Heat pump trends and new product features to keep an eye on
Having just wrapped up at the ISH 2019 in Frankfurt we take a look at the top five heat pump trends
emerging in the heat pump industry which will shape products in the market over the next couple of years.
Not much has changed in terms of efficiency in heat pumps lately. The gains in efficiency we see across products is small but across the board nonetheless. Small incremental improvements will continue to develop having a cumulative effect over time.
We should expect the relatively unexciting but steady improvement in terms of efficiency to continue over the next few years.
One of the ways heating or cooling efficiency can be drastically improved is through custom-built heat pumps. The ability to use heat pumps built to match a specific project’s demands has the largest impact on the project’s efficiency by far.
Not many manufacturers are able to offer this option and support it properly but after decades of producing custom-built heat pumps at TermoPlus we’re glad this trend is catching on as there are numerous additional benefits to them such as future-proofing, upgradeability and performance optimization.
New refrigerant varieties with a lower global warming potential (GWP) have emerged. This landscape is changing with multiple options sprouting as alternatives for existing refrigerants.
Some options appear to be gaining ground such as R32 (difluoromethane) and R290 (propane) which are replacing R410A. Natural refrigerants that provide the lowest GWP levels are also becoming popular albeit mostly in refrigeration applications.
Each of these has its own limitations: R290 (propane) is highly flammable, R744 (CO2) requires high pressure levels and R717 (ammonia) is toxic and corrosive. Watch this space as the refrigerant landscape evolves over the next couple of years!
Solar PV integration
With solar PV adoption growing through net metering and virtual net metering schemes, heat pumps are becoming an even more appealing option for consumers.
Heat pumps are also evolving as products to take advantage of this trend and offer additional value and options to consumers. For instance, consider the use of a PV Input that allows some Domestic Hot Water (DHW) heat pump units to automatically store excess solar electric power in the form of hot water. This feature can be seen in our own DHW pro units and reflects what we believe are important needs emerging in the evolving marketplace.
Heat pumps have until now generally been designed strictly with their primary operation of heating and cooling in mind. For years, little thought had been put into the additional value a well-designed and meticulously-built unit could provide to users.
As with the historic evolution of products such as cars, mobile phones and personal computers, the product’s primary function defined the beginning of a design evolution. At some point, heat pumps started to evolve in design terms to include additional functional, ergonomic and visual improvements.
This trend is only just starting to take off, and we’re glad we have been advocating for great design for a while now.
Although we had the honour of winning the ISH Design Plus award last month for our air-source Hydrotank range, we know that many other heat pump manufacturers are ramping up their product design and we should expect to see a visual renaissance both in terms of visual design and added functionality.
This area will also be the most interesting in terms of the emergence of fresh new features.
These heat pump trends are not set in stone but we think they will dominate product design until the next ISH in 2021.