Heat pumps: Split vs. Integrated systems?
So you’ve decided to get a heat pump for your home. The question now is… should you get an integrated or split unit system? We’ve spelled out all the pros and cons of both types of heat pumps here
(split 4.0/5.0, integrated 2.0/5.0)
Split heat pump water heaters are the oldest versions of heat pumps around and also the most affordable. A 300 lit split heat pump system will cost around $4800.
Integrated heat pump water heaters are equipped with more advanced technologies to make them more streamlined. This explains its higher price, a 300 lit integrated system will cost around $6600.
(split 4.0/5.0, integrated 4.0/5.0)
Split heat pumps have a separate, larger compressor. The larger the compressor, the more quickly the heat pump system can generate hot water. Integrated units are paired with a smaller compressor so they are more compact.
If your family has high usage and requires a lot of water every other hour, get a system with a bigger compressor.
If your family has peak periods every 4-5 hours or so, an integrated heat pump with a smaller compressor should be good enough to serve your needs.
For split systems: The further away the compressor is from the tank, the lower the efficiency. This is because heat is rapidly lost through the refrigerant tubes when it runs from compressor to tank.
(split 2.0/5.0, integrated 5.0/5.0)
Split systems require much skill and time to install. First, the compressor and tank are installed. A refrigerant pipe is run from the tank to the compressor, similar to that of air conditioning trunking. Finally, refrigerant is pumped into the pipe with care. In an uncontrolled external environment, any dust or air bubbles that enter the refrigerant system will result in a significant drop in efficiency.
Integrated heat pump water heaters are plug and play systems. Installers need only be concerned with the straightforward task of running water pipes from the heater to bathrooms.
(split 4.0/5.0, integrated 4.0/5.0)
Both split and integrated systems give you the flexibility to install your hot water tank as close to your water outlets as possible. However, if your hot water demands are high and you require a faster hot water recovery rate, you will need a large compressor. If your internal house space is limited, this compressor will have to be installed externally, and the spilt heat pump system will come in useful.
(split 2.0/5.0, integrated 4.5/5.0)
Split systems require a professional maintenance package similar to that of air-conditioners. Refrigerant evaporates from the external refrigerant pipe after a few years and needs to be replenished every 1 -2 years.
Integrated systems run refrigerant in an internal solid steel coil, this ensures nothing evaporates so the system does not require refrigerant top-up maintenance.
Both systems require homeowners to clean compressor filters once every year. This is a fairly simple procedure and requires no expert help.
(split 3.0/5.0, integrated 4.5/5.0)
Split systems have longer refrigerant pipes running from the compressor to the tank so they use more refrigerant. Integrated systems minimize the amount of refrigerant used.
Split heat pumps score 3.2/5.0 while integrated heat pumps score 4.0/5.0
Though split systems are more affordable, it only makes sense to use them if you need fast hot water recovery every hour. This requirement is quite unlikely for households in Singapore. The more technologically advanced integrated systems still offer homeowners greater peace of mind.