By P Gosselin
As heat pumps become the latest trend, so is their theft. And because they are installed outdoors, insurance companies refuse to cover the losses.
Swiss site Tichy’s Einblick here reports on how police and consumer advocates are warning homeowners heat pumps are being stolen and that often aren’t insured because they are not not secured indoors.
As opposed to fossil fuel furnaces, which are housed securely in basements, heat pumps are usually installed outdoors, thus making them easy targets for criminals.
“Criminals have apparently now discovered the theft of heat pumps as a new business field for themselves,” reports Tichy’s Einblick, citing the Nordkurier. “Throughout Germany, the police are receiving more and more reports of heat pumps being dismantled and stolen.”
Because heat pumps are usually not installed indoors, they end up not being covered by standard household insurance policies if stolen or damaged. This misfortune was experienced by one woman in Germany, when here 15,000 euro pump was stolen and her insurance company refused to cover the damage.
“The insurance company now does not want to pay. The problem: the heat pump was not covered by the building insurance. Since the heat pump is not in the house but in front of it, she is stuck with the costs,” reports Tichy’s Einblick. Criminals are reported stealing units from homes under construction as well.
Securing heat pumps against theft of course will only add to their already hefty costs of their installation. Germany aims to pass a law forcing all German households off gas and oil heating systems beginning next year.
It seems they are much in demand.
No, the heat pump will respond only to the head unit that it drives. They steal them to recycle the components and materials.
Not sure what you mean by the ‘head unit’, but the heat pump I had was self-contained with compressor and heat exchanger all in one cabinet outdoors. If anyone had wanted to steal it, they could just have disconnected, or cut, the inflow and outflow water pipes, and the electricity cable.
Install them in the backyard and include Large Breed Dog Runs on the gated side of the house, stocked with German Shepherds or Rottweilers or Dobermans and.about 4 or 5 extra gates
You could bring in three of them for those extra-cold nights.
So were yo-yos, at one point.
Mr. Stokes: This demonstrates, better than anything I might post, that you have a gift for avoiding the point.
Are you for real?
Nick’s job is to distract and confuse.
He’s good at his job.
Do you think he gets paid for that “job”, or he does it for free?
Paid by the WEF or Bill Gates.
Recycling is big business.
As usual, when Nick is right, he’s half-right. These units are expensive and in demand because of government regulations.
Gee, the government requires conversion to heat pump, and then Nick proclaims that people like them because they in high demand.
Even by your standards Nick, that comment was stupid.
Pretty common among that sort.
Have the government declare something that must be used by law then declare that shows the “market” working.
By this method, heat pumps, EVs, renewables, etc all are market responses.
Instead of what they are, expensive garbage no one wants
Correction: the copper tubing within the heat pump compressor unit is in demand. Several years ago when the price of copper spiked, thefts of outdoor AC and heat pump compressor units also jumped here in the US. Thieves were normally content with stealing units from homes under construction, but the potential for a greater payoff led them to also steal units from occupied houses. People would go to turn their AC (or heat pump) on, and then they’d discover the missing outside unit.
Replacing stolen heat pumps “creates” so many more “jobs” than fixing broken windows.
Well, we always knew that Nick got his economics education out of a Cracker Jack box.
Pssst… wanna buy an heat pump…?
I sure hope the guy showing off all of the stolen heat pumps inside of his trench coat succumbs to all of that weight!
Probably the same reason that charging cables for EVs are being stolen:
The Price of Copper
The number I got from somewhere was/is that your average heat pump comes in at 45kg of the stuff.
If we’re talking Air Source pumps, easily 2/3rds that will be in the outside unit. Well worth picking up if your that way inclined.
I actually experimented with a single-room split unit air-con (heats, cools & dehumidifies) and installed the outside unit in the loft-space of my bungalow cottage and it worked really well
Maybe I was fortunate by being in a rather windy part of the world so that my roof space got lots of ventilation ## and typically when the heat pump was needed.
## Roof spaces need immense amounts of ventilation and the current craze for insulation insulation draught-proofing and insulation is destroying the required airflow.
Because in our normal existences, us human critters create lots and lots of water vapour and in almost every house, that water goes out through the ceiling. It really does.
But once the water gets into the loft and if the loft is cold because of the insulation AND sealed to stop draughts, the water condenses onto the timbers etc
And when wood gets wet – it goes mouldy. It gets ‘White Mould‘
Most ‘white moulds’ are in fact black (often yellow or beige) in appearance and is what you’ll see in your roof. Black.
