Themeninfos – A compact guide to energy research

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Latest results from research and field tests
Themeninfo I/2013
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Electrically driven heat pumps

Electric heat pumps have become firmly established in the German heating market. In recent years they have gained an eight to ten per cent share of the market. Approximately every fourth new building is heated with a heat pump. Whereas until a few years ago ground source heat pumps were still sold the most, the sales figures have shifted in recent years in favour of air source heat pumps. Carefully planned, heat pump systems compare very economically with other heating systems, whereby their higher procurement costs are offset by their lower energy and operating costs. Heat pumps are also competitive in terms of their ecological balance. This situation is continually improving with the growing proportion of renewable energies used for supplying electricity.

The success enjoyed by heat pumps is a result of intensive research. The efficiency and reliability of the systems has been decisively increased and climate-harming working fluids have been replaced with much more environmentally-friendly refrigerants. However, despite the high level of development, there are good reasons for continuing research with new focal areas: For example, higher insulation standards require efficient heat pump systems with a particularly small output.

There is also increasing demand for systems that enable double use for heating and cooling. Increased efficiency and cost reductions can be achieved not just through detailed improvements to the systems but also by optimising the system components. The use of new, natural working fluids will also further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Some manufacturers also have thermally driven absorption and adsorption heat pumps available, which in particular can replace boilers and condensing boilers in buildings that already have gas-fired heating systems. However, the technology is not yet as advanced as electric heat pumps and currently only represents a fringe area of the market – although there is much to suggest that this situation will change in future.

The efficiency of heat pumps depends much more on the operating conditions than other heating systems. Their annual performance factor, as a measure of energy efficiency, can therefore vary significantly from building to building. Until now insufficient concrete data has been available from practice and the measurement results from test rigs are only of limited information value for actual operation. A recently concluded monitoring project is providing new data. These serve as a base to derive concrete recommendations for planning, installing and operating heat pump systems. The results of this research project form the focus of this BINE-Themeninfo brochure.


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Project execution
Fraunhofer ISE


BINE-Themeninfo I/2013
(PDF, 20 pages, 3.3 MB)

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