Air source heat pump systems contain both indoor and outdoor components, and an outdoor heat pump unit will typically need to be located in an open area to ensure that airflow isn’t compromised.
External air source heat pump units can be relatively large appliances and may not provide the most appealing of looks around a home, and so providing an enclosure for a heat pump could be a consideration by a homeowner.
It can be possible to provide an enclosure for an air source heat pump if allowed by the manufacturer and in line with the clearance distances from the heat pump to surrounding objects.
We don’t have an enclosure for our own air source heat pump as we don’t have a need for it, but it could be possible to enclose our heat pump if we desired to help blend it more into the view of the house.
We discuss more about enclosure options for air source heat pumps in more detail below including what requirements a heat pump enclose may need to meet.
Air Source Heat Pump Enclosures
Our article on whether you can cover an air source heat pump explains that you can’t directly cover over an external air source heat pump unit.
This is because an air source heat pump (ASHP) needs to force air through it to extract heat. Directly covering over an ASHP would significantly affect its performance.
However, it may be possible to indirectly cover over a heat pump if it meets the guidelines set out by the manufacturer of the heat pump.
Such a cover can be referred to as an enclosure, which could come in a range of forms such as a box cover, screen cover or simply just fencing around the heat pump unit.
Our ASHP sits down the side of our house up against the external wall. It doesn’t have any form of cover but if we were to get one it may be possible to buy a box screen with built-in holes to aid in airflow, or build one ourselves.
Any air source heat pump cover would need to be in accordance with the guidelines set out by the manufacturer of the heat pump to ensure that airflow, and therefore performance, isn’t compromised.
For example, the manual for our heat pump provides minimum clearance distances to objects on all sides of the heat pump.
We discuss more about the requirements for air source heat pump enclosures further in this article.
Reasons to provide an enclosure for an air source heat pump could include:
- Helping to reduce noise levels
- Reducing the visual impact a heat pump can have on the external view of a house
- Keeping a heat pump in a tidy location out of the way
Hiding an outdoor heat pump unit typically won’t be too difficult, and there are several ways that a heat pump could be covered.
The most standard of air source heat pump enclosures can include wooden boxes, typically with wooden slats and openings to aid with airflow.
These heat pump covers can come in various styles, sizes, and colors, and can be found from a number of suppliers, or you could potentially build one yourself.
We wouldn’t personally use such an enclosure for our own heat pump as the cover can be very restrictive for airflow.
One major issue with these enclosures can be that colder air coming out of the heat pump is recycled, reducing the ability of the heat pump to effectively extract heat.
External heat pump units are designed to withstand the outdoors when installed in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines, and properly maintained heat pumps shouldn’t be affected by any inclement weather.
ASHP covers can therefore be more for aesthetic purposes but the loss in performance won’t typically be worth the improved aesthetic appeal.
The video below shows an example of how a heat pump cover/enclosure could be built.
A privacy screen would cover the view from sides of an air source heat pump, rather than cover a heat pump over entirely
Such screens could be installed around an ASHP when ensuring to consider minimum clearance to nearby objects in line with the heat pump manufacturer’s guidelines.
The video below shows how one household provided a screen around their air source heat pump.
Any enclosures/covers for air source heat pumps should meet the following requirements:
- Be in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines for both the heat pump and the enclosure and follow any clearance distance requirements.
- Maintain sufficient airflow in and out of the heat pump.
- Ensure that the heat pump is accessible for maintenance and servicing.
- Keep the unit away from vegetation and/or ensure any growing vegetation is trimmed back.
The main key issue is if an enclosure affects the performance of a heat pump by being too close and affecting airflow.
Air source heat pumps use fans to force air through to capture heat. Air is typically sucked in through the back and side(s), and out the front.
If an enclosure is too close to the intake out exhaust vents, then it can affect airflow.
That’s why our heat pump manufacturer outlines the minimum clearance distances to nearby objects, including any enclosures.
If you’re unsure about providing an enclosure for your air source heat pump always speak to the installer or another qualified professional for advice.