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The future of heat pumps....

Post in 'The Green Room' started by woodgeek, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Just saw this....Daikin, a leading maker of minisplits, has purchased Goodman, a leading maker of ASHPs for the US market. For $3.7B.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-...r-report-it-s-buying-goodman-tokyo-mover.html

    Macroeconomics aside, I think this bodes well for improving ASHP technology in the US. While mini's make a lot of sense all over the world (e.g. high rise apts in asia), americans with their big old rambly houses love them some central air systems and ductwork. I think we will see some mini-split tech incorporated into conventional split ASHPs, and rolled out under the Goodman label. The only product like that now is the high-end 'Carrier Infinity with Greenspeed'.

    FWIW, I bought a Goodman ASHP 5 yrs ago b/c they were the cheapest, figuring that advances in tech would make any ASHP obsolete (operating cost-wise) before it wore out. In the end, the unit has been totally solid mechanically, but loses a lot of eff points by being single speed (on/off) and having a stupid and poorly implemented defrost control. By rejiggering the defrost control myself, I boosted the cold weather COP by 30% without touching the mechanicals!

    So, I think we are going to see US manufactured units with Goodman compressors, coils and steel, with the electronic inverter tech and controls of a Daikin mini. Hopefully, at a (low) Goodman price point. And hopefully before my current HP gives out.

    Time will tell.

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  2. Circus

    Circus Member

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    Let's hope for the best. I only see a low priced competitor being destroyed. Again.
  3. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    ??? Its an interesting situation.....the NA market is weird.....huge numbers of split systems (both AC and ASHP), whereas the market overseas is for a ductless minisplit configuration. Do those two markets compete? The two products aren't really interchangeable, and most residential builders are still putting in central systems, and replacements of existing systems are going to be centrals too...mini's are still a niche in the NA market IMO.

    The issue is that the NA products are significantly inferior in terms of eff to the Japanese minis. Despite 'competition' among the NA makers (who share major parts suppliers), they are all low eff and have primitive controls. The only thing keeping the Japanese from eating up the NA market is the central/mini format diff).

    In my mind, this is as if the whole world was driving Priuses, and everyone in NA was driving Ford 350s from 1972. Is this toyota buying a ford factory in NA and planning to build modern, hybrid powertrain pickups? Or vampire economics?

    It comes down to whether they keep the existing Texas factory to build 'central system' hardware with Japanese controllers, or if they are just buying a distribution network to sell minis.
  4. sesmith

    sesmith Member

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    Anything that makes heat pump technology more affordable, more dependable and more efficient is good. Heat pumps really need to be the main stream solution for heating in heating dominated climates, and probably cooling, as well. Even ground source heat pumps are usually a no-brainer, when it comes to savings, when competing with oil or propane, but initial cost scares many off. There should be a huge market and future for drop-in air source units that can be solid replacements for oversized fossil fueled systems, especially as (if ??) the electric grid moves toward more renewable sources.
  5. sesmith

    sesmith Member

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  6. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Aaah. Banning residential oil boilers. I think that's a ways away (since coal is still aok in the US). I suspect that the number installed in the US now is near zero in new construction, and the boiler market such as it is is mostly drop in replacements of old boilers. Can't find any good stats on that though.
  7. sesmith

    sesmith Member

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    And natural gas boilers (or heating?) in new construction.

    That's not part of the presidential plan here :)
  8. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Gotta tell you, I have been scared away from central heat pumps. The longevity of these systems is very short, like 5-10 years, based on actual installations in my area from several brands and from member stories on this site. My coworkers and relatives are faced with bills for six to ten thousand dollars to replace the systems far too frequently. This replacement cost eats into the savings to the point where a plain resistance heater starts looking better.

    Let's not get too fancy. First, just make a heat pump that lasts 20 years. Compressors going out, coils wearing holes in them, mystery coolant leaks, etc. Repairing these things often exceeds the unit cost.

