Multifamily Heat Pump Water Heater Evaluation

M. Hoeschele, E. Weitzel

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


Although heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) have gained significant attention in recent years as a high efficiency electric water heating solution for single family homes, central HPWHs for commercial or multi-family applications are not as well documented in terms of measured performance and cost effectiveness. To evaluate this technology, the Alliance for Residential Building Innovation team monitored the performance of a 10.5 ton central HPWH installed on a student apartment building at the West Village Zero Net Energy Community in Davis, California. Monitoring data collected over a 16 month period were then used to validate a TRNSYS simulation model. The TRNSYS model was then used to project performance in different climates using local electric rates. Results of the study indicate that after some initial commissioning issues, the HPWH operated reliably with an annual average efficiency of 2.12 (Coefficient of Performance). The observed efficiency was lower than the unit's rated efficiency, primarily due to the fact that the system rarely operated under steady-state conditions. Changes in the system configuration, storage tank sizing, and control settings would likely improve the observed field efficiency. Modeling results suggest significant energy savings relative to electric storage water heating systems (typical annual efficiencies around 0.90) providing for typical simple paybacks of six to ten years without any incentives. The economics versus gas water heating are currently much more challenging given the current low natural gas prices in much of the country. Increased market size for this technology would benefit cost effectiveness and spur greater technology innovation.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages42
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Alliance for Residential Building Innovation (ARBI), Davis, California

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-5500-60576

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102013-4279


  • ARBI
  • Building America
  • computer modeling
  • cost effectiveness
  • field monitoring
  • multi-family
  • residential
  • residential buildings
  • water heating


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