For the right home, installing one of the best air source heat pumps can provide an energy-efficient alternative to a gas boiler
If you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient way to heat your home, then an air source heat pump might offer the perfect solution, transferring heat from the outside air into water to deliver heat and hot water to your home.
To help you make the right choice for your home, our guide below covers the key questions to ask before making your decision to invest. Read on to discover our pick of the best air source heat pumps available today, chosen for their performance, features and customer feedback.
Best air source heat pump: At a glance
|Best heat pump overall||Worcester Bosch Compress 7001iAW||Compare prices|
|Best heat pump for energy efficiency||Samsung EHS R32 Monobloc||Compare prices|
|Most discreet heat pump||Panasonic 7kW Aquarea Monobloc||Compare prices|
|Best heat pump for scalability||Mitsubishi Ecodan R32 Monobloc||Compare prices|
How to choose the best air source heat pump for you
What’s the difference between an air source heat pump and a ground source heat pump?
Installing any heat pump is a major project requiring careful consideration. Air source heat pumps are one of the two common varieties of heat pump. The other type, ground source heat pumps, are installed underground and absorb heat from the earth.
When installed correctly and used with a fully compatible heating system, both types of heat pump can reduce the amount of fuel needed to heat a home. In some cases, the heat pump can completely replace an existing gas boiler. However, note that air source heat pumps use electricity from the grid for pressurisation, with higher water temperatures typically requiring more power.
Another factor is availability of land. If you’re in an urban environment, then you may not have the garden area suitable for a ground source heat pump to be installed. Meanwhile, air source heat pumps can be fitted in a relatively small area beside the building.
Which model of air source heat pump should I choose?
When choosing a heat pump, finding the right product is often down to the installer – what he or she thinks is suitable for the project and the property.
“Each installation company will have its own preferred products, and my advice is that you should put your trust in those engineers,” says Andrew Robertson, Managing Director of Clean Energy Consultancy and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering.
“The first question to ask is: what kind of technical support is available? Some manufacturers have a good network of technicians, and that’s important, because technical problems can often arise. In those situations, you’ll want someone who has been recommended by the manufacturer to come and take a look. Some heat pumps just don’t come with that support,” he says.
What are some problems to look out for when installing an air source heat pump?
There are potential pitfalls to be aware of when installing an air source heat pump, depending on how exactly your heat pump will fit into your heating and plumbing system.
“In many cases the heat pump will be replacing a gas boiler, and that’s usually when problems can arise, because you can’t just put a heat pump onto an existing system,” says Andrew.
He explains: “In a retrospective installation of this sort, the installers have to be very careful and the homeowner has to be very wise. You shouldn’t use a heat pump with ordinary radiators, because the efficiency of a heat pump nosedives when the output temperature has to be above about 35ºC.
“Most radiators operate at over 60ºC, which means you can use a lot of energy – and spend a lot of money – trying to bring the water up to temperature with a heat pump. Often, this will end up being more than you would have with a gas boiler.”
With that said, if you have a low-temperature air heating system or underfloor heating, a heat pump could be ideal, since these systems don’t require such high-temperature water. This keeps the heat pump’s electricity use – and therefore its carbon emissions – low, because there’s less need for electricity to raise the water temperature.
How much will installing an air source heat pump cost?
When compared to a ground source air pump, air source heat pumps tend to be significantly cheaper to install. With a ground source heat pump, extra work is required to install the heat pump underground.
“If capital cost is an issue, air source is the cheaper option. But there’s a compromise here, because an air source heat pump isn’t going to be as efficient,” says Andrew Robertson.
“With an air source heat pump, the electricity use, and therefore the running cost, is going to be more than it would be with a ground source heat pump,” he says.
Right now, the UK government is offering a £7,500 grant under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to help homeowners pay for the installation of air source heat pumps. However, even taking this into account, air source heat pumps are expensive. According to The Eco Experts, the upfront costs of purchase, installation and labour can total anywhere from £7,000 to £15,000 – so, factoring in the grant, you’re still looking at spending a fair chunk of money.
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The best air source heat pumps you can buy in 2023
1. Worcester Bosch Compress 7001iAW Air Source Heat Pump 13kW: Best air source heat pump overall
Price before installation: £4,544 | Find out more
Worcester Bosch has exceptional customer support ratings for domestic installations, and the Compress 7001iAW is among the brand’s top-rated air source heat pumps.
Suitable for renovation projects and new builds, the 7001iAW is a simple, relatively easy-to-maintain unit that could look smart on the outside of your property.
This heat pump has been awarded Quiet Mark certification, thanks to its relatively low noise levels. If you’re working with a small or medium-sized property and your heat pump will need to be installed somewhere near a bedroom, that quiet operation will prove a major advantage.
Key details – Heat output: 13kW; ErP class for heating at 35ºC: A+++; ErP class for hot water: A; Outdoor noise level: 55dB
2. Samsung EHS R32 Monobloc Heat Pump 16kW AE160RXYDEG/EU: Best air source heat pump for energy efficiency
Price before installation: £3,851 | Find out more
Samsung’s highly rated EHS R32 Monobloc heat pump offers high efficiency across a range of output flow temperatures, right up to the maximum of 70ºC.
The EHS R32 can be controlled via a very snazzy wired remote control (sold separately), which enables you to set specific temperatures for different parts of the heating system. And if you’re interested in further optimising your home heating, you can connect the EHS R32 to a smart home setup, using a connected SmartThings app.
Bear in mind that the seven-year warranty on this product will only be valid if you get the heat pump installed by a Samsung-approved installer.
Key details – Heat output: 16kW; ErP class for heating at 35ºC: A+++; ErP class for hot water: A+++; Outdoor noise level: 54dB
3. Panasonic 7kW Aquarea Monobloc Heat Pump: Best discreet air source heat pump
Price before installation: £3,910 | Find out more
Offering the sort of chic, contemporary style we’ve come to expect from Panasonic products, the Aquarea is an aesthetically pleasing option that’s fit for a prominent placement on a building’s exterior.
With a heat output of up to 7kW, this heat pump is best suited to well-insulated, relatively small houses or flats – especially those that rely on underfloor heating and lower-temperature heating systems.
The Aquarea can be connected to Panasonic’s Smart Cloud system for connected control and monitoring of your heating system’s performance, while using a Panasonic-approved installer can increase the product’s warranty from three years up to five or even seven years.
Key details – Heat output: 7kW; ErP class: A++; Outdoor noise level: 59dB
4. Mitsubishi Ecodan R32 Compact Monobloc Air Source Heat Pump 8.5kW: Best air source heat pump for scalability
Price before installation: £4,379 | Find out more
If you’re looking to make the move to heat pump power gradually, one part of the plumbing system after another for instance, then the Mitsubishi Ecodan could be a superb (albeit expensive) solution.
Although sold as an individual “monobloc” air source heat pump, the Ecodan R32 can also be configured with up to five other R32 units to boost capacity to heat larger properties. This makes the Ecodan R32 not only versatile but scalable, too.
Designed for the UK climate, this heat pump can operate at temperatures as low as -20ºC – although it will of course be more energy efficient in warm weather.
Key details – Heat output: 8.5kW; ErP class for heating at 35ºC: A+++; ErP class for hot water: A++; Outdoor noise level: 58dB