess demand for hot water, back-up can be provided by connecting a boiler back into the system.

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