The industry more positive than ever!

PULSEN is the Swedish Refrigeration & Heat Pump Association's annual survey of retailers and installers of heat pumps for consumers. With the help of PULSEN, we can follow the development of the heat pump market over the years in terms of price development, employees in the industry, what the heat pump replaces, and the view of the market and the development of those who participate.

This year, 95 of a total of 714 of the associations installer members answered the survey. It should be pointed out that a large number of non-responding companies do not sell heat pumps to consumers and therefore have not been relevant for the survey.

The perceived demand for heat pumps is the highest ever recorded in the survey

The perceived demand has continued to increase since the 2012 sales dip, which is in line with actual sales as shown by increased sales volumes seen over the entire period. The share of participants with a positive view of the perceived demand increased dramatically from 72 per cent during 2017 to almost 92 by 2018. None of the respondents answered "Very Bad" or "Bad."

In addition to a very positive view of current demand, nearly 98% of respondents believe in an even better situation during the next 3-year period. The majority of respondents (72 percent) expect to increase the number of employees over the next 5 years. On average, the participants expect to increase their staffing by about 5 percent in the coming year and 23 percent in the next 5 years.

The cost of heat pump installations stable

One of PULSENS perhaps most interesting question is the one related to the cost of different heat pump installations with a heat demand of 20,000 kWh / year. As the differences between years are marginal it is difficult to make significant conclusions with statistical certainty. A careful observation is that the cost for all types of heat pump remain stable with a marginal increase in the prices of vertical and horizontal geothermal installations as well as groundwater installations.

Heat pump replacement segment surpasses direct electric

The replacement market for heat pumps, i.e. when an older heat pump is replaced with a new one, continues as expected to increase. The fact that a new heat pump replaces an old is now the most common scenario when members install heat pumps. The percentage is 25.1 percent compared to21.6 percent the previous year. If we consider electric heating (electric boiler + direct-electric) as one segment the share would be on top with 37.1 percent. Heat pump thus continue to reduce the electricity demand in our Swedish building stock.

Uncertainties regarding the replacement market

Just like the previous two years we are trying to find out how members act to the challenges that may arise in connection with the replacement market. In this case, specifically when the existing energy well may be too short. The results show a number of different tactics, where approximately half (47 percent) of the members propose a complementary energy well while the remaining part either install a new fully sized heat pump to the existing energy well (18 percent) or try to compensate a short energy well with a smaller heat pump (24 percent). This year the members were able to comment on their choice, which a majority choose to do. The results show that those who choose to propose a supplementary energy well did so on the grounds that it is safest choice, that it provides the best efficiency / energy savings and that the energy requirement in the home has probably become even higher since the original installation. Those who choose to propose a smaller heat pump did it with the arguments that it is safer than a fully sized heat pump in combination with the fact that customer does not want to pay for another energy well. The customer is usually satisfied with the savings he has had and is not convinced by the extra savings a larger heat pump would offer. Those who proposed a fully sized new heat pump does this with the reasoning the if it does not work one can always drill another energy well at a later date. Too their experience there are rarely any problems. An interesting observation is that several members seam to rely on the functions offered by many inverter driven heat pumps to adapt the energy output from the energy well.

"With modern, inverter driven and" smart "heat pumps, there are great opportunities for manufacturers to introduce features that in some way counteract the problems with short energy wells. However, it is at the same time worrying if there is an overblow reliance among installers regarding the heat pumps possibilities of solving physical problems, " said Morgan Willis at SKVP.  

Great opportunities for members to sell solar energy

New for this year was the question of how much of the geothermal installations were sold in combination with solar thermal or solar PV. The result show an almost non-existent amount of geothermal installations being sold together with solar PV (1.8 percent) or solar heat (0.9 percent). Only 25 percent of the members stated that they sold the combinations at all at all. Among the members that did the installations together with solar only accounted for around  5-10 percent of the installations.

"Although PULSEN's question focused solely on the combination of geothermal and solar, it is a clear indication that members currently do not see solar energy as part of their product portfolio. With increasing interest in solar energy combined with a tougher replacement market I do hope that the members keep a watchful eye on developments and consider the possibility for additional sales in the future, " said Morgan Willis.