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Title: Building America Case Study: Assessment of a Hybrid Retrofit Gas Water Heater

Abstract

This project completed a modeling evaluation of a hybrid gas water heater that combines a reduced capacity tankless unit with a downsized storage tank. This product would meet a significant market need by providing a higher efficiency gas water heater solution for retrofit applications while maintaining compatibility with the half-inch gas lines and standard B vents found in most homes. The TRNSYS simulation tool was used to model a base case 0.60 EF atmospheric gas storage water, a 0.82 EF non-condensing gas tankless water heater, an existing (high capacity) hybrid unit on the market, and an alternative hybrid unit with lower storage volume and reduced gas input requirements. Simulations were completed under a 'peak day' sizing scenario with 183 gpd hot water loads in a Minnesota winter climate case. Full-year simulations were then completed in three climates (ranging from Phoenix to Minneapolis) for three hot water load scenarios (36, 57, and 96 gpd). Model projections indicate that the alternative hybrid offers an average 4.5% efficiency improvement relative to the 0.60 EF gas storage unit across all scenarios modeled. The alternative hybrid water heater evaluated does show promise, but the current low cost of natural gas across much of the countrymore » and the relatively small incremental efficiency improvement poses challenges in initially building a market demand for the product.« less

Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Building Technologies Office (EE-5B)
OSTI Identifier:
1365695
Report Number(s):
NREL/FS-5500-64551; DOE/GO-102017-4708
DOE Contract Number:
AC36-08GO28308
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; residential; residential buildings; ARBI; Building America: TRNSYS; hybrid water heater; DHW; domestic hot water; water heating; tankless; retrofit

