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Space requirements for heat pump solutions

The European Renovation Wave is under way, meaning a large number of older heating and cooling units are currently being replaced with modern heat pump solutions with lower climate impact. However, before a unit is replaced there is an important aspect to consider – the available space for a new heat pump, or a chiller for that matter. 

Very well known, the European Green Deal package of proposals has the target to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. This is a monumental task – not least for the building sector. The renovation of public and private buildings has been singled out as a key initiative to drive energy efficiency in the sector, and it will be essential to deliver on the objectives. The Renovation Wave strategy, published and communicated by the Commission in 2020, aims to double the energy renovation rates over this decade. This presents a challenge for the building sector in general, including the industry of heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC).

One of the three focus areas identified for vast improvements is the decarbonization of heating and cooling in buildings. In order to lower the related emissions, the demand for heat pump solutions to replace for example old-style boilers has risen sharply. Using heat pumps for heating and cooling applications have a number of advantages, mentioned also in earlier blog posts by our experts at Swegon. But here, we would like to address a very important aspect that has to be considered when replacing a unit: the dimensions of the new unit versus the space available. In this area, if nowhere else, size really does matter.

Modern, efficient and high-yield units are often larger in size than the older units they are replacing. This is due to the fact, that to achieve the necessary effect, a large heat exchanger surface is needed. So, if there is a plan to replace a unit, the space where it is to be installed has to be measured to make sure it is large enough.

Worth to notice, units need a clearance space around for maintenance purposes, which becomes relevant during ordinary scheduled service as well as when extraordinary maintenance is needed. The service crew requires at least a minimum amount of space to be able to do their job properly.

Further, air source units may operate at a lower efficiency than optimal if it is located in a space that is too tiny. The space dedicated to the unit on site should be large enough to optimize efficiency and to avoid problems during operation.

If the space intended for the unit is too small, there is no easy fix. It is seldom feasible to enlarge the space in an already built building. But, depending on the setup and the application, it might be solvable by for example installing two smaller units working in tandem instead of a single large one, this is doable thanks to the advanced Bluethink control and System Solutions. We are happy to help explore possible alternatives.

There is also a special case where space will be critical, and that is when a unit is installed which uses a flammable refrigerant – for example R290, based on propane. R290 has a number of advantages, the most prominent is an extremely low Global warming potential (GWP). However, the space regulations for units using propane are stricter than for other types of units that uses non-flammable refrigerants. There are mandatory safety zones to consider, for example distances to doors and electrical equipment.

If you need to replace an older unit, or address a new project, at Swegon we are here to help. We can provide expertise and help examine the specific circumstances of your planned exchange. We can together carefully consider the relevant options before picking a solution, we are here to help you avoid problems along the way. One last comment, although the Renovation Wave is mainly associated with heat pumps, the mentioned aspects also apply to units for cooling. We are experts in that too, contact us and see our range of products here.

Last but not least, we would like to recommend two other blog posts on the topic of Renovation Wave, What is Renovation Wave and how can we make it into a real game changer? and How is ventilation, heating and cooling related to the EU Renovation Wave?