In the Netherlands, around seven million households obtain their energy from natural gas. The market for hybrid heat pumps is booming, as they are highly efficient and user-friendly. The heat pump draws its heat from the outside air, even down to sub-zero temperatures. When the air temperature is too low, the system gets additional heat from the gas boiler. Domestic hot water is always supplied by the boiler. This makes the system reliable in all conditions. Customers can also choose to change the point at which the boiler kicks in based on the energy prices to save cost. In the past, it was common to sell the heat pump in combination with a boiler, to ensure that they were compatible.
Itho Daalderop, a manufacturer of heating systems for private households and the market leader in ventilation systems and ground source heat pumps in the Netherlands, is changing the status quo. The HP-M 25i is the first hybrid heat pump that can work with any boiler – regardless of type or brand: “Our greatest concern was to ensure that our product could be integrated seamlessly into any existing house and any existing heating system, without compromising the level of comfort. This is something we have achieved,” Alex Huizinga, Project Manager of the Innovation Department at Itho Daalderop, proudly explains.
But how? The heat pump realizes its full potential all through the year, as it can use its fully integrated control system to switch on its secondary energy source, i.e. the gas boiler, depending on requirements. At the same time, that was the biggest development challenge. For the heat pump and gas boiler to work together seamlessly, it had to be possible for the heat pump to flexibly adjust its settings to any relevant boiler – of which there are many different types on the Dutch market. Itho Daalderop, together with ebm-papst Heating Systems, spent just under a year developing and testing the right software.
“ebm-papst is our long-standing partner, and they have a lot of know-how when it comes to heating systems and gas boilers, as they work with a lot of companies that manufacture these products. That was a significant advantage for us,” states Huizinga. The two companies made particular use of the winter in 2018/2019 to test how the control system worked in practice in private households, and thus, to optimize the algorithms step by step. Conversely, the corresponding hardware – the circuit board – was sourced from ebm-papst’s standard repertoire.
A second product from ebm-papst, the RadiCal® centrifugal fan, ensures that the heat pump runs very quietly. The fan draws the cold air from outside into the heat pump, moves it around and, through a heat exchanger, releases its heat into the interior of the house and the water circulation system – all at a very low indoor noise level of 38 dB. The “Fan Night Mode” function reduces the speed of the fan by 25 percent during the night. In this way, if necessary, everyone in the house can get a good night’s sleep.
Good for the environment
Customers who purchase the HP-M 25i are helping the environment, as Itho Daalderop has adopted a leading role in the fight against climate change in the Netherlands. In contrast to conventional models, the hybrid heat pump comes with a hermetically sealed refrigerant circuit – much like a common refrigerator –, thus reducing the risk of escaping fluorinated greenhouse gases during installation. What’s more, as the heat pump obtains energy from both the outside air and the exhaust air produced by the central ventilation unit, reducing gas consumption even further. In turn, this is also good for the personal wallet.