Avoid the Heat Pump Villain: Why Low-Loss Headers and Buffers Can Sabotage Your Heat Pump’s Efficiency

Heat Pump Villian

Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular as they provide an efficient and eco-friendly way to heat homes, helping us save money and protect the environment. However, to work best, they need the right setup. Sometimes, parts like low-loss headers and buffers, which are supposed to help, can actually reduce the heat pump’s effectiveness. This can lead to less warmth and higher running costs. It’s important to understand why these parts might not always be beneficial and what you can do to get the most out of your heat pump.

The Two Pillars of Heat Pump Prowess

Understanding how heat pumps operate holds the key to optimising their performance. Two fundamental principles guide their efficiency:

1. Low-Temperature Symphony: Think of heat pumps as musicians, capable of raising the temperature of heat, much like conductors orchestrate notes. But here’s the twist: the lower the target temperature, the less energy they need to play their magic. So, aiming for a cosy 20C instead of a sweltering 25C translates to a lighter burden on the system and a lighter burden on your wallet.

2. Flowing River of Warmth: Heat pumps move heat through water flowing through your radiators and/or underfloor heating. Imagine this water as a river, where a smooth, steady current efficiently delivers the thermal energy. Now, picture what happens if you dam the river with restrictions like narrow pipes or sluggish pumps. The flow suffers, and the heat struggles to reach its destination, leaving you feeling chilly despite the pump working overtime.

The Deceitful Decoys

Low-loss headers and buffers are often recommended by many installers and manufacturers as beneficial additions to heat pump systems. They are touted to enhance efficiency and comfort. However, in practice, the benefits they promise may not always materialise as expected. Let’s see why:

Low-Loss Header Trap: These headers aim to minimise heat loss in the pipework, but they often achieve this by reducing the water flow. Remember our river analogy? A constricted header acts like a dam, hindering the smooth flow and consequently, the efficient transfer of heat. This leads to the dreaded high delta T situation – a large difference between the temperature of the water entering and leaving your radiators. It’s like the conductor demanding the orchestra play at full volume while restricting the air to their instruments. The result? Strained performance and disappointing results.

The Buffer’s Misdirection: Buffers are essentially storage tanks for hot water, supposedly providing you with readily available warmth and reducing the heat pump’s workload. But here’s the catch: buffers add complexity and introduce additional heat loss points. They essentially become thermal cul-de-sacs, where some of the precious heat gets trapped and wasted. Additionally, buffers can encourage inefficient on-off cycling of the heat pump, further negating any potential gains.

Beyond the Decoys: A Path to Optimal Performance

So, how do you ensure your heat pump system lives up to its full potential? The key lies in simplicity and a focus on the two core principles we discussed earlier:

1. Embrace the Flow: Ditch the low-loss headers and any other flow-restricting components. Let the water flow freely, like a well-maintained river, ensuring efficient heat transfer throughout your home.

2. Befriend the Low-Temperature Symphony: Ensure your temperature control is managed directly by the heat pump’s controller, as on-off thermostats can be less efficient than a buffer. It’s crucial for the thermostat to be integrated with the system for optimal efficiency, rather than relying on standalone on-off mechanisms.

3. Weather Compensation – Your Wise Companion: Utilise weather compensation, a feature that automatically adjusts the heat pump’s output based on the outdoor temperature. This ensures constant comfort while minimising energy consumption. Think of it as a dynamic conductor, adapting the orchestra’s performance to the changing weather conditions.

4. Delta T – The Fine-Tuning Maestro: Implement delta T control, which fine-tunes the temperature difference between the flow and return water. This further optimises the heat pump’s operation, squeezing out every drop of efficiency. Consider it the musical equivalent of perfect intonation, ensuring a harmonious performance from your heating system.

5. Radiator Harmony: Use thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) only in bedrooms, allowing weather compensation and the heat pump itself to manage the temperature in common areas. This strikes the perfect balance between individual comfort and overall system efficiency.

6. Hot Water Wisdom: Optimise your hot water production too. Let the heat pump controller handle this task. Think of it as a bonus track in the symphony of energy savings.

Avoiding the Heat Pump Villain

Sometimes, navigating the world of heat pump installation can feel like a quest through a confusing landscape. If you’re still daunted, consider buying my book Bodge Buster.

Manufacturers and even some training bodies might recommend setups that prioritise their own interests over your comfort and efficiency. Remember, you’re the homeowner, the conductor of your heating symphony – a poorly installed system not only strains your wallet but also leaves you in the discomfort of a cold home, bearing the full impact of such shortcomings. Don’t hesitate to question proposed designs, seek information from independent sources, and prioritise simplicity and the two core principles of low-temperature operation and optimal flow.

By taking charge and avoiding the deceptive decoys, you can ensure your heat pump delivers the comfort and sustainability you deserve, turning your home into a haven of warmth and energy efficiency. So, banish the monsters and villains, embrace the flow and let your heat pump play its beautiful low-temperature symphony.

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JamesPa
3542 kWhs
1 month ago


Remember, you’re the homeowner,

Well said!
I (and I suspect many others) have met a fair few installers who don’t seem to accept this!

Toodles
3836 kWhs
1 month ago

Thank you Mars, I accept that a LLH may affect the efficiency of the overall efficiency – but how can the average individual who has a system installed with a LLH know whether they would be better off without it? Ripping apart a system that has one such and a secondary pump is a little radical – and is ther any guarantee that the efficiency would improve without these components. Presumably, LLH was a concept with a purpose – is it just to protect the designer and installers? Regards, Toodles.

HughF
2676 kWhs
Reply to  Toodles
1 month ago

@Toodles It is purely there to allow the heat pump to operate without any flow errors… Primary side just sits there running into the header, microbore or TRVs closing don’t have any effect on it.

Toodles
3836 kWhs
Reply to  HughF
1 month ago

@HughF If a system doesn’t have any variable restrictions like TRV’s, would such a system be better able to perform to the optimum without an LLH then? My system has carefully adjusted lockshield valves (constant restrictions in other words) but does have one TRV in a bedroom. There is an LLH and secondary pump – I was told this means achieving a Delta T of 5 degrees across the radiators is not crucial as the LLH is acting as an intermediary. Regards, Toodles.

Marzipan71
943 kWhs
Reply to  Toodles
1 month ago

Hi @Toodles don’t know if you’ve seen them before but there a couple of articles which may be of interest from Protons for Breakfast regarding his system performance before and after removal of the LLH (I have a LLH on my Daikin ASHP) – links here and here

Toodles
3836 kWhs
Reply to  Marzipan71
1 month ago

@Marzipan71 Thanks very much Marzipan, very interesting indeed. I think that that data excuses my uncertainty of LLH – Good or Bad? Regards, Toodles.

Derek M
Editor
12812 kWhs
Reply to  Marzipan71
1 month ago

Hi @Toodles don’t know if you’ve seen them before but there a couple of articles which may be of interest from Protons for Breakfast regarding his system performance before and after removal of the LLH (I have a LLH on my Daikin ASHP) – links here and here

Having looked at the two articles, I think that the author seems to be arriving at conclusions on very limited data.

I also note with interest that he appears to have failed to appreciate the reason why the IAT increased to 22C after the LLH was removed, the transfer of thermal energy was much improved, so the LWT was now higher than required. Had he lowered the WC curve to lower the IAT, I think that he would achieved an increase in efficiency and higher COP.

 

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
Reply to  Toodles
1 month ago


Thank you Mars, I accept that a LLH may affect the efficiency of the overall efficiency – but how can the average individual who has a system installed with a LLH know whether they would be better off without it? Ripping apart a system that has one such and a secondary pump is a little radical – and is ther any guarantee that the efficiency would improve without these components. Presumably, LLH was a concept with a purpose – is it just to protect the designer and installers? Regards, Toodles.

It’s a fair question
There are two approaches to answering it I can think of.
1.  Measure the flow-flow temperature drop across the llh.  For each degree you are losing 2-3% system efficiency.
2.  Plumb in  bypasses for the llh on the flow side and for the secondary pump with a couple of manual diverter valves so you can switch them in and out.  Perform the experiment 

Presumably, LLH was a concept with a purpose – is it just to protect the designer and installers?

