One of the most attractive features of air source heat pumps can be their efficiency and ability to help heat a home without relying on the combustion of fuels such as gas or oil.
As energy efficient as they are, air source heat pumps still run on electricity and so this electrical supply must come from somewhere. In the majority of cases, power is taken from the mains house electricity supply.
Mains electricity may not always come from a renewable source of energy and solar panels are often installed in homes to help reduce the reliance on mains power.
Solar panels can run an air source heat pump, but like other household appliances, it can depend greatly on factors such as the system’s efficiency and ability, and the local climate. In general, a solar panel roof is sufficient to run the average air source heat pump.
Our air source heat pump takes power from the mains house electricity supply, but we may consider installing solar panels in the future to provide an even more sustainable way to heat and provide hot water for our home.
Solar panels can help provide a sustainable and lower-carbon way to heat a home, and we discuss how solar panels can be used and what factors need to be considered in more detail below.
Solar energy can be enough to run an air source heat pump. The amount of energy an air source heat pump requires can depend on a few factors such, and the efficiency of the solar panels and the configuration of the heat pump can both affect the effectiveness of this setup.
While it can be possible to run an air source heat pump solely using solar panels, an installer will need to design a system that works efficiently and effectively.
Air source heat pumps run at different levels depending on how the system is set up in your household and the climate you live in. Air source heat pumps will need to work harder in colder temperatures and this can affect energy usage, especially in the months where solar panels may not be able to extract as much energy.
For solar panels to be used so that solar energy can power an air source heat pump, an installer will need to consider the setup of the solar panels themselves, and factors such as:
- The available roof area and the number and size of solar panels required.
- The local climate and the expected sunlight throughout different times of the year.
- The efficiency rating of the solar panels and therefore their ability to convert the available sunlight into the most amount of electrical energy.
There will need to be enough space on the roof of a home to accommodate the required number of solar panels. Furthermore, reduced sunlight compared to other locations and using lower efficiency, lower cost panels can increase the number of panels and overall surface area required.
An installer will also need to consider the air source heat pump side of the setup, including:
- The type of air source heat pump.
- The efficiency of the heat pump and its energy usage.
- The demand for heating, cooling or hot water throughout the year.
There are two main types of air source heat pump: air to air and air to water.
An installer will need to understand the type of heat pump and its accompanying internal heating setup.
For example, our heat pump is the air to water type and therefore works alongside radiators and underfloor heating in our home to deliver central heating.
See our main article comparing air to air and air to water heat pumps for more information.
Air source heat pumps are also made by different manufactures and can have different models, all of which can have differing efficiencies and energy usages.
For example, our heat pump has a very good Coefficient of Performance (COP) rating and so can generate a greater than average amount of heat energy from every unit of electrical energy consumed.
Heat pumps with lower efficiency ratings such as the COP rating can require more electricity to generate the same level of indoor heat (more about COP here).
Air source heat pumps can also have lower efficiencies when outdoor temperatures are colder as they will need to work harder to extract the same amount of heat energy from the air.
The image below taken from the manual to our heat pump shows how the electricity usage can increase at lower outdoor air temperatures to deliver the same indoor temperatures (and therefore lowering the overall efficiency).
We have another article on how much electricity an air source heat pump uses for more information.
For example, we don’t use our air source heat pump for cooling as we have separate air conditioning units.
See our main article on air source heat pumps vs air conditioning for more information.
We do however use our heat pump for hot water and so this can increase the demand for our heat pump and therefore it’s electricity usage.
If your solar panels are sufficient enough to power your air source heat pump, then you can have a “true” green heating solution.
Solar power is more attainable than ever, and the incentives are plentiful.
As we transition to a greener society, local incentives can help cover the cost of solar panels and installation. Without the incentives, solar panels can an expensive option but they may be worth the price tag anyway if you’re looking to lower your carbon footprint.
The amount of energy you can harness has a lot to do with how many solar panels you have on your roof.
A professional should always be consulted before investing in expensive solar panels if looking to use them to help run an air source heat pump.
If you’re looking to make your home less dependent on electricity coming from nonrenewable resources, solar panels can be a great investment for long term use with an air source heat pump.
An air source heat pump can be run using solar panels but the ability to do so can depend on a number of factors such as:
- The available roof space for solar panels, the number of solar panels required and their efficiency.
- The local climate and expected sunlight and intensity throughout the year.
- The type of air source heat pump, the overall indoor heating setup and the efficiency of that setup, and the energy efficiency of the heat pump itself.
- The demand for heating, and any other demands such as using the heat pump for cooling and/or domestic hot water.
A local installer will be able to find the best solution for using solar panels to help run your air source heat pump.