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trying to install a heat pump

trying to install a heat pump

Old Sep 13th 2022, 8:40 am
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Default trying to install a heat pump

As we live on the west coast all year round, we need some heat in winter.
When we first got here, I installed underfloor heat plumbing and an old oil burner as a stop gap.
That was 12 years ago.

So having crunched the numbers, the clear choice for today is a large air / water heat pump; adding solar PV to power it will cut costs further, but the heat pump is what we need first.
When I tell them I intend to add solar PV later on, they only want to talk about solar PV systems.

Normally I do all technical work myself, but due to the foibles of warranty and all, I'd prefer to have a "professional" install the heat pump.
So I went to 3 shops, emailed 4 more, and I wait for offers.

And I wait. and wait.

How long does it take to get a quotation for this???
Anyone east of Portimao is too far away.
.
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Old Sep 13th 2022, 11:28 am
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

Originally Posted by liveaboard View Post
As we live on the west coast all year round, we need some heat in winter.
When we first got here, I installed underfloor heat plumbing and an old oil burner as a stop gap.
That was 12 years ago.

So having crunched the numbers, the clear choice for today is a large air / water heat pump; adding solar PV to power it will cut costs further, but the heat pump is what we need first.
When I tell them I intend to add solar PV later on, they only want to talk about solar PV systems.

Normally I do all technical work myself, but due to the foibles of warranty and all, I'd prefer to have a "professional" install the heat pump.
So I went to 3 shops, emailed 4 more, and I wait for offers.

And I wait. and wait.

How long does it take to get a quotation for this???
Anyone east of Portimao is too far away.
.
As I have plenty of space and a convenient area next to the house, I was interested in a ground-source heat pump. But it became obvious fairly quickly that nobody local was interested in installing the system - and the idea of coil collectors for vertical installation was far too revolutionary...... after all, who could possibly be asked to drill a verical shaft?!! All they wanted to do was sell and install air-sourced glorified air-conditioners. When I said I was disinclined to those, due to noise and vibration issues, the attitude was "take it of leave it". The truth is that they have nobody local who can do the work, so they just flog what they CAN do. So when I then asked about the power for such devices, I was assured that PV solar to power them was not an option... after all, they can be mains powered!.

These people are the same ones who refused to countenance connecting a back-boiler and/or a gas esquentador to a solar water heating system, because, because...... and more, they really couldn't recommend a back-boiler because heat pumps were the way forward. These same people had actually quoted me for a back-boiler system 5 years before. They also poo-pooed my wishes NOT to have mains backup to the water cylinder.... because, well, everyone does it.

Such companies exist only to do whatever gains them the most money for the least effort.... so they flog whatever system they have been trained to install and their level of understanding is confined to the systems they've been shown, nothing more. I'm actually amazed that more people don't have issues..... or perhaps they do and we just don't hear about them.

You really have to know your stuff to find someone who actually knows about the technology - that's why there are so many solar collectors in the Algarve sitting at the wrong angle.... Mentioning the idea of using PV as a source for the heat-pump probably scares them off. Easier pickings elsewhere.......
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Old Sep 13th 2022, 6:32 pm
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

Actually, the few I did talk to are really enthusiastic about PV power for the heat pump.
The new heat pumps have controls that can be set to optimize different energy sources; cheaper night rate power, or solar PV with a sensor to tell the heat pump when free power is available.

Ground source is expensive, and tricky. It depends what's down there, how much water, how much heat flow. I had a big discussion with a Dutch specialist once.
She told me that ground source often works really well, but sometimes just doesn't; because it gets too cold down there..

Here in Portugal the air temperature is rarely low enough to merit using anything else.
I resisted heat pumps for a long time because of low efficiency at low temperature (when you need heat), and the blatant lies in the advertising.
But today the technology has caught up to the hype; real returns are 300-400% I'm told.
Well, I'll believe it when I see it...

If no one gets back to me I'll see about installing it myself. I've installed a few heating systems before.


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Old Sep 13th 2022, 7:30 pm
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

I'd hope that service gets better as the technology gets more "normal", but it's not always the case. Normal ground source tubing is less than 2m below ground level, so the likelihood of cold (?) or water is low - the main reason for using it is that temperatures at that depth remain relatively constant - and there is even a form of fencing made of piping that can be used as a surface collector.... but that's more liable to damage. Shaft collection is trickier..... although the spiral collectors are better and a pilot will quickly tell what the situation is and again, the depth required is about 35m max (with multiple bores) or less for a higher diameter spiral collector, so unless you have a high water table, there's unlikely to be an issue. The best source of all is running water..... but there's precious little of that in the Alentejo!