In most cases it seems, yes.

@Toodles It is purely there to allow the heat pump to operate without any flow errors… Primary side just sits there running into the header, microbore or TRVs closing don’t have any effect on it

One might reasonably ask, why is the heat pump designed to register them as errors.  Answer – because the situation shouldn’t occur. 
Putting sticking plaster over a red warning light doesn’t make the problem go away.  However it does reduce the liklihood of call outs.  Now who does that help?

Judith
268 kWhs
Reply to  Toodles
1 month ago

@Toodles
graham hendra wrote an article on why llhs used to be needed and aren’t needed any more
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/update-ultimate-heat-pump-why-do-we-use-low-loss-header-graham-hendra/ Or at least that’s how I understood the article he’ obviously one of the experts! Been there, done that!

Toodles
3836 kWhs
Reply to  Judith
1 month ago

@Judith Very interesting, it rather sounds as though the installers need to update their knowledge of modern products then they might take advantage of the latest designs and we could all benefit in the long run. Regards, (and thanks) Toodles.

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
Reply to  Judith
1 month ago


@Toodles
graham hendra wrote an article on why llhs used to be needed and aren’t needed any more
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/update-ultimate-heat-pump-why-do-we-use-low-loss-header-graham-hendra/ Or at least that’s how I understood the article he’ obviously one of the experts! Been there, done that!

It’s both very refreshing and somewhat depressing to read this. Assuming I understand it correctly there is an admission that LLHs were added principally to stop tech support calls, with the justification that installers got the set up that would, even then, have worked without a LLH wrong.  I don’t think we have reason to doubt the rationale, although some installers may consider it a bit of a slur. 
Then there follows a clear statement that things have changed in the product world, and they are no longer necessary. 
There is an element of coming clean (excellent) but also an element of we were doing a bad thing, we knew it, but it was someone else’s fault (not so good).
What is unequivocally good is that its out in the open.

prjohn
553 kWhs
1 month ago

Are all Low Loss Headers bad? Mine was fitted as per Samsung schematics. This I would imagine would remain part of the warranty agreement. The effect on my system seems to be negligible. I did discusses this at a resent service and the engineer comment was “if its not broken don’t fix it". As my efficiency appears to be high, 2288kw/h energy use over a year as opposed to 1700litres (17000kw/h) of oil it seems my system is working OK. Another point is if by removing the LLH increases efficiency could it have an effect on the size of HP fitted? One other point, can a LLH act as a debris trap for older heating system thereby protecting the HP?

Toodles
3836 kWhs
Reply to  prjohn
1 month ago

@prjohn Ooooh! Mars! Did you consider you might be opening a massive can of worms with this topic?! ;-)))

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
Reply to  Mars
1 month ago



@prjohn Ooooh! Mars! Did you consider you might be opening a massive can of worms with this topic?! ;-)))

Always good to have discussions about topics like this.
 

And as i point out above, its easy to work out roughly how much its costing.  Measure the flow to flow temperature drop across the llh and reckon on 2-3% loss in system efficiency per degree (if you want to be more precise, refer to the cop vs ft curves in the databook for youe machine).  Add a few 10s of W for the second pump.
If you are happy with this leave the llh in place.  If you are not then remove or bypass it.
 

Mike H
973 kWhs
Reply to  Mars
1 month ago

@Mars Here is a  graph of temperatures taken from my 4 pipe buffer tank ( before it was removed). You can see that Delta T between Buffer in (LWT) and Buffer return (RWT) is similar to the Delta T between Buffer out (to the radiators) and Radiator return (back to the buffer from the radiators). I take that to suggest that the flow rates in the primary and secondary circuits are similar. Nevertheless, there is a 4-5 degC difference between LWT from the Samsung and the temperature of the water going to the radiators. That in itself reduces efficiency and increases costs by around 12%.
Protons for breakfast found that removal of his LLH didn’t make much difference, but I wonder if his LLH was tall and thin as opposed to my buffer tank which was short and stout. There is only a couple of inches between the pipes in my buffer tank, so mixing is inevitable.

Buffer tank temperatures

Buffer tank

 

Derek M
Editor
12812 kWhs
Reply to  Mike H
1 month ago

@Mars Here is a  graph of temperatures taken from my 4 pipe buffer tank ( before it was removed). You can see that Delta T between Buffer in (LWT) and Buffer return (RWT) is similar to the Delta T between Buffer out (to the radiators) and Radiator return (back to the buffer from the radiators). I take that to suggest that the flow rates in the primary and secondary circuits are similar. Nevertheless, there is a 4-5 degC difference between LWT from the Samsung and the temperature of the water going to the radiators. That in itself reduces efficiency and increases costs by around 12%.

Protons for breakfast found that removal of his LLH didn’t make much difference, but I wonder if his LLH was tall and thin as opposed to my buffer tank which was short and stout. There is only a couple of inches between the pipes in my buffer tank, so mixing is inevitable.

Buffer tank temperatures

Buffer tank

 

A simple remedy would be to re-pipe your buffer to make it into a volumiser in the return leg to the heat pump.

 

cathodeRay
Editor
6509 kWhs
Reply to  Mars
1 month ago

@Mars – interesting. If I may also borrow a quote and refer it to @Derek M:

This leads us to a critical point regarding the testing practices of heat pump manufacturers in the UK. While the performance and efficiency numbers they publish are derived from standardised testing conditions for consistency and reliability in comparing various models, the specifics of whether these tests include LLHs and buffer tanks are often not detailed in the general product literature.

According to information I’ve received from sources well-informed about the industry, most of these test setups do not incorporate LLHs or buffer tanks. Despite this, manufacturers frequently recommend their inclusion in actual installations. This discrepancy suggests that the performance results achieved in real-world settings may not align precisely with the published data, as the test conditions under which these figures are obtained do not fully mirror the recommended installation setups.

I think this may be one of the problems encountered when modelling heat pump behaviour based on manufacturer data. The manufacturers quote efficacy (what can be achieved in ideal circs eg in a lab/RCT), whereas in the real world we get effectiveness (what can be achieved in practice, in the real world, where ‘stuff happens’). In medicine, the two are often very different, and I think the same might apply to heat pumps: what the labs predict is not what you get. And that’s before incorporating the PHE throttling effect (which is after all just another what you get in practice effect). 

Toodles
3836 kWhs
Reply to  Mars
1 month ago

@Mars Indeed, manufacturers of most devices have their own methods of measurement that do not always relate well to ‘real world’ situations; they provide a rough guide that should be taken with generous pinches of salt I think. OK, the last three days may not be typical of UK winter weather as it has been rather milder than of late. I attach a graph where I have just left in the (what I believe) salient pieces of data for the Daikin heat pump performance. The COP has just exceeded 4 whereas Daikin might have one believe that it might perform with a rather higher figure. There’s is an aspiration – mine was the achieved performance (with a LLH that they probably weren’t employing)! Regards, Toodles.

IMG 0543
JamesPa
3542 kWhs
Reply to  Mars
1 month ago


@cathodeRay, in addition to what you’ve mentioned above, the discrepancy between the performance and efficiency data cited by heat pump manufacturers (and by extension, the MCS) and the actual achievable outcomes in real-world installations is thought-provoking. This situation seems akin to the notable issue observed in the automotive industry, specifically the car emissions scandal, where the performance reported under test conditions did not accurately reflect real-world operation.
The heart of the issue lies in the testing environments and methodologies used by heat pump manufacturers. These tests are often conducted under idealised or controlled conditions that may not fully represent the typical installation scenarios or everyday usage patterns. Consequently, the efficiency and performance figures obtained in these test environments can be significantly higher than what a user might realistically experience.
Given the importance of time and resource efficiency in today’s world, it would indeed be revealing and beneficial if manufacturers could provide more transparency about their testing environments. Understanding the specifics of these test setups, including the conditions and parameters used, could offer valuable insights into how these figures are derived and their applicability to real-world settings.
This level of disclosure would not only aid consumers in making more informed decisions but could also push the industry towards more realistic and practical performance benchmarks. Our heat pump’s performance does not remotely match the numbers the heat pump is capable of according to the manufacturer. It would encourage a move away from idealised figures and towards data that better reflects the varied and sometimes challenging conditions of actual installations.
A call for greater transparency and realism in the performance data provided by heat pump manufacturers is not just about ensuring consumer trust; it’s also about aligning industry practices with real-world applications and expectations. Just as the automotive industry had to confront and adapt to the revelations of the emissions scandal, the heat pump industry could benefit from a similar shift towards greater honesty and clarity in its performance reporting.

