Can I use electricity from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to power a heat pump?

It may sound like a good idea to try and and heat your house using an air source heat pump (ASHP) or ground source heat pump (GSHP) powered by electricity from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.

However, this is unlikely to work. The reason is that solar panels produce very little electricity at the time of the year when the heat demand is greatest.

A fairly large 4kW solar PV roof (around 30m2) will produce around 15kWh of electricity per day in May or June, but only 3 or 4 kWh on a typical day in December or January (source: PVGIS). For a heat pump to produce heat equivalent of 10 litres of heating oil (or £3 worth of gas), it will need 30-50 units of electricity - much more than your solar panels can produce on a winter day!

If you want to power a heat pump from renewable electricity and you live in an exposed windy location a wind turbine could be a better choice: A domestic 6kW wind turbine can, on a windy winter day, produce enough electricity to power a heat pump to heat a normal household.

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