A brief history

In the middle of the 20th century, home heating was mainly based on the combustion of low-cost fossil fuels.

How did heat pump heating develop at that time?

The history of heat pumps began in the 20th century with the development of fluid compression refrigeration machines.

In France, it was only in 1950 that households installed refrigerators on a massive scale. Incredible when you think about it, it is extremely recent, we wonder how people did to live before. It is the symbol of the comfort of food hygiene.

The refrigerator is the same principle as the heat pump, but in reverse. It will draw the calories present inside to lower the temperature and reject it outside (in the kitchen). 

It is also during this period that the main air-conditioning devices for cars, buildings, etc. were developed, especially in the United States.

However, the development of heat pumps in the domestic sector remained slow and did not convince households. The oil crises gave a boost to the installation of heat pumps (1973 and 1979). Several programs were launched by groups such as EDF (1980: PERCHE program, during the second oil crisis).

What slows down its development is :
  • the bad insulation of the houses (which also caused the failure of the development of the heating floors, because a bad insulation requires more power)
  • the lack of reliability of the material used (poor adaptation for domestic use)
  • the price and complexity of installation
  • the lack of training of installers
  • the low cost of fossil fuels (individuals are not encouraged to invest in these systems)
  • no ecological awareness
At the beginning of the 1980's, houses started to be properly insulated, which allows to need less power to heat the house, which allows the installation of low temperature floor heating systems. This lowering of temperature also allows a better performance of heat pump systems.

In the 2000s, its development in France was driven by the following factors :
  • the appearance of high-performance equipment and new technologies (ground source collectors / Scroll compressors, etc.)
  • the contribution of heat pumps to renewable energy
  • the creation of quality labels (QUALIPAC) and associations (AFPAC)
  • long-term savings
  • the obtaining of tax credits
  • the objective of the Grenelle de l'environnement
If the installation is done correctly, it does not require any maintenance and does not represent any danger. 
The search for new refrigerants is permanent, so that they are less dangerous for the environment in case of leaks, also less dangerous for the inhabitants (risk of explosions), as well as a better thermal power. We will see it in an article dedicated to refrigerants.

I will mainly talk about "traditional" heat pumps, but there are several variants. Like magnetic heat pumps which would allow to obtain a spectacular efficiency ratio, but which, for the moment, is not feasible on a reasonable scale.

You'll only receive email when they publish something new.

More from Heat pump study project
All posts