    What I like about Daikin is that they are the only ones pushing for heat pump water heating using the mini-split technology.
  9. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Agreed. Part of the problem is the refrigerant switch. A new outdoor unit should never cost $10k to replace, but if you have to replace the indoor unit at the same time 'cuz the old one is for the old refrigerant, well, that is a big whack. BTU for BTU, my central HP saves me ~$1200/yr, relative to oil (or electric resistance for that matter). The unit is wrapping up its 5th heating season without a service call or problem. A new outdoor unit should cost $4-5k, The hardware is <~$3k MSRP, and a couple guys can install in a couple hours. If mine failed (completely) tomorrow the replacement would eat most of my $6k savings to date. If it lasts 5-10 more years, not so much.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    We'll see. Our Am. Std Heritage 16 is wrapping up on season 7. Our neighbor has a similar Lennox system that is now at season 10. Both are going strong. I love the variable speed design of this system (2 spd compressor, dc motor air handler). It's quiet and efficient. So far I have no reason not to expect another 7 years service from it. The year we installed it we went from almost $3000/yr heating bills with propane and purchased wood to about $500 which was mostly for the wood (expensive here). One reason I expect a longer life for the unit is we have little need for AC. The unit sits idle for several months, where as back east it would be pulling full duty except for a few months of the year.

    I'll be watching Daikin/Goodman closely. Thanks for the heads up woodgeek.
  11. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    You said it, Highbeam. I have been doing some intensive research on the replacement of my old baseboard hot water Oil Boiler, and got starry-eyed over the prospect of perhaps replacing the AC unit in the attic with a heat pump. The mortality, plus the intensive maintenance, along with the cost was a bit much. I looked into mini splits, but even my little single floor two bedroom house would be a huge investment. It looks like I will have to have oil again, but at least it will be high efficency, and my domestic hot water will be heated by an electric heater.
    Even though I heat primarily with wood, I am not getting any younger, and there will come a time that I will have to depend on the heating system more. But I can't see forking over $10,000 for a system that is going to crap out in ten years or so.
  12. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    That's a thousand bucks a year just for the equipment. Then you have the electric which while efficient, is not free.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Our whole 3 ton system, including air handler, installation and tax was under $10K. I sincerely doubt that replacing the compressor would be that much or even 1/4 that cost. The whole system does not need replacing for just one part. I just checked and we have a 12 yr warranty on the compressor. Not losing any sleep here.
  14. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Sue, what intensive maintenance on HPs are you talking about? I hose off the outdoor unit every couple years and change a $10 filter every few months. With oil I was getting whacked with expensive service calls and paying $200 for an annual cleaning.

    When I read the manual about scheduled maintenance on the HP.....there was none. HVAC techs will want an annual 'checkup'....not needed IMO.
  15. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    With my air conditioner, which I assume is the same sort of set up, I have it checked for freon leaks, have it tuned up and vacuum the fins & coils. I have to keep the leaves and dirt out of the outside, and the air handler in the attic has to be checked and cleaned. I am also worried about having a plug-up in the drain of the drip pan, which has not happened yet, but could do some damage to the ceiling. My attic is pretty small, so it is not easy for me to climb up there and check on a regular basis.
    Also, I am concerned that the added strain on a unit that will be used both winter and summer might shorten its life. Any other info you can provide would be helpful in my decision.
    BTW, I change my filter every month, and the boiler at the moment is being serviced by my nephew-in-law, so that is a savings for me.:)
  16. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I hear you. In heating mode, there is no indoor condensate, so take that off the list (I worry about mine in the summer too). I had my outdoor unit installed on 12" plastic legs (not expensive) to keep it above snow and leaves, recommended for a HP.

    I read a study that HPs that get an annual 'checkup' actually have more reported problems and a shorter average life than ones that don't. Sounds like (prob only a small subset) of HVAC techs 'find things' to fix.

    I prob should have my indoor coil cleaned (will prob do it myself) after 5 yrs (!), but I have been using near HEPA filters, hoping it would keep the dust down.

