If you mention air source heat pumps to a Canadian, you’ll probably hear one of these complaints:
- They don’t put out enough heat in our cold weather
- They are easily blocked by snow
- They can be crushed by heavy snowfall
- They freeze and break
These complaints aren’t exactly undeserved. Most air source heat pumps just aren’t designed for tough Canadian winters, and when they are suddenly thrust into our harsh climate, it’s not surprising when they fail. For this reason, geothermal heat pumps have always been a better choice for Canadian weather, because the unit is inside and protected from the elements, including the large amounts of snow we receive.
When we first started designing our air source heat pump product line, our priority was to design a heat pump that would thrive in Canadian weather. We surveyed our customers who were already installing air source heat pumps, and asked them to tell us their concerns and complaints about other products.
We compiled a list of what they didn’t want and incorporated features to address these concerns. One of the top concerns our installers had was snow getting into during snow storms. Here’s how we addressed that:
Lifting the Air to Water Heat Pump Up and Away from Snow
We wanted our installers to have an integrated and attractive way to lift the outdoor unit up off the ground and away from snow. To this end, we designed leg kits in two different heights: 15 inches and 30 inches.
These leg kits allow the outdoor unit to be installed at a safe height, away from the snow. Whether you need a 15-inch or 30-inch kit depends on how much snow falls in your region.
Determining If You Need to Buy a Leg Kit
To determine if you need to buy a leg kit for your air to water heat pump, you’ll need to know the average snow depth in your region. It’s important to note that this is different from the average snowfall, which will be cumulative throughout the year and won’t reflect snow depth. Here is an imagine showing the average snow depth in Canada from Natural Resources Canada (click to enlarge):
Source: Natural Resources Canada
Depending on your location, you may need no legs (if you live in Victoria), 15-inch legs (Halifax or Kingston) or 30-inch legs (St. John’s). Here is an example of the outdoor portion of the air to water heat pump with a 15-inch leg kit installed at our manufacturing plant in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Alternatively, your heat pump installer may choose to build their own stand out of wood or use brackets to attach the unit to the side of your home. Here is an example of a homeowner who opted for a custom frame made out of wood with a roof over it. This custom frame was used because the ground underneath was sloped.
Keeping Snow At Bay Without a Leg Kit
If you choose to go without a leg kit but you’re concerned about snow getting into the heat pump, you should know that the fan on our outdoor unit never stops running, even when the unit ceases operation at -20°C (-4°F). Even when the unit is not in operation, the fan will run at low speed to keep snow from building up inside the unit. Of course, this won’t work if the power is cut to the unit, for example during a power outage.
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