Heat pump project checklist

Here is information about whether you need planning permission for a heat pump project and a project checklist of all of the practical considerations.

Planning and regulatory requirements

Anyone proposing to install a heat pump should consult with their local planning authority to check whether planning permission is required. There may be restrictions on the installation of heat pumps in old or unusual buildings.

  • Ground source heat pumps: In most cases few planning restrictions apply as they are hidden from view (i.e. buried beneath the surface).
  • Air source heat pumps: Require planning permission. Typical concerns involve potential of noise nuisance generated from the air intake fan of certain models.
  • Water source heat pumps: Pumps that are not a ‘closed loop' and take water from a water course or borehole will require an abstraction license from the Environment Agency.

Project checklist

All scales

Heat loss It is crucial to accurately measure the buildings existing heat loss, this will be very influential of the size of the system required.
Heat demand Any system must be able to deliver energy at no greater rate than the surrounding environment can collect it over a 12 month period.
System size System size is determined mainly by the heat demand of the end user. Oversizing a system leads to heat dumping (in the surrounding area if no thermal store is available). An undersized unit would require backup using non-renewable fuels.
Heat pumps with a heating output greater than 12kWth are unlikely to be suitable for use with a single phase electrical supply. Therefore it is advisable to check with the regional electricity supplier to ensure that a suitable supply is in place.
Ground conditions If a borehole is required, then a geological survey may be advisable to investigate the hardness of subsoil and or rock as well as the heat conductivity from the ground to the heat extraction loop.
Ownership or rights to use the land area Do you have right to the land extent for at least 25 years? 25 years is the period for the feed-in tariffs and the usual power output warranty of the heat pumps.
Security systems need to be secured to prevent vandalism or theft.

Systems need to be secured to prevent vandalism or theft.

Land uses It is possible to use land over ground source heat pumps for other uses, for example grazing of smaller livestock or wildlife habitat.

Single building

Space requirements A typical detached house would require a ground loop buried 1.5 to 2 meters in a 40 to100 meters long trench or a borehole of 50 to 100 meters.
When installing an air source heat pump there needs to be sufficient space on an external wall for the evaporator unit. Usually these are of a similar size to an air conditioning unit.
Moreover, space is also needed to accommodate the heat pump. A ground source heat pump is of a similar size to that of a refrigerator. Water and air source heat pumps are smaller.
System size Any installed system that has a capacity less than 45kW must be Microgeneration Certification Scheme (see Glossary) certified.

Community and large scale

Space requirements Heat pumps can be used on a community-based level, however the space required will very much depend on the land available and the type of system that is installed. In the first instance a community should consult an expert to ensure that they use the most appropriate technology that suits their opportunities and needs.
Proximity to the customer In a district heating setting, the plant needs to be located close to the end user to reduce the cost of installing pipework and heat losses. In some instances it may be more beneficial to install individual systems per household.
Impact of or on development phasing Development phasing has implications for system sizing particularly where a large development is phased over a long period (for example, 10 years). In such cases it is necessary to determine which phases the system will be sized for. An alternative would be to have several smaller units which are installed at the completion of each phase.


1 May 2012

Average (0 Votes)
The average rating is 0.0 stars out of 5.