My issue with the form of air-sourced collection generally offered is the noise and vibration of the big fan units...... and the extra power needed to drive them. They are efficient in terms of the heat output for the energy input, but that depends on how much your electricity is costing. certainly, until now, in the UK the increased efficiency was eroded by the price differential per Kw between gas and electricity.... but if you can provide a good portion of that by solar PV, then all the sums change. I'd anticipate 2.5Kw to 3.5Kw heat output for each Kw of power used.... if you get more, lucky you. However, the biggest issue seems to be with the temperature of water produced..... OK for underfloor heating but needing efficient radiators for retrofit and rather lower than usual for hot water systems...... hence the nice idea of a "boost" via and esquentador.

Good luck.
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Old Sep 13th 2022, 9:58 pm
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

Originally Posted by macliam View Post
... All they wanted to do was sell and install air-sourced glorified air-conditioners. When I said I was disinclined to those, due to noise and vibration issues, the attitude was "take it or leave it". .....
I don't know what air-sourced heat pumps are like these days in Portugal, but the one I bought about 4 years ago in the US is streets ahead of any heat pump I had ever seen previously - nothing vibrating and no more noise than the hum from a fridge - in other words it is entirely inaudible when it's running and we're inside with the doors and windows closed (which is obviously all the time that the heatpump is running), and when I am outside in the back yard, the sound is barely above the ambient noise i.e. is drowned out if a car drives by. So while I am sympathetic to your quest for a ground-source or ground water-source heat pump, and hope to upgrade to that one day myself, I would encourage you to look at the latest technology in air-source heat pumps as "they aren't your grandpa's heatpump".
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Old Sep 14th 2022, 1:45 am
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
I don't know what air-sourced heat pumps are like these days in Portugal, but the one I bought about 4 years ago in the US is streets ahead of any heat pump I had ever seen previously - nothing vibrating and no more noise than the hum from a fridge - in other words it is entirely inaudible when it's running and we're inside with the doors and windows closed (which is obviously all the time that the heatpump is running), and when I am outside in the back yard, the sound is barely above the ambient noise i.e. is drowned out if a car drives by. So while I am sympathetic to your quest for a ground-source or ground water-source heat pump, and hope to upgrade to that one day myself, I would encourage you to look at the latest technology in air-source heat pumps as "they aren't your grandpa's heatpump".
Obviously things improve, however, with the best will in the world, two large fans driving air over a heat exchanger will never be as quiet as a fridge when running and worse, when connected to a wall, any vibration will pass through and cause sympathetic vibration unless there is a very good break (and my walls are solid taipa). I went to see installed units in similar surroundings and whilst admittedly this was 5 years ago and there can be improvements, the laws of physics don't change. Since all the power being fed into the unit is to drive fans or run pumps, there will be noise..... although as I live in the country, without traffic noise, I'll accept that this may be more noticeable to me. The other thing is that all this is when the unit is new... as time passes I would expect it to get worse as moving parts need maintenance. Of course, there is also the fact that you have a boody great box of tricks whirring away, which is a bit had to hide. So thanks, but I prefer a lower input, lower impact system.....
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Old Sep 14th 2022, 7:18 am
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

With taipa walls, I don't think you'd hear anything.
The exterior units don't usually attach to the wall, but rest on a concrete block.

A company in Lagos got back to me and I'll meet someone there today to talk about it some more.
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Old Sep 14th 2022, 8:23 am
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

I know little about Heat Pumps.

However, have you spoken to FF Solar in the Aljezur/Rogil Industrial Park.

They are the oldest renewable energy outfit in the Western Algarve.

If they can't assist, they may be able to point you in the right direction.

https://www.ffsolar.com

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Old Sep 14th 2022, 9:56 am
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

Originally Posted by liveaboard View Post
With taipa walls, I don't think you'd hear anything.
The exterior units don't usually attach to the wall, but rest on a concrete block.

A company in Lagos got back to me and I'll meet someone there today to talk about it some more.
As you wish.
However, as part of my research I sat in the restaurant of a hotel based in an old taipa monte (the restaurant was closed at the time).
The sympathetic vibration was noticeable - and I was not trying to sleep!
Perhaps it was incorrectly installed, but it had been fitted by the company I was considering.
I was not impressed.
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Old Sep 14th 2022, 4:45 pm
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

Originally Posted by liveaboard View Post
.... The exterior units don't usually attach to the wall, but rest on a concrete block. ....
Macliam obviously isn't going to be persuaded, but this much is true - the condenser unit is a couple of feet from the house. The refrigerant lines from the condenser connect to the air handler and heat exchanger in the attic, and any noise it makes up there is entirely drowned out by the (slight) noise of air blowing through the ceiling vents.