 
In fairness to the manufacturers I think that most of the critical tests are done to BS/EU standards, and they generally quote the numbers.  The standards themselves will specify the test method/environment.  I cant see why they would include a buffer tank/llh unless its a mandatory part of the installation according to the manufacturer.
How many heat pump manufacturers actually insist on system separation in their installation manual.  From my recollection of when I read most of the manuals (about a year ago so my recollection is now imperfect).  Some show one in a diagram which also includes a backup boiler (so basically an all-options diagram), in this case its clear that some form of separation is required, but is it fair to infer that the same applies when there is no backup boiler.   I think its been more the installation industry that has pushed this approach because it eliminates a potential source of call out.  
 

Derek M
Editor
12812 kWhs
Reply to  cathodeRay
1 month ago

@Mars – interesting. If I may also borrow a quote and refer it to @Derek M:

This leads us to a critical point regarding the testing practices of heat pump manufacturers in the UK. While the performance and efficiency numbers they publish are derived from standardised testing conditions for consistency and reliability in comparing various models, the specifics of whether these tests include LLHs and buffer tanks are often not detailed in the general product literature.

According to information I’ve received from sources well-informed about the industry, most of these test setups do not incorporate LLHs or buffer tanks. Despite this, manufacturers frequently recommend their inclusion in actual installations. This discrepancy suggests that the performance results achieved in real-world settings may not align precisely with the published data, as the test conditions under which these figures are obtained do not fully mirror the recommended installation setups.

I think this may be one of the problems encountered when modelling heat pump behaviour based on manufacturer data. The manufacturers quote efficacy (what can be achieved in ideal circs eg in a lab/RCT), whereas in the real world we get effectiveness (what can be achieved in practice, in the real world, where ‘stuff happens’). In medicine, the two are often very different, and I think the same might apply to heat pumps: what the labs predict is not what you get. And that’s before incorporating the PHE throttling effect (which is after all just another what you get in practice effect). 

That is precisely why when modelling heating systems, not just the heat pump data should be part of the overall equation. It is also necessary to incorporate the effect from additional equipment and the limitations of the overall system design.

 

Derek M
Editor
12812 kWhs
Reply to  cathodeRay
1 month ago

@Mars – interesting. If I may also borrow a quote and refer it to @Derek M:

This leads us to a critical point regarding the testing practices of heat pump manufacturers in the UK. While the performance and efficiency numbers they publish are derived from standardised testing conditions for consistency and reliability in comparing various models, the specifics of whether these tests include LLHs and buffer tanks are often not detailed in the general product literature.

According to information I’ve received from sources well-informed about the industry, most of these test setups do not incorporate LLHs or buffer tanks. Despite this, manufacturers frequently recommend their inclusion in actual installations. This discrepancy suggests that the performance results achieved in real-world settings may not align precisely with the published data, as the test conditions under which these figures are obtained do not fully mirror the recommended installation setups.

I think this may be one of the problems encountered when modelling heat pump behaviour based on manufacturer data. The manufacturers quote efficacy (what can be achieved in ideal circs eg in a lab/RCT), whereas in the real world we get effectiveness (what can be achieved in practice, in the real world, where ‘stuff happens’). In medicine, the two are often very different, and I think the same might apply to heat pumps: what the labs predict is not what you get. And that’s before incorporating the PHE throttling effect (which is after all just another what you get in practice effect). 

You are indeed correct, because in the real World installers include buffer tanks, LLH’s or PHE’s that are not normally required.

The other point to remember is that they are testing the heat pump, not a heating system.

 

cathodeRay
Editor
6509 kWhs
1 month ago

There are low loss headers, damned buffers, and then there are plate heat exchangers. The usual Freedom wording for Freedom based Midea (and Samsung?) systems/installations appears to consider these one and the same, the point being hydraulic separation, not how it is achieved (though how a two pipe buffer achieves this is beyond me unless they have to be four pipe buffers). This is from the Freedom Midea installation manual:

“Every system must have hydraulic separation between the primary (heat pump) and secondary (heating circuit) pipe work.
This can be via a buffer tank, low loss header or plate heat exchanger. If you install the unit without hydraulic separation, you will void the warranty."

I’m pretty sure GH wrote that. It is useful, insofar as it hints at why they are essential (at least as far as keeping your warranty): the system “must have hydraulic separation between the primary (heat pump) and secondary (heating circuit) pipe work". That just leaves the question: why must it have hydraulic separation?

Moving on, and this is I think what @Toodles is getting at (as well as pointing out that changing the system by ripping bits out is disruptive), there is also a valid question as to whether in some way the the devices might also have benefits to the end user. Less glycol in my PHE setup is one possibility, no ex radiator crud flowing through the heat pump is another. There may be others.

That said, I am clear in my mind that my current PHE setup almost certainly throttles my system significantly when heat demand is high, though I do note @marzipan71’s links to posts showing the removal of a LLH (not a PHE) appears to have made no difference.

I just want to be sure that removing my PHE won’t (a) make no difference (as in @marzipan71’s links, though in that case it was a LLH) and (b) cause unwanted effects.

Incidentally, no reply yet from Freedom to my email asking about the details of my PHE. 

Mike H
973 kWhs
1 month ago


2-3% loss in system efficiency per degree

And it is like compound interest, not just additive.

cathodeRay
Editor
6509 kWhs
1 month ago

How many heat pump manufacturers actually insist on system separation in their installation manual.

See my earlier quote (1:15pm) from the Freedom Midea Installation Manual (from 2022). The word used is ‘must’ (have hydraulic separation). I rather suspect if there is an equivalent Freedom Installation Manual for Samsung heat pumps, it may well say the same thing, or something very similar.

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
Reply to  cathodeRay
1 month ago

Thats from Freedom, what does the OEM actually say
Here is the system diagram from page 4 of the Midea manual.  No buffer tank, LLH or PHE in sight.
 

image
iancalderbank
3454 kWhs
1 month ago

I think the difference between testbed and realworld here vs others is that in say cars, you could never get the MPG advertised (although now there are more realistic test standards that give usable (ish) numbers).
But in this case the HP testbeds are all openloop (its not a secret) and you CAN get those numbers if you build a real world system that way.  if you build with a buffer or llh or phe you will get a few % off parity at best, if it is engineered well (or you get lucky). If not, then a lot of % off. clearly we have both ends of that spectrum here, some are happy (ish), some are unhappy. 
I also studied lots of vendor schematics and documents, and publications and youtubes from people who know what they are talking about . none of them say “you must have a buffer/llh/phe". the only reason the situation that has come about with them still being put in by default, is, as far as I can tell, is as a legacy of the earlier installer “rules of thumb" where they were all paranoid about getting flow rate issues causing the HP to error, so they’d mitigate that with one of these devices, and somehow its stuck. Only certain installers (plus most/all of the DIY’ers) are confident enough to go against this.
Take a look at the heatpumpmonitor.org system list, set “hydraulic separation" to on in the display, and sort by COP. The distribution isn’t perfect, and there are plenty of other reasons why one system can perform better than another as we know,  but there is still a significant bias towards those with LLH/Buffer being lower down the list and those with None being higher. QED.
the other issues mentioned as reasons to keep these devices , aren’t. dirt – use a suitable low resistance filter. freezing – antifreeze valves.
the only reasons IMO to keep / put in those devices in a domestic setup are if

its already in, your system is performing reasonably well and the cost/hassle of removing it for a slightly better performance isn’t worth it
you have more complex system than usual which genuinely requires hydraulic separation . e.g. multiple heat sources. A real “buffer tank" (i.e. a big one , capable of storing a lot of heat) has a use case here as well, if one heat source is uncontrolled. 

