The Air Source Heat Pump Revolution


The government has announced that by 2025, all new homes will be banned from installing gas and oil boilers and will instead be heated by low-carbon alternatives.

The ban is part of a UK action plan to reach carbon net-zero by 2050.

In addition, the government is offering UK households £5,000 grants to replace gas boilers with low carbon technologies from April 2022. The main replacement of existing fossil fuel heating systems is likely to be air source heat pumps.

These are like air conditioners that pump out heat, and most of them are situated outside. There are significant noise concerns with such a solution.

A report by the European Heat Pump Association admitted that the fan noise is a key problem highlighting that the tonal and low-frequency noise from air source noise pumps would be a problem. Where they are located is also important but in flats, the choice of location can be very limited indeed.

Of course, proprietary, almost off the shelf, acoustic enclosures for typical air-source heat pumps do exist and provide around 20 dB of attenuation, however at around £3k to £4k they are not affordable, even though they have various other benefits.

In addition, these acoustic enclosures are bulky and the air circulation around the inlet and outlet openings should not be restricted.

Again, not so much an issue in large houses with gardens, but a serious design consideration for new build multi-storey properties.

Instead of individual heat pumps for every flat, a common sight in many countries with a hot climate is perhaps a common rooftop plant area but this solution is unlikely in modern apartment blocks with competing uses for the roof.

A well ventilated, acoustically attenuated plant room could be built instead in the basement or ground floor, but this could be a costly endeavour with lots of technical hurdles in relation to air circulation and associated noise reduction.

There is an expectation that the technology might improve as the mass market justifies and stimulates investment in quieter pumps but even if this happens, it is important to echo the conclusions in the “Heat Pumps in London” report where it is stated that “the impact of heat pumps on space and noise is very dependent on the system type and it requires consideration on a project-by-project basis.”

If you have any existing or future noise impact issues with the heating systems in your development, do not hesitate to contact us at Finch Consulting so that we can work with you to add value to your project.

If you want to know more about the air source heat pump revolution, please contact [email protected] or on 01530 412777.

As always, if you have any issues associated with noise or vibration please contact the relevant experts at Finch Consulting.

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