Stuart Duff takes a look at noise levels of renewable heating appliances.

So, this column has been focusing on why I believe the heating profession needs to focus more on renewable heating in general and air source heat pumps in particular. This month I thought I’d look at the issue of noise.

Heat pump sales are still a fraction of UK annual boiler sales, so if you are keeping busy and profitable with gas, why am I banging on about heat pumps so much?

And, aren’t they noisy things, needing permitted development?

Firstly, I am passionate about this industry and like many, I realise that we can’t rely on gas into the future.  Regardless of any possible plans to get more ‘cheap’ gas from fracking, we know that the environmental implications of burning fossil fuels mean that as a nation, we have to change.

We also know that we are now dependent on imports of gas, leaving the country reliant on supplies from regions such as Russia and the Middle East – without even mentioning any possible tariffs that may emerge as a result of Brexit!

This has already been recognised by Government with the Committee on Climate Change forecasting that heat pump heating will rise to over 1 million units per year by 2030 – just over a decade away. 

Heat pumps are therefore seen as a major part of the future of heating in British homes, so you could do worse than looking at what skills and tools you and your business need to sustain your future plans.

Heat pumps are thought to be noisy though and if they are being installed in back yards and alleyways, won’t this cause neighbourly disputes over noise?

Permitted development allows the installation of air source heat pumps without the need to apply for planning permission, with rules to protect both the homeowner and surrounding neighbours.

These include the need for a sound calculation to be made based on the location and distance to the nearest neighbour. 

The sound level set ensures that the sound level required for restful sleep recommended by the World Health Organisation of 35dBA is not exceeded, this means keeping the external sound level at the façade equal or below 42dBA 

Heat pumps have come on in leaps and bounds over the last decade and market leaders such as the Ecodan range are even endorsed by the Noise Abatement Society, which has awarded the range its prestigious Quiet Mark.

It’s also worth thinking about how noisy a gas boiler is as well.  If you’ve heard one sparking up on a quiet night, they do make quite a noise. It’s just we have become familiar with it over the past 30-40 years.

Stuart Duff is editor of Professional Heating & Plumbing Installer magazine

If you have any questions about this article or want to know more, please email us. We will contact the author and will get back to you as soon as we can.