Services: Heat Pump System with Ice Storage Source

(Last changed: 2019-08-25.)

We have developed and built our heat pump system with an ice/water tank and a ribbed solar/air collector as heat source, we have programmed the control system and developed software for data analysis and simulations.

Since 2012 we have supported other Do-It-Self enthusiasts in middle Europe with building similar, but highly customized, systems. We have always worked remote-only. As of 2019, we provide these services only to long-term clients.

Our research and the optimization of the system was documented in numerous articles:

Thumbnail: How Does It Work? (The Heat Pump System, That Is)

How Does It Work? (The Heat Pump System, That Is) (2016-01-07) 📌

The reply to numerous questions like: Can you explain - using images, with an animation - how the combination of ice/water tank and solar collector works? Here is a slide-show of operating statuses throughout a typical year.

Thumbnail: Heat Pump System with Water / Ice Storage Source LEO_2: How Does It Work?

Heat Pump System with Water / Ice Storage Source LEO_2: How Does It Work? (2015-11-30) 📌

The heat pump system developed by punktwissen uses a water tank (Ice Storage) and an unglazed solar collector (Energy Fence) as a heat source.

Thumbnail: Heat pump system - system's overview and measurement data

Heat pump system - system's overview and measurement data (2015-11-30) 📌

Yearly and monthly overviews of key performance data - energies - temperatures, diagrams of daily changes, and an overview of the system's specification

Thumbnail: Can the Efficiency Be Greater Than One?

Can the Efficiency Be Greater Than One? (2018-04-09)

What is efficiency actually? The ratio of an output and an input energy – however these may be defined arbitrarily, and input and output are determined also by economics, not only by physics. So the answer is actially: Yes! I provide a non-exhaustive collection of examples.

Thumbnail: Consequences of the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Consequences of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (2018-03-03)

Most textbooks introduce Carnot’s cycle by calculating energies for an ideal gas – but the efficiency would not change if the substance was not 'ideal' in the sense that the equation of state – p(V,T) – were different. Motivated by a paper about Carnot’s efficiency for a machine using Van der Waals gas, I calculated the efficiency for a more general class of substances. But looking at Carnot’s process in a temperature-entropy diagram would have been sufficient. I found it intriguing how strong the constraints are that the laws of thermodynamics impose on the properties of materials – so that these functions of state conspire to result in the infamoue rectangle in the T-S plane.

Thumbnail: The Heat Source Paradox

The Heat Source Paradox (2018-01-19)

"A simple relation between a heat pump system’s key data; yet used in a misleading way in adverts: The worse the performance is, the smaller the heat source can be built."

Thumbnail: Things You Find in Your Hydraulic Schematic

Things You Find in Your Hydraulic Schematic (2018-01-12)

I am starting the New Year of Engineering Blogging at a lighter pace – don’t expect too much content this time!

Thumbnail: Cooling Potential

Cooling Potential (2017-12-13)

We had an interesting discussion about the cooling potential of our heat pump system – in a climate warmer than ours. So we started to think about improving cooling power, by adding active cooling functionality.

Thumbnail: Simulating Life-Forms (2): Cooling Energy

Simulating Life-Forms (2): Cooling Energy (2017-11-28)

I found an incredibly detailed research report by the Australian government – about energy use in private homes, by appliance and purpose. It confirms my reluctance to 'predict' cooling energy as usage of air conditioning depends strongly on life-style choices.

Thumbnail: The Collector Size Paradox

The Collector Size Paradox (2017-11-01)

‘Collector harvest’ does not change much if we only use half the collector. Perhaps counter-intuitive but explained by the characteristics of heat exchangers connected in series: Especially if one of the heat exchangers (in the tank or collector) is already much superior to the other one, it does not help to optimize the good one further.

Thumbnail: Data for the Heat Pump System: Heating Season 2016-2017

Data for the Heat Pump System: Heating Season 2016-2017 (2017-10-12)

The usual number crunching – performance, energies, temperatures, ice, passive cooling – plus a summary of the system’s configuration and ‘cultural’ context.