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
Reply to  iancalderbank
1 month ago

Spot on IMHO and my studying, like yours, of manuals, posts and the various other info available.
 

cathodeRay
Editor
6509 kWhs
1 month ago

Thats from Freedom, what does the OEM actually say

Here is the system diagram from page 4 of the Midea manual.  No buffer tank, LLH or PHE in sight.

This is a variation on efficacy vs effectiveness. That’s what Midea say in their ‘ideal’ manual. In the real world, stuff happens, Freedom offer training courses and provide installation manuals, and that is what the installers use. Why wouldn’t they? Freedom are a major supplier, surely they know what they are talking about?

You will have to ask Freedom why they varied the spec from the Midea manual.

 

Derek M
Editor
12812 kWhs
Reply to  cathodeRay
1 month ago

Thats from Freedom, what does the OEM actually say

Here is the system diagram from page 4 of the Midea manual.  No buffer tank, LLH or PHE in sight.

This is a variation on efficacy vs effectiveness. That’s what Midea say in their ‘ideal’ manual. In the real world, stuff happens, Freedom offer training courses and provide installation manuals, and that is what the installers use. Why wouldn’t they? Freedom are a major supplier, surely they know what they are talking about?

You will have to ask Freedom why they varied the spec from the Midea manual.

 

I suspect the problem relates to the fact that as far as I am aware TRV’s still have to be installed on heating systems, which was the norm with gas and oil boilers.

Heat pumps work much better without TRV’s or on – off type controls, but many are still included, because that is how it was always done for the past umpteen years.

So to prevent their ‘trained’ installers getting loads of call-outs because of low flow when the TRV’s started shutting down, Freedom decided it was necessary to insist on hydraulic separation, rather than produce correctly designed systems and train the installers correctly.

Maybe if they start loosing business due to all the free publicity they are getting then they may start doing their job correctly.

 

cathodeRay
Editor
6509 kWhs
1 month ago

Spot on IMHO and my studying, like yours, of manuals, posts and the various other info available.

But it is just unrealistic to expect most people in the real world to do this. And there is a related question, should they be expected to do it?

iancalderbank
3454 kWhs
Reply to  cathodeRay
1 month ago


But it is just unrealistic to expect most people in the real world to do this. And there is a related question, should they be expected to do it?

no of course end users shouldn’t be doing this. Installers should. Installers should be MADE to put in systems that perform properly and held liable (not paid) if they don’t (perform properly). 
In your case, freedom put their own rules around the system, in to protect themselves from “low flow" callbacks. plus someone underspecced the PHE. So you’ve ended up with a system design that would have worked within a few % if it was well engineered, but its NOT well engineered (the aforementioned PHE). Bizarrely you might have actually done better with an LLH! This is all unfortunate obviously for you and you have my sympathy, but doesn’t change my view on the bigger picture.
 

cathodeRay
Editor
6509 kWhs
1 month ago

Take a look at the heatpumpmonitor.org system list, set “hydraulic separation" to on in the display, and sort by COP. The distribution isn’t perfect, and there are plenty of other reasons why one system can perform better than another as we know,  but there is still a significant bias towards those with LLH/Buffer being lower down the list and those with None being higher. QED.

Interesting, I’ve just done what you suggest, but I don’t think it gets near a QED threshold, and as we all know, and you say (‘plenty of other reason’),  association isn’t causation.

I can absolutely see how a PHE (which is what I have) throttles output, it can only transfer what it can transfer, and is the throughout is less than that needed, then the system is throttled. But I am not sure that it necessarily impairs efficiency.  

iancalderbank
3454 kWhs
Reply to  cathodeRay
1 month ago


 But I am not sure that it necessarily impairs efficiency.  

It does. I do not claim to be the world authority on PHE’s but if you read the public explanations of how they work, full efficiency running a HP across a PHE is physically impossible in the context of what we’re talking about – you can’t get the output hot to exactly the same temperature as the input hot. you can move all the heat energy, but it’ll always be degraded a bit on the output side. which must have cost you some efficiency in the HP.
whereas a straight piece of pipe doesn’t have any system loss just a tiny bit of thermal (but we’re assuming both systems are well insulated so that negates).
It gets harder to engineer, the smaller the DT, the bigger PHE you need. The issue with yours is more that its undersized. if it had been sized right we’d probably not be having this debate, the few % inefficiency would be a non-issue because your house would be warm.
 
 

cathodeRay
Editor
6509 kWhs
Reply to  iancalderbank
1 month ago

It does

I’m still sure about this, I think we might be mixing up throughput with efficiency. Consider the PHE as a form of obstruction: it restricts throughput. Even if the heat pump can produce 11kW, and the PHE can only throughput 8kW, then you have, in effect, my situation, with the heat pump reacting by only producing 8kW. A bit like trying to blow down a very small bore pipe. Your lungs can produce enough airflow to blow out candles six feet away, but the small bore pipe restricts the flow, and you only can only blow out one candle three feet away. But does that mean your lungs are now less efficient? Less capable, certainly, but less efficient? I can imagine something similar with a heat pump: its output is restricted, but it can still produce that lower output efficiently. 

comes with the requirement to bend yourself double in a confined space, whilst being looked down upon by a sector of the British public.  Not the greatest incentive for a bright young graduate.  

Nicely put.

iancalderbank
3454 kWhs
Reply to  cathodeRay
1 month ago


I’m still sure about this, I think we might be mixing up throughput with efficiency. Consider the PHE as a form of obstruction: it restricts throughput. Even if the heat pump can produce 11kW, and the PHE can only throughput 8kW, then you have, in effect, my situation, with the heat pump reacting by only producing 8kW. A bit like trying to blow down a very small bore pipe. Your lungs can produce enough airflow to blow out candles six feet away, but the small bore pipe restricts the flow, and you only can only blow out one candle three feet away. But does that mean your lungs are now less efficient? Less capable, certainly, but less efficient? I can imagine something similar with a heat pump: its output is restricted, but it can still produce that lower output efficiently. 

and I am still sure also. we just need to be clear we are talking about the right things:

 your system has a throughput problem, because of the undersized PHE.
 because it has a PHE in it, it has an efficiency loss due to the temp drop across the PHE. Thats physics, it can’t not be there. But that isn’t your main issue because that problem is almost entirely masked by the first one.

Any system with a PHE (or llh, or buffer) in it will have problem #2. To varying levels depending on the quality of the engineering. In some systems its awful. In some , its acceptable.
An open loop system would also have a throughput problem if the pipes were too small and it wouldn’t work properly. that’d be equivalent to problem 1 above. But it would never have the “efficiency loss due to enforced temperature drop" problem (2).
 

cathodeRay
Editor
6509 kWhs
1 month ago

plus someone underspecced the PHE

I’m pretty sure this was Freedom. In effect, as I understand it, they supply an installation kit, and the installer installs what is in the kit. I’ve mentioned this before, I am pretty sure I asked my installer at installation time how the PHE was sized, and I think – it’s two years ago now – that his reply was Freedom supply a generic one, large enough to cover most installations. 

I do wonder if part of the problem is that heat installation as done in this country seems to be largely done as a trade, and trades persons don’t as a rule get involved with serious (engineering) design, only basic stuff, which heat pumps definitely are not. This creates a vacuum into which suppliers can step: here’s our half day training course, we’ll have you up to speed in no time, we’ll even give you a kit of parts and an installation manual, and Bob’s your uncle. Add in a gutless toothless regulation system, and before you know it, we have what we have.

Again, it is back to the real world. Most car mechanics don’t have degrees in physics, and neither do most heat pump installers (so do, I know). It would take a huge effort to change that, and off the top of my head, right now I can’t see a way to do it. 

      

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
1 month ago

 


I do wonder if part of the problem is that heat installation as done in this country seems to be largely done as a trade, and trades persons don’t as a rule get involved with serious (engineering) design, only basic stuff, which heat pumps definitely are not. This creates a vacuum into which suppliers can step: here’s our half day training course, we’ll have you up to speed in no time, we’ll even give you a kit of parts and an installation manual, and Bob’s your uncle. Add in a gutless toothless regulation system, and before you know it, we have what we have.

