Commercial Hot Water Heat Pumps

Hot Water, Hydronic Heating & Process Heating Solutions

Commercial Hot Water

When a domestic hot water system goes down unless you want a cold shower, the system will need to be replaced, but in the big scheme of things, it is a simple process. However in a commercial situation when there are many users to keep in mind a simple off the shelf solution will not be available.

Consideration must be given to the location of the equipment, the size and capacity of the equipment, serviceability of the equipment as well as ongoing running costs.

Often gas boilers are used due to their ability to be served and up and running fast. However, their running costs can amount to a small fortune. Hence where heat pumps come into their own for consideration.

Also unlike a single boiler system, a heat pump system can be designed with several units or a multi-staged system that allows for redundancy and increases or decrease capacity as peak uses change during the day. Often saving thousands in operational costs each year.

What are some Project Considerations?

A hot water heat pump can come in several forms and it depends on its final use and application. From air-conditioning loops to hot water for processing to hot water showers.

Heat Exchanger Considerations

Some of the things we consider are the design function of the internal heat exchangers.

  • Single-walled heat exchangers – ideal for air-conditioning circuits
  • Double-walled heat exchangers – Ideal for hot shower systems
  • Cu-Ni, Stainless Steel and Titanium heat exchangers – all depending on water quality and project requirements.

Refrigerant Considerations

Also, the temperature range and efficiencies of the project must also be considered. Different refrigerants give different outcomes.

  • R407C – Ideal for up to 58 Celsius systems; such as for air-conditioner lops. They are efficient, compact and reliable systems.
  • R134A – Ideal for projects requiring temperature up to 70 Celsius. This refrigerant has been designed for higher temperature outputs but has a lower refrigerant capacity rating. Meaning for the same kW output you need a much larger system. – More suited for hot water projects where the extra temperature is critical.

There are other refrigerants like CO2 which can achieve temperatures in excess of 90 Celsius, however, they too suffer from low capacity outputs and are thus far larger again for the same kW output. Thus often very expensive systems and sold only by high-end specialty services. Unfortunately, we do not build these systems but we can source them if required.

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Heat Source Considerations

Heat pumps draw energy from one source using a refrigerant loop and then boost the heat of the refrigerant using a compressor and inject this higher heat into a 2nd source. This heat energy originally comes from the ambient air or a water source and can be used to eject heat into air or water as required.

  • Air Source – may be installed outdoors with prop fans or in a plant room using specialised ducting equipment and high static fans.
  • Water Source – Can be from a cooling tower, a trigeneration system, a gas loop or even a geothermal loop. Heat is drawn out of the water loop and like with an air system injected into the hot water loop. These can be installed outdoors or in a plant room as required.

Benefits and Disadvantages


  • Saves money through reduced running costs.
  • only 2 to 5-year payback
  • Energy-efficient meaning low elective use compared to produced.
  • Environmentally friendly – A greener solution.
  • Fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional water heating system
  • Effective in High, medium and low ambient temperatures
  • No need for solar panels, inverters, and batteries
  • Easy to install and connect to your hot water plumbing


  • Not suitable in extremely cold climates as refrigerant capacities begin to decline and required heat levels can’t be maintained.
  • Requires 3-phase power on site.
  • High initial costs are often a deciding factor.
  • Although easy to install, a professional Electrician and Refrigeration (Air-conditioner) tradesperson and often a Plumber are required to install and commission the hot water heat pump.
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Commercial Hot Water Heat Pumps vs Alternative Considerations

Hot water systems have two designs – storage and continuous flow (also called instantaneous).

  • Storage hot water systems heat and maintain the warm water in their tank until it’s used. Hot water is instant but limited to the tank’s storage capacity.
  • Continuous systems quickly heat unlimited water when you need it. It takes a little while to warm up, but it doesn’t use energy keeping water hot when it is not being used.

Heat Pumps are better suited for Storage hot water systems. (Other Options

Other alternative systems to consider:

Electric Hot Water System

These systems use electric-powered elements at the base of the tank to heat water. Continuous electric systems have an element coiled around the pipes which then heat the water. These systems are typically low-cost and reliable.

However, are one of the most expensive for running costs as they use 1kW of electricity to produce 1kW of heat energy. So are better suited as backup systems for smaller or domestic projects.

Gas Hot Water System

These systems use a gas burner to heat and maintain the temperature of the tank’s water. They can achieve 100 Celsius or more if required.

Continuous gas systems use burners that only ignite when you need hot water. They emit fewer greenhouse gases and are cost-effective alternatives.

More cost-effective in running costs than an electric element system and a great first upgrade for domestic or commercial clients looking to save costs.

Solar Hot Water System

These systems generate heat using the sun and solar panels on the roof of your home. The heat generated is used to heat and maintain the temperature of the tank’s water.

However, they are great during summer or in places that are warm all year round, but as winter or cloudy weather sets in they lose their appeal very quickly.

Often used as a running cost saver with one of the other systems to back them up during these poor months.

Is heat pump the right option for you?

Heat pumps are the best upgrade option for water heating where temperatures under 70 Celsius is required. They typically do cost more to buy and install, but with a 2 to 5 year pay back against the savings. They really do pay for themselves.

If you live in an area with a low average temperature, a heat pump hot water system is not the most effective solution. However moving the installation into a plant room often remedies these short comings.

Australia is quite a lucky country in that much of Australia is warm all year round, making it a perfect solution for Australia. Areas like the Snowy Mountains, Tasmania and other areas which get sub-zero winters it is better to have a gas system for back up during the cold seasons or as mentioned move the heat pump into a plant room for all year round use.

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