It will grow on plaster walls also
Now: if you yourself wanted a respiratory illness (you know what I’m talking about). or to make an existing condition worse (e.g. because you smoke) and/or you want your kids to actually ‘get’ Asthma rather than just be triggered:
You allow your home to grow black mould. It’s very easy.
In our paranoid and over-hasty panic to ‘do something‘ we are making everything worse for ourselves.
haha: The heat-pump thieves are trying to do you a favour.
Otherwise back to ‘heat’
See the attached= Nothing new under the sun.
That little notice appeared near me on the busy A1 (Great North Road) in October 2021 and is still there now. Nailed to an Emergency SOS Phone of all things
Aimed at truckers spending the night (and enforced Rest Times) to expect their diesel tanks have been drained while they slept.
On the side of a motorway and nobody ever sees or says anything
i.e. The Weather is NOT the problem we have today. Stop pretending it is.
The Great North Road is not as ‘great’ as it once was.
Great in Great North Road is used in the same way as in Great Britain. Size to distinguish it from shorter roads going north. In Britain’s case little Brittany, or Bretagne to the French
I aqree about the Great North Road, Peta, not nearly as much fun to drive as it was 40 years ago. Where they’ve upgraded it to motorway standards they’ve often straightened it out as well, thus making it very boring. The stretch across Stilton Fen is a good example, plus the bits in North Yorkshire and Northumberland…
Hhmmnnn, now that is an interesting claim of water vapor accumulation in enclosed attics! What proofs do you have?
My house in northern Florida, built in 1939, is equipped with a top of the line high efficiency heat pump (20 SEER). Been in the process of remodeling for several years now and most of the house is stripped to the studs. Before the installation of the spray foam insulation to the underside of the roof and eave walls, sealing all vents, I stapled transparent plastic sheet to the rafters covering the entire ceiling and a bit down the walls. That was mainly to contain any droppings from that spray foam. The outside roof is covered with a silver Galvalume metal roof.
Been a couple of years now since all that was done. Since the plastic sheet is transparent, one can quite easily see through to the rafters and above. There is no indication of any water vapor accumulation on that plastic sheeting at any time year round. I have measured long term the temperature and humidity levels between the living area and the area above and find almost no differences. I smoke and cook meals every day.
Perhaps you were referring to new construction where the entire house is sealed off and outside air has to be artificially brought in?
LOL. Our Alms cottage in Kent, England was built 200 years ago.
It’s considered a modern building by many historic standards.
The UK also happens to be a damp country with high ambient humidity and summer temperatures reaching, normally, a maximum of 35C, for perhaps one week in 52.
The conditions Peta describes are very well understood in the UK.
Most roofs and loft insulation in the UK, and rural France for that matter, are very draughty places. In many, if not all, you can see daylight through chinks in the Slates/tiles. Insulation is usually laid between the joists on the plasterboard of the ceiling of the rooms being insulated. Which makes sense as you’re not letting heat escape into the garden via the roof.
This leaves the attic space still cold, probably colder, and still very draughty. The new houses being built near me have ventilation tiles in the roof to allow circulation of air, an airbrick in the roof if you like.
The only problem I can see is using foam insulation sprayed directly onto roof internally
The vapour would only condense on the cold side, after the insulation, on the roof joists or trusses. Sounds like you sprayed the insulation right to the roof and since it’s basically plastic foam I don’t think any humidity would make it through that.
Foam is definitely the best sealant and probably insulation-wise too, but many homes in northern areas used specially treated paper or fiberglass pellets blown in or fiberglass batts (rectangular matts of various thicknesses). We have about 40-48cm of the paper stuff, blown in 17 years ago. Helps with the -20C winters here in Southern Ontario, I think it helps to keep it cool in +35C summer.
Since I’m used to the 50C spread, I really can’t understand why people fret about less than 5° over the next century or so. If it actually happens, it’ll only be a good start.
I think There’s a reason that air to air heat pumps are installed outdoors. A heat pump is just that. A pump. It moves heat from one place to another. If you were to pump heat from, for example, your basement to the rest of the house, your basement would probably get really cold. And of course if your heat source is cold and getting colder, the pump would have to work harder and harder as time went by.
And then there’s the problem that air to air heat pumps apparently aren’t all that effective in sub-freezing temperatures. A lot of sources say that. But how could they work in Germany if that’s true? It’s not all that warm in Germany in Winter.
Anybody around here understand these things? Or better yet, have actual, hands on, experience with them?
it’s in Dutch but Google translater does a reasonable job.
