Emily Martin checks out the eco benefits of heat pumps…
In a world becoming increasingly and urgently conscious of the environment, energy-efficient solutions like heat pumps have never been hotter news.
With a 30-year history in water leisure, heat pumps are hardly new wave – no pun intended.
Still widely considered to be the eco-friendly way of heating swimming pools, are heat pumps environmentally friendly as their reputation suggests?
Martin Killen is the Managing Director of Recotherm, a company with over 35 years experience in pool environment control and specialising in particular, Recotherm’s air to air heat pumps that are ahead of the field. “Heat pumps are an efficient way of using electricity but it will also depend on where that electricity comes from,” says Martin. “If that’s from a coal-fired power station then they are not so eco but if it comes from a wind farm then they’re very eco and far better for the environment.” And even if you think you’re doing the right thing by the planet installing a heat pump, there are still other concerns to be aware of if you have ‘green ticket aspirations’ as Martin explains: “The use of air source heat pumps to heat the water in external pools is well established but many of these are not suitable for internal pools or air heating. “There are a number of units on the market that offer a good performance, but installers need to be aware of the pitfalls such as low operating ambient limits and old gasses like R407C that have high global warming potential. “Instead, it’s best to go for established, high quality, high performance and proven systems.” Recotherm have developed a new unit that works directly with an AIR source heat pump to provide air heating without LPHW connections.
Martin advises: “Basically, don’t go cheap. If you get it right, heat pumps are a high quality environmentally- friendly solution. “If you get it wrong, you will spend a lot of time and money back on site trying to work out why your client’s pool isn’t holding temperature or, if it is, why their bills are so high.”
The current holders of the UK Pool & Spa Awards title of Suppliers Of The Year, Heatstar has maintained pole position as heat pump suppliers to the UK and European water leisure markets for many years.
“The UK has long been a pioneer in the application of heat pumps for swimming pools,” points out Heatstar’s Mark Osman.
“But the market for swimming pool heat pumps within the UK is not that well-regulated in respect of quality and performance,” warns Mark.
“Recent years have witnessed a food of new brands trying to establish themselves and cash in on the potential for increased demand to optimise energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact,” he adds.
Aftercare is important to customers and Heatstar have found an innovative way to get customers easy access to information.
The new QR code label Heatstar have implemented is a way to help end users easily access technical literature associated for a particular Heatstar system.
End users can scan the label with their smartphone QR code reader and link directly to the specific model information on the company’s resources section of their website. Available documents currently include operations manuals and a touchscreen user guide for the LYNX system.
“On a daily basis, we receive a large number of telephone calls with users asking for technical help, and a lot of the time the answers can be found right there in the product literature,” shares David Hayles, Heatstar’s Technical Manager.
“Having this new smart label system whereby the user can quickly scan a QR code on the product and find the necessary documents can seriously reduce downtime if there is an issue with the unit and can also help ensure the equipment is installed and maintained correctly.”
Heat pumps that use inverter technology are clearly the market front runners when it comes to heat pump choice.
Pollet Pool Group consider the INVER X to be the most revolutionary heat pump currently available as David Sargentson, UK General Manager of the Pollet Pool Group, explains: “The INVER X combines both silent operation with a powerful turbo which sounds contradictory, but is completely true.”
The brand new lnverTurbo technology, from PPG, builds on the now widely acclaimed full-inverter technology so you enjoy faster heating, lower electricity bills and a whisper-quiet operation.
David explains: “INVER X provides 20% extra capacity and this results in faster water heating with an even higher COP.
“Compared to standard inverter pumps at 100% of their speed, you end up with a COP that is 50 to 70% higher.
“This also means that the INVER X only needs about 50 per% of its capacity to maintain the temperature of the pool, so energy consumption is drastically reduced.”
Supported by a general factory warranty of three years and a very extensive factory warranty of ten years on both the heat exchanger and the compressor, INVER X has a built-in Wifi module, intelligent touch screen grilles on the outside providing a unique and very quiet airflow.
Plastica also files the inverter technology fag as Samantha Tufnell, the company’s Design and Marketing Manager explains: “Heat pump pool heaters generally do cost more than gas pool heaters, but they typically have a much lower annual operating cost because of their high efficiency.
Samantha continues: “Inverter heat pumps are becoming more widespread as customers are faced with fuel price increases and they prefer more cost- effective and energy efficient ways to heat their swimming pools.” The new Plastica HeatSeeker® Inverter Heat Pump can consume less than 12% of the electricity of conventional electric pool heaters maintaining the same heating capacity because heat pump technology simply extracts heat from the surrounding air and transfers it to the pool water. You can save more than 80% of cost compared to an electrical heater.