Agree.  Doubly so with retrofits, where system design in the context of the specific house is the key to an implementation which is effective, cost effective, and efficient.  Of course there are good suppliers as well as good installers, but sadly not sufficient at present.

Again, it is back to the real world. Most car mechanics don’t have degrees in physics, and neither do most heat pump installers (so do, I know). It would take a huge effort to change that, and off the top of my head, right now I can’t see a way to do it. 

I don’t think you need a degree in physics (although it probably helps), but you do need engineering skills to do the system design and problem solving.  Many plumbers are essentially fitters, very skilled at what they do but not able to do the engineering.  Unfortunately the system engineering and problem solving associated with plumbing, which I think is inherently interesting, comes with the requirement to bend yourself double in a confined space, whilst being looked down upon by a sector of the British public.  Not the greatest incentive for a bright young graduate.  
 

Freedom are a major supplier, surely they know what they are talking about?

An interesting assumption, to say the least!  But lets suppose its true, you still have to question what they optimise for.  

Posted by: @cathodeRay

 But I am not sure that it necessarily impairs efficiency.  
 

 
It does. I do not claim to be the world authority on PHE’s but if you read the public explanations of how they work, full efficiency running a HP across a PHE is physically impossible in the context of what we’re talking about – you can’t get the output hot to exactly the same temperature as the input hot. you can move all the heat energy, but it’ll always be degraded a bit on the output side. which must have cost you some efficiency in the HP.
whereas a straight piece of pipe doesn’t have any system loss just a tiny bit of thermal (but we’re assuming both systems are well insulated so that negates).
It gets harder to engineer, the smaller the DT, the bigger PHE you need. The issue with yours is more that its undersized. if it had been sized right we’d probably not be having this debate, the few % inefficiency would be a non-issue because your house would be warm.


If there is a temperature drop flow-flow across the PHE/buffer/LLH it must impair system efficiency because it requires you to increase the flow temperature from the heat pump to achieve the necessary flow temp at the emitters.  System efficiency drops with increased flow temperature, its in the thermodynamics and the manufacturers data tables.  

iancalderbank
3454 kWhs
Reply to  JamesPa
1 month ago


I don’t think you need a degree in physics (although it probably helps), but you do need engineering skills to do the system design and problem solving.  Many plumbers are essentially fitters, very skilled at what they do but not able to do the engineering.  Unfortunately the system engineering and problem solving associated with plumbing, which I think is inherently interesting, comes with the requirement to bend yourself double in a confined space, whilst being looked down upon by a sector of the British public.  Not the greatest incentive for a bright young graduate.  

agree. I’ve always thought a mandatory qualification for a plumber is to be wiry, with very strong but thin arms. had one once who was my build (flanker) and he always sent his scrum-half build apprentice into the tight spots.  very skilled fitters as you say. But none of them was ever what I’d call a heating engineer, always at a loss when I wanted to discuss detailed system design . They would rely on vendor supplied information… which is where the likes of Freedom, Midsummer, Joule etc come in . The conjoining of it with the role of bathroom fitter doesn’t make for an interesting path for an technical graduate either.
digressing but I’ve pondered several times if there’s a way to combine my engineering/physics/system design skills with those of the young plumber down the road who is merrily servicing / fitting combi’s all day every day. can’t think of a way that actually works though.
 

cathodeRay
Editor
6509 kWhs
1 month ago

An interesting assumption, to say the least! 

It was a rhetorical question (? at the end), not an assumption!

If there is a temperature drop flow-flow across the PHE/buffer/LLH it must impair system efficiency because it requires you to increase the flow temperature from the heat pump to achieve the necessary flow temp at the emitters.

Yes, I get that, but how large is that loss percentage-wise? The throttling effect reduces say 11kW to 8kW – a 27% reduction. I suspect the blockage is the main problem, not the agreed but possibly not very large drop in efficiency. Again, I am distinguishing between throughput on the one hand and efficiency on the other. 

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
1 month ago

reposted because it got out of sequence somehow
 


Yes, I get that, but how large is that loss percentage-wise? The throttling effect reduces say 11kW to 8kW – a 27% reduction. I suspect the blockage is the main problem, not the agreed but possibly not very large drop in efficiency. Again, I am distinguishing between throughput on the one hand and efficiency on the other.

As stated upthread about 2-3% per deg C, but if you want an accurate number check your systems data tables.
Throttling is a different phenomenon which may (will) in addition cause a further loss in efficiency because water is being recirculated through the heat pump without doing anything useful and you cant get owt for nowt.  However I don’t have a figure for this effect and as you say its probably not the main downside of throttling.
 

cathodeRay
Editor
6509 kWhs
1 month ago

But that isn’t your main issue because that problem is almost entirely masked by the first one.

Which is the point I was trying to make using lay language. The throttle effect (at 11 down to 8 kW) is around 27%, the efficiency losses are (much?) less. Taking @jamespa’s 2-3% per degrees C (between primary in and secondary out, I presume, which most of the time was between 1 and 2 degrees last time I took measurements) then the efficiency losses are say 2.5-5%.

An open loop system would also have a throughput problem if the pipes were too small

This is the same as my blowing through a small bore pipe analogy. It is not a loss as such, or an efficiency question, but rather simply a failure to deliver.

I do get it, but in my non-physics trained mind I see two problems (as you do) but conceptualise them slightly differently: the first, and more important problem is an obstruction to flow, the second is efficiency losses that arise from the heat pump having to work harder to get the same water temp at the rads. 

Still no reply from Freedom Heat Pumps on details of my PHE.  

iancalderbank
3454 kWhs
Reply to  cathodeRay
1 month ago


Which is the point I was trying to make using lay language. The throttle effect (at 11 down to 8 kW) is around 27%, the efficiency losses are 2.5%….

ok, we’re in violent agreement 🙂

This is the same as my blowing through a small bore pipe analogy.

amusing complete off topic… I happen to be Bass Trombone player in my leisure time. you can get a lot of energy down a small pipe if done right 😉
 
 

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
1 month ago


digressing but I’ve pondered several times if there’s a way to combine my engineering/physics/system design skills with those of the young plumber down the road who is merrily servicing / fitting combi’s all day every day. can’t think of a way that actually works though.  

To some extent you are doing that by contributing to this forum.  I have also wondered the same (but am enjoying being retired too much to want to commit at the present time).  There are a couple pf people out there who are doing exactly that, albeit doing some plumbing as well, but trying to find ways to outsource this bit.  
In general building we have Structural engineers, Architects and Builders.  They manage to work together.  The customer often contracts separately with them (for very good reason).  
MCS mandates that your contract for the design and installation is with a single person (just saying!).

cathodeRay
Editor
6509 kWhs
1 month ago

can’t think of a way that actually works though.

 

It may take two separate people.  In building we have Structural engineers, Architects and Builders.  They manage to work together.  The customer often contracts separately with them (for very good reason).  MCS mandates that your contract for the design and installation is with a single person (just saying!).

I think it’s called market forces, the efficiency of markets, or whatever those who work in the field that makes astrology look reputable call it these days. There’s nothing to stop firms that have an engineering department and a fitting department providing both sides of the equation – I’m not sure you really need the added complexity of multiple contracts – except that the engineering department is an unnecessary expense if Freedom et al are willing to step in provide a quasi-engineering department, in the form of their spreadsheet, along with their training, handy videos and installation kits.

I can’t think of another household or other purchase that requires potentially a lot of engineering input at the design stage, and then a considerable amount of fitting work to be done at the installation stage. Maybe the industry needs to think about new ways of working, though I have to add that in medicine any medical report that has new ways of working in the title usually means new ways of putting your feet up.    

Alec Morrow
1294 kWhs
1 month ago

Really it’s system dependent, as we learn how few KWS we really need there are going to be proportionately bigger pipe layouts that the heat pump pump can’t cope with..1200 lph just won’t satisfy a system need 1800 lph

And it’s a brave person who poo poos system designs from manufacturers, and it’s cynical to think global manufacturers add things unnecessaryily. But I will grant you this, the very same manufacturers are doing a piss poor job educating installers and the public..

