Värmepumpens historia | värmepumpen

The history of the heat pump

The heat pump is not a new invention

There are still many who believe that heat pump technology is a new invention and are therefore concerned that the system has not been tested or that it is in development at an early stage. The truth is that heat pump technology has been around for over 150 years and the first geothermal heat pump was put into use over 70 years ago.

J Gordon Cook wrote in The Spectator magazine in 1948:

"In these days of material progress, when there is so much fine talk about science as our guarantee of prosperity, it seems incredible that an invention such as the heat pump would have avoided the attention it deserves. Were it not for a couple of zealots who were determined to apply their theories, we would still be waiting for evidence of the possibilities of the heat pump in Britain. Now we know that it will work and the time has come when everything must be done to get the most out of the knowledge we have gained. ”

Below is a brief overview of the development of this technology for the reliable and efficient heating systems that are currently built by established companies such as Lämpöässä.


1748: William Cullen demonstrates artificial cooling.

1834: Jacob Perkins builds a practical refrigerator with diethyl ether.

1852: Lord Kelvin describes the theory behind the heat pump.

1855–1857: Peter von Rittinger develops and builds the first heat pump.

1945: John Sumner builds a full-scale water heat pump in Norwich

1983: Lämpöässä builds its first heat pump in Lapua, Finland

The first heat pump we know of

The first heat pump we know today was built by Peter von Rittinger in 1856. He recognized the principle of the heat pump when he performed experiments on the use of the water vapor's latent heat to evaporate brine. As a result, the heat pump was used to dry salt in the salt marshes of Austria.

The first large-scale heat pump

The first large-scale heat pump in Britain was developed by John Sumner in 1945 on the doorstep of Finn Geotherm in Norwich. The Norwich City Council Electrical Department had built new premises in Norwich on Duke Street, on the banks of the River Wensum

The office was originally intended to be heated by a heat pump, but wartime austerity prevented resources from being available for such an innovative project.

After the war, John Sumner, City Electrical Engineer for Norwich, assembled a salvaged parts system based on an SO2 refrigerant. The system is known to have achieved a seasonal efficiency of 3.42. The system had an average power of 147 kW and a top performance of 234 kW. The system was designed to circulate water around the building's heating system at a temperature of 50 - 55 degrees ° C. Despite the system's efficiency and effectiveness, it was not widely distributed in the UK due to the relatively cheap fossil fuels such as coal and later North Sea oil and gas.

Geothermal heat pump

John Sumner also installed a closed-loop geothermal heat pump in his home in the early 1950s. The ground loop was originally constructed of copper pipes buried at a depth of about 1 meter and they were filled with circulating antifreeze. Although Sumner's heat pumps were really efficient and technologically brilliant for their time, they did not receive much support in the UK, where copious amounts of coal seemed to provide a cheap and limitless energy source.

As is so often the case with British technological advances, they were adopted and developed abroad. In 1948, a large-scale heat pump was installed in Oregon, USA. After the OPEC oil crisis in the 1970s, the development and adoption of heat pumps began to gain momentum. In Sweden in particular, new nuclear reactors were developed and efficient ways of heating homes with electricity instead of paraffin were sought.

Closed polyethylene cycle norm

During this period, the closed polyethylene cycle became the norm, vertical closed cycles were developed in Germany, Switzerland and in Finland through the work of companies such as Lämpöässä. In 2008, it was estimated that in Switzerland alone there were between 30,000 and 44,000 GSHP units. In the United States, it was adopted on a large scale even faster. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 60,000 units per year were installed in the US market in 2008, with a total of 750,000 units in use in 2008.

Suomen Lämpöpumpputekniikka Oy (known by its friends as Lämpöässä) was founded in Lapua on March 29, 1983, based on the craftsmanship of five men and decades of experience in geothermal heating. The company had its first office in Jorma Saksi's home but later moved to rental premises in premises along Härsiläntievägen. The first year saw the implementation of a significant assignment, the heating system in Ruha school.

Lämpöässä has now delivered more than 20,000 heat pumps to customers around Europe and has approximately 4,000 units in its service database, which is over 30 years old and continues to grow strongly.

The heat pump technology is still being developed continuously

The heat pump technology is still being developed continuously with advances, especially in compressor and control technology, so the system becomes more efficient and easier to control. The heat pump technology is reliable, efficient and here to stay. Gordon Cook said in 1948:

"There is no doubt that we in the heat pump have a machine that will play a unique part in our country's future industry"

As a beautiful end to the historic circle, the Eastern Electricity Building on Duke´s Street in Norwich is about to be redesigned to provide 154 homes and retail space.

One of the planning conditions for the Duke´s Wharf development is that it must include a water heat pump. The current specification is for a system with a maximum capacity of about 800 kW, with River Wensum once again as the heat source. We believe that John Sumner would agree.

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