Can I Install An Air Source Heat Pump Myself?

An air source heat pump is becoming one of the more common methods of heating and cooling a home and the external heat pump unit can typically look like a larger commercial air conditioning unit.

As air source heat pumps work on electricity only, they don’t need to be connected to any gas or oil supplies, and so can you install an air source heat pump yourself?

You can’t fully install an air source heat pump yourself. Although you can potentially place the external unit, you’ll need a trained professional to connect it up to the internal components and to set up the heating system as a whole.

Our air source heat pump was installed by an installer when the house was built in 2017. The whole system was designed and installed by a professional to ensure that it worked efficiently and effectively from the start.

Air Source Heat Pump
Each part of our air source heat pump heating and hot water system was installed professionally

We couldn’t have installed any of the air source heat pump components ourselves and we feel it wouldn’t be worth our time to do so and should be left to a professional to ensure it’s done right.

We discuss more about how an air source heat pump system works and how it would be put together, and why you wouldn’t be able to fully install one yourself.

Can You Install Your Own Air Source Heat Pump?

An air source heat pump system should not be installed by an untrained person. However, it may be possible to install certain elements that would help make the full installation by a professional quicker and potentially cheaper.

Although air source heat pumps only use electricity to generate heat, they’re still complex systems that need to be designed, installed, set up and calibrated by a professional in order to work as intended.

If an air source heat pump (ASHP) system isn’t set up correctly then it can lead to reduced efficiency, which in turn could make installing an ASHP system in the first place far less cost-effective.

If an air source heat pump system isn’t installed by a licensed technician, then it may also void the manufacturer’s warranty.

Our air source heat pump system, set up to provide both heating and domestic hot water, was installed when the house was built over 5 years ago before the house was for sale, and so the whole system was installed by a professional with none of our input.

Either way, we wouldn’t have felt comfortable with installing part any part of the system anyway.

The main components of our ASHP system, that could typically be found in many other installations, include:

  • The external heat pump unit.
  • Pipework from external unit to indoor water tank.
  • Hot water tank and all other associated indoor heating and hot water apparatus.
  • Underfloor heating downstairs.
  • Radiators upstairs.
  • Pipework throughout house for domestic hot water.
  • Central control panel and thermostats for each room.

The main heat pump unit itself sits down the side of our house. Such units need to be located by a professional in the right location to ensure that they can receive enough air flow, don’t disturb neighbors due to noise, among a number of other factors.

Air Source Heat Pump
An installer will need to find the right secluded location for an air source heat pump, such as ours located down the side of our house

This unit sits on a concrete base with the right vibration dampening, with enough room provided for access around the back for maintenance purposes, and for the pipework.

Air Source Heat Pump Base
Components such as anti vibration mounts need to be considered
Air Source Heat Pump Back
Space for pipework also needs to be considered

An air source heat pump unit also needs to be wired up to an electrical supply with isolation.

Air Source Heat Pump Power Supply
An ASHP will need to be hooked up to a dedicated electrical supply

See our article on air source heat pump installation requirements for more information

Pipes carry the heat energy indoors and head through our house.

Air Source Heat Pump Pipes
Routes of pipes or ducts through a house needs to be designed

These pipes also need to be filled correctly with refrigerant to carry the heat.

All the indoor apparatus is located in our utility room cupboard, of which there are a number of components with pipework and wires everywhere.

Air Source Heat Pump Hot Water Tank
The internal heating and/or hot water equipment required for use with an air source heat pump can be complex and overwhelming

As such, air source heating pump systems can be very complex and leaving all of the installation to a trained professional is the most sensible solution in almost all cases.

See our main article covering the main parts of an air source heat pump for more information.

Steps To Installing Air Source Heat Pumps

In general, there are six main steps to installing any air source heat pump system, but the exact steps required will vary on a few factors, including the type of heat pump proposed and size and layout of house that’s being served by the heat pump.

The main factor, though, can be whether you’re installing a ducted air source heat pump or a ductless one.

Ductless systems can be quicker and easier to install compared to ducted systems because you don’t need to worry about existing or new ducts.