Thumbnail: Tinkering, Science, and (Not) Sharing It

Tinkering, Science, and (Not) Sharing It (2017-09-17)

That moment when you realize that your tinkering with PVC piping is actually science. Getting nostalgic about my nerdy childhood hobbies.

Thumbnail: Simulations: Levels of Consciousness

Simulations: Levels of Consciousness (2017-08-17)

Getting philosophical – what is a simulation (of our heat pump system), and what are the challenges? For modern buildings, simulating 'user behaviour' can be as critical as simulating 'physics' and control logic.

Thumbnail: Simulating Peak Ice

Simulating Peak Ice (2017-05-02)

Continued from last post – comparing measurements of the level in the tank with simulations of the evolution of the volume of ice. Simulations comprise a model of the control logic, the varying performance factor of the heat pump, heat transport in ground, and energy balances for the hot and cold tanks, and the heat exchangers connected in series. Simulated maximum volume is just 0,7m3 greater than the measured volume, and the true plateau of ice (for about two weeks) is modeled correctly.

Thumbnail: Mr. Bubble Was Confused. A Cliffhanger.

Mr. Bubble Was Confused. A Cliffhanger. (2017-04-08)

Our automated level sensor underestimated the volume of ice in the melting phase. In the coldest January since 30 years Mr. Bubble ware driven over the edge. He had to deal with a cliff … of ice.

Thumbnail: Where to Find What?

Where to Find What? (2017-03-18)

A list of lists – our web resources related to the heat pump system. Bonus: Featuring The Chief Engineer's Art!

Thumbnail: Ice Storage Hierarchy of Needs

Ice Storage Hierarchy of Needs (2017-02-22)

Mulling upon ‘Peak Ice’ in our heat pump system – and detailed simulations versus simple energy accounting. Why the maximum volume of ice obtained in a season depends sensitively on the properties of ground and the collector.

Thumbnail: Earth, Air, Water, and Ice.

Earth, Air, Water, and Ice. (2017-02-05)

Data analysis of the heating season 2014/15 (when we turned off the solar/air collector to simulate a harsher winter). From the net energy in the tank the contribution of ground can be calculated. Data also show that the collector is delivering the more energy the colder the tank is. There are two kinds of energy balances: 1) The net energy ‘in the tank’ (allowing for calculating the contribution of ground) and 2) the three heat exchangers that are connected in series in the brine circuit.

Thumbnail: Frozen Herbs and Latent Energy Storage

Frozen Herbs and Latent Energy Storage (2017-01-20)

From root cellar to heat source … using pond liner. Sort of step-by-step instructions, using an every day analogon.

Thumbnail: My Data Kraken - a Shapeshifter

My Data Kraken - a Shapeshifter (2016-12-22)

Answer to the question: How do you analyze and consolidate your logging data? What is the biggest challenge? It’s the ongoing change of the ‘database schema’: New sensors, shuffled columns in log files, new calculated values…

Thumbnail: And Now for Something Completely Different: Rotation Heat Pump!

And Now for Something Completely Different: Rotation Heat Pump! (2016-11-03)

An invention – an answer to: Can a compression heat pump be built in a completely different way? Yes, the pressure gradient can be created by centrifugal forces!

Thumbnail: Same Procedure as Every Autumn: New Data for the Heat Pump System

Same Procedure as Every Autumn: New Data for the Heat Pump System (2016-10-21)

Similar results as last year, minus special research projects but plus a bit of nostalgia – when celebrating the 4th anniversary of starting up the system.

Thumbnail: Re-Visiting Carnot's Theorem

Re-Visiting Carnot's Theorem (2016-09-18)

From the theory department: Why can’t there be any heat pump / heat engine better than Carnot’s reversible machine? A closer look at the proof by contradiction.

Thumbnail: Hacking My Heat Pump - Part 2: Logging Energy Values

Hacking My Heat Pump - Part 2: Logging Energy Values (2016-08-24)

Connecting Raspberry Pi CAN bus logger to the Stiebel-Eltron heat pump and querying for temperature and energy values. Network traces and details of CAN frames, and automation of logging.