Derek M
Editor
12812 kWhs
1 month ago

Hi Everyone,

It is strange how the same issues seem to pop up on the forum, it must be well over one year ago when CR and I were discussion the problem of having a PHE installed in his system, and my suggestion that he should consider having it removed.

Judith
268 kWhs
Reply to  Derek M
1 month ago

@Derek M and all
We are at the getting to grips with quotes etc stage. When our extension is finished (and only then, and if we can face more disruption) in the spring we’re going for a ashp install. Neighbours have recommended their installer but looking at their web site (and our neighbours) they also install large buffer tanks (possibly piped as 4 port can’t recall, need to go round again) plus a llh for their ufh.
So how do you prevent an installer putting in all of the extra stuff, other than going with someone else.
I realise from this forum and others that an open system is best, with obvious essentials like having large enough emitters. I have used Heatpunk to size up our house and my results compare well with our gas bill, so know what is involved.
Similar question how do you stop the installer using the huge mcs defaults on leakage loss when our blower door rate are below 1ach?

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
Reply to  Judith
1 month ago


@Derek M and all
We are at the getting to grips with quotes etc stage. When our extension is finished (and only then, and if we can face more disruption) in the spring we’re going for a ashp install. Neighbours have recommended their installer but looking at their web site (and our neighbours) they also install large buffer tanks (possibly piped as 4 port can’t recall, need to go round again) plus a llh for their ufh.
So how do you prevent an installer putting in all of the extra stuff, other than going with someone else.
I realise from this forum and others that an open system is best, with obvious essentials like having large enough emitters. I have used Heatpunk to size up our house and my results compare well with our gas bill, so know what is involved.
Similar question how do you stop the installer using the huge mcs defaults on leakage loss when our blower door rate are below 1ach?

You can try arguing with the installer.  In my experience this will work with some, but many will take no notice.  Basically its a sellers market so many don’t care about anyone who argues (in fact they probably actively want to discourage them).  You will quickly find out which category any given installer fits into. 
You can ask the manufacturer the specific question via their technical support line, and you may well get an answer or even a set of approved system diagrams.  I found Vaillant, Mitsubishi, Grant, Cool Energy to be very helpful, Daikin pretty much said ‘ask your installer’ (even when I escalated) and Samsung haven’t responded to any technical query I have posed.  One individual reported an extensive (and successful) conversation with Vaillant about some non standard requirements/simplifications that the installer had vetoed.   Obviously if you can get answers from the OEM, the installer should listen.
You can read the installation/technical guides to see what they say and use that to challenge your installer.
Other than that its find another installer.
 

Similar question to all
i understand some ashp manufacturers insist on a llh/ 4 port buffer. Who are they so that they can be ignored, together with their installers? 

From memory – Mitsubishi, Daikin, Vaillant, Cool Energy, Midea dont.  Samsung shows a buffer in an ‘example system diagram’ which includes just about everything under the sun (including a backup boiler – which is why the buffer is needed in that diagra,).  I’m not sure they actually insist on one, its possible that this is ambiguous, which leaves it open to interpretation.  Grant is a funny, I don’t think the manual for the underlying unit from Chofu does, but Grant then set out some installation guidance/requirements (basically install it as if it were a gas/oil boiler) – you will need to check how these are implemented in practice.  I don’t know about Panasonic, Hitachi, Viesmann or sundry others, my front runners quickly came down to Mitsubishi, Samsung, Daikin or Vaillant.
In your situation I would be tempted to specify when asking for quotes that a quote with an LLH, Buffer or PHE in the primary will not be considered.  That might put off those who otherwise will waste your time.  I did similar.

Derek M
Editor
12812 kWhs
Reply to  Judith
1 month ago

@Derek M and all

We are at the getting to grips with quotes etc stage. When our extension is finished (and only then, and if we can face more disruption) in the spring we’re going for a ashp install. Neighbours have recommended their installer but looking at their web site (and our neighbours) they also install large buffer tanks (possibly piped as 4 port can’t recall, need to go round again) plus a llh for their ufh.

So how do you prevent an installer putting in all of the extra stuff, other than going with someone else.

I realise from this forum and others that an open system is best, with obvious essentials like having large enough emitters. I have used Heatpunk to size up our house and my results compare well with our gas bill, so know what is involved.

Similar question how do you stop the installer using the huge mcs defaults on leakage loss when our blower door rate are below 1ach?

Hi Judith, welcome to the forum.

I suppose that you could politely ask them to explain in great detail why there is a need for a buffer tank or low loss header, or anything else that you feel may be superfluous to requirements.

 

Judith
268 kWhs
1 month ago

Similar question to all
i understand some ashp manufacturers insist on a llh/ 4 port buffer. Who are they so that they can be ignored, together with their installers? 

Judith
268 kWhs
1 month ago

I don’t see any aspects of “doing a bad thing”, LLH are a good engineering solution to some identified problems, namely emitter sizes (and hence total system volume) too low and on-off thermostats.
i hear people regularly say, “, I’m not changing my radiators” or “I love my Hive/Tado and I’m not parting with it”. In which case hydraulic separation is essential. Until the customer learns the cost/benefits.
Or the pricing system changes so like the Netherlands gas is more than electricity per kWh (by taxation). Not efficient use of resources though.

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
Reply to  Judith
1 month ago


I don’t see any aspects of “doing a bad thing”, LLH are a good engineering solution to some identified problems, namely emitter sizes (and hence total system volume) too low and on-off thermostats.

Sorry on my reading it does.  I quote …
“So when you are in a low load condition you get this issue:… The flow slows down and the unit trips out on low flow alarm."
“In the really old days 2010-2013 we solved this with a bypass, if the flow dropped the bypass opened to allow a short circuit to maintain flow rate. It was OK but the installers refused to set it up correctly, quite rightly they thought the unit would cope. They were wrong."

“When I was a tech support engineers I got fed up with literally thousands of calls about low flow alarms so we made a solution. So in 2013 we decided to use a low loss header or plate heat exchanger to stop this problem, its a good solution but its expensive and it reduces system efficiency. But at least the unit runs without fault."
The first part says that there was a solution which didn’t compromise both performance and cost a lot, but installers wouldn’t use it.
The second part says that this forced them to adopt a different strategy even though they know it cost a lot and would compromise performance.  Also it falls into the category of covering over the red light with a sticking plaster!
The strange thing for me is that even my gas boiler system has a bypass in it, so I struggle to understand why installers ‘wouldn’t set one up correctly’ with a heat pump.
Don’t misunderstand me, I fully understand why it was done, and its great that its out in the open.  Its just disappointing that the reasoning has been less than transparent for so many years (so far as I can tell based on what I have read and what people say here and elsewhere), and that the practice still persists as ‘mandatory’ according to some.
 

i hear people regularly say, “, I’m not changing my radiators” or “I love my Hive/Tado and I’m not parting with it”. In which case hydraulic separation is essential. Until the customer learns the cost/benefits.

Thats fair enough, as long as the cost of retaining it is declared.  Customers should be able to make choices, and they should of course be informed ones.     For the same reason I should be allowed to retain my vented 140l cylinder if I wish to, but most installers will absolutely insist on ripping it out.

Marzipan71
943 kWhs
Reply to  JamesPa
1 month ago

Hi all – following this thread with interest if a little over my head at times…I took a look at my Daikin Altherma manuals (2020 install) and the attached show the recommendations for a set up with a single type of emitter (ie rads) and the set up for multiple emitter types (eg rads and UFH). I have the latter. They talk about the necessity for a ‘balancing bottle’ in this multiple emitter scenario. Not able to find much about ‘balancing bottles’ but it looks a bit in schematic like my (assumed) LLH. I run both my emitter type zones (rads and UFH) at the same temp under a WCC so the multiple temp set points is irrelevant to me. Are these ‘balancing bottles’ equivalent to a LLH?

