How do heat pumps work?

When you’re experiencing a bout of winter or cold weather you would have realized that sooner than later the heat which is trapped inside the house and which is keeping the house at a higher temperature as compared to the outer temperature would leak out from the house leading to lower temperatures in the house as well.

That is why, you had to always make efforts to continuously keep the house at the higher temperature as compared to the outside whether if you want to make sure that the temperature inside the house is comfort able.

Most of the people might not know this but there is a natural way to the would this as well with the help of heat pumps.

Heat pumps are gadgets which use the energy which is trapped inside the earth to heat your home. The basic working principle behind the heat pumps is pretty simple but it has not been used on a wider scale till now.

Source of heat inside the earth:

When we mentioned that you would be using the heat inside the earth, most of you who are living in the cold regions would be thinking that in your geographical regions there is no heat inside the earth due to the cold weather outside.

While this can be true when you’re speaking about the atmosphere above the earth but when you look at the temperature which is below the earth you would realise that there is continuously volcanoes and geysers which confirmed that the temperature inside the art is very high and in fact the temperature inside the earth is so high that even the most robust rocks can melt and become magma due to higher temperature.

This energy can also be to drive in the form of geothermal energy and researchers estimated that there is over 40 million MW of geothermal energy which is present inside the earth and this is equivalent to the energy which is produced by over 20,000 powerplants working at full steam.

The only problem which we have in excess in this geothermal energy is that it is not accessible from all the geographical locations around the earth but only a precise fuel like Yellowstone National Park or some of the geysers in Iceland and other such locations and that is why the use of geothermal energy harvesting is not that common.

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Even though we might not be able to exactly extract the geothermal energy but we can sure source the heat out of the earth with the help of the heat pumps.

The heat which is present in the upper surface of the earth is also they are partly due to the exposure to the sun all the year round.

On an average in the about 3 m of the ground it has been seen that the ground temperature remained steady at around 20°C all the year around and therefore you can easily tap into this heat reservoir which is not very much below your house and you can extract that heat to keep your house warm during the winters.

How do heat pumps work?

heat pump working principle

If you look back to normal centralised heating system in the house or in any kind of building then you might already know the basic working principle of that heating system because it radiates the hot water through arrangement of pipes which is made in the walls of each and every room of the house and when it moves through these radiation pipes the heat is emitted out from the water and this heat is emitted into the rooms of the building to keep them heated and in turn the water which is cooled down is then circulated back to the boiler which again heats the water and this process goes on at a rapid pace so that the temperature can be maintained in the building.

This basic working process of a centralised heating system is same as that of a heat pump system as well but instead of the source of heat being that of a boiler, the source of heat in a heat pump is the heat which is coming from the ground. In this system the water which is to be used as mixed along with the antifreeze mixture and these pipes first go in the ground directly below the building to pick up the heat from the ground so that the temperature of the water increases.

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When this water from the pipe goes into the building is passed through a heat exchanger which extracts the heat from the water and moves it to the different rooms of the building with the help of air ducts. As the heat from the water is extracted the temperature of the water again goes down in this water is circulated back into the ground.

heat pumps

As you might have noticed from over explanation of the heat pumps about they consist of three parts.

1. Ground pipes network: This is the network of pipes which is they are in the ground and the height can be adjusted according to the ground and the distance from the building where the pipes are present. This assembly is required to rotate and circulate the water through the ground so that the temperature of the water is increased with the help of heat collected from the ground.

2. Heat pump: As explained above this is the heat exchanger which is extracting the heat from the water.

3. Air ducts: These are the docks which are present in every room where the temperature is to be regulated and the heat which is extracted by the heat exchanger or the heat pump is circulated with the help of air ducts. This also consist of a fan to accelerate the process of circulation of air.

Types of ground pipes network:

heat pumps pipe arrangement

There are basically three types of ground pipe networks which you can use in order to pump the heat into the building but the type of network which you use would depend on the geographical location in the type of building to which you want to pump the heat into.

The first option which will be would be speaking about his close the loop ground pipe network which is used for smaller buildings like a home and in this the network of pipes is not buried very deep into the ground but rather at a very less depth like 2 m or so and the heat which is collected by circulating the water in these pipes is more than enough to heat a small building like a single home.

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The second option for the ground pipe network is for a building which is large enough like a school or an office and in this the horizontal area for the network of pipes is reduced but the depth at which the pipes are worried in the ground is much more like up to 120 meters. The depth depends on the size of the building and the extreme temperatures in winter.

The third option which we have is the same as the first option but the only difference being that instead of gaining the energy from the ground we would be gaining the energy from water if there is an underwater pond or a lake near your home then you can run the network of pipes through it as well to get the heat which you want.

All of the three options which we discussed above are closed Loop options but there is an open loop option as well which requires a pump to pull out the heated water from below the ground which you have put in for heating.

Advantages of heat pumps:

One of the main advantages of heat pumps is that they can work in the reverse direction in the summer is to ensure that the water is less heated as compared to the temperatures outside and therefore they can be used for cooling as well just like air conditioners but since the natural energy is used you do not have to pay for electricity.

Another advantage is that when you compare it with the cost of heating your home in the winter you would realise that you can save up to 70% of the heating cost by using the heat pumps which get the natural heat from the ground rather than burning any expensive fuel or using electricity. Therefore, they are a great money saver as well.

This is the reason that heat pumps are becoming more and more popular all over the world and specially in the developed economies like United States and United Kingdom.