While the above refers to air to air heat pumps, ours is an air to water heat pump, where heat energy is extracted from outside for use indoors for central heating and hot water (not air space heating).

Air Source Heat Pump Plate
We’re using an air to water heat pump but air to air heat pumps are also an option. An installer will be able to choose the right type and model

See our complete guide to air to air and air to water heat pumps for more information.

The steps for installing an air source heat pump can include:

  1. Assessing the home, designing the system, and installing the main indoor units. This can include any hot water tank and associated apparatus.
  2. Creating access points for pipework and/or ducts.
  3. Installing the outside unit(s). The external air source heat pump unit will either be installed on the ground on a concrete slab or mounted onto the wall.
  4. Connecting the outside and inside units via pipes for the refrigerant.
  5. Provide electrical power to all the appliances.

Assessing Your Home And Setting Up Units

The first step in installing an air source heat pump is assessing your house to determine what type of air source pump would be best for your individual needs.

This assessment will need to be performed by a professional with the right software and capabilities to choose the most effective setup.

An installer will provide the right internal equipment for the external heat pump unit to work best with. This could include air handlers, radiant underfloor heating, a hot water tank or radiators, depending on what type of heat pump setup is proposed.

Our utility room cupboard contains all our main indoor equipment.

Air Source Heat Pump Water Heater Tank
Our hot water tank and associated pipes and equipment

The outside unit will either be mounted on the floor or on the wall, depending on the type of unit.

Air Source Heat Pump Back
A professional installed our external heat pump in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines

See our article on whether air source heat pumps can be wall mounted for more information.

Creating Access Points And Connecting the Units

The indoor and outdoor units will need to be connected up and so access points through walls in the house will need to be created.

Although creating the access points can be done by yourself relatively easily, connecting them isn’t. This process is complex and requires appropriately trained individuals to accomplish it successfully.

The two units will connect through both the refrigerant line and condensate line. Handling refrigerants without proper training can be dangerous and connecting the two lines between the two units requires adequate training.

Air Source Heat Pump Pipes
We have pipes running to all areas of the house from the main heating and hot water apparatus

Providing Electrical Power

The next step in installing an air source heat pump is connecting the units to your home’s electrical system. Just like connecting the units and setting them up, this step also requires someone trained.

After the two units have their parts installed and are connected, the whole unit must be hooked up to your electrical system. Due to the nature of the job and regulations involved, a person without proper training and certifications can’t accomplish this step.

The lines between the units will be insulated and then run through conduits. Because handling the lines is dangerous, insulating them is also dangerous. Likewise, handling any wires and running them through conduits will require training.

Air Source Heat Pump
Our ASHP hooked up to the mains electricity

See our article on air source heat pump electrical requirements for more information.

Ductless vs. Ducted Air-Source Heat Pumps

There are several factors you’ll want to consider before hiring a technician to install an air to air source heat pump. One of the most crucial of these factors is ductwork.

Like air conditioning systems, air source heat pumps can be ductless or ducted.

Ductless systems require less labor as installation experts don’t need to remove portions of walls to install them.

Ductless air source heat pumps connect to condensers. These are typically installed onto a home’s exterior siding or roof. While this does require some drywall removal, it’s a negligible amount when compared to the amount of drywall you’d need to tear away to install a brand-new duct system.

You could opt to install a ducted air source heat pump. However, if your home isn’t already outfitted with HVAC ductwork, this option is bound to be costly and time-consuming.

See our article covering the differences between ducted and ductless air source heat pumps for more information.

Can I Install An Air Source Heat Pump Myself?

While there could be a small number of air source heat pump installation processes that could be undertaken by yourself, it’s almost always best to leave the whole installation to a trained professional.

ASHP systems can be complex and need to be expertly designed and installed to work as efficiently as possible.

An installer will know how to provide the most effective air source heat pump heating and/or hot water system for your particular need and house layout and size.

Further Reading

How An Air Source Heat Pump Works

How Much An Air Source Heat Pump Costs

Air Source Heat Pumps vs Gas Boilers