Capture 1

Capture 3

Capture 2

Capture 4
JamesPa
3542 kWhs
Reply to  Marzipan71
1 month ago

@Marzipan71
In the diagram they look and are piped like a buffer tank (an LLH is, in effect, just a small buffer tank afaik).  So far as I can tell from the schematics you posted the ‘balancing bottles’ appear only in the scenario where the are multiple types of emitter run at different flow temperatures

Marzipan71
943 kWhs
Reply to  JamesPa
1 month ago

Thanks @JamesPa – the flow in the manual is a bit confusing but in Capture 3 Daikin seem to also recommend/ mandate a ‘balancing bottle’ in the scenario where an old gas or oil boiler is replaced with this particular Daikin HT model irrespective of whether there are different flow temps (I think – the Daikin manuals are not the clearest) – ‘When replacing an old gas or fuel oil boiler by a air to water heat pump system (EKHBRD*): please always check the specifications of the pump of the old unit [and] if the external static pressure of that pump is higher than the external static pressure of the air to water heat pump system, please install an additional pump with higher external static pressure in combination with a balancing bottle.’ I had to look up external static pressure which tells you where my level of understanding is.
 

Capture 3

 

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
Reply to  Marzipan71
1 month ago


Thanks @JamesPa – the flow in the manual is a bit confusing but in Capture 3 Daikin seem to also recommend/ mandate a ‘balancing bottle’ in the scenario where an old gas or oil boiler is replaced with this particular Daikin HT model irrespective of whether there are different flow temps (I think – the Daikin manuals are not the clearest) – ‘When replacing an old gas or fuel oil boiler by a air to water heat pump system (EKHBRD*): please always check the specifications of the pump of the old unit [and] if the external static pressure of that pump is higher than the external static pressure of the air to water heat pump system, please install an additional pump with higher external static pressure in combination with a balancing bottle.’ I had to look up external static pressure which tells you where my level of understanding is.
 
— Attachment is not available —
 

 
Basically what this is saying is that, if the water pump contained within the heat pump isn’t strong enough for the job (because your heating system has too much resistance), then you will need a secondary pump.  
I’m not actually a plumber, but I would have thought/hoped that there might be a way of putting another pump inline, without a buffer, to this job. 
 

iancalderbank
3454 kWhs
Reply to  JamesPa
1 month ago


I’m not actually a plumber, but I would have thought/hoped that there might be a way of putting another pump inline, without a buffer, to this job. 
 

there is, but if you read up on pump curve hydraulics as I’ve been doing the last few weeks, the maths is painfully non linear. you need rapidly increasing head to get the job done, and the pump cost goes up rapidly the more head you need.
I was looking at my own single loop system, I get 28l/min from 8.9m of head on a 9.5m head pump (UPMM). 10kw at DT5 heats my house perfectly well, but my heat pump can take up to 42l/min and I’d like to improve performance where I can. If I was to put in a second identical 9.5m head pump, whether in parallel or in series, I’d gain as little as 1% flow rate, a pointless change of course. To get it done properly I’d need about 12m head which is one serious pump (e.g. UPMXL). £700 or so. so the answer in my case, time and money better spent on improving  the pipework for a lower head loss – which I have a couple of places to go at, come the summer.
whereas the my system setup as a buffered split would almost certainly run fine with two 6m pumps or maybe 8m at most. cheaper mass market screwfix circulating pumps, much “safer" in that there would be no need to worry about flow rate for the installer. but less efficient.
The “Balancing bottle" in the above seems just another name for a buffer/LLH (not heard that name before).
It’s actually the same question I was asking the other day on the “new generation of HT heatpumps" thread. A new fangled HT heatpump is (to me) only an option for “straight boiler swap", if it can run at DT20 without having to worry about flow rate issues. (thats ignoring , for the point of this discussion only, all HT efficiency issues). If it needs DT5 same as any other heat pump we know and love/hate, then all the flow rate issues come right back, and so people start talking about adding a buffer/LLH to mitigate , and back round in a circle we go.
 

Derek M
Editor
12812 kWhs
Reply to  Judith
1 month ago

I don’t see any aspects of “doing a bad thing”, LLH are a good engineering solution to some identified problems, namely emitter sizes (and hence total system volume) too low and on-off thermostats.

i hear people regularly say, “, I’m not changing my radiators” or “I love my Hive/Tado and I’m not parting with it”. In which case hydraulic separation is essential. Until the customer learns the cost/benefits.

Or the pricing system changes so like the Netherlands gas is more than electricity per kWh (by taxation). Not efficient use of resources though.

System volume problems are much better solved by installing a volumiser, which is similar to a buffer tank, but without the possibility of mixing and efficiency reduction.

 

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
Reply to  Mars
1 month ago

Interesting. Is the research which led to this sponsored by the fossil fuel industry I wonder?
Obviously we all need the facts, but there is a big war going on here between the vested interests and the human race.  I get the impression that the vested interests are beginning to get a little concerned.

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
Reply to  Mars
1 month ago


@JamesPa, it is not the fossil fuel industry. To my understanding it’s a heat pump insider whistleblower. Wonder if it’ll be enough (or significant enough) to have an ITV drama next time this year.

 Maybe not on a mainstream channel!  Perhaps 5 minutes on rip-off Britain.
 

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
1 month ago


It’s actually the same question I was asking the other day on the “new generation of HT heatpumps" thread. A new fangled HT heatpump is (to me) only an option for “straight boiler swap", if it can run at DT20 without having to worry about flow rate issues. (thats ignoring , for the point of this discussion only, all HT efficiency issues). If it needs DT5 same as any other heat pump we know and love/hate, then all the flow rate issues come right back, and so people start talking about adding a buffer/LLH to mitigate , and back round in a circle we go.
 

I confess I see the HT heat pump question is a bit of a side issue.  The question really is, do ‘lt’ heat pumps have any advantages ove HT ones.  The answer, so far as I am aware is yes, they are cheaper (for now – but I suspect its unlikely to last) and (if the HT is r290) have fewer placement constraints.  But that’s about it.  Unfortunately they tend also to be noisier and uglier as well as the refrigerant having a higher gwp, not because of anything to do with the temperature they are capable of reaching, just because manufacturers combine several developments in one go and don’t always retrofit improvements to earlier models.   So far as I can assess they are no more efficient at any given OAT/LWT combination than HT ones.
So whilst I agree that aggressive marketing of ‘HT=straight boiler swap’ is misleading, it’s equally misleading to push LT pumps on the basis that running at HT is a bad idea.  You don’t have to drive a car at 120mph just because it can reach that speed and nobody would rubbish a Porsche because it can (but is not forced to) be driven at well above the legal speed limit!
As it happens I am more or less certain to end up with an HT pump, running at 45C, because there isn’t an ‘LT’ pump which fits the physical, aesthetic and noise requirements.  Is there any reason to suppose ‘LT’ pumps will exist at all in say 5 years?

Toodles
3836 kWhs
1 month ago

At the risk of being drummed out for heretical thoughts ( ;-))) ) No, I’m sure I wouldn’t be, … would I?! Suppose this LLH is losing some efficiency – where is the loss taken place and where is the wasted energy going please? If the loss is in the form of heat that doesn’t make it across the interior of the LLH, does it radiate into the surrounding area? In my case, this will be the airing cupboard where such heat will be ‘always useful’, (harking back to the topic of uninsulated pipe runs within the home again!). If the unharnessed energy is being deflected back out into the return pipe-run to the heat pump outside, I can see that this might well be wasted heat though. Regards, Toodles.

JamesPa
3542 kWhs
Reply to  Toodles
1 month ago


At the risk of being drummed out for heretical thoughts ( ;-))) ) No, I’m sure I wouldn’t be, … would I?! Suppose this LLH is losing some efficiency – where is the loss taken place and where is the wasted energy going please? If the loss is in the form of heat that doesn’t make it across the interior of the LLH, does it radiate into the surrounding area? In my case, this will be the airing cupboard where such heat will be ‘always useful’, (harking back to the topic of uninsulated pipe runs within the home again!). If the unharnessed energy is being deflected back out into the return pipe-run to the heat pump outside, I can see that this might well be wasted heat though. Regards, Toodles.

