28 September 2021

Advancements and heat pump developments

Vaillant

We recently had the opportunity to interview the team at Vaillant and they share their thoughts about the air source heat pump market in the UK.

From a manufacturer’s perspective, what is the biggest reservation people have about heat pumps when it comes to replacing oil or gas boilers?
The biggest reservation people have about heat pumps replacing oil or gas boilers is the fear of moving to a new technology. As most homeowners do not fully understand how a heat pump works, like with any alternative technology, if can make us cautious to make a switch. If we look to the introduction of smart phones, it is now the norm to want much more than just calls, with many requiring our phones to be able to take great photos and videos, access the internet and more – that’s normal right? A new normal is also coming within heating, and that is the use of smart tech for heating our homes – heat pumps. We should note, heat pumps are not a new technology – Vaillant have been manufacturing them for over 10 years now – it’s just that they’re not as common as gas or oil boilers in the UK.  

What kind of education should consumers and homeowners be undertaking to learn more about heat pumps?
As a homeowner it is worthwhile noting the major benefits that a heat pump can provide, one of which includes dramatically lowered CO2 emissions, reducing the reliance on carbon fuels like oil and gas. Heat pumps are particularly climate-friendly because they get around 2/3 of their energy from the environment and therefore this is the most climate-friendly way of heating. Heat pumps will reduce energy bills but are more expensive to purchase versus gas boilers; however, heat pumps need to be seen as an investment in our properties and something that will last and be an asset of your home. They also work in a very different way to boilers to generate heat. To learn more about heat pumps, including how the technology works, homeowners can look at manufacturer’s websites or speak to a local renewable installer. Vaillant have an entire section on their homeowner website dedicated to heat pumps and their associated FAQs. You can also follow Vaillant’s dedicated Facebook and Instagram accounts – @VaillantHome – where they post helpful homeowner tips. 

Tell us about how your customer base is structured – do you cater more for commercial or residential?
Vaillant has been setting the standards in the heating market, creating products that have revolutionised the industry, from water heaters in the early 1900s, to pioneering the ‘combi’ boiler. Today, we are as proud to be leading the way in renewable heating technologies, developing systems which utilise sustainable sources of energy. 

As one of Europe’s leading heating manufacturers, ‘thinking ahead’ is a culture which is embraced throughout our business. Our products feature high energy efficiency ratings and low emissions, and come with an enviable reputation for performance, quality and reliability.

We have a wide range of product solutions to cater for different properties and sizes, in both domestic and commercial settings, we would always advise speaking to your local Vaillant installer to find the best solution for your project.

What advancements, developments and features do Vaillant have in the pipeline to improve their heat pumps?
Vaillant were the first heating manufacturer to launch a domestic heat pump using the natural refrigerant (r290). This was big news for the industry as the new, Vaillant aroTHERM plus heat pump which was launched in 2020, has an incredibly low Global Warming Potential (GWP), of just 3. To put this in perspective, a standard heat pump has a GWP of over 2000. We’ve been developing our heat pump portfolio for over 10 years and have a continuous R&D roadmap, which is focusing on even more use of smart technology for better control and management of heating.  

What’s more, in our German headquarters in Remscheid we have invested in a new ‘Johann Vaillant Technology Center’ named after our company founder, with 7,000m² of test space, nine different laboratory areas and 190 test stations. We are taking steps towards a better climate, for our customers and the environment – you can watch our video here.

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about air source heat pumps in the UK among homeowners?
One of the biggest misconceptions about heat pumps is that they are loud. In reality, the low noise level allows the outdoor unit of a Vaillant heat pump to be installed without any disruption, even in housing estates with strict noise restrictions. Vaillant heat pumps are among the quietest on the market and have been awarded the Quiet Mark. To showcase how quiet our heat pumps are, we have created the “Vaillant Soundbox” which simulates the sound of a heat pump within a suburban environment. Try it out for yourself: Listen to the silence here.

Vaiilant ASHP

What makes Vaillant heap pumps different from its competitors?
Vaillant have over 145 years of experience in heating systems across Europe and we manufacture our own products including heat pumps to high levels of quality. We understand the challenges of heating systems in all types of buildings and how they operate with the overall wet heating system components like radiators, underfloor heating and hot water cylinders. We have some of the quietest heat pumps on the market. With great reviews on Trust Pilot giving Vaillant an excellent score, and when paired with our technical and customer service teams, we offer full support for homeowners throughout the entire lifespan of our products. Plus, we were the first traditional heating manufacturer to advertise heat pumps on TV across the UK as we believe in a low carbon future and have a focus on tackling climate change through the decarbonisation of heating.

What is the most unusual or remote heat pump customer Vaillant have had and what unique challenges did the installation pose?
Ake – an 80 year old man who is the single inhabitant of Naimakka, Sweden, took over the running of a weather station from his parents in 1981 and his nearest neighbour was 3km away. Are had been heating his home with just a wood stove. The outside temperatures can drop down to as low as -40C, which often resulted in frozen pipes that he had to thaw out. The unique challenge was getting our heating products and an installer to the installation spot. Vaillant took the challenge of helping Ake create the warmest and cosiest home by installing a flexoTHERM ground source heat pump for him – perfect for this wilderness where a gas boiler isn’t an option.

