PBS: More Homes Using Heat Pumps

January 12, 2023


Heating and cooling equipment multinational Johnson Controls has developed an air source heat pump prototype that can operate in temperatures below -20F (-29C) as part of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Residential Cold Climate Heat Pump Challenge.

DOE launched this challenge because, according to the program’s fact sheet, “additional efforts are needed to address common technical and market barriers to wider adoption by consumers – which include performance at temperatures of 5F and below, installation challenges, and electricity grid impacts during peak demand periods.”

DOE is working with manufacturers to lab test cold climate heat pumps’ performance. Field testing will take place over the next couple years, and DOE is aiming for commercialization in 2024.

Besides Johnson Controls, other manufacturers such as Carrier, Trane, and Bosch are also taking part in the challenge. 

Trane successfully completed its lab testing phase required by the heat pump challenge in early November and moved into the field trials phase. Katie Davis, vice president of engineering and technology, Residential HVAC, Trane Technologies, told Contracting Business in December that “there are no products in the market that currently meet the DOE CCHP Challenge performance specifications.” However, Davis said:

There are already units on the market in the United States that work at low temperatures – just not as low as the Johnson Controls or Trane prototypes. Johnson Controls currently has two residential heat pumps on the US market – the York YZV and York HMH7 – that can operate at temperatures as low as 5F (-15C). (Johnson Controls bought York in August 2005.) And Trane’s Platinum XV20i can operate at temperatures as low as 0F.


6 Responses to “PBS: More Homes Using Heat Pumps”

  1. gmrmt Says:

    I thought Mitsubishi had a heat pump that operated 100% at 5 degrees F and kept working down to -13. Don’t know what it costs though.

  2. miguellago68 Says:

    I’ve had the Mitsubishi heat pumps for the last 5 years in NH. They work very well, and in our experience, are able to heat the house when the outside ambient temperature is even below -15F. My neighbors have Fujitsu heat pumps that work similarly well.

    We have a wood stove as a back up for when the power goes out–but no heating system works when the electricity is down.

    Besides working flawlessly in the winter, in the summer they cool the house on the rare days when we need it. And since they run very efficiently on electricity, we no longer use heating oil or propane–we save over $2000 each winter. Other than adding insulation to your house, there is no better way to cut household emissions and save money.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      can I ask what model Mitsubishi you have? Is it part of a ducted system?
      looking for recommendations for when I have to change out my gas forced air system.

      • miguellago68 Says:

        I have two outdoor units which are piped to 4 indoor units. They are “ductless”, which means that they don’t push heated air or cooled air through a long duct, but rather the refrigerant moves through an insulated pipe from the outside condensing unit to the interior wall unit. All the brands work this way–there is no way to use your current ducts. I had forced air ducts in place and so I investigated whether or not I could continue to use them. Nope! But they are still in place, so I can use the old system as a backup for the rare night when we get a polar vortex that sits over us and chills us down to -20F. Unfortunately, we haven’t had much cold this winter–but a guy can dream.

        The larger unit is 30k BTU and is the MXZ-3C30NAHZ2. It heats most of our house, using 3 interior wall units. The smaller one is a 12k BTU unit, and was labelled MUZ-FH12NA-1, which heats one big space at the end of the house. Our house is basically a long 2400 sq ft rectangle–not ideal for heating in a cold climate, but we manage.

        If you would like more clarification, I can be in touch by email.

      • Mark Mev Says:

        NH also. 2 years ago I replace the older Mit units with a MUZ-FH12NA-1 outdoor unit and a MSZ-FH12NA indoor wall head. Rated to around 70% heating capacity at -13 degrees F. But the COP decreases as the temp goes down:

        this is what i have in manchester
        temp cop NEEP cop
        47 4.2 4.2
        17 2.1 2.83
        5 2.07 1.8?

        Compared to my old backup oil boiler, it is cheaper to run the oil heat when temps go below 0F. So, yes I could keep running the heat pump below zero but I will have to pay that electrical bill.

        Getting the actual data on COP decreases versus temperature are hard to find sometimes for a specific heat pump.

  3. Anthony O'Brien Says:

    It also helps if you don’t crank up the temperature so high that if it were summer you would be turning on the AC. You know the people: in winter make sure you have layers to take off in winter and in summer make sure you have a jacket because the AC will be set to near freezing.

    In Europe heat pumps are not so welcomed as efficient, because they tend to heat the rooms they are using and not the whole house.

    Of course in my local climate reverse cycle AC works brilliantly.

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