The social housing sector has been amongst the first to really embrace renewable heating in a drive to combat fuel poverty and bring down carbon emissions. With leading heat pump manufacturer, Mitsubishi Electric launching a new range of Ultra Quiet Ecodan units,HA Magazine visits the company’s manufacturing plant in Livingston to find out more.
The Ecodan range of air source heat pumps has led the market over the past decade with what Mitsubishi Electric claim are “amongst the quietest on the market and designed to provide any home with reliable, trouble-free renewable heating and hot water.”
And now the manufacturer has developed Ultra Quiet air source heat pumps that make as much noise as a typical library to offer complete flexibility on where units can be installed whilst meeting Permitted Development.
The Ultra Quiet Ecodan air source heat pumps are available in 8.5kW and 11.2kW sizes with sound levels that are three times quieter than previous models, virtually eliminating planning restrictions.
Designed specifically for residential applications, these models offer superb, market-leading energy efficiency and sound levels and enable almost any home to benefit from high performance, renewable heating.
“The government has already recognised how important air source heat pumps will be for the future of low carbon heating in the UK and is forecasting one million sales a year by 2030,” explained Max Halliwell, Product Manager for the company’s renewable heating systems, as he took the visiting Press through the product launch at the company’s impressive Scottish facility.
“One of the key areas that will affect adoption of these energy-saving systems is noise which is why permitted development exists and these new units are designed specifically to overcome any issues with noise.”
In the residential environment, sound is important because low sound increases the flexibility of where a heat pump can be positioned. To ensure neighbours aren’t disturbed, Permitted Development requires sound levels to meet certain limitations, with the sound pressure level not exceeding 42 decibels, dB(A) when measured at a point one metre away from the neighbour’s nearest door or window.
“New Ultra Quiet Ecodan takes this to the next level with low sound and high performance which mean homeowners can now choose the most convenient location for their heat pump, giving complete flexibility on placement and still meeting Permitted Development requirements,” adds Halliwell.
The 8.5kW ultra quiet Ecodan has a sound power level of only 58 dB(A) which is an 8 dB(A) drop over the model it replaces. It also has a sound pressure level of just 45 dB(A) at one metre – a level similar to a library.
How we receive sound
Sound power can be thought of as the cause of a noise or the total sound energy emitted by a source in all directions, whereas sound pressure is the effect or the sound we hear and this is determined by the environment and by the distance from the source of sound. We think of this as the intensity or loudness of a sound. An ambulance registers 120 dB(A) whereas a vacuum cleaner registers around 73 dB(A) and typical room conversation comes in at around 60 dB(A).
“With a sound pressure level of just 45 dB(A), the new Ecodan is whisper-quiet, with levels just above that of a library, meaning it will pass the Permitted Development requirements easily and can be installed almost anywhere to suit to homeowner,” explains Halliwell.
“This is a result of a decade of manufacturing Ecodan in Scotland and we have used this knowledge and experience to refine Ecodan and design it specifically for UK residential use.”
And the facilities at the Livingston plant are certainly impressive. Mitsubishi Electric has invested significantly on the site. They not only have a dedicated anechoic chamber to measure sound levels and a room where they can drop temperatures down to -30˚C to measure performance, but have actually built two identical houses in the car park to put the units to test in a domestic setting.
One house uses traditional gas heating whilst the other uses an Ecodan unit and R&D staff monitor the hundreds of detectors in the two buildings to help develop and refine the product range even further.
This has led to innovations in fan and compressor design for the new models which has enabled the units to achieve such low levels of sound whilst increasing performance and efficiency. Both models in the range (PUHZ-W85VAA and PUHZ-112VAA) are both A++ ErP rated and also available with coastal protection for areas where they can be exposed to saline.
If the government’s predictions of residential heating being dominated by air source heat pumps over the next decade are correct, then Mitsubishi Electric’s dedicated investment in manufacturing in Britain for Britain will have paid off.
Regardless of this, anyone using a renewable heat pump will want complete reliability and low noise levels so Mitsubishi Electric’s Ultra Quiet Ecodan unit is definitey one to consider.