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Do heat pumps make much noise?

Heat pump systems are a low-carbon alternative to conventional space heating and hot water systems.  When considering installing heat pump systems there is often a concern about noise.  Ground source heat pumps are quieter than air source heat pumps. This is because they have no need for a fan and there is a reduced compressor power capacity requirement because heat extracted from the ground is generally warmer than that from the air.  It is these components that generate the most sound.  The noise generated by a ground source heat pump has been compared to a large American-style refrigerator, or about 42 decibels at 1 metre.  These types of heat pump systems are usually situated indoors, often in a utility room or garage.

Air source heat pumps require a fan to pull air into the system and a larger compressor to turn cool ambient heat into heat required to warm a house.  These types of heat pump systems are located outside the house, usually along a wall so as to reduce the pipe length between the heat pump and the central heating system. This minimises heat loss.  Noise is only generated when the air source heat pump is in operation and has been compared to anything from a modern washing machine on a spin cycle to a chest freezer, or between about 50 and 65 decibels at 1 metre.  The sound generated will depend on the brand and model of air source heat pump that you choose.  Sound is, of course, minimised by double glazing, making it barely noticeable and a sound you will quickly get used to.  When it is warm enough to sit outside it is unlikely that you’ll have your heating on so the noise would not be an issue.

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