A cautionary tale of a heat pump gone wrong
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 April 2012 at 9:06 am
"Our Peak district farm offers self-catering accommodation in eco-renovated barns," write Paul & Elspeth Walker. "When we recently developed an adjoining building as a venue for courses and public events it was an opportunity to enhance the alternative energy potential of the site.
"So in 2009 we engaged a specialist company to evaluate the most appropriate system. They carried out what we assumed to be, at the time, a comprehensive survey and recommended a ground-source heat pump.
"What they failed to include were calculations relating to the electricity supply, which is relayed via underground cable some 440 metres from the meter. Over such a distance, this results in a voltage reduction.
"From enquiries made subsequently to several other suppliers, we’ve learned that they all evaluate the adequacy of the electricity supply as an integral part of initial surveys. This wasn’t done for us. At the time we hadn’t realised the importance of this: had we done so an alternative to this heating system would have been chosen. The installers refuse to accept any responsibility for omitting this essential element from their preliminary survey.
"As a result, far from the automatic system we expected, we have to monitor the heat pump daily. Tripping-out is frequent, sometimes requiring re-programming of the machine twice a day.
Anyone considering installing a mains operated heat pump on remote sites should therefore beware, lest they find themselves in a similarly expensive white elephant situation with little chance of remediation."
Appropriately installed, heat pumps can work well, but as the Energy Saving Trust found in its field trials, not all installations come up to scratch. Click the link to read our 12 tips for people thinking of installing a heat pump.
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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