@Ed: Thanks. Good article. My fears confirmed. Air to air heat pumps? Ok to pump heat out in which case they are called air conditioners. And probably OK in mild climates like Southern California where winter night temperatures usually don’t drop much below freezing and daytime temps are almost always high enough to thaw any frost/ice buildup. And yes mold will be a problem. Not going to work that well in Montreal or here in Vermont. Not that not working well is likely to impede the government(s) subsidizing their installation in order to save the planet.
You can always leave the heat pump evaporator, condenser, and compressor all in your living room, and all the Kilowatts will end up heating your house, same as an electric resistance heater would……oops COP and electricity cost issues….
I read somewhere that the most common refrigerants used for heat pumps in Europe are propane or butane.
First, so much for getting away from hydrocarbons. Second, I doubt that the thieves are recovering these refrigerants, thus they are being vented into the atmosphere.
Ozone and UV break down propane and butane in the air to relatively harmless CO2…(compared to the GWP of the same amount of chlorofluorocarbon refrigerant), agonizing info for greenies.…
I think the heat pumps in question are air/water, because air/air pumps are not very efficient for heating. Most central heating systems use water filled radiators or water filled under floor pipes.
I lived in France and had an air/water heat pump, with under floor (tiled) heating in a largish house – 180 m2. it worked very well, guaranteed 20C indoors down to a temperature of -7C outdoors. It was controlled on a thermostat not timer. It was best to leave it running the whole time – not Summer – and just adjust the thermostat occasionally. It was very large, outdoors free standing on a concrete base not fixed to a wall, and noisy/vibration… two big fans. Particularly noisy at night and low temps when it had to work harder.
It replaced an oil boiler which was expensive to run because of the price if oil ~ 85 cents per litre and I used nearly 2 300litre per year. Piped gas is not widespread in France, only in cities and some towns. Electricity is relatively cheap – mostly from nuclear. I saved over 1 000€ pa with the heat pump.
In the UK natural gas is cheaper. There is no advantage to heat pumps which is why legislation is required to force people to have them.
In Montreal people use air/air units for summer cooling and wrap them in tarps for the winter. In row housing it makes your back deck/yard obnoxiously noisy.
Air source heat pumps notably failed in the Texas freeze of February 2021. Below a designed outside temperature, the installation reverts to resistance heat, and the electrical demand spikes.
“…the installation reverts to resistance heat.”
Personal experience, south east Arizona at 4,600 feet elevation, a 2010 installation. When the air temperature gets down to 37°F, and there’s moisture in the air, frost forms on the collector tubes and fins. If there’s snow, solid ice forms.
The first time that happened, the unit went to ‘resistance’ heating. I watched the electric meter. For three days till the ice melted, the consumption was 63 kW per day.
I’m told that some units are designed to reverse circulate hot fluid to melt the ice. No experience with that. I’d sell the house before trying to replace the unit. We now spend our winters in the southern California desert.
They compress the outside cold air, heating it up. They always use the analogy of an a/c working in reverse – but even as an engineer I could never see how that could be more efficient than just using natural gas heating. Makes sense to eco-nazis, creating a market for all the surplus nightime wind energy, but still going to be hideously expensive, and only workable in mild climates.
So not really a “pump”? More a mechanical work to thermal energy converter? I never thought of that. Shows how dumb I am. But how do they get rid of the compressed gas without cooling something that doesn’t need cooling when it expands? As for the natural gas. Surely, their vision is that they get virtually unlimited amounts of “free” energy from wind and sun and use that to drive the compressors. But what’s their plan for windless nights? They’ll use the electricity they have stored in the huge, cheap batteries you engineers will be building. See https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2011/08/nation-sized-battery/ for an analysis of how well that’s likely going to work.
You could put the pump indoors in a special room with constant force feeding of outside air though.
Are we going to be saved by the criminal fraternity?
Saved by the WEF crooks?
Oops, you meant the heat pump thieves. Sorry, I have a hard time keeping straight on all of the crooks.
This (separate) event happened in Austria. As mentioned by others it is not so easy to do due to the size and weight of the equipment.
Thanks to Google translator:
Heat pump stolen from property
The inflation makes highly sought-after devices a particularly precious commodity. In Eichkögl in the district of Southeastern Styria, a heat pump was stolen from the property of an empty residential building.
The unknown perpetrators de-mounted the heat pump in the period between 22. April and 2. May. They were able to escape unrecognised via a state road (L 244) passing in front of the residential building.
Supply line cut and pump unscrewed
According to the police, the perpetrators cut the supply of the heat pump into the interior of the house with a cut-off grinder. Then they unscrewed the device attached with four screws in a base, unloaded it and fled. The theft was not discovered immediately, as the house is a still empty residential object.
