Importing heat pumps from China to the EU

A heat pump is a device that allows heat (thermal energy) to move from one area to another. The popularity of heat pumps on the market is increasing as these devices are more environmentally friendly compared to similar devices. China is one of the largest exporters of heat pumps in the world; China’s heat pump market is over twenty billion yuan. What is important when importing heat pumps from China to the EU?

Importing heat pumps from China to the EU

Importing heat pumps from China to the EU

First, let us find out what are the types of heat pumps on the market:

  • air source heat pump (ASHP) – the heat source is air from the outside
  • ground-source heat pump (GSHP) – the heat is drawn from the soil or groundwater
  • exhaust air heat pump (EAHP) – the heat is extracted from the building exhaust air, requires mechanical ventilation
  • water source heat pump (WSHP) – the heat is drawn from a body of water
  • hybrid heat pump – the heat is drawn from different sources.

Heat pumps are mainly used to heat and cool buildings and vehicles and cool refrigerators and freezers. Air source heat pumps have the largest share of the Chinese market (over 90%), followed by ground-source and water heat pumps.

In recent years, the demand for heat pumps in Europe has increased, which is reflected in the sharp increase in the dynamics of exports of these devices from China.

Export of heat pumps from China
Export of heat pumps from China in 2013-2021, data: Intelligence Research Group, China Customs

Where are heat pumps produced in China?

Before importing heat pumps from China, you should research and find out the main production bases. The production of heat pump parts is concentrated in Zhejiang and Jiangsu Provinces, and the largest producers of complete heat pumps are Guangdong (Guangzhou, Foshan, Shenzhen, Zhongshan), Zhejiang (Jiaxing) and Shandong (Jinan, Dezhou) Provinces.

Check the areas on the map below:

Heat pumps producers in China

Importing heat pumps from China to the EU – duty rates

Before importing, aside from production bases, you should get familiar with the duty rates on imported products. The duty rate must be paid at the customs border, and it depends on factors such as the duty rate. The official TARIC open-access tariff system is intuitive and easy to navigate. In addition to the duty rates assigned to the HS (product) codes, the system contains information on regulations and more.

The rate for heat pumps is in section XVI – Machines and mechanical appliances (…); Refrigerators, freezers and other refrigerating or freezing equipment, electric or other; heat pumps other than air-conditioning machines of heading 8415.

The duty on the heat pump is:

  • heat pumps pre-charged hydrofluorocarbons (8418 61 00 91): 2.2%
  • other heat pumps than those classified as 8415 (8418 61 00 99): 2.2%.

Please note that the import of the above devices is subject to a restriction on entry into free circulation and the import control of fluorinated greenhouse gases.

Importing heat pumps from China to the EU – requirements

Each importer is required to get familiar with the requirements for the imported product in the target market. Otherwise, the non-compliant product will not be released for free circulation (you may be forced to destroy the goods). The main legal acts specifying product requirements in the European Union are directives and regulations. Moreover, importers must comply with national laws.

1. Provisions on fluorinated greenhouse gases

Imported heat pumps must meet the requirements of the F-gas Regulation (EU) No 517/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council. The regulation specifies restricted compounds and the calculation of the maximum quantity, reference values, and quotas for placing hydrofluorocarbons on the market. The importer/manufacturer has to register the heat pump and label it accordingly.

2. Pressure equipment

Directive 2014/68/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the harmonization of the laws of the Member States relating to the making available on the market of pressure equipment covers pressure equipment and assemblies that are new to the EU market when they are placed on the market. The pressure equipment must be designed, manufactured, checked, and, where applicable, equipped and installed in such a way as to ensure its safety when put into service in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or reasonably foreseeable conditions.

3. Machinery Directive

Directive 2006/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on machinery sets out mandatory requirements concerning safety, human health, and environmental issues. Machines must have a nameplate affixed.

4. Low Voltage Directive

Directive 2014/35/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the harmonization of the laws of the Member States relating to the making available on the market of electrical equipment designed for use within certain voltage limits applies to electrical equipment designed for use with a voltage rating of between 50 and 1 000 V for alternating current and between 75 and 1 500 V for direct current.

5. Electromagnetic Compatibility

Heat pumps capable of generating or contributing to electromagnetic emissions exceeding a certain level are subject to Directive 2014/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the harmonization of the laws of the Member States relating to electromagnetic compatibility.

6. Labeling

Heat pumps fall under Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 811/2013 supplementing Directive 2010/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to energy labeling of space heaters, combination heaters, packages of space heater, temperature control and solar device, and packages containing a combination heater, a temperature controller and solar device. The label on the heat pump combined with cogeneration or renewable energy technologies should be classified as A+ and above.

Please note that in 2026-2030, new energy labels will be introduced.

