120v heat pump water heaters hit the market and make gas replacement easier

Update: Editor’s note – A previous version of this article stated that the Rheem 120 V water heater was already on sale. This water heater is expected to hit the market in the first half of 2022. Sorry for the error.

There are major developments taking place in the world of water heating. 120V 15A heat pump water heaters are set to hit the market (early next year) allowing homeowners with gas water heaters to easily switch them to heat pump water heaters without expensive electrical panel upgrades. This opens up the world of efficient water heating for many homes because they won’t have to rewire their homes to make the switch.

In times of pre-climate disasters, the news about a new type of water heater might be funny. Until relatively recently, no one gave much thought to the large, tube-like machines with tubes and wires sticking out of closets, basements, or garages, and somehow providing all the steam showers we could want.

But how water is heated is of great importance in our decarbonization efforts. Water heaters are the The second largest user of energy In a typical US home, a clean version of this boring technology might help save the day and our planet. With the right water heater, we can have our cake and eat it too: we can have all the hot water we need And Save money and don’t pollute.

Heat pump water heaters are a game changer

Heat pump water heaters are a rare example of a silver technology bullet. They clean the way we heat water and reduce, and potentially eliminate, carbon dioxide emissions from heating water. I have already written full Article CleanTechnica On the subject I invited them on as game-changing machines (this happened to be the best CT article I’d ever read, and the editor, Zack Shahan, laughed that an article on water heaters was the highest-read of the week). Heat pump water heaters are more efficient than polluting natural gas and old electric resistance water heaters, which means families will save hundreds of dollars annually in energy costs and tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

120V versions make gas switching easier

The lowest hanging fruit for efficient water heating is to replace every inefficient, electrically resistant water heater with a hybrid electric heat pump water heater. Both use 240 volts of electricity, so the transition is relatively easy.

But what about the other? 54% of water heaters Across the country, 64 million machines powered by natural gas, heat the country’s water?

The latest development in heat pump water heating is the production of a 120 volt 15 amp version. To date, heat pump water heaters are only available with 240V electrical connections. 240 volts of electricity is needed to power both the efficient heat pumps (located at the top of the unit), as well as the backup electrical resistance rods. These rods are the same technology used in standard electric water heaters and require a lot of electricity. Heat pump water heaters only use the standby electrical resistance when there is too much demand for hot water and they can’t keep up, but this is rare.

The new 120 volt heat pump water heater eliminates the electrical resistance element. It only has a heat pump to heat the water, so it needs less electricity supply (but still can supply all the hot water you need – see below).

An estimated 50% of gas water heaters have an electrical line running on the ignition switch to ignite the flames. Since they already have a supply of electricity, it is easy to turn them off for new 120V heat pump water heaters.

Prior to this release of 120V 15A heat pump water heaters, it was necessary to upgrade the electrical panels for 240V hard wire service in order to switch from gas to heat pump water heaters. Heat pump water heaters require 240 volts which requires consumers to upgrade electrical panels to service 240 volts of hard wire. This can be expensive and is often widespread in older homes. In addition, common 100 amp electrical panels often do not have any remaining capacity to add high power draw devices such as a 30 amp water heater. The extra HPWH 120V and 15A solves this problem.

My family reconnected our water heater to switch the gas to the electric heat pump. It’s doable but adds extra work and expense. With this new version of heat pump water heaters, half of the gas water heaters in the country with 120 volt electricity can easily be replaced with heat pump water heaters without running a new electric line.

Can 120v heat pump water heaters heat all the water I need?

Image courtesy of the New Building Institute

Although they do not have the standby electrical resistance, 120 volt water heaters are still capable of connecting all the hot water heaters needed especially for households of 2-4 people.

Integrated mixing valve. at The last webinarAnd Jeff Weeks from NEEADescribe how you run your water heater for every 10 degrees, above the standard 120 degrees, it’s as if you’re getting an extra 10 gallons from storing hot water. For example, in the winter, I turn my family’s heat pump water heater from 120 to 140 degrees and that extra 20 degrees allows the water heater to work like a 70 gallon water heater because it uses less hot water in the tank to create the same outlet temperature (point used The 120F set is approximately 70% while the 140F set point uses 50% of the hot tank water). This strategy means that you have to be extra careful with the hottest water and have anti-scalding devices on your faucets so that the hot water doesn’t hurt you or your kids.

120 volt heat pump water heaters come with a mixing valve built into the water heater itself. This mixing valve allows owners to keep the water at a higher temperature and when the water leaves the tank, the valve will mix “with the exact amount of cold water needed to ensure the water comes out of the water heater at the correct temperature.” (sourceSo the homeowners will store their water at a higher temperature and the water heater will make sure it is still safe. This higher temperature will lengthen the hot water in the tank, so the 120 volt water heater will be able to keep up with demand although its recovery is slower without the electrical resistance support.

Although my family has a 240V heat pump water heater, we leave it exclusively in “heat pump mode” so that we heat the water more efficiently and never rely on standby electrical resistance. Basically we have been living with a 120v heat pump water heater for four years now and our first hand experience is that it recovers very quickly and provides all the hot water needed for a family of four plus our airbnb rental.

When can I get a heat pump water heater?

These water heaters are just coming on the market. I asked water heater expert Amruta Khanulkar, who New Building InstituteWhen should they be ready to buy? she answeredManufacturers and models are expected to be ready for production by the first quarter of 2022.”

The table below provides all available brands of both 240V and 120V (120V versions are referred to as “emerging”).

Image courtesy of the New Building Institute

So start making a plan to switch off your gas water heater to a 120 volt heat pump water heater especially if you have a gas water heater with an electric line. 120 volt heat pump water heaters provide the ability to efficiently heat electric water to millions of other homes providing a key tool for individuals to reduce their emissions and combat climate change.

Editor’s Note – A previous version of this article stated that the Rheem 120 V water heater was already on sale. This water heater is expected to hit the market in the first half of 2022. Sorry for the error.

Many thanks to Jeff Wikes and Amruta Khanulkar for sharing their experiences in this article and taking a look at A The last webinar Co-hosted by this non-profit organization electrify now Jeff and Amruta introduced this game-changing technology. The Amruta organization is part of the Advanced Water Heating Initiative, an initiative that studies and promotes the efficiency of water heating. To find out more read here.



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