The principal reason that LLH reduces efficiency is if there is a temperature drop flow to flow across it (which there almost inevitably is unless it is particularly well set up).  This means that the heat pump operates less efficiently, because it must operate at a higher flow temperature to achieve the same temperature at the emitters.  Part of the reduction in efficiency will be that the compressor (which is usually outside) has to work harder, and part of the loss will be that not as much energy is extracted from the outside air.  So no, the ‘lost’ efficiency does not result in an increased radiation into the house (nor is it the case that a ‘loss’ of energy takes place in the LLH, albeit that it is the cause of the reduced efficiency – the reduction in efficiency occurs even if the LLH is lossless)
There will also of course be some actual loss of energy from the system at the LLH, due to convection.  Depending on the location of the LLH that might get radiated into the house.  This can be ignored if the LLH is within the heated envelope, and generally is ignored in these discussions.
 

Derek M
Editor
12812 kWhs
Reply to  Toodles
1 month ago

At the risk of being drummed out for heretical thoughts ( ;-))) ) No, I’m sure I wouldn’t be, … would I?! Suppose this LLH is losing some efficiency – where is the loss taken place and where is the wasted energy going please? If the loss is in the form of heat that doesn’t make it across the interior of the LLH, does it radiate into the surrounding area? In my case, this will be the airing cupboard where such heat will be ‘always useful’, (harking back to the topic of uninsulated pipe runs within the home again!). If the unharnessed energy is being deflected back out into the return pipe-run to the heat pump outside, I can see that this might well be wasted heat though. Regards, Toodles.

If you have any more heretical thoughts then please let me know, so that I can send the Inquisitor round. 😋 

The loss isn’t actual thermal energy as such, the loss is due to reduced efficiency (lower COP). Because of possible temperature reduction from primary circuit to secondary circuit, the LWT may have to be higher to ensure the heat emitters receive the required quantity of thermal energy.

To produce a higher LWT the compressor has to work harder, using more electrical energy, and in turn the heat pump absorbs less free energy from the OAT.

The overall thermal energy supply to the home should be approximately the same, just less free energy and more expensive energy.

 

Toodles
3836 kWhs
Reply to  Derek M
1 month ago

@Derek M Just for ‘fun’, I placed strips of matt black insulting tape on the four pipes to and from the LLH and used my IR thermometer to obtain these approximate readings; I measured the four points a number of times to attempt to obtain steady readings and my best attempts tend to suggest the following temperatures.
Input to LLH from heat pump: 29.8 deg. C
Output to emitters: 29.0 deg. C
Return from emitters: 28.0 deg. C
Return to heat pump: 28.8 deg. C
Do these readings look as if they may be true? I’ll take another set of readings another day when time permits (don’t get older if you can help it, you spend more time than you might like draining the NHS facilities!) meanwhile without placing ‘proper’ sensors on the pipes, I’m not sure I can increase the accuracy. I wonder if there is also room to improve the Delta T by adjusting the secondary pump? Regards, Toodles.
 

Derek M
Editor
12812 kWhs
Reply to  Toodles
1 month ago

I can’t remember ever having used an IR thermometer, but then I’ve always had access to what I would term correct test equipment. I do believe that one of the other forum members found difficulty getting accurate readings using an IR thermometer. What is the specified operating range and tolerance?

The actual readings obtained could be appropriate for a mild day like today, but again without other values to compare it is difficult to know for certain.

The DT does look low, but again without comparing with values measured during colder weather conditions, I cannot say for certain.

Without further data, I would suggest that you just monitor, without making changes, especially if you are warm and it is not costing you an arm and a leg to operate.

I keep advising people not to grow older, but they will insist upon doing so. 🙄 

 

iancalderbank
3454 kWhs
Reply to  Derek M
30 days ago

@Toodles I’ve tried IR with black tape, doesn’t work very well . Other forum members have had good results for very little spend with a set of these from amazon. tape them tightly to the pipes, pipe insulation over the top to isolate from ambient.

Toodles
3836 kWhs
Reply to  iancalderbank
30 days ago

@iancalderbank Oh Ian, I couldn’t see a link or any product details – please could you detail the goods again? My current attempts have been with a non-contact IR Thermometer with a spec. Of  0 ~ 550 C. +/- 1.5 %. Probably indicative but the tape covered pipe might be causing all sorts of errors I would imagine. Regards, Toodles.

Toodles
3836 kWhs
Reply to  Derek M
30 days ago

@Derek M The system seems to be working well, we are warm and at approx. 450-500 W/h in this present warm weather, I feel all is goodness and light. (COP shows as 4.5 plus), when it was – 6 or -7, the COP was approx. 2.6 I think. As Ian has mentioned, an alternative means of measuring the actual LLH adjoining pipe temperatures would be better though. Regards, Toodles.

iancalderbank
3454 kWhs
Reply to  Toodles
29 days ago

@Toodles I put a link in the word “these" in the previous post. this type of thing. others on here have used them successfully.

image
Toodles
3836 kWhs
Reply to  iancalderbank
29 days ago

@iancalderbank Thank you Ian, Regards, Toodles.

Toodles
3836 kWhs
Reply to  iancalderbank
28 days ago

@iancalderbank Amazon delivered the four thermometers today; shame that there was not insulating material interposed between the contact and the button cells; flat cells in three of them and a faint glow only from the other! Did extended battle with Amazon help line / suppliers site and now await replacements. Ho-hum more grey hairs (well, actually, they are white already) and time I won’t get back!;-) Regards, Toodles.

AllyFish
2786 kWhs
Reply to  Toodles
26 days ago

@Toodles You were unlucky. I got the same 4 digital sensors over a year ago and all batteries are still going strong. Great devices across the low loss header to check primary and secondary flow and return temperatures. Make sure the sensor is touching the pipe and well insulated. Cable tie sensor to pipe, and then cable tie insulation completely over it. They would probably benefit from heat sink compound, but my memory of that stuff from my apprenticeship days is it ruins clothes instantly!

Toodles
3836 kWhs
Reply to  AllyFish
25 days ago

@AllyFish I had a reply from the supplier, requesting a photo or video the the product!!! I sent a phot of the four displays; one was readable, one was feint and the other two were blank. I asked if they didn’t trust me? Anyhow, I orderedmsome LR44’s that should arrive today so that I can put the ‘kit’ together. Perhaps the supplier will send me another 4 units, I doubt they sell the cells anyway! Regards, Toodles.

Toodles
3836 kWhs
Reply to  Toodles
20 days ago

I purchased some LR44 button Cells and powered up the 4 sensors; I laid the four probes close together and placed a Govee thermometer on either side of this bundle of sensors. The Govees both indicated the same temperature and I left the whole caboodle for 5 days occasionally comparing the readings on all four sensors to the Govees. I found that two of the sensors were consistently 0.1 degree C low and 0.1 degree C high and the others were 0.9 and 1.1 degrees C lower than the Govees. The four displays were then taped into a little ‘block’ and the probes taped onto the LLH pipes and covered with insulation. I left the probes to settle for an hour and then read (as per the photo) the results. Top left and bottom left are the heat pump flow and return; the top right and bottom right are the flow from LLH to emitters and return respectively. The left hand displays are both within 0.1 degree of Govee reference and the right hand pair are 0.9 and 1.1 degrees of reference. Outside temperature (according to Daikin Onecta app) was 13 degrees C and heat pump and secondary pump are noth working. Any comments welcomed but I’ll see what results show when OAT becomes more winter-like. (One other thing, supplier has not supplied replacement button cells so have reported them to Amazon)  Regards,, Toodles.

IMG 5811

 

Derek M
Editor
12812 kWhs
Reply to  Toodles
20 days ago

@Toodles

So applying the correction factors which you have established, the LWT is 37C and the RWT is 34.8C, giving a DT of 2.2C in the primary circuit. On the secondary side of the LLH the flow temperature is 36.7C and the return temperature is 34.5C, again indicating a DT of 2.2C.

The temperature drop across the LLH is only 0.3C, so I would assess that your system is operating in quite an efficient manner.

 

Toodles
3836 kWhs
Reply to  Derek M
20 days ago

@Derek M 😊 Toodles.

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