Creating a sustainable indoor climate

With its new production plant in Opočno (CZ), the Climate Division of Arbonia meets the strongly growing demand for heat pumps. However, not only the products are sustainable: The production site demonstrates the sustainable heating and cooling of a factory without oil or gas – only with self-manufactured heat pumps. The new production plant in Opočno therefore won 3rd place in the Best of Reality Award in the category "Industrial and Logistics Buildings". The plant manager, Vladimir Šrajer (VS), explains how the division is paying more and more attention to environmental and climate criteria with respect to the production and used materials.

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How does a heat pump actually work – can you explain that to us briefly?

VS: The principle of a heat pump is very simple: "Environmental heat becomes heating energy". Specifically, it uses the clean and free environmental heat that is found directly at our doorstep: Heat is stored in the ground as well as in the air and even in water. A heat pump converts this into useful heat for your own four walls, in other words, for heating and hot water production. Modern heat pumps are also able to cool rooms by reversing the process and transporting excess heat from interiors to the outside. A heat pump is thus not only active during the heating period but can also be used during the summer. 

Heat pumps from Arbonia are certified with the quality label of the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA). What quality features does this involve?

VS: The heat pump only receives this label if it has been tested according to specific quality guidelines and under laboratory conditions. For example, the efficiency of the pump is tested at different outdoor temperatures. The certification not only comprises the technical data but also the manufacturing process or the service.

Arbonia optimises this manufacturing process with the new production plant in Opočno (CZ), which you manage. How does Arbonia make sure that heat pumps are manufactured more sustainably during production?

VS: For the new production hall, we have primarily used construction materials that can really insulate the building, so that we do not lose any heat or waste heat during operation. For this purpose, we have developed a new heat pump with an output of 40 kilowatts, which we can use to heat and cool the entire production plant. This heat pump is connected with our own photovoltaic system, and we store the energy in a battery so that we can produce completely CO₂-neutral.

Heat pumps are a growth area because they help to achieve the Paris Climate Goals and can reduce CO₂ emissions. How many heat pumps can be produced in the new plant?

VS: The demand for heat pumps is currently very high. We are able to produce up to 15'000 heat pumps per year with the current size of the plant. However, this also strongly depends on resources, personnel, and material availability. These factors currently still limit our actual production capacities. In addition, we have enough free space at the new site to expand the production plant and double the capacity in the medium term.

How is the increased demand split between commercial and private customers?

VS: We register a considerably increased demand from both areas. Currently, around 80% of the inquiries are for residential buildings and around 20% are of a commercial nature. Only two years ago, we produced almost exclusively for residential buildings, but now the demand for large heat pumps or industrial buildings is increasing more and more.

How much power can a heat pump generate for a single-family home, and what models does Arbonia offer?

VS: Heat pumps in single-family homes generally produce an output between 3 and 16 kilowatts. The actual output depends on the heating load, among other things – in other words, the total heat requirement including hot water processing of a house. This should not be confused with the annual heating demand of a building at a defined temperature. The heating load varies from house to house, depending on the construction year and insulation value. Arbonia offers heat pumps from 4 to 22 kilowatts – depending on the technology (brine / water, water / water, and air / water heat pumps).

The energy self-sufficient house

When the sun is shining, the photovoltaic system converts the free sunlight into electrical current – so-called direct current – with the help of solar cells. An alternator converts this direct current into alternating current, which can be used via power outlets to operate all kinds of domestic appliances such as a washing machine or stove or to charge an electric car in the garage. Alternating current can also be used to operate heating and air-conditioning devices such as electric radiators or residential ventilation systems.

The current is also used to operate the heat pump. This extracts  heat from its environment, either from the ground, the water,  or the air, and emits it again many times over as heating energy. At the same time, it consumes a small amount of  electricity. 

To ensure that the heat from the heat pump is used as efficiently as possible, it is recommended to combine the heat pump with underfloor heating. This only needs a low flow temperature. If retrofitting an underfloor heating is not practical in renovations, radiators can be installed that can also be operated with a heat pump.

The heat (energy) that is produced by a heat pump should also be storage-capable, since it is not always used immediately. This makes heat storage units an important additional component in every future-oriented system. These units are connected between the heat pump and the heating system (underfloor heating, radiator, convector), so that excess heat is stored for later use. 

It is also advisable to purchase a storage battery (power storage system) for sunny days in order to conserve excess current. At night or on a very cloudy day, this supplies current to the power sockets again via the inverter. This allows a house to be self-sufficiently supplied with current and heat via renewable energies even if the sun is not shining. 

The Climate Division of Arbonia offers a large portion of the products for this environmentally friendly heating system. These include, among others, heat pumps and heat storage units, battery storage, underfloor heating, radiators, convectors, as well as ventilation units and air filters.