Solar Assisted Heat Pumps - Thermodynamic Panels
What Are Solar Assisted Heat Pumps?
A Thermodynamic Panel looks very similar to a Solar Panel; however it’s designed to absorb heat energy, unlike PV (Photovoltaic) or Solar Thermal Panels which are designed to absorb light energy. Thermodynamic panels are about the size of a standard door (1m by 2m) and can be positioned anywhere on the outside of a property. The most common panel positioning for domestic installations is a side wall of the house. Thermodynamic panels work by circulating a very cold liquid refrigerant through veins in the panel. This liquid is approximately -22°C when it enters the panel. Due to the large temperature difference between the liquid in the panel and the outside air a heat transfer will take place. Heat energy is absorbed by the panel and transferred into a store of water within the property. Thermodynamic panel systems are designed to heat hot water and constantly keep the water hot 24 hours a day at 55°C. The panels will work at night, as they work on a similar principle to a fridge, and can be positioned facing any direction.
Inside the property you would find a unit that contains the working parts of the system compressor, pump, hardware, electronics and a modern insulated cylinder, usually stainless steel. The water is heated and stored within this unit. Thermodynamic units come in many difference sizes to suit the water demand of the property.
A thermodynamic panel system would enable the home owner to completely turn off their existing fuel source for the heating of domestic hot water. This means that the system is capable of heating the water and keeping it hot all year round, unlike a solar thermal system which would need assistance during the winter months of the year. This means that the potential energy savings are greater than is predecessor technologies such as solar thermal. Most thermodynamic units come with a secondary coil so that the boiler or existing method of heating water can be connect back into the system. This can serve as a backup during times of extreme hot water usage.
With uncertainty surrounding fuel prices consumers often see a thermodynamic system as a great way to protect themselves against future fuel inflation. The systems have been slowly gaining support and traction in the UK over the last 10 years. This has been recently helped further by some of the major products and suppliers receiving the government back MCS accreditation.