If you’re looking to replace or install a new commercial HVAC system, you’re certain to encounter air-source heat pumps as one of your many options. But how do commercial air-source heat pumps compare to traditional heating and cooling systems like boilers, gas furnaces and split system air conditioners? To help you make the right choice for your business, we’ll review how heat pumps work and explore the benefits and considerations of choosing an air-source heat pump for your commercial property.
How do air-source heat pumps work?
Heat pumps can both heat and cool a space by collecting and transferring heat between indoor air and the external environment. Heat pumps can be connected to a variety of external sources, including air, water and geothermal systems. For this article, we will focus on air-source heat pumps as they are the most common type. Put simply, during the cooling months, an air-source heat pump absorbs heat from the air inside and transfers it outside. Likewise, during the heating months, it absorbs heat from the air outside and transfers it inside.
Benefits of a commercial air-source heat pump
1. They are energy efficient
Compared to other HVAC systems, air-source heat pumps are very energy efficient. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, an air-source heat pump can deliver up to three times more heat energy to a space than the electrical energy it consumes. The reason heat pumps are so efficient is because they do not have to use additional energy to convert heat from a fuel source such as oil or gas. As a result, installing a heat pump system can significantly reduce your building’s reliance on fossil fuels.
2. They can save you money
Because of their efficiency, air-source heat pumps can also help save you money on heating and cooling. A study by the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships found that replacing your electric resistance heaters with a heat pump can save you an average of $459 annually. If you replace your oil-burning system with a heat pump, you can expect to save even more — $948 per year on average!
3. They come in multiple configurations
Air-source heat pumps come in multiple configurations to suit the needs of diverse properties. Some of the most common configurations include:
- Ductless: These convenient systems minimize construction as they only require a small hole in the wall to connect the indoor and outdoor components of a unit. The interior component delivers heated and cooled air directly to the room via a fan, bypassing the need for ductwork.
- Multi-zone: For larger buildings, each interior “zone” can be fitted with its own interior wall unit. These interior units are then connected to a central exterior condenser. A multi-zone system allows for customized, energy-efficient heating and cooling throughout a large space.
- Packaged: While most heat pumps are split-systems — meaning there are components both inside and outside of the building — packaged systems combine both interior and exterior coils within a single outdoor unit. These systems can easily connect to a building’s existing ductwork.
What to consider before installing a commercial air-source heat pump
Traditionally, air-source heat pumps have been best suited for climates where winter temperatures remain above 30°F. Recently, however, specialized “cold-climate” heat pumps have been introduced to the market. These units can operate efficiently at temperatures as low as -20°F. For businesses in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, it is important to choose a heat pump that is designed for your climate.
Additionally, because heat pumps are used year-round, they typically require more routine maintenance than a gas furnace or split-system air conditioner. Finding a commercial HVAC service partner that can properly maintain and service your air-source heat pump system is key to maximizing both your energy savings and the lifespan of your equipment.
At TCMS, we have extensive experience installing and maintaining commercial air-source heat pumps. If you’re considering a heat pump for your business, get in touch with our team today for a free quote.