Wanted | Solar-Powered Heat Pump for Energy Efficiency

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Calling all Solar Experts!

Yesterday, our 4-ton Trane heat pump had what the repairman called “a catastrophic failure.” In lay terms: it died.

Here in Phoenix, power for air-conditioning makes up a large percentage of the average household’s electric bill in the summer months (which can last from late April to November). That’s certainly the case here at The Phoenix Sun HQ.

Consider: during July 2009, our on-peak (daytime) usage was 1,003 kWh. Four months earlier in March, we used just 257 kWh — or about a quarter of the July figure.

So it makes sense to target air conditioning when cutting back on power.

Why a solar-powered heat pump?

That’s when I first considered purchasing a solar-powered heat pump.

A primary benefit is that no inverter would be needed – at least, that’s my hope. Since solar PV generates direct current (DC), it typically requires an inverter to produce alternating current (AC), which is what powers home appliances, lights, etc. in the US. There are a couple of drawbacks to inverters. First, they’re fairly expensive. Second, a substantial fraction of the electricity produced by PV is lost during the process of changing DC to AC.

Share the knowledge

It all sounds good, in theory but the proof is on the roof. Only, not on mine. Yet.

If you have information about a solar heat pump — or, even better, experience with one — we want to know about it. You can put your information in the Reply Box below, or send it by email it to us directly.

The Department of Energy on Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are the most efficient form of electric heating in moderate climates, providing three times more heating than the equivalent amount of energy they consume in electricity. There are three types of heat pumps: air-to-air, water source, and ground source. They collect heat from the air, water, or ground outside your home and concentrate it for use inside. Heat pumps do double duty as a central air conditioner. They can also cool your home by collecting the heat inside your house and effectively pumping it outside. A heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating by as much as 30% to 40%.

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