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Hot Water Guy Blog
Miscellaneous Engineering Data
Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heaters
Heat Pump Type Hybrid Water Heaters
Heat Pump Hybrid Water Heaters are basically an electric water heater with a heat pump mounted on top. Rheem advertises that you can cut your energy costs in half. There isnít much new about a heat pump water heater with a 40 or 50 gallon tank. They have been around for over 40 years.
A heat pump water heater works just like those awful air conditioners in motel rooms. Instead of blowing air through a heat exchanger to warm or cool it, the heat pump water heater runs the water through the heat exchanger to heat it. The heater blows cold air out and puts the heat into the water.
Heat Pumps are Energy Efficient
Heat pump water heaters are the most efficient way of heating water in the right circumstances. Heat pumps work better when there is actually heat to pump. When the air is warm there is plenty of heat for the heat pump to pull out of the air and so the heat pump operates with high efficiency.
As the air temperature decreases there is less heat to capture from the air the heat pump will have to work harder, and will become less efficient. It get correspondingly longer to heat the water as well.
Heat Pumps Work Better In Warmer Climates
When you get down to around 40 degrees Fahrenheit there isnít enough heat in the air for the heat pump to work efficiently so you will have to rely on the electric resistance elements to heat the water. At that point you might as well have a standard electric water heater.
Obviously your climate will have a large influence on the desirability of a heat pump water heater. They would be great for Arizona or New Mexico, not so great for Alaska or Minnesota.
Some of the drawbacks to a heat pump water heater are the inability to work well at cold ambient temperaturesí as we have just discussed, they are slower than molasses at heating the water, they canít heat the water quite as hot as a standard electric, they have more parts and are more expensive to repair than a standard electric water heater.
Heat pump water heaters require plenty of air flow, so you canít put them in a closet or small storage room. Heat pump water heaters require cleaning of the air filter, some manufactures recommend at least once a year and others suggest monthly.
A clogged or dirty air cleaner will cause the heat pump to work less efficiently and in some cases will shut off the heat pump until the filter is cleaned. During that period it will be in electric heating element only mode and will cost considerably more to run.
Heat Pump Water Heaters Are Reliable
Heat pump water heating technology has been around for a long time and is very reliable. You wonít find very many unhappy owners of heat pump water heaters on the internet and in the forums as you do with tankless water heater owners.
With heat pump water heaters the larger the tank the better. Since the heating elements are typically only called on to supply heat when the hot water demand has nearly depleted the hot water in the storage tank, the larger the tank the less often the heating elements will be used and the more heat pump use occurs.
If you live in a warm climate like Florida, and you live in an all electric neighborhood and donít have access to natural or propane gas, then a heat pump water heater is a viable option for you. A heat pump water heater can cut your water heating bill roughly in half saving you hundreds of dollars a year.
Heat pump hybrid water heaters cost more than standard tank type heaters, but under the right conditions, such as a warm climate, will have a fairly rapid payback.
Heat pump water heaters are available without an integral tank if you want to
use your existing water heater for the storage tank.
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