Monday, September 20, 2021

BESA launches comprehensive guide to heat pumps

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has updated its technical guidance on heat pump technology.

The Guide to Good Practice for Heat Pump Installation (TR/30) is the most comprehensive summary of the technology produced so far. It clearly identifies and explains all the different types of heat pump available and clarifies which version to choose for each application.

The guide, which is available to buy from the BESA website, draws on the increased experience of heat pump technology in the field and provides an overview of the different applications including their benefits and limitations as well as providing outline design information for each.

It also explains how to avoid the design problems that have impaired the performance of some systems to help improve consumer satisfaction and cut more carbon emissions. It also follows July’s launch of BESA’s free guidance on how to apply the special reduced VAT rate of 5% to heat pump installations under the energy saving materials and heating equipment scheme.

Heat pumps were highlighted by the Prime Minister as a key technology for delivering many of the government’s emissions goals, including reducing the heavy carbon impact of heating, and he tasked the industry with installing 600,000 a year by 2028. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) also set a target of one million a year by the 2030’s towards an eventual total of 19 million to help achieve net zero by 2050.


Industry estimates put the current annual rate of heat pump installations at around 71,000 and ramping that up to achieve the government’s ultimate target would require an additional 40,000 trained installers, according to the Heat Pump Association.

The updated guidance contains the latest references to building standards and codes of practice as well as data provided by CIBSE and BSRIA in their most recent guides. Carbon emission factors have been updated along with explanations of new and emerging technologies that use different refrigerant types and blends and so present new hazards and safety considerations.

“Since the first edition of the BESA guide was published, there has been a significant increase in the use of heat pump technologies, which has resulted in a broader range of choices for end users, specifiers and installers, and also a greater knowledge of their potential benefits and pitfalls,” said Will Pitt, chair of the BESA technical committee.

“New regulations, assurance schemes, government incentives and market entrants mean that heat pumps are now a far bigger presence in our industry. This makes the need for a recognised source of good practice increasingly vital to avoid some of the design problems that can undermine performance.”

BESA is concerned that poor installations could damage the reputation of the whole technology and hinder uptake by end users. Its new guide can be used to help improve awareness and understanding of how the technology works.

“We find that many heating engineers, including very experienced ones, struggle to understand the technical aspects of heat pump systems,” added Pitt. “It is a big step from installing conventional boiler driven central heating that is designed to operate at and above 70degC to a low temperature approach.

“Installers must consider the heat pump as part of a wider whole building solution that includes addressing any problems with the building’s fabric, ensuring the consumer understands how to operate the system, and making sure it is properly controlled. Referring to the new BESA guide will help contractors cover all the bases.”

BESA also runs heat pump installer training through its online Academy. The course was developed in collaboration with the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and heating equipment manufacturer Worcester Bosch. Launched in March, it has already trained hundreds of plumbing and heating engineers, who were looking to upskill to take on heat pump work. Find out more about the course here.

TR30 is available to buy here. It costs £70 to BESA members and £140 to non-members.

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