Why do you think customers should be investing in heat pumps over other forms of heating?
We all know that fossil fuels are not infinite. Plus, with the recent lockdown, it has been clear across the world what impact emissions have on our environment, but also, what great changes can happen if we reduce them. By investing in a heat pump as an asset of your home, you are personally making a change to reduce your household carbon footprint. A heat pump such as the Vaillant aroTHERM plus has zero emissions at point of use, so #whywait?

In your opinion, what are some the challenges that the renewable heating industry will face in the UK?
When a new technology is introduced, we need installers to be able to install it into our homes. Therefore, there is currently a skills gap resulting from the conversion from traditional heating installers, to renewable, low carbon, heating installers. At Vaillant, we’re already making moves to ensure installers are up to date with the latest installation techniques, with a whole host of renewable training courses available.

How do you see the heat pump industry evolving?
Heat pumps as a technology to heat our homes will soon become the norm, maybe faster than most of us realise. In general, the industry will allow homeowners to have more choice and ultimately confidence in upgrading to renewable technology. As with smart phones and even electric cars, what was once a niche are quickly becoming the new normal.

Why did Vaillant make the decision to switch its air source heat pumps to R290 gas?
Vaillant moved to R290 as a refrigerant for a number of reasons, one of the most important being the low GWP rating (global warming potential). Some of the other more technical reasons are the operating pressures and the performance enveloping, in simple terms it is very good at absorbing heat energy from the environment and giving us the temperatures required for heating and hot water. It is flammable, but at Vaillant we have been using flammable gas to heat homes for over 140 years, we have just removed the flame.  

Related posts

What does the future have in store for heat pumps?

Mars

Graham Hendra makes some bold predictions

Mars

Dr. Jan Rosenow talks to us about the future of renewables

Mars

7 comments

Jenny 20 June 2021 at 14:50

Very useful thank you Mars. Does anyone on this forum have experience, that they would be willing to share, of operating one of these newer Vaillant Arotherm heat pumps with the new refrigerant R290 over the last winter?

We are poised to choose between the Grant (R32) and Vaillant (R290) – each installer adamant that their choice of heat pump is best. Out of 5 estimates we now have, 4 would recommend Vaillant but only one recommends Grant. This particular installer, a large company recommending the Grant ASHP, advises that Vaillaint heat pumps only work well as a hybrid with another heating system. However I have seen some terrible reviews for Grant ASHPs (and the one on this hub isn’t great either) and that is not much of a confidence builder.

Reply
Mars 11 September 2021 at 20:33

Have you made a decision on your heat pump Jenny?

Reply
Jenny 12 September 2021 at 08:30

Good morning Mars

Funny that you should ask! Tomorrow is D-Day or HP-Day. Installation begins tomorrow. We are looking forward to moving from electric boilers to the ASHP. I’ve read widely across your blog and hub )which are both great by the way. I’m not deterred by the comments over costs etc. We accepted some time ago that we were going to have to pay more. I believe that electricity prices will settle over time and that those who have opted for renewable energy will benefit.

We have gone for a small local company where both the company directors have recently installed ASHPs in their own homes – a move away from gas. So they are practicing what they preach or sell and install. We will have a Vaillant 12kW pump installed – which they believe is the market leader.

Because we are on a single pipe system we will move to a serial system – so all our underfloor piping is to be replaced. Major job! However the benefit of this is that the heating engineer will also guarantee all our pipework too.

We are busy moving furniture into corners and lifting carpets this weekend (following back to back with a family bereavement so it hasn’t been easy) and we will let you know how it all goes.

Kind regards

Jenny

Reply
Mars 13 September 2021 at 20:22

How exciting. Please update us when your system has been installed.

Reply
Jenny 23 September 2021 at 18:57

After two weeks of full time work by three heating engineers; carpets up, floors up, some 50 dust sheets in use, we now have an amazing all-singing-and-dancing ASHP, new hot water tank, and all the expansion vessels and pipe work that go with this new technology.

The ASHP is a Vaillant Arotherm 12kWh. We think it looks great and, on full power, it is almost silent.

We originally had 5 estimates and eventually decided on contracting a local company to install the work and undertake all the plumbing work.

The whole house was re-piped to ensure that the single pipe system is now double pipe. All floors were lifted again at the end to ensure no leaks in several hundred pipe joins – both copper piping and plastic.

The entire heating system was flushed, cleaned and drained before re-starting from scratch once again.

So far, fingers crossed, it’s all working very well. We didn’t change all our radiators – only those downstairs – so we will wait and see how this works, and the impact on overall ambient temperature, as the evenings draw in and the external temperature drops.

The hot tap water is very hot :-). Depending on how high the ‘desired temperature’ the radiators have so far been hot to the touch but, most of the time, are simply warm to the touch – largely because the outside temperature hasn’t dropped below c. 13 degrees. So far the house temperature has remained very comfortable and our smart meter suggests that we are not spending a fortune.

The real test will be our winter here in the east of Scotland. However, at this stage we are really delighted with our new ASHP.

Reply
Mark 24 September 2021 at 05:47

We have just had an Aerotherm Plus 12kw unit fitted too, time will tell on its efficiency but it is dead quiet and make s lot of hot water for the shower

Reply
Mars 24 September 2021 at 07:31

That’s great to hear Mark. Please keep us updated.

Reply

Leave a Comment

By leaving a comment you agree with the storage and handling of your data by Renewable Heating Hub as outlined in the Terms of Use.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're OK with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More