Exhaust air heat pump systems

These systems extract heat from the exhaust air to produce useful heat for DHW or for space heating (or both) by means of electric power. Three configurations are common:

1 air-to-liquid systems for preheating the water supply for DHW and/or 'wet' central space heating;

2 air to both liquid and air for combined hot water heating and warm air space heating; and

3 air-to-air systems to supplement air-to-air heat recovery by a heat exchanger.

Often an 'air-to-liquid' heat pump is used in which the evaporator is located in the exhaust air stream to extract heat from the outgoing air, while the condenser is located in a reservoir tank, to boost water temperature. Sometimes the condenser may be located in a fan coil unit through which indoor air is continuously circulated and heated (an air-to-air heat pump system). To extract maximum efficiency, heat pump output may be split between space heating and DHW heating. The advantages of a ventilation exhaust air heat pump are as follows:

• Heat may be recovered from the exhaust air without requiring a balanced supply air system.

• Ventilation system costs and the space required for ductwork are reduced.

• There is potential to upgrade exhaust systems or passive stack ventilation systems by incorporating a heat pump.

The disadvantages of ventilation exhaust air heat pump are:

• high investment costs; and

• COP HP need to be high for systems, probably greater than 4, to show true cost and primary energy benefits.

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