The bit where I compared it to the noise my fridge makes is a _slight_ exaggeration, but justified IMO because the heatpump is outside whereas the fridge is in my kitchen. And the design is quite different from the condenser units of those made a few years earlier and cheaper systems - it is both larger and much more solid, so a lot heavier and not as susceptible to vibrations and rattles.

Last edited by Pulaski; Sep 14th 2022 at 4:48 pm.
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Old Sep 14th 2022, 9:21 pm
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
Macliam obviously isn't going to be persuaded, but this much is true - the condenser unit is a couple of feet from the house. The refrigerant lines from the condenser connect to the air handler and heat exchanger in the attic, and any noise it makes up there is entirely drowned out by the (slight) noise of air blowing through the ceiling vents.

The bit where I compared it to the noise my fridge makes is a _slight_ exaggeration, but justified IMO because the heatpump is outside whereas the fridge is in my kitchen. And the design is quite different from the condenser units of those made a few years earlier and cheaper systems - it is both larger and much more solid, so a lot heavier and not as susceptible to vibrations and rattles.
I have no idea what unit you have, but it is plainly different to what I was offered..... which was a glorified double-fan air-conditioning type unit, hung on brackets from the wall and which fed though a heat exchanger a dual coil hot water cylinder and a cylinder to supply central heating via alloy radiators. Noise and vibration were very much an issue..... as well as the aesthetics. I have experience of both ground-source and water-souce heat pumps in the UK and the air-source combination offered to me in Portugal really seemed a step backwards..... and the ones being offered now in the UK now seem little better. In any casae, the use of retrofit heat pumps to drive "traditional" (for the UK) central heating is also an issue.... as standard steel radiators really don't work well at the lower water temperature supplied..... but people seem unaware of that issue.

As with most things, it is horses for courses and there are very few silver bullets. If what you're offered works for you, then fine..... but there are more and more people now complaining that they have been supplied with the wrong solution, despite the hype. Good luck and DYR.
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Old Sep 15th 2022, 12:03 am
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

Had a meeting with another heating engineer today; he suggests a Daikin split unit.
The inside section is an evaporator (heating part on the cycle) combined with a hot water buffer tank.
Quite neat.

I have yet to get prices from any of these guys; the financial numbers are as important as the engineering numbers to determine whether it can perform the function of saving me money.
Guarantee on all of them is just 2 years; pretty weak for machines that need +- 8 years to break even, and are expecting to operate for 20 years or more.

I suspect I can save about 2,000 by buying and installing myself. That would probably mean I get no warranty at all, but with those numbers it might be the way to go anyway.

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Old Sep 15th 2022, 4:09 pm
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

Originally Posted by macliam View Post
I have no idea what unit you have, but it is plainly different to what I was offered..... which was a glorified double-fan air-conditioning type unit, hung on brackets from the wall and which fed though a heat exchanger a dual coil hot water cylinder and a cylinder to supply central heating via alloy radiators. Noise and vibration were very much an issue..... as well as the aesthetics. I have experience of both ground-source and water-souce heat pumps in the UK and the air-source combination offered to me in Portugal really seemed a step backwards..... and the ones being offered now in the UK now seem little better. In any casae, the use of retrofit heat pumps to drive "traditional" (for the UK) central heating is also an issue.... as standard steel radiators really don't work well at the lower water temperature supplied..... but people seem unaware of that issue.

As with most things, it is horses for courses and there are very few silver bullets. If what you're offered works for you, then fine..... but there are more and more people now complaining that they have been supplied with the wrong solution, despite the hype. Good luck and DYR.
Yes, it appears highly likely that different countries have different qualities of equipment and technology available, although there may also be a gap between what is being promoted/ available locally "off the shelf", and what is available if you go looking for a "best in class" solution to your needs. I was talking recently to a heating service technician who told me that I should be looking at a lower efficiency gas furnace so that the (waste) heat would carry the water vapour from combustion up the chimney, even though that would mean replacing the plastic vent with an ugly AF metal stove pipe chimney. And when we replaced our heating system a few years ago we had to push the heating/AC systems company to show us higher efficiency systems, as they seemed more concerned about costs than we were. We also had to push them to upgrade the ductwork and add a second thermostat so that upstairs and downstairs can be set to different temperatures. The previous system was hopeless, with upstairs not being cooled adequately in the summer and it being just about impossible to get downstairs "warm" (I use that term loosely) in the winter, so in our opinion it would have been an utter waste to replace the heating/AC "machinery" without upgrading the ductwork and thermostats.