Thumbnail: Hacking My Heat Pump - Part 1: CAN Bus Testing with UVR1611

Hacking My Heat Pump - Part 1: CAN Bus Testing with UVR1611 (2016-08-03)

Extending logging infrastructure – automating reading off our heat pump’s internal energy meter by using Raspberry Pi as monitoring device. Before connecting to the heat pump hardware and software is set up and tested with a CAN bus I am familiar with.

Thumbnail: First Year of Rooftop Solar Power and Heat Pump: Re-Visiting Economics

First Year of Rooftop Solar Power and Heat Pump: Re-Visiting Economics (2016-06-22)

Consolidated data from PV inverter’s logger, smart meter(s) and heat pump monitoring and control: Energy ‘generated’ by the PV panels, fed into the grid or supplied from grid, consumption in the house and by the heat pump in particular. 30% of total energy consumption was provided directly by the PV generator (no battery).

Thumbnail: Photovoltaic Generator and Heat Pump: Daily Power Generation and Consumption

Photovoltaic Generator and Heat Pump: Daily Power Generation and Consumption (2016-06-01)

Comparing detailed time curves – illustrating why it is hard to raise self-consumption and self-sufficiency above statistical averages for homes without heat pumps: PV output, input energy for the heat pump’s compressor, and the home’s total smart meter balance.

Thumbnail: Everything as a Service

Everything as a Service (2016-05-19)

Trying to predict the not-to-distant future of heating for consumers – following the ‘as a service’ philosophy introduced to software products long ago: Heating will be turned into monthly subscriptions bundled with internet access and bank accounts, and home owners will host aesthetically pleasing black-boxes operated by 'platforms'.

Thumbnail: Alien Energy

Alien Energy (2016-04-15)

Our photovoltaic generator is up and running for nearly a year. In this post I analyze the most remarkable day – as per our data logging, when we got nearly the generator’s rated power in mid-winter. Re-visiting the impact of temperature on output power, and the 'focusing' / 'edge of clouds' effect.

Thumbnail: No, You Cannot 'Power Your Home' by One Hour of Cycling Daily

No, You Cannot 'Power Your Home' by One Hour of Cycling Daily (2016-02-07)

You need to get a feeling for numbers 'in renewable energy' - and it more than baffles me when authors of click-bait articles don't bother to the most basic cross-checks. It seems we lost the feel for 'what can power what' when engines replaces horses and humans.

Thumbnail: Temperature Waves and Geothermal Energy

Temperature Waves and Geothermal Energy (2016-01-22)

Solution of the Heat Equation, based on the simple assumption of a harmonically varying surface temperautre, plus a superimposed geothermal gradient. The results can be used for cross-checking the value of the thermal diffusivity of ground.

Thumbnail: Half a Year of Solar Power and Smart Metering

Half a Year of Solar Power and Smart Metering (2015-12-07)

Daily and monthly balances of electrical energy, showing the amount of energy used by the heat pump's compressor versus energy consumed by appliances and control.

Thumbnail: Peter von Rittinger's Steam Pump (AKA: The First Heat Pump)

Peter von Rittinger's Steam Pump (AKA: The First Heat Pump) (2015-11-24)

An account of the 19th century invention, based on the original German research reports.

Thumbnail: The Impact of Ambient Temperature on the Output Power of Solar Panels

The Impact of Ambient Temperature on the Output Power of Solar Panels (2015-11-13)

Verified by analyzing our monitoring data - combining logging from our heat pump's control unit (UVR1611) and the PV inverter's logging.

Thumbnail: Economics of the Solar Air Collector

Economics of the Solar Air Collector (2015-10-14)

My reply to an interesting question on measurement data for last season: Why invest in a solar collector if the performance factor decreases just a bit if you turn it off? Performance would not have been that high after turning the collector off hadn't we used the collector for months before.

Thumbnail: Heat Pump System Data: Three Seasons 2012 - 2015

Heat Pump System Data: Three Seasons 2012 - 2015 (2015-09-29)

Brief summary of last season's performance, plus back-of-the-envelope estimate of economics: Heat pump versus natural gas, based on costs of energy in Austria.

