A heat pump is a high-tech device that is playing an increasingly important role in the field of efficient energy use and environmentally friendly heating and cooling of buildings. Its popularity is steadily growing due to the numerous advantages it brings. But what exactly does a heat pump look like and what are its basic components? In this article we will deal with this very topic. We will learn what the elements of the pump are and what it looks like in order to better understand its operation and potential for energy savings. We invite you to read on!
Types of heat pumps
A heat pump can have different types and configurations. There are ground, water and air pumps. They can be of monoblock and split type. In our article we will focus on the split type air-to-water heat pump, which is the most popular solution on the market. We will discover what components it consists of and how it works to convert available energy from the environment into pleasant heat or cold for our homes and buildings.
Construction of the split heat pump
A split heat pump consists of two main components: an outdoor unit and an indoor unit. This configuration separates functions and allows for flexible placement of each component in a building. We will describe each of these components below:
This is the part of the heat pump that is placed outside the building, usually on a paved surface or on a wall.
It consists of several important components:
Is a type of heat exchanger that allows the working medium, to extract heat energy from the environment. The refrigerant flows through the evaporator, which consists of a spiral tube or a lamellar array of tubes made of a material with good heat conduction properties. Such a material is copper or aluminum. The design of the evaporator is intended to maximize the contact area between the refrigerant and the air, which contains heat energy.
The process of operation of the evaporator is to transfer heat from the environment to the working medium. When a heat pump operates in heating mode, heat is extracted from the air outside and transferred to the refrigerant in the evaporator. The refrigerant, being in contact with the warm medium, absorbs heat energy, which causes it to evaporate. The refrigerant vapor is then transferred to the indoor unit, where it is further processed to generate heat or cooling.
The main task of the compressor is to compress the refrigerant, which leaves the evaporator in a gaseous state after absorbing heat energy from the environment. When the refrigerant is compressed, both its pressure and temperature increase. Raising the temperature of the working medium is crucial for efficient heat transfer to the heating system or water heating system. The higher temperature of the refrigerant allows for efficient heating of water, which is then distributed throughout the building to provide thermal comfort.
- Expansion valve
The expansion valve is located between the condenser and evaporator. Its primary task is to control the flow of working medium and reduce its pressure. While the working medium leaves the condenser, it is in a liquid state and is under high pressure. When the refrigerant passes through the expansion valve, its pressure is lowered. Lowering the pressure of the working medium reduces its temperature. This is necessary for the refrigerant to be ready to extract heat from the environment in the evaporator. The expansion valve provides a controlled flow of the refrigerant, which allows efficient use of heat energy and ensures optimal operating conditions for the heat pump.
This is the part of the heat pump that is located inside the building, usually in a technical room, boiler room or garage.
Like the outdoor unit, it consists of several key components:
The condenser is responsible for transferring the stored heat energy from the operating medium to the medium that is heated, i.e., water, which will be used for space heating or providing domestic hot water. The condenser, like the evaporator, consists of thin tubes made of material with good thermal conductivity. When the compressed refrigerant leaves the compressor, it enters the condenser, where it is cooled and condenses, changing from a gaseous phase to a liquid phase. In this process, stored heat energy is released and transferred to the flowing water in the heating system.
- Control system
The control system supervises the entire process of pump operation. It consists of components such as sensors, controllers and control systems. Each of these components has a specific role in monitoring, controlling and optimizing the operation of the heat pump. Proper management of the parameters and functions makes it possible to achieve high energy efficiency, optimal use of thermal energy and ensure thermal comfort in the building.
The elements of a heat pump were presented in the article to better understand its construction and principle of operation, which is discussed in detail here. The heat pump is a modern system that is changing our approach to heating, cooling and obtaining hot water. Its advantages, such as high energy efficiency, environmental friendliness and financial savings, make it an increasingly popular choice for many people.