Samantha adds: “Plastica’s HeatSeeker® range of Inverter Heat Pumps produce an average C.O.P. of five, giving 5kW output for every one kW of electricity consumed, running with an air temperature of only 15°C. “If the air temperature available increases, the efficiency can be over eight times the supply power.”
The new PX50 is a relatively new addition to the Zodiac team, available through Lighthouse Pools, along with the Z550iQ upping the design of air source heat pumps, with clean lines the units blend elegantly into your pool surroundings. Inverter technology is the key to these two different styles of machine, the traditional horizontal air-discharge of the PX50 and the Vertical discharge of the Z550iQ ensures the correct power and design can be optimised to ft around most any pool.
The Z550iQ adds to this with new smartphone capability allowing you to remotely set temperatures and consult the Z550iQ’s different modes of operation and you truly have an air source heat pump which ticks all the boxes of the modern pool owner.
Moving onto the more traditional Zodiac PX50 range of heat pumps, the elegant modern clean shape of the PX50 allows it to be placed into the garden and not look like the sharp-edged chunk of steel which this sector seems to be burdened with. Also fitted an inverter driven fan and compressor the unit is perfect for those looking to keep their tranquil environment intact.
Both the Z550iQ and PX50 units have an active defrost system so at the start of the season or if you are swimming all year round maybe on an indoor pool, the time spent removing frost of the radiator is minimised. The vapour cloud as the system defrost is a site to be seen!
The heat pumps offered by Certikin are manufactured by market thoroughbreds, Dantherm. Engineered and designed in the UK, they are specifically made for the UK climate.
Such as the Calorex range available exclusively in the UK from Certikin are eco-friendly.
Certikin’s Jo Catterall advises: “Inverter heat pump technology gives efficient control of the pool temperature by only using the energy required.
“This is achieved by the inverter technology allowing the speed of the heat pump to reduce whenever the pool needs less than the full output, matching heat output to exactly the heat required,” Jo continues. “This not only gives lower running costs but reduces sound levels to a ‘whisper’ and eliminates the massive inrush currents associated with on/of heat pumps.”
Complying with the European F-Gas regulations, Calorex heat pumps use the low Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerant R32. It requires less refrigerant volume per kW and is easier to recycle.
Whilst Certikin’s inverter heat pumps are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, it is the latter where they prove to be more popular. Certikin have a vastly experienced in-house technical team able to advise on the best solution for each project.
They also offer a five-year manufacturer’s warranty on our inverter heat pumps which covers both on site parts and labour. This is backed up by Dantherm’s nationwide network of service engineers. Says Jo: “Over the past year, the pandemic has seen people focusing on making the home a place for wellbeing and enjoyment.
“This appetite for the enhancement of outdoor spaces as seen in a rise in the demand of outdoor pools many of which are looking to air source heat pumps as a cost effective and environmentally friendly way of heating the water. “Our inverter heat pumps are stylish looking and are compact with the small footprint making them compliant with permitted development rights,” Jo points out and adds: “The Calorex side outlet models also have Wi-Fi capability.”
Certikin’s tip would be to look for those products that offer transparent information and technical data, come with a suitable warranty and offer the after sales support should it be required.
Golden Coast sell hundreds of heat pumps each year into many different installations, including spas, private pools, school pools, rehabilitation pools and larger commercial installations where they have multiple units in situ and say the biggest benefit of a Dura Pro heat pump is the cost savings.
“The Dura Pro heat pump uses inverter technology to consistently maintain water temperature while operating on a lower current,” says Adam Clark, Sales Director.
“This means it uses less energy compared to electric heaters, enabling owners to reduce their electricity bills and cut their carbon footprint,” Adam continues.
In fact, Dura Pro heat pumps can be up to nine times more efficient than a standard electric heater and so are a much eco-friendlier way to heat a pool, spa or hot tub.
Adam explains: “By reducing energy consumption customers can save thousands of pounds on their pool or spa heating bills.
“And incredibly, the Dura Pro claims not to depend on outside temperature.
“It has high Coefficient Of Performance regardless of outside temperature, meaning it can heat water quickly and can even operate in temperatures as low as -15°C.
“These capabilities may be valuable for customers looking for all-weather, year-round enjoyment of the pool and spa.”
Undisputedly, there are some outstanding heat pump products available spanning a variety of swimming pool needs both residential and commercial.
When comparing heat pumps it is important to check you are comparing like-for-like. A couple of keys things would be the warranty for both parts and labour. Another important factor to check is the coefficient of performance or COP and that this is based on the UK climate so you can be sure that the performance claimed is achievable.
All heat pumps should be installed by someone who has the relevant qualifications. It is critical that the install instructions are followed to ensure the correct air flow.
So, the smart money is on doing your research; going with a trusted supplier and persuading customers that spending a little more initially will be a money saver in the longer-term while doing their bit to save the planet.