While the benefits of an air source heat pump are evident to many homeowners, at Cinergi, we often hear reservations about their appearance. Granted, an external heat pump unit is no looker, but it is reasonably compact and neat, and there are ways to disguise or improve its appearance.
Heat pumps can be disguised with bespoke covers, vinyl wraps, garden screening, or strategically placed furniture and planting. Following the manufacturer’s guidelines and ensuring airflow around the unit is essential for safety and efficiency.
How an air source heat pump looks is a valid concern, and the Cinergi team is here to help. Read on for our guide on making your heat pump look more attractive so you can focus on the energy and cost-saving benefits of this fantastic renewable technology.
For a survey and quotation, please get in touch with Cinergi today. Our friendly, family team supplies and installs air source heat pumps and other renewable solutions like solar panels across the South Coast.
Can air source heat pumps be covered?
The good news for those with an eye for design is yes, air source heat pumps can be covered. The benefits are not just aesthetic; covering your outdoor unit with a well-designed enclosure can protect it from the elements and prolong its life. Some experts actively recommend heat pump covers for this reason alone.
However, as with all electrical equipment, it’s crucial to ensure proper ventilation. The cover should allow sufficient airflow around the unit to ensure optimal performance and prevent overheating.
Poor installation could significantly affect the unit’s operation, so it’s crucial to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions and consult with your installer to ensure the safety and efficiency of your heat pump cover.
Does covering an air source heat pump make it less efficient?
Covering an air source heat pump can reduce efficiency if the cover restricts proper airflow. Air source heat pumps rely on air exchange to operate effectively, and obstructing their air intake could lead to reduced performance.
Proper design and installation of covers that maintain adequate airflow will help prevent overheating and ensure the unit continues to operate efficiently.
How to disguise your air source heat pump unit
Let’s look at the various ways you can disguise the appearance of an air source heat pump. Whatever method you choose, always ensure the cover is durable, weather-resistant, and, above all, allows proper ventilation.
Specially designed heat pump covers
The most effective way to conceal your air source heat pump is with an enclosure that has been specially designed for the job. There are a growing number of enclosures on the market in line with the growing demand for heat pumps. They are made to ensure proper ventilation and come in a range of standard sizes, but some suppliers also offer bespoke builds.
Heat pump covers come in a range of attractive louvre or decorative designs. The enclosures are typically wooden, which can be stained to match your exterior colour scheme, or coated aluminium in a range of colours.
Heat pump enclosures are heavy, so are generally fixed to the wall or floor. Make sure that the fixings allow for easy removal to save hassle when it comes to servicing and maintenance.
A free-standing or fixed privacy screen is an effective, inexpensive way to hide an air source heat pump without causing access or ventilation issues. There are lots of decorative garden privacy screens on the market in various styles and materials.
You could opt for wooden fence panels or trellis, which come in various styles, such as traditional panels, lattice, or contemporary slatted designs. Bamboo, reed and hazel screens offer a more natural looking and eco-friendly alternative.
Composite privacy screens are increasingly popular, as are living screens, created using plants like hedging or climbers. Ultimately, the choice depends on your budget and the desired look. Once again, always ensure that your screen doesn’t get in the way of airflow.
Custom vinyl wrap
If you’re looking to conceal your air source heat pump, wrapping it with vinyl is another great option. It comes in various colours and patterns, allowing you to customise the look of your heat pump to match the look of your outdoor space.
Vinyl wrap is popular because it is weather-resistant, easy to clean, and can withstand outdoor elements. It is also designed to be removable without causing any damage to the surface of the heat pump.
It’s important to ensure that the vinyl wrap doesn’t cover the unit’s exhaust vents, as proper airflow is crucial for the unit’s operation.
Garden furniture, such as sofa sets, can be strategically placed to obscure an air source heat pump from view. Durable materials like rattan, metal, or weather-resistant wood can withstand the elements and provide an effective year-round screen.
Plants and greenery
The green-fingered amongst you might consider getting creative with greenery to disguise their air source heat pump. While it may not conceal the whole unit, it can significantly soften its appearance and draw the eye away.
Tall shrubs, potted plants, or even vertical gardens can be strategically placed to provide natural camouflage while allowing for sufficient airflow. The added advantage, of course, is that you can simultaneously add texture, colour and visual interest to your outdoor space.
Place in a concealed location
If you have an external wall area in a discreet, concealed area, e.g., an alleyway, consider placing your unit there. As long as there is adequate airflow, around two metres of clearance in front of the unit and is accessible for maintenance, then this is the ideal solution and doesn’t incur any extra cost.
What about fabric covers?
There are lots of fabric heat pump covers available, but we advise that you avoid those on the cheaper end of the spectrum. Providing they are breathable and manufacturer-approved, fabric covers can be suitable for keeping the unit clean and debris-free during construction, for example. They may also be suitable for winter use, but it’s essential to follow manufacturer guidelines and get your installer’s advice.
Benefits of covering air source heat pumps
Weather protection: Certain covers, like vinyl wrap and specially designed enclosures, can shield air source heat pumps from harsh weather conditions, preventing damage and extending the unit’s lifespan.
Visually pleasing: A well-designed cover can conceal the unit and keep your outdoor space looking attractive.
Reduced noise: Heat pumps operate well within acceptable sound levels, but if you’re sensitive to noise, then more robust covers may dampen the sound.
Improved energy efficiency: Specialised covers with insulation features can help maintain the heat pump’s energy efficiency during colder seasons.
Drawbacks of covering air source heat pumps
Airflow restriction: Poorly installed covers can hamper the unit’s ventilation, leading to reduced efficiency and the danger of overheating.
Maintenance access: Permanent covers may cause access issues regarding maintenance and inspections.
Professional installation: Certain covers, like vinyl wrap, require professional installation to ensure proper fitting and ventilation, increasing the overall cost.
Looking for air source heat pump installation and advice?
Air source heat pumps are ideal for homeowners looking to reduce their energy costs and carbon emissions. While the benefits are clear, it’s a significant investment for most people, so it’s important that you are happy with the way your outdoor unit looks.
We hope you have found the advice here helpful and that it has addressed your concerns about ‘unsightly’ heat pump units.
For more advice and to arrange a quotation, please get in touch.