Thumbnail: Having Survived the Hottest July Ever (Thanks, Natural Cooling!)

Having Survived the Hottest July Ever (Thanks, Natural Cooling!) (2015-08-11)

How to use the heat pump’s heat source – the underground water / ice tank – for natural cooling in summer (plus: a brief overview of the whole system, heating versus cooling modes).

Thumbnail: Solar Energy, Batteries, and Autonomy

Solar Energy, Batteries, and Autonomy (2015-07-15)

Third post on our PV generator - with data for the first two months, and my personal assessment of using battery storage.

Thumbnail: Solar Power: Some Data for the First Month.

Solar Power: Some Data for the First Month. (2015-06-17)

Figures and numbers from our PV generator's logging: Combining daily energy balances with data from our power meter, and tracking intermittent short and very high power spikes by parsing the inverter logger's website.

Thumbnail: An Efficiency Greater Than 1?

An Efficiency Greater Than 1? (2015-06-01)

The Coefficient of Performance of a heat pump is much greater than 1 which is due to the definition, omitting input 'ambient energy'. The rather high factor gives proof of the fact that heat pumps operate well above absolute zero.

Thumbnail: Two Weeks After Lift-Off

Two Weeks After Lift-Off (2015-05-18)

An update on our photovoltaic energy generator: safety features, startup, and data for the first two weeks. Currently about 55% of the energy consumed by appliances and the heat pump come directly from the solar panels.

Thumbnail: How to Evaluate a Heat Pump's Performance?

How to Evaluate a Heat Pump's Performance? (2015-04-21)

Definitions of performance indicators and how to determine them – comparing alternative methods, based on sensors available (Coefficient of Performance / Seasonal Performance Factor). Bonus: Cute math puzzle as the comparison boils down to: When is the ratio of averages equal to the average of ratios.

Thumbnail: Ice Storage Challenge: High Score!

Ice Storage Challenge: High Score! (2015-04-01)

At the beginning of February we had turned off the solar collector to mimic a harsher winter. The ice cube, generated by our heat pump since then, stopped growing at about 15m3. About 10m3 of water remained unfrozen. Toying with theories about heat transport ...

Thumbnail: We Have Come a Long Way: Rooftop Solar Power Now!

We Have Come a Long Way: Rooftop Solar Power Now! (2015-03-23)

"We had rebuilt half of our house but not installed solar panels – until recently. Here are some photos and a back-of-the-envelope assessment of economics of PV (in Austria); so now we harvest both energy inputs for the heat pump: Ambient and electrical energy."

Thumbnail: Data Logging with UVR1611 - FAQ

Data Logging with UVR1611 - FAQ (2015-03-18)

What I would have wanted to read when I once made myself familiar with the freely programmable controller. This post is a response to some 'FAQ'.

Thumbnail: The Ice Storage Challenge

The Ice Storage Challenge (2015-03-08)

We switched off the solar collector at the beginning of February 'for research purposes'. This is the status report!

Thumbnail: 'An Unprecedented Test for Europe's Electricity System'

'An Unprecedented Test for Europe's Electricity System' (2015-02-27)

Solar power and the impact of a solar eclipse. Soon we will contribute - our PV generator has already been ordered.

Thumbnail: A Sublime Transition

A Sublime Transition (2015-02-14)

Phase transitions between water, vapor, and ice: Last winter’s viral trend of freezing boiling water in mid-air, and discovering that scientists discuss such effects to this day.

Thumbnail: More Ice? Exploring Spacetime of Climate and Weather.

More Ice? Exploring Spacetime of Climate and Weather. (2015-01-28)

A simplified simulation based on historical weather data: How large should this tank be so that it would hardly ever freeze completely in typical Eastern Austrian winters?

Thumbnail: Personal Risk Assessment

Personal Risk Assessment (2015-01-22)

The previous post on our ice-storage powered heat pump triggered an interesting discussion about the risk of a power outage. Is it more risky to pick a heat pump – compared to other systems?

Thumbnail: We Want Ice!

