A Guide to Commercial Heat Pumps

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Heat pumps are renewable energy devices that transfer heat from outside to inside a building (or vice versa). The heat can be used to heat radiators, underfloor heating, warm air systems and water to reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

Despite being powered by electricity, the fundamental principal behind heat pumps is they save more energy than they use.

The beauty of these systems is heat can be extracted from a variety of different sources. So-called air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and water source heat pumps each offer a different means to transfer heat.

Air source heat pumps

Air source heat pumps transfer heat from air. They utilise the very same process as a refrigerator but in reverse, using a compressor and condenser.

Here’s how it works:

The heat pump sucks in air which passes through / past a fluid. The compressor then increases the temperature of that fluid, after which the condenser transfers the heat from the fluid to your heating / hot water system.

The above describes an air-to-water heat pump. Air-to-air heat pumps are also available which feed warm air into your business via a ventilation system. Most small businesses will benefit from an air-to-water heat pump more.

Ground source heat pumps

Ground source heat pumps are buried underground and transfer heat from here. They are widely considered to be a more efficient way to transfer heat than air because underground temperatures are consistently higher than above ground.

The heating process is exactly the same as with an air source heat pump; it utilises a refrigeration process but in reverse. This means the only difference between them is the way a ground source heat pump extracts heat.

As such, herein lies a major benefit over air source heat pumps – ground source pumps do not need a fan or defrosting system, making them more reliable.

Water source heat pumps

Water source heat pumps transfer heat from a body of water. They are considered more efficient than both air and ground heat pumps because heat transfers better in water, and because the average temperature of water is above that of air and ground (even in winter).

In exactly the same way as air source and ground source heat pumps, water heat pumps transfer heat to a compressor filled with fluid. The compressor then raises the temperature of the fluid, and it gets shared with your heating system (alternatively, the heat can be sent through fans to provide a warm air system).


All three types of heat pump offer a reliable way to lower your carbon footprint and reduce dependency on gas and electricity within your business. Air source is the least efficient, ground source is in the middle and water source is the most efficient. Which is best for your business will largely depend on your environment.

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