Optimizing heating in a heat-pump + electric resistive system

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by

Billy C.

Last Updated November 24, 2017 00:21 AM

Outside, I have a LENNOX 13hpx-036-230-17 compressor:

Inside, the air handler is a LENNOX CBX25UH-036-230-1:

The air handler lists 36,000 BTUH cooling capacity, with r410a at 450psi, cust part # 79w36. I have electric backup heating. (I believe two radiant coils because there are two large (30 and 60A) double pole breakers.)

I have a few questions as a homeowner to help protect the equipment, and run it as efficiently as possible:

Is there any minimum outdoor temperature for operating this unit as a heat-pump, below which damage is significantly more likely to occur? Is there any minimum outdoor temperature for operating this unit as a heatpump, below which is it less than 100% efficient?

i.e. I know that radiant/resistive heating strips are 100% efficient at creating heat from electricity, and heat-pumps are something like 300-500% efficient because they move more heat...

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For climates with moderate heating and cooling needs, heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners. Like your refrigerator, heat pumps use electricity to move heat from a cool space to a warm space, making the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer. During the heating season, heat pumps move heat from the cool outdoors into your warm house and during the cooling season, heat pumps move heat from your cool house into the warm outdoors. Because they move heat rather than generate heat, heat pumps can provide equivalent space conditioning at as little as one quarter of the cost of operating conventional heating or cooling appliances.

There are three types of heat pumps: air-to-air, water source, and geothermal. They collect heat from the air, water, or ground outside your home and concentrate it for use inside.

The most common type of heat pump is the air-source heat pump, which transfers heat between your house and the outside...

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Outside, I have a LENNOX 13hpx-036-230-17 compressor:

Inside, the air handler is a LENNOX CBX25UH-036-230-1:

The air handler lists 36,000 BTUH cooling capacity, with r410a at 450psi, cust part # 79w36. I have electric backup heating. (I believe two radiant coils because there are two large (30 and 60A) double pole breakers.)

I have a few questions as a homeowner to help protect the equipment, and run it as efficiently as possible:

Is there any minimum outdoor temperature for operating this unit as a heat-pump, below which damage is significantly more likely to occur?

Is there any minimum outdoor temperature for operating this unit as a heatpump, below which is it less than 100% efficient?

i.e. I know that radiant/resistive heating strips are 100% efficient at creating heat from electricity, and heat-pumps are something like 300-500% efficient because they move more heat from outside than they produce themselves. I know that heat pump...

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Electrical heat pumps can be a great asset to any home. How do they work? Our heat pump expert, Pete Peterson, owner of Geothermal Supply Company, with more than 35 years experience in the heat pump industry, says it's a simple system that works efficiently.


"It's got a compressor and a refrigerant system that absorbs heat from one place and puts it out in another one. It also has the ability to reverse that cycle," Peterson says.

Electric resistance heaters operate like an electric stove. They are efficient at turning electricity into heat. But turning fossil fuels into electricity is incredibly inefficient. In a typical coal-fired power plant, only about a third of the energy content of coal is actually turned into electricity; the rest is wasted. The newest types of gas-fired power plants are more efficient, but still waste about 45 percent of the energy content of the natural gas they burn. Then, transmitting electricity to your home wastes additional...

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Electric resistance heating is 100% energy efficient in the sense that all the incoming electric energy is converted to heat. However, most electricity is produced from coal, gas, or oil generators that convert only about 30% of the fuel's energy into electricity. Because of electricity generation and transmission losses, electric heat is often more expensive than heat produced in homes or businesses that use combustion appliances, such as natural gas, propane, and oil furnaces.

If electricity is the only choice, heat pumps are preferable in most climates, as they easily cut electricity use by 50% when compared with electric resistance heating. The exception is in dry climates with either hot or mixed (hot and cold) temperatures (these climates are found in the non-coastal, non-mountainous part of California; the southern tip of Nevada; the southwest corner of Utah; southern and western Arizona; southern and eastern New Mexico; the southeast corner of Colorado; and...

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Although tankless water heaters are, on average, more efficient than traditional tank-style water heaters, they’re also more expensive — so expensive, in fact, that many potential customers wonder whether their high cost can ever be justified by likely energy savings.

Before you can decide whether to buy a tankless water heater, you’ll need to know how much energy you’ll save. Can you trust the information provided by tankless water heater manufacturers — for example, the estimate from Rinnai’s online calculator that you’ll save $178 per year?

Before I get around to answering that question in detail, suffice it to say: probably not.

Real-world answers from a monitoring study

To figure out the payback period for the incremental cost of a tankless water heater, it would be useful to know:

The installed cost of a tankless water heater; The number of gallons of hot water used per day by the average American family; The in-use efficiency of a typical...
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