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SPN APR 2012 HeatPumps


www.swimmingpoolnews.co.uk


HEAT PUMPS NEED TO ‘GET BACK ON TRACK’


There’s no industry standard in Britain when it comes to rating the output capacity of a pool heat pump. And while heat pumps continue to be an industry best seller, there’s a widely held view that too many pool owners are tempted to buy the wrong product for the wrong pool resulting in the market losing face


By Alan Lewis


wo facts about the heat pump market in Britain give a big clue to a problem. Firstly, there are over 80 different brands to choose from.


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Secondly, there are at least 15 large factories in the Far East producing more than 75% of the world’s heat pumps and only three have full and proper quality control at every stage of production good enough to satisfy the tough and demanding European market.


Add to that the fact that there is no industry standard when it comes to rating the output capacity of a swimming pool heat pump, many brands may be rated on a completely different set of operating conditions and that selection guides may not be geared specifically for the colder UK climate, then you get some idea of what threatens the market.


Daniel Phillips from Lighthouse Pools which is making an impact with the Zodiac heat pump range from France says: “In my opinion the biggest factor now for swimming pool companies is to be able to offer back up, support and quality of machine. This hasn’t been there, apart from a few noticeable exceptions and I think the whole market is losing face.


“A lot of heat pumps on the market have been taken up by dealers because the price and the deal


looked attractive but now it has been dumped. Generally these have been goods from the Far East.” Paul Scott, Technical Director of Heatstar Limited is aware of the problems in the market and says: “To avoid any ‘misunderstandings’ about product selections, installers should establish the basic criteria with both the customer and their supplier and make sure it is in writing. The key criteria should include the surface area of the pool, a view on how many hours per day a surface cover will be used, the target pool water temperature and the intended swimming season – perhaps May to September. “They should also take into account if ground water will be in contact with the pool shell and if the client requires the pool water heated up within a specific time.


“Equally, installers should appreciate that selection guides have to be specific to the unfavourable UK climate – many are not. These criteria may represent part of the installer’s legal contract with the end client that the heat pump they have supplied is suitable and fit for purpose. “It is important to appreciate that there is no industry standard when it comes to rating the output capacity of a swimming pool heat pump so, the installer should avoid being drawn down


“To avoid any ‘misunderstandings’ about product selections, installers should establish the basic criteria with both the customer and their supplier and make sure it is in writing”


Heatstar’s new Aquarius


the route of a ‘12kW’ heat pump or a ‘15kW’ heat pump. One brand may be rated on a completely different set of operating conditions, i.e. air temperature, humidity and pool water temperature, to another brand.


“Unlike a fuel boiler, a heat pump will have limited surplus heating capacity so installers should never be tempted to undersize a heat pump model to be more price competitive – this will result in a lot of hassle and cost for everyone involved.


“The selected heat pump must be able to generate sufficient heat to at least match the normal heat losses from the pool during the coldest month of anticipated operation. “If the fresh air temperature drops below 10°C, then ice may start to form upon the heat pump’s heat collection matrix, obstructing the passage of air and impeding performance.


“A typical ‘summer use’ heat pump may simply switch off under such a scenario, indicating the end of the client’s swimming season.


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