Project Spotlight: Central Heat Pump Water Heaters

Case Study

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Central heat pump water heater (CHPWH) systems serve the domestic hot water needs of a building in one central plant. Though they have become a key decarbonization technology by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving energy and costs, their complex design and installation requirements can pose barriers to widespread adoption. Packaged systems reduce this complexity by simplifying design and installation.

After considering multiple heat pump water heater (HPWH) systems with low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants, the project team decided on the packaged WaterDrop system to capitalize on the potential of a fully skid-built system, especially as the site includes large, landscaped areas that provide ample space for the outdoor installation. The original design included six heat pumps, but three additional heat pumps were added to accommodate future increases in occupancy. To further improve the efficiency of the system, thermostatic balancing valves and variable speed recirculation pumps were used to balance the recirculation system and reduce energy loss. Finally, the team replaced shower cartridges in one wing to address the crossover issues.

The installation was completed in three days, as compared to site-built system installations, which can take weeks. The water heating manufacturer, Small Planet Supply, worked onsite to complete commissioning. The project team will collect data for nine months to monitor system operations, including efficiency, energy consumption, and load-shifting performance.

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