Citation Formats

. Building America Case Study: Assessment of a Hybrid Retrofit Gas Water Heater. United States: N. p., 2017. Web.
. Building America Case Study: Assessment of a Hybrid Retrofit Gas Water Heater. United States.
. Mon . "Building America Case Study: Assessment of a Hybrid Retrofit Gas Water Heater". United States. doi:. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1365695.
@article{osti_1365695,
title = {Building America Case Study: Assessment of a Hybrid Retrofit Gas Water Heater},
author = {},
abstractNote = {This project completed a modeling evaluation of a hybrid gas water heater that combines a reduced capacity tankless unit with a downsized storage tank. This product would meet a significant market need by providing a higher efficiency gas water heater solution for retrofit applications while maintaining compatibility with the half-inch gas lines and standard B vents found in most homes. The TRNSYS simulation tool was used to model a base case 0.60 EF atmospheric gas storage water, a 0.82 EF non-condensing gas tankless water heater, an existing (high capacity) hybrid unit on the market, and an alternative hybrid unit with lower storage volume and reduced gas input requirements. Simulations were completed under a 'peak day' sizing scenario with 183 gpd hot water loads in a Minnesota winter climate case. Full-year simulations were then completed in three climates (ranging from Phoenix to Minneapolis) for three hot water load scenarios (36, 57, and 96 gpd). Model projections indicate that the alternative hybrid offers an average 4.5% efficiency improvement relative to the 0.60 EF gas storage unit across all scenarios modeled. The alternative hybrid water heater evaluated does show promise, but the current low cost of natural gas across much of the country and the relatively small incremental efficiency improvement poses challenges in initially building a market demand for the product.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Jun 19 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Mon Jun 19 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}
  • This project completed a modeling evaluation of a hybrid gas water heater that combines a reduced capacity tankless unit with a downsized storage tank. This product would meet a significant market need by providing a higher efficiency gas water heater solution for retrofit applications while maintaining compatibility with the half-inch gas lines and standard B vents found in most homes. The TRNSYS simulation tool was used to model a base case 0.60 EF atmospheric gas storage water, a 0.82 EF non-condensing gas tankless water heater, an existing (high capacity) hybrid unit on the market, and an alternative hybrid unit withmore » lower storage volume and reduced gas input requirements.« less
  • High performance water heaters are typically more time consuming and costly to install in retrofit applications, making high performance water heaters difficult to justify economically. However, recent advancements in high performance water heaters have targeted the retrofit market, simplifying installations and reducing costs. Four high efficiency natural gas water heaters designed specifically for retrofit applications were installed in single-family homes along with detailed monitoring systems to characterize their savings potential, their installed efficiencies, and their ability to meet household demands. The water heaters tested for this project were designed to improve the cost-effectiveness and increase market penetration of high efficiencymore » water heaters in the residential retrofit market. The retrofit high efficiency water heaters achieved their goal of reducing costs, maintaining savings potential and installed efficiency of other high efficiency water heaters, and meeting the necessary capacity in order to improve cost-effectiveness. However, the improvements were not sufficient to achieve simple paybacks of less than ten years for the incremental cost compared to a minimum efficiency heater. Significant changes would be necessary to reduce the simple payback to six years or less. Annual energy savings in the range of $200 would also reduce paybacks to less than six years. These energy savings would require either significantly higher fuel costs (greater than $1.50 per therm) or very high usage (around 120 gallons per day). For current incremental costs, the water heater efficiency would need to be similar to that of a heat pump water heater to deliver a six year payback.« less
  • High-performance water heaters are typically more time consuming and costly to install in retrofit applications, making high-performance water heaters difficult to justify economically. However, recent advancements in high-performance water heaters have targeted the retrofit market, simplifying installations and reducing costs. Four high-efficiency natural gas water heaters designed specifically for retrofit applications were installed in single-family homes along with detailed monitoring systems to characterize their savings potential, their installed efficiencies, and their ability to meet household demands.
  • The focus of this study is on the performance of HPWHs with several different duct configurations and their effects on whole building heating, cooling, and moisture loads. A.O. Smith 60 gallon Voltex (PHPT-60) heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) were included at two project sites and ducted to or located within spray foamed encapsulated attics. The effect of ducting a HPWH's air stream does not diminish its efficiency if the ducting does not reduce intake air temperature, which expands HPWH application to confined areas. Exhaust ducts should be insulated to avoid condensation on the exterior, however this imposes a risk ofmore » condensation occurring in the duct's interior near the HPWH due to large variation of temperatures between the compressor and the duct and the presence of bulk moisture around the condenser. The HPWH's air conditioning impact on HVAC equipment loads is minimal when the intake and exhaust air streams are connected to a sealed attic and not the living space. A HPWH is not suitable as a replacement dehumidifier in sealed attics as peak moisture loads were observed to only be reduced if the heat pump operated during the morning. It appears that the intake air temperature and humidity was the most dominant variable affecting HPWH performance. Different ducting strategies such as exhaust duct only, intake duct only, and exhaust and intake ducting did not have any effect on HPWH performance.« less
  • The focus of this study is on the performance of HPWHs with several different duct configurations and their effects on whole building heating, cooling, and moisture loads. A.O. Smith 60 gallon Voltex (PHPT-60) heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) were included at two project sites and ducted to or located within spray foamed encapsulated attics. The effect of ducting a HPWH's air stream does not diminish its efficiency if the ducting does not reduce intake air temperature, which expands HPWH application to confined areas. Exhaust ducts should be insulated to avoid condensation on the exterior, however this imposes a risk ofmore » condensation occurring in the duct's interior near the HPWH due to large variation of temperatures between the compressor and the duct and the presence of bulk moisture around the condenser. The HPWH's air conditioning impact on HVAC equipment loads is minimal when the intake and exhaust air streams are connected to a sealed attic and not the living space. A HPWH is not suitable as a replacement dehumidifier in sealed attics as peak moisture loads were observed to only be reduced if the heat pump operated during the morning. It appears that the intake air temperature and humidity was the most dominant variable affecting HPWH performance. Different ducting strategies such as exhaust duct only, intake duct only, and exhaust and intake ducting did not have any effect on HPWH performance.« less