We Want Ice! (2015-01-15)

Current measurement data showing the formation of ice in the 'ice storage' water tank. Winter is mild here, so there was only 1m3 ice so far. But we might partially deactivate the collector to test the generation of a bigger ice cube.

Thumbnail: Cistern-Based Heat Pump - Research Done in 1993

Cistern-Based Heat Pump - Research Done in 1993 (2014-12-14)

in Iowa. I stumbled upon a research report that described a heat pump similar to ours - except for the fact that the authors considered the collector not essential, based on a crude steady-state estimate of the heat flow from ground to the tank. Pionieering work though as they built the solution incl. data acquisition from scratch.

Thumbnail: Being Creative with What Is Available

Being Creative with What Is Available (2014-11-27)

Build something from anything and to use whatever tool is at hand! Refers to anything we ever did or built - in the physics lab, as software developers, on designing the heat pump system.

Thumbnail: Google and Heating Systems (2)

Google and Heating Systems (2) (2014-11-15)

How things (in the Internet of Things) phone home and/or are accessed directly from the internet. Sometimes anonymously to my shock.

Thumbnail: A 1970s Pioneer in Self-Sufficient Living

A 1970s Pioneer in Self-Sufficient Living (2014-11-08)

This is about heating power from compost and not even tagged with 'Heat Pump' - but nonetheless I can relate to Jean Pain's ideas. I know what it means to be driven by the quest for self-consistency in your life-style choices, your hobbies, and in the way you work.

Thumbnail: Pumped Heat from the Tunnel

Pumped Heat from the Tunnel (2014-10-04)

Summary of a press release that announced a EU 'Smart City' project. Cross-check of numbers for a large heat pump system. The heat source is water from a tunnel.

Thumbnail: Big Data, Big Plastic Worms, and How to Utilize Your Cellar

Big Data, Big Plastic Worms, and How to Utilize Your Cellar (2014-09-07)

An update on the status of our heat pump system - the solar collector has been overhauled - and looking back with nostalgic feelings! What you never wanted to know about small houses and their earth cellars in Eastern Austria.

Thumbnail: What Learning about Feynman's Path Integrals Was Good for

What Learning about Feynman's Path Integrals Was Good for (2014-07-03)

On the arcane nature of pipework, path integrals, and public key infrastructure.

Thumbnail: Art from Plastic and Wood

Art from Plastic and Wood (2014-05-31)

Some pictures of a solar collector built for a client. The water tank is located beneath the garage, and the solar collector installed on top of it. This is a condensed cross-post of a series of posts published to our German blog.

Thumbnail: Measurement Data for Our Heat Pump System - Finally Translated Documentation

Measurement Data for Our Heat Pump System - Finally Translated Documentation (2014-04-13)

This document also includes a more detailed description of the system and some configuration parameters.

Thumbnail: Lost in Translation - an Overdue Update

Lost in Translation - an Overdue Update (2014-02-20)

Short overview and bold announcement of more technical documents to be translated to English.

Thumbnail: Greatest Innovation Ever

Greatest Innovation Ever (2013-09-04)

Thoughts on the power grid - tangentially related to heat pumps that are often considered sort of buffer that will help to stabilize the smart grid (via demand side management).

Thumbnail: Welcome to the Real World!

Welcome to the Real World! (2013-08-14)

Actually an away note from my social media break - but also showing off our tomato plants, attached to the solar collector used as an espalier. I've included brief information on the operations of the collector in winter versus summer (cooling mode)-

Thumbnail: Controlling the Four Elements. Or: Why Heat Pumps Are Cool.

Controlling the Four Elements. Or: Why Heat Pumps Are Cool. (2013-02-26)

Hydraulic design and short overview of our heat pump system that uses a water tank ('ice storage') 'powered by' an unglazed solar collector as its heat source.

Thumbnail: The First Heat Pump Ever Was Built in Austria

The First Heat Pump Ever Was Built in Austria (2012-12-10)

History on engineering - set in my home country.

Thumbnail: Why Do Heat Pumps Pump Energy so Easily?

Why Do Heat Pumps Pump Energy so Easily? (2012-05-10)

Brief (yes, really) explanation how a heat pump works.