May 14, 2024

Scaling Up: Demonstrating Risk Reduction and Cost Compression for Commercial Heat Pump Water Heaters - CRADA 625 (Abstract)


Commercial heat pump water heater (CHPWH) systems significantly decarbonize the commercial and multifamily sectors by eliminating the reliance on gas-fired water heating. CHPWH systems are also well suited to include load shift controls that enable load-up and shed commands for supporting grid reliability and time-of-use pricing structure. However, they have not had wide adoption due to factors including price, complexity, and perceived risk. Although CHPWHs have been available in the US for decades, they have not made significant market gains in part because the systems have required significant and costly engineering design expertise and proved lackluster performance. Successful widespread market adoption requires a different approach; a shift from the current custom specialized expertise project design and installation to a repeatable approach that requires little specialized knowledge or expertise and can deliver persistent performance. Using this type of holistic systems approach requires effectively integrating four CHPWH system key components: primary air-to-water heat pumps; primary thermal storage tanks, a temperature maintenance system, and a control system which has capabilities to manage the primary heat pump cycles, any back-up, supplemental, or temperature maintenance heating, alarms, and grid connectivity allowing for demand response (DR), and/or load shifting. The project team has developed and will implement a suite of tools to support faster, less expensive, and more reliable field installations of CHPWH technology and with the resulting data used to further improve the tool set. These tools include: • A tool for optimizing system size and costs. • A tool that predicts annual energy use and overall system efficiency. • The Advanced Water Heater Specification (AWHS 8.0) defining the components of a full CHPWH system addressing performance requirements by climate zone. • The Qualified Products List: (QPL) of approved products that meet the specifications requirements. • Training materials including online on-demand modules, instructor-led training, and virtual interactive video tours of CHPWH installations in multifamily buildings. Demonstration site identification in low-income buildings in underserved communities is currently underway. Preliminarily, the team anticipates having three demonstrations in the Pacific Northwest and three in the Northeast for a total of six sites. After the demonstration sites are finalized, and M&V instrumentation installations are complete, the team will gather performance data and confirm whether the CHPWH systems perform as predicted and use the data to improve the existing tools.

Published: May 14, 2024

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