As the world strives towards sustainable and eco-friendly solutions, homeowners and businesses alike are exploring the possibility of harnessing solar energy to power their appliances. One of these solutions includes choosing to run a heat pump on solar.

This article will delve into this concept and explore the potential of pairing heat pumps with solar energy, particularly in the context of Canberra’s climate.

Okay, But What Are Heat Pumps?

Heat pumps are innovative devices that transfer heat from one location to another. Essentially, they function as reversible air conditioners — they can cool a space by transferring heat outside or heat a space by moving heat inside.

The operation of a heat pump revolves around manipulating a refrigerant’s temperature. By compressing the refrigerant, its temperature rises. Conversely, allowing the refrigerant to expand lowers its temperature.

This process enables heat transfer from the exterior to the interior of a building for heating purposes or vice versa for cooling.

The Power of Solar: A Quick Recap

Solar energy harnesses the power of the sun to produce electricity. Solar panels, or photovoltaic cells, absorb sunlight and convert it into an electric current.

This electricity can power various appliances directly or charge a battery for later use, powering appliances like a heat pump.

The direct method is most effective when the sun is at its peak, while the battery storage approach allows for power usage even during low solar output.

Heat Pumps and Solar: A Potential Match?

Given that heat pumps require electricity, and solar panels’ primary function is to generate electricity, it makes sense to think about combining these two.

In fact, the answer to the question “Can a heat pump run on solar power?” is yes.

When the sun is shining, solar PV panels produce electricity that can either directly power the heat pump or charge a battery. During periods of low solar output, the battery can discharge its stored energy to power the heat pump or even your hot water system.

The Perks of Pairing Heat Pumps with Solar in Canberra

Residents of Canberra can reap several benefits by combining heat pumps with their solar panel system, including:

Economic Advantages

Using solar energy can lead to significant savings on electricity bills. Additionally, government incentives or rebates might be available for those investing in solar energy, further enhancing the cost-effectiveness of this approach.

Environmental Benefits

Solar power is a renewable and clean source of energy. Homeowners can significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by using this form of renewable energy to power heat pumps, contributing to a more sustainable and eco-friendlier environment.

Energy Independence

Generating and storing power through solar panels and a battery storage system allows homeowners to reduce their reliance on the grid. In some cases, they can provide backup power during outages.

Considerations When Combining Heat Pumps with Solar

While the benefits are appealing, several considerations must be considered before investing in a solar-based heat pump system over alternatives like an air-source heat pump.

Initial Cost

Getting solar panels installed or setting up a battery storage system requires a significant initial investment. The subsequent energy savings could offset this initial cost over time. But the bonus is that you also get the option to sell excess energy back to the grid or store solar energy for future use to power a heat pump heating system.

System Sizing

Properly sizing the solar and storage system to meet the heat pump’s demands is crucial, particularly during Canberra’s colder months when heating needs are higher. Depending on how many solar panels your property needs for its demands, you will also need plenty of roof space.


Regular maintenance is necessary to ensure optimal performance when combining solar panels with your heat pump. This maintenance includes cleaning the solar panels and servicing the heat pump for the best possible energy efficiency.

Canberra-Specific Considerations

Canberra experiences a relatively dry continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. A well-insulated home, combined with an efficient heat pump running on solar power, can result in substantial savings on heating bills in the winter and cooling costs in the summer.

However, solar panels may give lower output during winter, making battery storage essential for consistent heat pump operation year-round.

Wrapping Up

The answer to “Can you run a heat pump on solar?” is a resounding yes. However, it requires careful planning, correct system sizing, and regular maintenance.

For Canberra residents, pairing solar energy and heat pumps could lead to significant cost savings and a reduced carbon footprint, making it a worthy consideration for any environmentally conscious homeowner.