The police assume at least two perpetrators because the heat pump weighs around 100 kilograms. The damage amounts to several thousand euros.
Too funny for words……
I’ll bet the thieves are not bothering to evacuate the refrigerant before removing the heat pump, thus discharging the GHG refrigerant to the atmosphere.
Just got to your comment. Apparently, propane and butane are used commonly in Europe. The warming potential of these is low, but what a waste.
It depends where the compressor and water heat exchanger is. They can be all contained in the cabinet outdoors, or just the fans and the air heat exchanger are outside and the rest indoors.
Yep, roving bands of thieves do this for the scrap value of the Cu and Al. It only took them 2 days from my moving out of a rented house in S Florida back in 2011 to take bolt cutters and slice the (live) power cables and refrigerant lines and steal the outdoor condenser of a 4 ton A/C unit.
Likewise after the housing crash in 2008 with huge numbers of foreclosed homes being empty – 40% of the ones we looked at bidding on in foreclosure auctions had not only the outdoor condenser units stolen, but they had broken into the houses and stripped all the copper pipes for the A/C and water, and some even had the wiring ripped out of the walls for the scrap value.
And this was when Cu and Al scrap was a fraction of what it is today! It is difficult if not impossible to secure a ground level outdoor condenser unit of an air conditioner, or in the case of a heat pump it is both a condenser and evaporator. They need open access to the outside air….
It’s also a problem for catalytic converters on cars and trucks for their platinum group metals and an EV is a bonanza for Cu scrap thieves.
But at least if someone steals your car’s catalytic converter, your insurance will probably cover it because, unlike a heat pump next to a house, it is actually a part of the car.
In the UK British Gas says it will refuse to install heat pumps in most properties because they won’t work, as they are unsuitable for most British housing stock.
(For non-British readers, British Gas is also an electricity retailer.)
Already people who have bought new properties with heat pumps already installed are having them removed because they are not effective and save no money on energy bills.
link please. this wold be all over the press, and i havent seen it.
Only the ‘far right’ press mentioned it in the UK. The others silent as the grave.
The why that is the case is something of an astuteness test.
Took 2 seconds
About 15 years ago we woke up one morning with no dial tone on the telephone. Drove down to the bottom of the hill, about a half mile away and found a line of telephone trucks the size of a small army. It turned out that overnight, someone had removed about a mile of heavy copper telephone cable. The line ran through the forest and was not visible from the road.
They got caught about 3 months later when they started burning off the insulation… This was in southern Vermont soon to be home of the government mandated useless heat pump.
To remove a heat pump or air conditioner, you first have to move the refrigerant from the copper lines to the compressor. Otherwise, all that gas in the lines goes into the atmosphere. It takes a little time to re-charge the compressor to remove all the gas from the copper lines.
The current gas used for heat pumps/AC is called “Puron” (R-410A). We were told that the previous refrigerant – “Freon” (R-22) – was destroying the ozone layer. Never you mind that the patent for Freon was expiring and there was a new, patented refrigerant. Based on what big chemical said, Freon was banned all over the world. It wasn’t until after it was banned someone had the bright idea to see if Freon actually destroyed the ozone layer. Turns out, while Freon does destroy ozone, the gas itself is too heavy and can never make it to the ozone layer.
And now, the patent for Puron will be expiring soon. Turns out, Puron ain’t so pure. At lease, that is what they say. We are told Puron ’causes global warming’. But don’t worry, there is new, patented gas to replace it, R-454B. And when that patent is expiring, there will be something evil found in it so that we are forced to switch to a new, patented gas.
I guarantee that none of these thieves are properly dissembling these heat pumps. That would take too long. Therefore, all that “global warming” gas is escaping to the atmosphere. Way to go, greeny weenies. You got us off effective heating, only to have a stronger greenhouse gas get into the atmosphere.
The natural fluctuation of the “ozone layer” over Antarctica was attributed to the presence of chlorinated flourocarbons or refrigerants in the atmosphere by a computer model made by Rowlands and Molina at the University of California-Irvine in the 1970s. There were daily reports by the national news media of children being unable to attend school in Patagonia because of the increased ultraviolet light due to lack of ozone. Sheep in southern Argentina were said to be blinded as well. The day that the Montreal Protocol was signed, 16 Sept., 1987, this news avalanche came to an end. Chlorinated flourocarbons were to be banned internationally over time. The effectiveness of this prohibition has never been completely determined. In fact, all these refrigerants have been released into the atmosphere by either accident or deliberate means.