7. Ecodesign

Commission Regulation (EU) 2016/2281 implementing Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products, with regard to ecodesign requirements for air heating products, cooling products, high-temperature process chillers and fan coil units applies to heat pumps.

In this regulation, “heat pump” means an air heating product:

  1. of which the outdoor side heat exchanger (evaporator) extracts heat from ambient air, ventilation exhaust air, water, or ground heat sources
  2. which has a heat generator that uses a vapor compression cycle or a sorption cycle
  3. of which the indoor side heat exchanger (condenser) releases this heat to an air-based heating system
  4. which may be equipped with a supplementary heater
  5. which may operate in reverse in which case it functions as an air conditioner.

“Seasonal coefficient of performance” (SCOP) is the overall coefficient of performance of a heat pump using electricity, representative of the heating season, calculated as the reference annual heating demand divided by the “annual energy consumption for heating.”

The second-tier minimum seasonal space heating energy efficiency of second-stage air heating products expressed in % is:

  • air-to-air heat pumps, driven by an electric motor, excluding rooftop heat pumps – 137%
  • roof heat pumps – 125%
  • air-to-air heat pumps, driven by an internal combustion engine – 130%.

Heat pumps with specific energy efficiency, nitrogen oxide emissions and a maximum sound power level can be released for free circulation.

8. WEEE symbol

The WEEE (Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment, Directive 2012/19/EU) symbol is placed on electrical and electronic equipment. Electrically powered equipment containing ozone-depleting substances and fluorinated greenhouse gases, like refrigerators, freezers and air-conditioning equipment, must bear the WEEE symbol (a crossed-out wheelie bin with a single bar).

WEEE symbol

CE mark and declaration of conformity

The above regulations require the device to bear a CE mark. The manufacturer’s declaration of conformity (DoC) is based on test reports, and if there is a DoC, the product can bear the CE mark. The declaration of conformity must contain the relevant legislation with which the product complies, as well as any harmonized standards or other means used to prove compliance. A copy of the declaration of conformity should be kept for ten years from the moment the equipment is placed on the market.

CE mark

More on heat pumps on the EU market

Do not forget to attach a user manual (in the target country’s official language) and the technical documentation.

The heat pump manufacturer may voluntarily have it assessed and certified by an independent and competent body to obtain the Heat Pump Keymark. This official mark means that the machine complies with EU regulations. The list of manufacturers using this mark is available on the official website. There are also manufacturers from China.

Heat pump keymark

Heat pumps trade fairs in China

Trade fairs are very popular in China, as face-to-face contact is preferred. There are many advantages to participating in trade fairs as a buyer because you can compare many offers from different manufacturers in one place. Moreover, by establishing contact with a potential Chinese contractor, you can build guanxi and increase the chance of getting a better offer.

Below you can check some of the trade fairs in China where you can find heat pumps.

Central China (Zhengzhou) International Equipment Manufacturing Exposition (CCEME)

Venue: Zhengzhou International Convention and Exhibition Centre (ZZICEC), Zhengzhou

Website: ccieme.com.cn/en-us/index.aspx

Central China (Zhengzhou) International Equipment Manufacturing Exposition is the largest machinery fair in central China. The fair’s scope is products from the hardware manufacturing industry and more.

Canton Fair Phase 1 – China Export and Import Fair

Venue: Canton Fair Complex, Kanton

Website: cantonfair.org.cn

Canton Fair is the largest and oldest trade fair in China, held twice a year. During the first phase of the Canton Fair, exhibitors present electrical and electronic equipment, vehicles, and machinery, including heat pumps.

China Guangzhou International Electric Heating Exhibition

Venue: Canton Fair Complex, Guangzhou

Website: gehe.cn/index.php?lang=en

China Guangzhou International Electric Heating Exhibition (GEHE) is the only trade fair in China focused on electric heating devices and equipment.

ISH China & CIHE (China International Trade Fair for Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning, Sanitation & Home Comfort Systems)

Venue: New China International Exhibition Center, Beijing

Website: ishc-cihe.hk.messefrankfurt.com/beijing/en.html

During ISH China & CIHE, exhibitors present innovative and green solutions in heating, ventilation, and more.

Importing heat pumps from China to the EU – to sum up

  • Extreme temperatures drive the heating and cooling market. Heat pumps are energy-efficient machines that can produce three times more heat than they consume electricity.
  • Air source heat pumps have the largest share in the Chinese market (over 90%), followed by ground source and water heat pumps.
  • The largest concentration of producers of complete heat pumps in China is Guangdong, Zhejiang, and Shandong Provinces.
  • The duty rate on heat pumps is low – 2.2%.
  • Importing heat pumps involves checking compliance with many EU regulations and applying the CE mark.

Before you decide on a supplier, have due diligence conducted. Even if the company is trustworthy, make sure that the products undergo quality control and sign a valid commercial contract.

Check out our guides on importing from China.

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