Answer: All heating products make some noise, but heat pumps are usually quieter than fossil fuel boilers. A ground source heat pump may reach 42 decibels, and an air source heat pump may reach 40 to 60 decibels, but this depends on manufacturer and installation.
The noise levels of heat pumps is a common concern, particularly among owners of domestic properties. Whilst there have been reports of nuisance systems, these are the symptom of poor planning and substandard installations. As a rule, heat pumps are not noisy. Let’s look into the details of ground source and air source heat pump noise.
Volume isn’t much associated with GSHPs, because of the lack of fan unit. However, people do still ask whether ground source heat pumps are noisy or silent. Indeed, there are components that make some noise, but this is always less than the noise of an air source heat pump.
Heat from the ground is more consistent, and therefore the power capacity of the compressor isn’t as high. The heat pump doesn’t need to operate at full throttle, and this keeps it quieter.
If you stand one metre away in the plant room, a ground source heat pump has a maximum decibel level of 42 decibels. This is similar to a typical domestic refrigerator. This is much less noisy than any fossil fuel boiler, and the noisiest parts are inside your home so the neighbours will not experience any change in outdoor environment.
If the system is installed correctly by a qualified contractor, noise will not be a problem.
Typically, ASHPs will be noisier than GSHPs. However, this is in no way prohibitive and will not be a problem if planned carefully.
As we mention in the above video, often you get what you pay for. Depending on the system, quality of installation, and quality of maintenance – an air source heat pump will have 40 to 60 decibels of noise. Again, this is assuming you are one metre away from the unit. The upper limit is not a common phenomenon.
There are official planning requirements with regards to air source heat pump noise. ASHPs must be below 42 decibels, measured from a distance equal to that separating the unit and the next door property. The noise might be between 40 to 60 decibels from just a metre distance (probably much quieter in reality), and the levels drop significantly as you move away.
In practice, this means that the only way an ASHP would be a problem for neighbours is if the installation planning isn’t rigorous and the heat pump is located incorrectly.
“All heating products can be noisy. If you’re looking at the air source heat pump, it’s all down to location of the air source heat pump; where you’re positioning it in the building or around the property, ideally away from sleeping quarters – where you’re sleeping or where you want to rest. Some people don’t want them put on decking. I always say that when you’re enjoying the decking, you’re there in the summertime, so it’s not producing heat during the summertime, it’s only producing hot water for maybe an hour a day. Then it’s stopped, and it’s just literally an idle box outside. So, I don’t believe them to be noisy at all, it’s all about location and where you’re positioning them.”
“Like Richard said, all heating products are noisy, and I think those of us who’ve lived with oil and gas boilers are familiar with the kind of intermittent roar that you get on the flue, whereas actually with a heat pump you don’t get that kind of thing. As Richard says, there’ll be some noise associated with it, but it isn’t that intermittent roaring, and the intermittent noise is a much bigger pain for customers and for all of us then actually a constant small amount of noise.”
“You’ve got traffic noise, you’ve got all sorts of things and you cannot hear the heat pump over traffic noise at all. So, no they are very, very good.”
“As with any solution, you kind of get what you pay for, so if noise is a real issue for clients, there is a range of products and sound-proofing, whether that’s air source in terms of fans and the performance outside, all the internal heat pump products, in terms of the quality of sound proofing and wrapping round of the internal components. That’s an issue that clients don’t really ever see, because it’s inside the box, but actually that’s the really important bit. It’s something that you’re going to invest and live with this thing for the next 10 or 15 years in your house. It’s the bits you don’t see that you need to pay attention to.”
“They’re positioned up to 15 metres from the property anyway so they don’t need to be physically in that perimeter they can go 15 metres away, so again it’s all location.”
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