Air source heat pump myths busted

Written by NIBE Energy Systems

Here at NIBE, we appreciate heat pumps can be confusing and that this can lead to scepticism regarding the technology. Our experts are here to bust some of the common misconceptions around heat pumps and their installations so that your customers can be more confident when considering a heat pump as the solution to heat their home.

NIBE Energy Systems air source heat pump myths busted

MYTH 1: Air Source Heat Pumps are loud.

Most heating products emit some low-level noise, including traditional gas boilers, which have a similar noise level to modern air-source heat pumps. Heat pump technology is constantly evolving, and many units now come with intelligent compressor controls, which enable systems to run as quietly as possible. NIBE heat pumps are also equipped with a silent mode, which allows the system to operate at a lower volume when needed, for instance, at night.

Effective installation is critical when it comes to minimising the sound the system makes. It is important that an MCS 020 (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) calculation is completed to comply with planning regulations and units should be sited on a secure base. NIBE provides air source heat pumps with adjustable feet as standard, as well as additional antivibration mounts for floor standing units to reduce noise levels.

MYTH 2: Heat Pumps require ongoing maintenance and servicing.

Heat pumps do require regular servicing and maintenance.

However, this is no different to that which is required for a boiler to ensure that the system is working safely and efficiently. Manufacturer’s instructions provide specific maintenance instructions depending on the heat pump model. It is also important that customers know how to check if their system is in working order between its annual service, including how to check for debris around the air intake and for possible leaks and pressure drops. As an installer you will be able to advise customers how they can keep their system running efficiently.

MYTH 3: Customers need to replace all their radiators.

This is not always the case. Government figures state around 55% of radiators may need upgrading when replacing a heat pump, however the only way installers can confirm if radiators need replacing or upgrading is through a full room-by-room heat loss calculations1. Our NIBE Pro Installer programme offers comprehensive low flow temperature training to ensure NIBE Pro installers can provide the most accurate design and quote for their customers.

MYTH 4: Air Source Heat Pumps won’t work if it is cold outside.

While this is an understandable assumption as heat pumps draw heat from the atmosphere, it is not true. Heat pumps can work well in temperatures of down to -25°C. This is because 0°C is different to absolute 0 (zero kelvin) where there is no heat at all, and this equates to -273°C. At any temperature above absolute zero, there is some heat to be utilised.

NIBE heat pumps are built for colder, Scandinavian climates compared to the UK so customers can be confident that their air source heat pump will continue to keep their home comfortable and warm throughout the winter months.

MYTH 5: I will need to completely replace heating system pipework.

There is a common misconception that, when installing a heat pump, existing microbore pipework will need to be ripped out and replaced to enable its operation. This is based on the notion that the pipework is too narrow to deliver the heat required to the radiator at the flow rate of the heat pump system.

This is not always the case, and a full room-by-room heat loss calculation will determine the suitability of the existing pipework and confirm the steps that need to be undertaken. Our NIBE Pro Installer Scheme includes heating systems’ design training to ensure you are able to recommend the most efficient heat pump system tailored to the needs of your customer’s home.

MYTH 6: SCOP and COP are the same.

Coefficient of Performance /Seasonal COP

The COP-figure applies only to a particular outdoor and flow temperature at a particular point in time. For example, in the summer an air source heat pump, (ASHP) when producing hot water, will have a really high COP, whereas in the winter it will be lower as the outside air is cooler and the heat pump will use more energy to heat the hot water cylinder.

SCOP (Seasonal Coefficient of Performance) is an average measurement that demonstrates how effective the heat pump is on an annual basis. So, the SCOP is the best indicator of how the ASHP is performing all year round.

NIBE’s latest S2125 ASHP performs very well in both summer and winter months, producing a SCOP of 4.8 with a flow temperature of 35°c and 3.59 with flow temperature of 55°c. In a nutshell, for every £1 of electricity used to run the heat pump you will get £3.80/£2.59 of free heat. Whereas, typical gas boilers can only run at 87% efficiency, which in turn equates to 13p of the £1 used to heat your home lost in the boiler emissions.

Heat pumps remain the cheapest long-term solution for heating homes, and NIBE’s best-in-class products provide optimised savings while delivering powerful and quiet heat with a low environmental impact. Our NIBE Pro Installer Partnership Scheme ensures that our installers are MCS Certified and are well equipped to deliver heat pump systems that operate seamlessly all year round across the country.

Check out the NIBE Pro website to find out more about available training opportunities.

1 GOV.UK (2021). Domestic Heat Distribution Systems: Evidence Gathering. Available at: uploads/attachment_data/file/976021/beis-dhds-final-report 1_.pdf.