Dutch manufacturer Weheat has launched what it has called a “unique” hybrid propane (R290) heat pump for domestic heating and cooling. The 8kW (2.3TR) Blackbird heat pump, which entered the market earlier in 2023, is a compact and horizontal monobloc unit that is “barely visible” on a building’s flat roof, according to the manufacturer.
Weheat has said that it wants to deliver 1,000 of its heat pumps this year, with long-term plans to produce up to 20,000 units annually. To ensure production capacity, the company has plans to set up a 15,000m2 (161,458ft2) factory.
With its product, Weheat says it is striving for a more sustainable future.
Hybrid heat pump
According to Weheat, the Blackbird is a hybrid heat pump that works in combination with a home’s existing central heating system. While the Blackbird provide space heating via a home’s underfloor heating or radiators, the boiler provides hot tap water.
“The Blackbird heat pump is designed to be compatible with any boiler, regardless of model or age,” the manufacturer says. “Even if you have an old boiler in your home, the Blackbird can still be connected seamlessly and work together to heat your home efficiently.”
Weheat’s R290 heat pump can easily be converted into a fully-electric unit to provide domestic hot water as well as space heating.
“The conversion to a fully electric version is made possible by a software update, the installation of additional pipes and the installation of a boiler tank,” it says. “This ensures flexibility and preparation for a future without dependence on fossil fuels.”
“The Blackbird heat pump is designed to be compatible with any boiler, regardless of model or age. Even if you have an old boiler in your home, the Blackbird can still be connected seamlessly and work together to heat your home efficiently.”Weheat
The air-to-water Blackbird heat pump has an A+++ efficiency rating and can provide temperatures up to 70°C (159°F), depending on the building’s heating system.
“For a low-temperature system, such as underfloor heating, the Blackbird can heat water up to 35°C [95°F],” Weheat says on its website. “In a medium-temperature system, such as radiators, the water can be heated to 55°C [131°F]. It is important to note that the Blackbird can deliver more power at a lower temperature system.”
Ambient temperatures also impact outlet temperatures and system efficiency, the company adds.
“At -10°C [14°F] outside temperature and 35°C water temperature, the Blackbird provides reliable heat, with a COP value of 2.7,” it says. Comparably, the unit can achieve a COP of 5.9 in an ambient temperature of 7°C (44.6°F) with a supply temperature of 27°C (80.6°F).
The Blackbird can help the average household reduce its gas consumption by around 70% each year. However, the amount saved varies from home to home, with many factors impacting savings, including insulation, energy contract and current gas consumption, explains the manufacturer.
Quiet, safe and smart operation
The Blackbird heat pump includes a noise-reducing housing that ensures a quiet operation at just 49dB. The monobloc housing also contains all of the system’s refrigerant components, meaning all of the unit’s propane remains outdoors for added safety.
The 4G-connected device allows for easy control by the end user, and its “smart algorithms” ensure “optimal and economical” operation, says Weheat.
The R290 heat pump is manufactured by Weheat’s team of engineers in Duizel, the Netherlands.
“We are responsible for the entire process of the Blackbird heat pump – from design and development to production,” explains the company. “For the installation, we work with trained and certified installers throughout the Netherlands.”