By Jason Cramp
The high cost for non-renewable energy sources, such as oil and natural gas, continues to rise each year. As this is top of mind for most consumers, an increasing number are looking for alternative heating systems that maximize energy output while reducing the amount of energy required for operation.
When it comes to heating a swimming pool, this appliance is the heat pump. Depending on the unit’s size, no more than 6.5 kW of electricity is required to operate the evaporator fan and compressor—the system’s two main components—making heat pumps an environmentally friendly, reliable and highly efficient method to heat swimming pool water.
How do they work?
Heat pumps are designed to capture and transfer heat energy using refrigerant technology. Air circulates through the system’s evaporator air coil where a liquid refrigerant absorbs heat from the ambient air, collecting energy as latent heat of evaporation (i.e., the energy used to change liquid to vapour). This vapour is then pumped into the heater’s compressor where its temperature increases significantly before being pumped into the heat exchanger condenser. Heat is then transferred to the water as it travels through the heat exchanger. Once this process is complete, the refrigerant returns to a liquid state and starts over again.
2010: A year of change
On Jan. 1, 2010, as part of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, no new heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment using R-22 (chlorodifluoromethane or difluoromonochloromethane) gas could be manufactured or imported in Canada and the United States.
Some experts consider R-22, the refrigerant most commonly used in heat pump equipment, to be a contributing factor in the depletion of the ozone layer. According to studies, it contains elements that react with the ozone layer when the refrigerant breaks down in the atmosphere. To abide by the regulations set out in the Montreal Protocol, R-410A, which is a mixture of difluoromethane (CH2F2 [R-32]) and pentafluroethane (CHF2CF2 [R-125]), is now the preferred refrigerant being used in HVAC equipment, including swimming pool heat pumps, as it does not contribute to ozone depletion.
According to Graham Bishop, president of Titan Systems, which manufactures Titan and Omega heat pumps in Coburg, Ont., fine tuning heat pump designs for the new R-410A refrigerant to maximize energy-efficiency and noise reduction are the two main innovative fronts most manufacturers are concentrating on.
“With new, swept-wing fan blade designs, electronic modulating valves, variable-speed fans and compressor motors, design engineers have a host of new technologies to incorporate in the coming years,” says Bishop. “This will only further reduce the cost for pool owners who wish to maintain a heated pool.”
With these innovations in mind, Titan has found their 80,000 and 100,000 British thermal unit (Btu) models to be the most popular with pool owners and dealers alike as they can be recommended for a vast majority of pool sizes.
Also adding to their popularity is the fact that all Titan heat pumps (for inground pools) come standard with 50 mm (2 in.) water connections to complement today’s energy-efficient water hydraulic pool designs.
“Our proprietary heat exchanger has virtually no pressure drop, which further enhances the overall efficiency of the pool’s hydraulic design,” Bishop adds. “Further, our unique control board offers a built-in timer to control the circulating pump, as well as the heat pump, for those pool owners who wish to take advantage of time-of-day hydro savings without going to the expense of full automated control.”