    As for the run hours, yeah. My unit might runs <1000 hours for AC and 3000 hours for heat per year. Seems like its got to shorten the life of the mechanicals. Prob doesn't affect the electronics though. But then you do hear about AC units lasting 25-30 years. Still seems like a HP can last 15.
  17. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Got 2 Goodman 1 ton units for upstairs and downstairs back in 09, I am hoping to get 10-15 years out of them with the usage being minimal to none during the winter due to the stove. They do run quite a bit during the summer however. I won't say anything more about them because as soon as I do they will break.
    firebroad likes this.
  18. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    And when they do, it'll cost many thousands of dollars to fix. 5-10k. This is the sad truth. I've heard it repeatedly from the horses mouth, not a friend of a friend. The high end cost is when the indoor unit must also be replaced.

    On equipment like this do you suppose that running it more often might be better than less often? Like a refrigerator that is always on and lasts 10 years.
  19. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Our heat pump made it almost twelve years. Had a freon leak and had to be topped off every year. Used mostly for cooling but sometimes for heat. When I put the oil filled heaters in each room for backup I told my wife that I was going to get the heat pump replaced because the oiled filleds cost more to run when we need them. She asked how much the HP would cost and I told her around ten grand. She said how long will that pay for the delta in electric use between it and the oil filleds? And two small window units cool this place better and for half the electric that the HP did.

    I blew off the HP. That was in 1997.
  20. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Interesting to see if you like a 2015 unit better than the 1985 unit!
  21. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    That is why it is good to have friends that own HVAC operations. The entire install for my 2 1 ton units(crawspace/attic) with all the R8 ducting came to $8,000. That was really the deciding factor that I went with Goodman units, if they go up I can get them cheap enough that it won't break the bank.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    A well installed unit should last. The caveat is "well installed". There are a LOT of poor installations out there with poor flare connection, dirty connections, metal filings in the tubing, etc.. That can take years off the life of a system. This is not at all uncommon in the cookie cutter, rush assembly of modern homes. Our system was installed by a meticulous mechanic that took his time, did it right and came back to rebalance the system after it had run a season. I have faith that it will stand up well over time. The system often runs on the low speed windings for the compressor which further extends its life.

    My father had an hvac business and I learned in the field a lot of the shortcuts that some installers take. They don't care because the problems from their laziness often don't show up for years. When you compound this with the same issues on the assembly line, you can see how your system gets set up for failure. I remember being out in the field one day with a crappy installer and watching him hacksaw copper tubing because he couldn't find his tubing cutter. Then he flared the tubing with no worry about the filings in it. I asked him about that and he said, no worry, the filter will get it all. ;hm
    Highbeam and woodgeek like this.
  23. lopiliberty

    lopiliberty Minister of Fire

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    Same here. It was installed in 93 when the house was built and has been going ever since but only in the summer. Its had its share of problems mostly the circuit board that has had to be replaced 3 or 4 times but its just a matter of time before the coils rust and they are not made anymore so you know what that means. A NEW ONE $$$$$$$. I really don't see how in the hell you could possibly keep warm with them in the winter. The air is not warm at all. Just as well open the door and throw $100 bills out into the wind for all the good a heat pump does
  24. seige101

    seige101 Minister of Fire

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    Technology has changed on them significantly on the last 20 years. I recently helped a friend install a mini split heat pump in his basement this January it was about 20* outside and it felt like warm air from an electric space heater blowing in the basement. There are no electric backup coils. It was rated at 18000 BTUs down to 15*
  25. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    When it is 50°F outside, the air out my registers is ~110°F, 40°F outside, it is 100°F, and when it is 25°F outside, the register's air still feels 'warm' at 90°F. Below that outside temp God's hair dryer (15 kW aux) turns on and it gets hotter again.

    BTUs are cheap enough I can afford to heat the joint to 72°F to keep the wife happy.

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