The purpose of the present work is the investigation of the effect of the outdoor air temperature and relative humidity on the performance of an air heat pump, when the reverse-cycle defrosting is considered. The frost formation process has been analyzed by developing a simplified model which relates the number of defrost cycles to the outdoor air conditions. Moreover the energy consumption due to the defrosting has been taken into account in the evaluation of the heat pump performance. The results, carried out for many Italian sites, point out that the outdoor air conditions play an important role in determining the amount of defrost cycles; however the frost formation is mainly affected by the relative humidity. The analysis highlights also that the defrosting contribution on the heat pump performance is not negligible when the heat pump that operates in wet weather, although cold; in these conditions the hourly COP may be reduced by up to 20%. However, this effect becomes less relevant, but not negligible, when the seasonal heat pump performance is evaluated; the maximum decrease of SCOP, observed for the all analyzed cases, is less than 13%.
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