What are Heat Pump Water Heaters?

Heat pump water heater is a well-established technology that provides hot water for bathing. It also removes heat and lowers the temperature of the room where it’s installed. It uses electricity to move the heat to another place using a reverse refrigeration system similar to refrigerators and air conditioners. It can be either a stand-alone water heating system, or used as combination water heating and space cooling. Rather than generate heat directly, it gathers heat from the surrounding air and transfers it into a tank to heat water. Therefore, it can be two to three times more energy efficient than conventional electric resistance water heaters.

Heat pump water heaters do not operate efficiently in cold spaces so it should be installed in a space with warm climate, between 7-32°C, to have enough air to power the heat pump such as the basement or garage. Heat pump water heaters operate very efficiently in the Philippines since our climate temperature usually ranges between 21 °C (70 °F) to 32 °C (90 °F) and we have high humidity. The fan at the top of the Heat Pump Tank Water heater pulls air from the surrounding space through an evaporator. Heat is absorbed from the air by the refrigerant in the evaporator. It runs through a compressor which raises the temperature and pressure. Lastly, the heated refrigerant is passed through the condenser coil around the tank and transfers the heat to the water.


Types of Heat Pump Water Heater

There are 2 types of heat pump water heater: Split Type where storage is separate from the heat pump water heater, and Hybrid Heat Pump Heaters, also known as unitary or mono-bloc heat pump heaters.


Hybrids have the following advantages over split type heat pumps:

  • Reduced installation costs and time

  • Smaller footprint

  • Built-in backup electric elements

  • Multiple operating modes


However, split type heat pump water heaters have the advantage of flexibility, as you can combine larger heat pump modules with multiple storage units.


Source of Heat for Heat Pump Water Heaters

Heat pump water heaters can also be classified based on heat source. Air-to-water heat pumps use ambient heat harvested from the air to produce hot water. Water-to-water heat pump water heaters on the other hand get heat from a hot water source such as steam/hot water boilers and centralized AC chillers.


Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater Operating Modes

Since hybrid heat pump water heaters combine the functions of storage heaters and heat pump heaters in one, they feature multiple operating modes fit for different situations.


During periods of high hot water demand, hybrid water heaters can automatically combine heat pumps and electric heating to provide fast recovery. Other common modes available are the following:

  • Efficiency/Economy – It maximizes energy efficiency and savings by only using the heat pump to heat water, except when air temperature goes below 7 degrees Celsius.

  • Auto/Hybrid – It provides energy-efficient water heating with sustained heat when hot water demand goes up. This is commonly the default factory set operating mode.

  • Electric/Heater – It only uses the electric element to heat water. This high-demand setting is the least energy-efficient. You can use this when there is a problem with the heat pump module.

  • Vacation & Timer (not available on all models) – It is like a sleep mode where you can save energy when away from home until you return.


Heat Pump Water Heater COP and Cost Savings

Although a heat pump heater has a higher initial cost than a conventional storage water heater, choosing a heat pump water heater for your home will actually help you save money throughout the water heater’s life. The heat pump uses heat available inside and outside your home to lower operating costs, offsetting the higher purchase and installation prices. It can save you thousands of pesos monthly and up to 75 percent energy savings compared to ordinary heaters.

The Coefficient of Performance (sometimes known as CP or COP) is a measurement of the efficiency of a heat pump. It tells us the ratio of how much useful heat it can generate with every watt of energy. It determines how effectively a heat pump uses electricity to move heat from place to place. A good COP for heat pump units starts at about 2.0. Any heat pump with above 3 COP automatically is very energy-efficient. The higher the COP value, the higher the efficiency and the lesser the annual cost to operate.


Heat Pump Water Heaters in the Philippines

The Philippines has a high cost of electricity. Since water heaters are among the most energy-intensive home appliances at home, choosing highly efficient water heaters will reduce operational costs. Establishments with steady demand for hot water such as hotels and hospitals have reduced their operational costs by using ultra-high efficiency gas water heaters and commercial heat pump water heaters.

Heat pump water heaters are a good investment in the Philippines due to the country's climate. Heat Pump Water Heaters are the norm for 3-5 star hotels already. In fact, Amici Water Systems, the Philippine distributor of A. O. Smith, a leading water heater manufacturer, has already supplied heat pump water heaters to over 200 major hotels and many homes since 2005, helping customers reduce carbon footprint and expenses. According to This Old House’s plumbing and heating expert, Richard Trethewey, “There’s no question that your existing electric water heater will eventually go south. Replacing it with a heat-pump water heater before that happens just makes good sense.”

Having a Heat Pump Water Heater at home is a great asset. However, it is not always applicable to every home as it depends on the plumbing available, and if there is enough continuous source of ambient heat. Small condominiums, for example, have limited space to install heat pump heaters.

We're happy to help you assess if a Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater is the right fit for your home. A. O. Smith has the widest range of hybrid heat pump water heaters available in the Philippines, from 15 gal 200W hybrid HPW to the 120 gal 2.2kW hybrid CAHP.

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