New Air Source Heat Pump Lab Study Published in Journal Sustainability

New Air Source Heat Pump Lab Study Published in Journal Sustainability

Air source heat pumps are gaining attention in cold climate regions, as several models available on the market can operate at outside temperatures of minus 15 degrees F or even lower. Its ability to efficiently extract heat from the outside air and transfer it inside to heat a building, compared to creating heat through combustion heating systems, makes it an efficient space heating alternative.   

To better understand advancements of air source heat pumps in sustained sub-freezing regions, a lab study of multiple heat pump models was performed in collaboration between the University of Alaska Fairbanks Bristol Bay Campus, Alaska Center for Energy and Power, Cold Climate Housing Research Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Analysis North. They published a paper titled “Empirical Study of the Effect of Thermal Loading on the Heating Efficiency of Variable-Speed Air Source Heat Pumps” in the journal Sustainability. 

“It is well understood that the efficiency of an air source heat pump decreases with decreasing outdoor temperature, as it is more difficult to extract the heat from colder air,” said Tom Marsik, who holds a joint position with ACEP and the National Renewable Energy Lab. “What is not well understood, however, is how the heat pump efficiency varies with different levels of thermal loading [the demand for space heating], even though it is an important consideration for sizing and controlling these systems.” 

This research is funded by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the State of Alaska.


Researchers Tom Marsik, Robby Tartuilnguq Strunk and Isabella Chittumuri visit the cold chamber used for studying air source heat pumps at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center. Photo by Vanessa Stevens.