The Complete 2017 Guide to Heat Pump Installation - 27/05/2016

 As you know, more and more energy savvy New Zealanders are turning towards heat pumps to heat their homes efficiently, and most importantly, economically. Known for their superior energy efficiency, heat pumps come in all shapes, sizes, and, of course, quality and price. So, how do you know which one is the best for your heating needs when there are literally hundreds to choose from? And what exactly do you need to know about the installation process? A lot! But, don’t worry because we’ve done the research for you! Just read on to know everything you need to know when it comes to heat pump installation!

Heat Pumps 101

You did science in college so you know that heat flows naturally from a higher temperature to a lower one. Heat pumps are able to alter this heat flow, using a small amount of energy to transfer heat from your surroundings (such as air, ground and water) into your home. Heat pump heat is constant, which is exactly the kind of heat you want if you’re looking to warm your house economically. Heat pumps can also be used for cooling during the hot summer months. When set to cool, your heat pump removes heat and humidity from your home and will transfer this heat to the outdoor air.

There are so many benefits to having a heat pump, but here are our top 5:

  1. Powerful but energy efficient
  2. Incredibly quiet
  3. Perfect for warming large living spaces
  4. Ability to heat at very low temperatures
  5. Ability to cool  

Selecting the Right Heat Pump

It’s kind of amazing how through the simple transference of heat from the outside air heat pumps are able to produce 3-4 times more heat than you’d get from traditional heaters. Heat pump heating results in one quarter of the cost of electric heating and about one third the cost of gas heating. That said, not all heat pumps are built the same, and as we’ve mentioned before, they come in all shapes and sizes. The size of your heat pump will greatly affect how well it performs, but there are other factors to consider as well, such as climate, and your home’s existing insulation. Let’s look at each factor so that you’re able to choose the right heat pump for your home.

Size

When it comes to choosing the best heat pump to suit your family’s needs, size matters! Heat pumps come in all sizes to suit the spaces you need to heat. Our trained team of experts can talk you through the best options for the size of your home, but there are calculators on the ‘interwebs’ that can help you too!

You don’t need to worry about whether or not your house is a new build because we can install heat pumps in any kind of home, old and new. Of course, at HRV we know that every home is an individual as its owner, so we carry out an accurate and specific assessment based on your heating needs.

Climate

You’re read up on heat pumps so you know that they’re the most energy efficient way to provide heating and cooling for your family. A well installed heat pump uses renewable heat sources in your surroundings. During cold weather, the air, ground and water still contains useful heat that your heat pump is able to extract. But, these outdoor conditions will also affect your heat pump selection. There are certain areas within New Zealand that experience sub-zero temperatures – these areas, such as parts of the South Island, require larger heat pumps say, in comparison, to places such as Auckland that has a more temperate climate.

Insulation

We know you want to heat your home and fast, but you’ve got to have the right insulation before you install a heat pump. If you have poor insulation, you’re going to have a high degree of heat loss in your home. This isn’t good! There’s no point in paying money for precious heat if you’re just going to let it seep out of your floors, ceiling, and windows!

The faster your home loses heat, the larger the heat pump you’ll need, which means you’ll be paying a bigger price. Determining the amount of heating your home needs depends on the potential for heat loss, so to minimize this you need to invest in insulation first. With the proper insulation, you can install a smaller heat pump, which will save you money at the time of purchase, as well as over the years, if you use it wisely.

Come on Feel the Noise

When thinking about installing a heat pump, most people are concerned about the noise. Heat pumps are actually designed to heat your home with low noise levels. The modern inverter heat pumps that we install are very quiet. The main source of noise in a typical heat pump comes from the air impinging on the grille as it is forced out of the unit. This air noise is marginally higher than ambient background noise and isn’t distracting while you go about your business.

Installation Process

Now that you have an idea of how a heat pump works and how size, climate and insulation affect their efficiency, it’s time to understand the process of heat pump installation. Kiwis are DIY at heart, but heat pump installations need electrical and plumbing work to be done by qualified professionals.

As the installation of your heat pump is a critical step in ensuring the heat pump performs effectively, you want it to be located correctly by your heat pump installer. Many people, due to understandable financial constraints, often opt for the cheapest install. We understand that these people are trying to save on overall costs, but this decision can easily result in multiple problems for them in the future.

Time to Install

Experienced installers are generally qualified refrigeration technicians or registered electricians. Sometimes they’re both! They understand exactly how a heat pump system works and the best areas of your house to install them in. Some heat pumps can be fitted into existing fireplaces or be recessed into walls while others can be mounted on walls close to the ceiling – but your technician will know the best spot in your house for the installation.

Most importantly, qualified installers have the specialised equipment required to complete the installation in a timely manner. The time it takes technicians to install your heat pump can be as short as a few hours for a heat pump installation that has indoor and outdoor units on either side of the same wall – known as back-to-back installation. More complex heat pump installations can take an entire day or more, so it’s best to ask your technician for a quote for the time expected for the heat pump installation to avoid a nasty surprise on your bill!

Show Us the Money

Installation costs can be significant, so beware of any adverts for particularly low installation costs. It’s best to do your research on the heat pump installation company before you sign any documents.  And make sure the cost of installation is included in that quote! 

Uncomplicated heat pump installations will obviously be cheaper than more involved installations.

Here are a few of the factors that will influence the cost of your heat pump installation:

  • the size of heat pump system being installed
  • the wiring: local circuit or switchboard
  • the length of pipe run connecting both the indoor and outdoor units
  • the length of capping needed to cover pipes in order to protect them from the elements
  • the need for feet and pavers for outdoor units
  • the path the drain will need to take (you might need concrete drillers!)

After the completion of your heat pump installation, you should immediately receive an Electrical Code of Compliance certificate from your qualified electrician. Keep this certificate in a safe place as it confirms that all of the wiring meets New Zealand's current safety standards.

Heat Pump Maintenance

Once you’ve got your heat pump installed, you can’t just walk away and expect it to run smoothly without some care. You’ve just spent a lot of money on this installation, and for your heat pump to go the distance you need to take care of it. Follow our handy tips and you won’t have any problems!

  • Check the air filters monthly. Clean them regularly and replace when needed.
  • Keep your outdoor unit clear of snow, ice, and rubbish.
  • Keep the outdoor coils clean.
  • Keep shrubs pruned back from all sides of the heat pump to allow for proper airflow.
  • Flush the indoor condensate pan and drain it before using the air conditioning.
  • Have your heat pump inspected by a trained service technician at least once a year.

For more information on heat pump installation get in touch. We talk you through the installation process step by step, and we offer a free quote. Get in touch today – winter is just around the corner!

 

Get In Touch With HRV

Considering an HRV Heat Pump as the perfect solution to keep your home comfortable year round?

Request a Free Home Assessment from a trained HRV technician today.

Not sure what the best option for your home is?

Try our online Home Solutions Generator now, it only takes 3 minutes and once completed we’ll give you some immediate advice on the right products for your home along with approximate costs.

 

Further Reading:

https://www.consumer.org.nz/articles/heat-pump-installation-and-costs

https://www.eeca.govt.nz/resources-and-tools/

http://www.buildmagazine.org.nz/assets/PDF/Build120-58-Heat-Pump-Only-As-Good-As-Its-Installation.pdf

 

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