The Montreal Protocol was one of the very first successful efforts of the techno-luddites to arrest human progress. One could make the case that the first common refrigerant, R-12, did more to increase the average standard of living than any other chemicals other than gasoline and diesel fuel. Dangerous refrigerants like sulfur dioxide and unsanitary practices like the ice box and its frequent deliveries became things of the past. There is no generation of blind Argentines or their sheep wandering about Patagonia. The Protocol was the product of a colossal hoax.
Here is a source that spread such nonsense.
Al Gore 1992 “Earth in the Balance” page 85.
“We too are affected by ultraviolet radiation. The best-known consequences include skin cancer and cataracts, both of which are increasingly common, especially in areas of the Southern hemisphere such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Patagonia. In Queensland, in northeastern Australia, for example, more than 75 percent of all its citizens who have reached the age of sixty-five now have some form of skin cancer, and children are required by law to wear large hats and neck scarves to and from school to protect against ultraviolet radiation. In Patagonia, hunters now report finding blind rabbits, fishermen catch blind salmon.”
If you examine this quote closely, you will find it a weird, irrational micture of mistruth and innuendo. I went to school in Queensland, as did our children. I know of no law about wearing hats and scarves. Scarves are ridiculous, far too hot for any rational person in the summer. Schools usually have uniforms which include hats and they have informal requirements to wear hats of the common uniform shape and colour.
In Queensland, yes, people get skin cancers and die. Here are some official figures for all Queensland cancers, a 2017 reference.
“In 2017, nearly 30,121 Queenslanders were diagnosed with cancer and over 9442 Queenslanders died of the disease.
One in two Queensland men and one in two Queensland women will develop cancer in their lifetime (before the age of 85 years).”
(The total Queensland population in 2017 was 4.9 million).
15000 euro heat pump!?!
I know furnaces aren’t cheap either, but that seems really expensive.
Yes, that does sound very expensive! I wonder if that is the price the homeowner paid for the original installation, or what she was quoted to replace the compressor unit? Pricing can vary quite a lot on HVAC installations depending on lots of factors. About 4 years ago my mom had to have her central AC unit replaced. Total cost was around $4.5K. This for a 4 ton unit and a split level house with main floor and basement airconditioned. Then my AC went up, and total cost was $8K. I got a 2.5 ton unit and only the main floor of a ranch style house airconditioned. But, my unit is in my attic, and much harder to get to, as opposed to my mom’s, where the coil is above the furnace and the compressor right outside the basement wall.
Oh, and the same contractor did both jobs.
I used to live in a place in California where if one had a heavy gauge copper cable left out overnight, it would be walking with Jesus quite soon. EVs need secure parking, as well, to recharge.
Germany just never learns. a tsunami wreaks havoc on Fukushima’s nuclear station and Germany declares they must close theirs…delusional.
Germany is not delusional, it happens that their climate models predict severe earthquakes and tsunamis in places where they never happened so it must be true.
Are they just taking air source heat pumps, or are outdoor air conditioning units being stolen as well?
Just the cost of living in a society, innit?
Well here in the States in many jurisdictions criminals have to face little or no consequences for praying on society. Just had some thief(s) come on my business storage area and stole a work truck, utility trailer and equipment. Little chance of recovery and can’t identify any person in security cam footage. And I live in a Woke state, so even if I ever do catch a thief on my property there would be a greater chance I would be prosecuted for god knows what than the thief would. That’s why I’m leaving my Woke state as soon as I retire next year.
Looks like Ronald McDonald and the Hamburgler had a ‘love child’.
I thought it was Beetlejuice
There is an easy solution to this mess, don’t install heat pumps.
There are two problems here:
1) Criminal who stela things. They need catching, prosecuting and locking up.
2) Insurance that is not understood by the buyers. That needs stating more clearly. But the buyer needs to take some responsibility for what they have bought. Expecting household insurance to spread outside the house seems optimistic to me.
Neither issue is related to climate or science.
Mandating people to install heat pumps isn’t related to climate or science either….
There are nuances here, I think. On the insurance issue, we have not, by and large, had to think about insurance cover for our heating systems. If separate insurance is going to be needed for outdoor heat pumps then we’ll need to change our way of thinking – a bit of publicity from the advocates & suppliers of the things and from household insurers wouldn’t go amiss; also a recognition that separate insurance is another running cost that must be born by the owner (I’ve never heard anyone refer to such an additional cost when making cost comparisons with conventional heating systems).
As for thieving scumbags, they are being presented with a new opportunity that they’ll be only too happy to take advantage of (just like when catalytic converters were mandated). But if it’s that attractive to pinch these things, insurance premiums will reflect that, adding even more to the cost.
This is just as hilarious as battery car charging cables being cut and stolen.