Heat pumps can be classified based on parameters like heat source and system configuration. Among the various types of heat pumps available in the market today, however, the two major types that are mainly used for heating of building interiors and domestic hot water in Australia are Air-source Heat Pumps (ASHP) and Water-source Heat Pumps (WSHP).
Air Source Heat Pumps extract heat from the ambient air outside to heat up the space indoors or fuel the hot water system. Essentially, they utilize solar energy in the form of thermal energy from the sun that has been stored in the air.
When heat is transferred from the air outside directly to the air inside, the system is referred to as an Air-to-air Heat Pump. On the other hand, when the heat from the ambient air is transferred to water, either for circulation in a hydronic heating system or for heating domestic hot water, the system is referred to as an Air-to-water Heat Pump.
The advantage of using this type of heat pump is that it is generally cheaper and easier to install than WSHPs. The disadvantage, however, is that it is less efficient and its heat output is less compared to WSHPs and boilers. Therefore, to utilize this heat pump in indoor space heating, you need to make sure that your house is well-insulated to prevent heat from escaping.
In contrast to ASHPs that utilize heat from ambient air, Water Source Heat Pumps extract heat from the ground or from a water source below the ground.
If it only uses the solar heat absorbed by the surface of the earth through the ground, it can be referred to as a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP). Otherwise, it may extract heat from hot springs or volcanic activity deep within the earth, such as that system commissioned in Portland, Victoria, where geothermal energy is available. Aside from geothermal energy, however, WSHPs can also extract heat from hot water used in manufacturing processes. By utilizing this waste heat, we can boost the efficiency of the pump and contribute to energy savings of the whole plant.
The advantage of using a WSHP is that it is generally more efficient than an ASHP of the same capacity. This is because the heat source from the ground is more stable than the heat being supplied by the outside air. Therefore, it can also work amidst varying weather as compared to an ASHP. The disadvantage is that it is more costly than ASHP and the requirements could be more demanding. Before installing, for example, you need to make sure that there is an available area where you can drill and lay the piping that would allow you to extract heat from the ground.
In conclusion, each of the above-mentioned type has its own pros and cons. You need to properly plan which type of system to install based on the requirements and condition of your property. You may call Automatic Heating Global’s customer support for assistance.