Building Simulation: An International Journal

Article Title

Evaluation of thermal imbalance of ground source heat pump systems in residential buildings in China


ground source heat pump, thermal imbalance ratio, residential buildings, hot-summer and cold-winter climate zone, occupant behavior


The thermal comfort level of Chinese residents in the hot-summer and cold-winter zone is increasing with economic development in recent years. More district heating and cooling systems were installed in these areas. Supported by the government, ground source heat pump (GSHP) is used as a common environmentally friendly district heating and cooling system in many residential communities. However, the evaluation of the real performance of GSHP is limited, especially limited understanding of the common issue of thermal imbalance of GSHP systems over several years—the mismatch between heat extraction from and rejection to the ground. Performance of GSHP systems can deteriorate over years if the thermal imbalance is significant and not addressed. For GSHP in the hot-summer and cold-winter climate zone, there are few thermal imbalance studies based on real field data and modeling. To address this gap, this paper proposes an integrated simulation model to evaluate thermal imbalance of GSHP systems considering key influencing factors including occupant behavior and heat pump performance. A case study was conducted to simulate and analyze the actual operation of GSHP in Chinese residential buildings. The indoor comfort temperature setting and flexibility of residents’ control on indoor terminal air-conditioning units determine the actual heating and cooling demand in residential buildings, which resulted in differences in thermal imbalance for GSHP systems. It was found that GSHP systems with radiant floor only for heating lead to the most severe thermal imbalance, while GSHP systems with fan coil units or radiant ceiling for cooling and/or heating achieved much better thermal balance. The proposed thermal imbalance ratio is an important indicator that can be used to evaluate thermal imbalance of GSHP systems and thus inform their design and operation for energy efficiency.


Tsinghua University Press