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Commercial heating and cooling

Heat Pump vs Boiler: Commercial Heating and Cooling

With the recent hike in energy prices, it makes complete business sense to consider renewable energy sources to power climate control in both residential and commercial settings. It importantly also makes environmental sense to do what we can to reduce carbon emissions.

So, which cost efficient option is the best bet for power supply for your commercial heating and cooling needs?

That will depend on several factors for you to consider project to project.

In this article we’re looking at two of the most popular options on the market, the hydronic heat pump and the hydronic heating boiler and comparing the two across the following categories:

  • Purchase and installation
  • Ongoing running and maintenance
  • Heating speed
  • Energy efficiency
  • Carbon emissions
  • Product operation and life expectancy
  • Product size and required space
Hydronic heat pump

Before We Kick Off

It’s important to note that there are a number of different heat pump and boiler types on the market, and it is highly recommended that you explore the options before committing to purchase and installation. For context, we will be focusing on air to water heat pumps and combi and electric boilers in this article, as they are generally the most widely used for commercial projects.

Purchase and Installation

The upfront investment for purchasing and installing a heat pump system is considerably more than what is required for a boiler. However, as commercial projects are generally intended to be in situ for the long term, the benefits of installing a heat pump will be realised in full over time for the building owners and managers.

In comparison, boilers are quick and easy to install and cost effective in terms of purchase and installation price. Based on the upfront purchase price and considerations when it comes to installation, boilers would probably come out ahead in this category.

Ongoing Running and Maintenance

Boilers and heat pump systems should be routinely inspected as per manufacture’s guidelines, where an annual inspection is generally advised for both. Operating costs are higher for boilers than heat pumps as boilers are more impacted by fuel prices, which as we know have skyrocketed. Hydronic heat pumps do require electricity to operate, but not a great deal based on how heat pumps work. If paired with solar panels you could run them at cost negative, or neutral which is why we feal Heat Pumps would come out ahead in this category. 

Heating Speed

Boilers carry a much faster heating speed than heat pumps. So, if this is an important factor to your development or project, boilers may come out ahead for this category.

Commercial heating and cooling

Energy Efficiency

As a product standard, boilers have been deemed to be 50-70% energy efficient, but more recently with the introduction of combination boilers there is a much higher energy efficiency of up to 90%. As great as this percentage is, a hydronic heat pump can score up to a 350% energy efficiency rating. Both solutions are highly efficient, but the heat pump is well ahead in this category of energy efficiency with that kind of rating.

Carbon Emissions

Heat pumps come out on top hands down when it comes to carbon emissions compared to boilers. The carbon emission rate is approximately 2000kg per year for a heat pump, compared to 4,500kg for a natural gas boiler, or a significnatly higher 11,800kg per year for an electric boiler.

The bottom line is that heat pumps do not rely on burning fossil fuel to operate and while some may argue that electricity is ‘clean energy’, it’s worth taking a closer look at where the electricity came from. In Australia, “fossil fuels contributed to 76% of electricity generation in 2020”.

If reducing carbon emissions is forefront for your commercial build priorities, then a hydronic heat pump installation is absolutely worth your consideration.

A fantastic example of a commercial development project integrating a hydronic heat pump system is the Little Miller Residential Development in East Brunswick, Melbourne, which the team at Hunt Heating consulted on.

Product Operation and Life Expectancy

Both hydronic heat pumps and hydronic heating boilers are straight forward to operate. They also share a very similar product life expectancy of up to 15 years. It is entirely possible that both solutions could last longer than 15 years, with regular maintenance and care.

Product size and required space

As a rule, boilers are more compact compared to heat pumps. But if you are considering heat pumps, it really does depend on which type you are talking about. Air source heat pumps take up less floor space than a conventional boiler, but ground source heat pumps require a lot more room. It really depends on the location and space available as to which option makes sense for your project, along with all the other factors you need to consider, such as budget.

hydronic heating boiler

Which Hydronic Heat Source Is Right For Your Commercial Project?

Without question, the hydronic heat pump system is one of the most environmentally friendly and long-term cost-effective solutions for a commercial project’s climate control. While it does cost more upfront for purchase and installation, you can’t ignore the energy efficiency of up to 350%.

If you’re looking to play the long game and want your commercial projects to lessen the burden on the environment, this angle is well worth your consideration, particularly if you’re developing residential sites where buyers are much more eco-conscious and like most people, are looking for the most energy efficient properties possible to keep their bills down.

If you would like to see these renewable energy solutions in action or discuss the climate control needs of your next commercial venture, visit one of our showrooms in Melbourne or Sydney. Otherwise, get in touch with the experienced team at Hunt Commercial.

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