The German Environment Ministry has approved the application of the Blue Angel ecolabel to domestic heat pumps, including the requirement that they run with natural refrigerants, according to the 2023 edition of the label (DE-UZ 230), valid until 2027.

“The heat pump is a key technology for moving away from fossil fuel heating systems and is used not only for space heating but also for producing hot water. … Nevertheless, there is still considerable potential for reducing the environmental impact of heat pumps,” notes the 2023 edition.

“The Blue Angel requirements are therefore designed in a way that combines the absence of fluorinated refrigerants with energy-efficient operation of the heat pumps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions,” it continues. “In addition, the formation of long-lasting degradation products of refrigerants (PFAS) is avoided and noise emissions are limited.”

A report published last year by the German Environment Agency (UBA) indicated that natural refrigerants would be required in heat pumps awarded the label once it was formally updated. The report found that R290 in particular is “well suited for energy-efficient heat pumps” thanks to its specific thermodynamics. It added that another advantage of using hydrocarbons is their good solubility with oil, which leads to good removal from the evaporator due to viscosity reduction. “In practice, this has a positive effect on the efficiency of the heat pump,” said the report.

Caption: New Blue Angel Ecolabel for heat pumps, requiring climate-friendly natural refrigerants, energy efficiency and low noise

Efficiency and low noise

In addition to natural refrigerants, the new Blue Angel ecolabel for heat pumps energy requires efficiency and low noise.

These award criteria apply to heat pumps with electrically driven compressors for space heating with or without hot water production. This includes heat pump technologies such as air-to-water, brine-to-water and water-to-water with a nominal heat output of up to 70kW/19.9TR (according to the standard rating conditions of the EN 14511-2 European standard).

Blue Angel heat pumps must have a seasonal coefficient of performance (SCOP) in temperate climates of at least the following:

SCOP in the medium- temperature range (55°C/131°F)SCOP in the low- temperature range (35°C/95°F)

The ecolabel does not apply to heat pump technologies such as:

– reversible air/air HP

– air-to-air HP with use of exhaust air

– hybrid systems

– standalone domestic hot water heat pumps

With the motto “Good for me. Good for the Environment”, the Blue Angel has been the ecolabel of the German federal government for more than 40 years, setting standards for environmentally friendly products and services and serving as a guide for purchasing. It is one of the oldest and most respected ecolabels alongside the Nordic Swan.

More information on the Blue Angel criteria in German can be found at this link. An English translation is expected soon.