Hydronic Heating Coil Versus Propane Furnace, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

C. Imm, M. Wayne

Research output: NRELFact Sheet


Insight Homes constructed two houses in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, with identical floor plans and thermal envelopes but different heating and domestic hot water (DHW) systems. Each house is 1,715 sq. ft. with a single story, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and ductwork located in conditioned crawlspaces. The standard house, which the builder offers as its standard production house, uses an air source heat pump (ASHP) with supplemental propane furnace heating. The Building America test house uses the same ASHP unit with supplemental heat provided by the DHW heater (a combined DHW and hydronic heating system, where the hydronic heating element is in the air handler). Both houses were occupied during the test period. Results indicate that efficiency of the two heating systems was not significantly different. Three issues dominate these results; lower system design performance resulting from the indoor refrigerant coil selected for the standard house, an incorrectly functioning defrost cycle in the standard house, and the low resolution of the natural gas monitoring equipment. The thermal comfort of both houses fell outside the ASHRAE Standard 55 heating range but was within the ACCA room-to-room temperature range when compared to the thermostat temperature. The monitored DHW draw schedules were input into EnergyPlus to evaluate the efficiency of the tankless hot water heater model using the two monitored profiles and the Building America House Simulation Protocols. The results indicate that the simulation is not significantly impacted by the draw profiles.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 2014

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/FS-5500-60721

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102014-4302


  • air source heat pumps
  • Building America
  • combination system (space and water)
  • DHW
  • domestic hot water (DHW)
  • field test results
  • hydronic system
  • modeling
  • new construction
  • occupant comfort
  • Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
  • residential
  • residential buildings
  • space conditioning
  • supplemental propane furnace
  • tankless water heating system


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