Heating water for use in homes was the same for decades: a metal tank storing hot water, and gas jets or electric heating elements to maintain the water temperature.
But technology has changed, and that’s why we can talk to you today about the heat pump water heater. If you’re currently considering water heaters in Portales, NM for the new installation, we hope you’ll find this information useful. Our water heater experts are available to speak to you when you want more details and an assessment of what type of water heating system is the best match for your house.
A Heat Pump Water Heater Is Also a Type of Storage Water Heater
The industry name for the conventional water heater—the one with the water tank—is a storage water heater. This differentiates it from an on-demand water heater, aka a tankless water heater. A storage water heater does what the name says: it stores a supply of hot water ready for use when a tap comes on. An on-demand water heater doesn’t store water but heats it when there’s demand.
A heat pump water heater stores water in a tank, so it’s a type of storage water heater. As heat escapes from the tank (standby heat loss), the water heater applies energy to the tank to replace the lost heat and keep the supply of water at the desired temperature so it's ready for use.
The difference with a heat pump water heater is where the energy comes from.
A Heat Pump Water Heater Is a Refrigerant-Based System
The energy a heat pump water heater uses to raise the temperature of water in a tank comes from the circulation of the refrigerant. This might sound strange at first since “refrigerant” usually means “cold” to most people. But if you’re familiar with the heat pumps used for home comfort, you’ll know these systems can deliver both heating and cooling. Refrigerant circulates to remove heat from the air in one place and deposit it in another. In cooling mode, the heat is taken from indoors, and in heating mode, it’s taken from the outdoors.
Now imagine attaching a heat pump to a water tank. Refrigeration absorbs heat from the air around the tank, then releases the heat inside the tank. In other words, rather than create heat with gas jets or running an electric current through heating elements inside the tank, the heat pump moves heat from one place and releases it into the tank.
This is the Secret of the Heat Pump Water Heater’s Success: the power needed to move heat is much lower than the power needed to create heat through electrical resistance or fuel combustion. As long as the water heater is in a location where it has access to warmer air temperatures (you can’t place it in an uninsulated garage), it can access enough thermal energy from around the tank to warm up the water without a huge electrical drain. This makes heat pump water heaters attractive options for homes without natural gas power since the difference in energy efficiency between a heat pump water heater and a standard electric water heater can be significant.