Heat Pump Water Heater Works in Northern Climes

December 10, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

water heaterGeneral Electric says its GeoSpring heat pump water heater will bring energy saving technology to northern climates.

Made in Louisville, Ky., GE’s GeoSpring heat pump water heater is designed for all climates, including colder climates. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) conducted independent testing of the product to verify its performance in the Pacific Northwest.

GE says the GeoSpring heat pump water heater offers improved performance through advanced compressor technology and works at temperatures as low as 35 degrees. A new ducting kit allows for installation in more locations. GE estimates the GeoSpring is up to 69 percent more efficient compared to a standard electric water heater, saving the average household $388 year.

GE currently has a 50-gallon GeoSpring heat pump water heater available in the market, but today, GE is announcing the roll-out of its new and even more efficient 50- and 80-gallon GeoSpring heat pump water heaters, the first products to meet the highest efficiency tier of the Northern Climate Specification.

Over the past three years, Northwest utilities and NEEA have influenced the sale of over 5,000 heat pump water heaters, paving the way for this technology. This momentum coincides with Federal efficiency standard updates taking effect April 2015 for large tank water heaters (greater than 55 gallons). Heat pump water heaters will be the only product meeting the improved efficiency standards.

The GeoSpring heat pump water heaters will be available for purchase through GE suppliers beginning in the first quarter of 2015.

In October, the US Department of Energy said up until now, heat pumps have only been popular in more mild, Southern regions, and have failed to gain traction in cold climates. This is because as air temperatures drop, air source heat pump performance suffers. The DOE said it has been working with Mechanical Solutions (MSI), a small business in New Jersey, on a Supercharger that allows heat pumps to efficiently operate in the coldest US climates, with zero backup heat.

Earlier this year, the DOE issued a final rule regarding the test procedure for residential water heaters and certain commercial water heaters.

* After initial publication of this story, GE provided some more detail about the redesign of the new 2015 GE GeoSpring heat pump. The company says the sealed system incorporates several significant improvements, many of them proprietary, including redesign of the components (compressors, fans, etc.), the sensors, and the software algorithms used to control the behavior and response of the system in a wide variety of installation and ambient conditions. The GeoSpring design utilizes a single compressor and does not require or rely upon any additional “pre-compression” of the refrigerant. There may be extreme conditions encountered which can shift the GeoSpring to electric element operation temporarily, but the system returns to heat pump operation as quickly as conditions allow.

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