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Air Source Heat Pumps

Air Source Heat Pumps

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Published by: Centrul de Cultura on Jun 22, 2011
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06/22/2011

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There are two common types of heatpumps: air-source heat pumps and geot-hermal heat pumps (GHPs). Either onecan keep your home warm in the winterand cool in the summer. An air-sourceheat pump pulls its heat indoors from theoutdoor air in the winter and from theindoor air in the summer. AGHPextractsheat from the indoor air when it's hot out-side, but when it's cold outside, it drawsheat into a home from the ground, whichmaintains a nearly constant temperatureof 50˚ to 60˚F. This fact sheet focuses onair-source heat pumps, which comprisethe majority of all residential heat pumpapplications.An air-source heat pump can provide effi-cient heating and cooling for your home,especially if you live in a warm climate.When properly installed, an air-sourceheat pump can deliver one-and-a-half tothree times more heat energy to a homecompared to the electrical energy it con-sumes. This is possible because a heatpump moves heat rather than convertingit from a fuel, like in combustion heatingsystems.
How They Work
You might be wondering how an air-source heat pump uses the outdoor winterair to heat a home. Believe it or not: heatcan be harvested from cold outdoor air
Air-SourceHeat Pumps
This document was produced for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a DOE national laboratory. Thedocument was produced by the Information and Outreach Program at NRELfor the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The Energy Efficiencyand Renewable Energy Clearinghouse (EREC) is operated by NCI Information Systems, Inc., for NREL/ DOE. The statements contained herein are based oninformation known to EREC and NRELat the time of printing. No recommendation or endorsement of any product or service is implied if mentioned by EREC.
Printed with a renewable-source ink on paper containing at least 50% wastepaper, including 20% postconsumer waste
DOE/GO-102001-1113FS143 June 2001
This home in Austin, Texas, features an air-source heat pump.
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down to about 40°F. And this can be accomplished through a processyou're probably already familiarwith—refrigeration.Basically, a heat pump's refrigeration sys-tem consists of a compressor, and twocoils made of copper tubing, which aresurrounded by aluminum fins to aid heattransfer. The coils look much like the radi-ator in your car. Like in a refrigerator orair-conditioner, refrigerant flows continu-ously through pipes, back and forth fromthe outdoor coils. In the heating mode, liq-uid refrigerant extracts heat from the out-side coils and air, and moves it inside as itevaporates into a gas. The indoor coilstransfer heat from the refrigerant as it con-denses back into a liquid (see Fig. 1 below). Areversing valve, near the com-pressor, can change the direction of therefrigerant flow for cooling as well as fordefrosting the outdoor coils in winter (seeFig. 2 on page 3).When outdoor temperatures fall below40°F, a less-efficient panel of electric resis-tance coils, similar to those in your toaster,kicks in to provide indoor heating. This iswhy air-source heat pumps aren't alwaysvery efficient for heating in areas withcold winters. Fuel-burning furnaces gener-ally can provide a more economical wayto heat homes in cooler U.S. climates.
Types of Air-Source Heat Pumps
You can use a central heat pump to heatand cool a whole house. Most central heatpumps are split-systems—that is, theyeach have one coil indoors and one out-doors (see Fig. 1 below). Supply andreturn ducts connect to a central fan,which is located indoors. The fan, oftencalled an air handler or blower, circulatesair throughout the house. The fan alsousually contains electric resistance coils(some units now have a gas-fired furnaceoption). The heated or cooled air circulatesfrom the fan to the supply ducts, and open-ings in the home called supply registers.Return registers and ductwork return theair to the fan to be heated.Some heat pumps are packaged systems.These usually have both coils and the fanoutdoors. Heated or cooled air is deliveredto the interior from ductwork thatprotrudes through a wall or roof.Another packaged system is the ductlessroom heat pump. These pumps will effi-ciently heat or cool a room or small housewith an open floor plan. They are muchmore common for apartments and motelrooms than homes. They can be installedin a window or through a hole in thewall—wall installations being preferablefor appearances sake. Through-the-wall
2
You can use acentral heat pump toheat and cool a wholehouse.
FanIndoorCoilsExpansionValveOutdoorCoilsCompressorLiquidevaporatesinto gasGascondensesinto a liquid
Fig. 1 Asplit-system heat pump heating cycle
 
3
When selecting a newheat pump,it’s important that you determine theproper size needed for your home.
installations, however, sometimes aren'twell insulated from inside to outside andcan have infiltration problems. Whenused, mini-split systems can solve theseproblems.
Selecting a Heat Pump
When selecting an air-source heat pump,consider the following three characteris-tics carefully: the energy efficiency rating,sizing, and the system's components.
Energy efficiency rating 
In the United States, we rate a heatpump's energy efficiency by how manyBritish thermal units (Btu) of heat it movesfor each watt-hour of electrical energy itconsumes. Every residential heat pumpsold in this country has an EnergyGuideLabel, which features the heat pump'sheating and cooling efficiency perfor-mance rating, comparing it to other avail-able makes and models.The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor(HSPF) rates both the efficiency of thecompressor and the electric-resistance ele-ments. The HSPF gives the number of Btuharvested per watt-hour used. The mostefficient heat pumps have an HSPF of  between 8 and 10.The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio(SEER) rates a heat pump's cooling effi-ciency. In general, the higher the SEER, thehigher the cost. However, the energy sav-ings can return the higher initial invest-ment several times during the heatpump’s life. Replacing a 1970s vintage,central heat pump (SEER = 6) with a newunit (SEER=12) will use half the energy toprovide the same amount of cooling, cut-ting air-conditioning costs in half. Themost efficient heat pumps have SEERs of  between 14 and 18.You'll find the Energy Star® label—spon-sored by the U.S Department of Energy(DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protec-tion Agency (EPA)—on heat pumps withan HSPF of at least 7 and a SEER of atleast 12. Many new heat pumps exceedthese ratings, but looking for this label is agood way to start shopping for one.
FanIndoorCoilsLiquidevaporatesinto gasGascondensesinto aliquidExpansionValveCompressorOutdoorCoils
Fig. 2 Asplit-system heat pump cooling cycle

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