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Heat pump technology is not very well-known in South Africa. Although it seems like a strange concept, you probably come into contact with this technology more often than you realize. Air conditioners use heat pump technology to make hot air cold, the same way in which a refrigerator does. A heat pump basically reverses the process.
Basically, a heat pump is a device that moves heat from one location (the source) to another (the sink), by exploiting the physical properties of an evaporating and condensing fluid known as a refrigerant. Through a process of compression and condensing the heat is exchanged from the refrigerant to the water that needs heating.
Solar heat pumps are very efficient as they work on a ratio of 5:1 . This means for every 1kw of electricity used a solar heat pump will generate 5kw electricity. They compare very favourably with solar geysers in heating water, and in some instances they might even be more efficient.
A typical heat pump installation will set you back in the region of R9,000 to R16,000 for a retro-fit system on your existing geyser, or between R17,000 and R40,000 for a whole new installation.
Articles and resources:
Sun Powered Heat Pumps - By Alison Cole
Solar Heating Systems - A Popular Green Solution - By John Greyling
Solar Heat Pumps Explained - By Michael Bloch
Solar Heat Pumps - By titanium-heatpumps
Pumps enable energy-efficient water heating - By Sylvester Haskins
Heat Pump - The Most Efficient For Commercial & Residential Buildings - By Zameer Anwar
Common Heating Systems Compared - By Paul Blanchina
Understanding Heating Terms - By Cam Allen
Q & A About Swimming Pool Heaters - By Kristen Easton
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What is a heat pump - KnowYourPlanet
Geo Thermal Heat pumps.Theory and operation from Sibley.
EarthLinked GeoExchange Heat Pump System
Columbia Water and Light Conservation Tips: Heat Pump Operation
Geothermal Heat Pumps - Save 50% Energy Global Warming