I can also imagine that trying to graft a heat pump on to a British radiator-based heating system might not work well. It is surely just a happy coincidence that the prevalent forced air heating system across much of the US, other than New England, is perfect for linking to a heat pump, even though I hear that only about 10% of AC systems in the US have the circuits and switches required to make the AC work in reverse as a heat pump during cold weather, so that is a huge wasted opportunity.

Last edited by Pulaski; Sep 15th 2022 at 4:11 pm.
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Old Sep 15th 2022, 4:23 pm
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
Macliam obviously isn't going to be persuaded, but this much is true - the condenser unit is a couple of feet from the house. The refrigerant lines from the condenser connect to the air handler and heat exchanger in the attic, and any noise it makes up there is entirely drowned out by the (slight) noise of air blowing through the ceiling vents.

The bit where I compared it to the noise my fridge makes is a _slight_ exaggeration, but justified IMO because the heatpump is outside whereas the fridge is in my kitchen. And the design is quite different from the condenser units of those made a few years earlier and cheaper systems - it is both larger and much more solid, so a lot heavier and not as susceptible to vibrations and rattles.
I'm in Texas and I have 2 heat pumps for airconditioning/heating and the noise is barely noticeable as Pulaski says. I installed these 4 years ago. Great investments for me as they cut my air con bill by 50% from previous units ( not heat pumps) installed in 2009 by previous owners.
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Old Sep 15th 2022, 4:44 pm
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Default Re: trying to install a heat pump

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
Yes, it appears highly likely that different countries have different qualities of equipment and technology available, although there may also be a gap between what is being promoted/ available locally "off the shelf", and what is available if you go looking for a "best in class" solution to your needs. I was talking recently to a heating service technician who told me that I should be looking at a lower efficiency gas furnace so that the (waste) heat would carry the water vapour from combustion up the chimney, even though that would mean replacing the plastic vent with an ugly AF metal stove pipe chimney. And when we replaced our heating system a few years ago we had to push the heating/AC systems company to show us higher efficiency systems, as they seemed more concerned about costs than we were. We also had to push them to upgrade the ductwork and add a second thermostat so that upstairs and downstairs can be set to different temperatures. The previous system was hopeless, with upstairs not being cooled adequately in the summer and it being just about impossible to get downstairs "warm" (I use that term loosely) in the winter, so in our opinion it would have been an utter waste to replace the heating/AC "machinery" without upgrading the ductwork and thermostats.

I can also imagine that trying to graft a heat pump on to a British radiator-based heating system might not work well. It is surely just a happy coincidence that the prevalent forced air heating system across much of the US, other than New England, is perfect for linking to a heat pump, even though I hear that only about 10% of AC systems in the US have the circuits and switches required to make the AC work in reverse as a heat pump during cold weather, so that is a huge wasted opportunity.
The issue in Portugal is that there are "dangers" in spreading the net too wide..... local is still "best", where best means most likely to be hassle-free. Hence the quality of product - and the quality of advice/work - is dependent on where you are. With regard to you "efficiency" discussion, I remember 40 years ago, visitoing a couple in Ireland who had moved from Denmark. They had imported Danish "technology" which made what was available locally totally obsolete (a solid fuel boiler that burned anything and could take 2 straw bales, a 90% buried, insulated hot water tank, heavy lagging on pipework to minimise heat loss, etc., etc.). They could heat their large house and small factory (for clogs!) for at least 4 days for one day's burn. Amazing.... however, the piece de resistance was a stove in the large country kitchen that was badically a grated base at waist level and a huge cast-iron cowling, like a witches hat. it was so effective that burning a few twigs you could feel the heat across the room..... BUT, if used for anything more the room filled with smoke.... because the cowling extracted so much heat that there was insufficient to drive the smoke through the flue.... whoops!

What gobsmacks me is that in poor, backward Portugal, I was offered a Daikin coupled with a top-quality German dual tank system and Roca alloy radiators, fitted, for around €12k..... whilst in the UK they are suggesting this just to install a heat-pump of lesser quality, coupled to a pre-existing CH system (whilst knowing that it is iunlikely to work properly). I know 2 people who have bought houses (or one whose daughter bought a house) with pre-installed heat-pumps and have found them to be useless (underpowered or problematical)..... and replacement is also a multi thousand cost. So whilst I really think heat pumps are the way forward (I first had experience of them in the 1970s), I think the market needs to "evolve" before it becomes an off-the-shelf solution. Believe me, I wish it were otherwise........

If you have thetechnical experience to assess, design, fit and maintain the system, OK...... otherwise you are hostage to fortune.
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