Why Are There Hybrid Water Heater 'Studies,' Mommy?

The old MBA technique: make the man go fetch the data, huh? It would be unconscionable to install a piece of equipment in a customer's home that is known by everyone to not be durable: http://www.amazon.com/GE-GeoSpring-Hybrid-Heater-GEH50DNSRSA/produc...  One poor owner actually says,"I am saddened that the US Government in the guise of the IRS and the Department of Energy are promoting this product. From what I have read in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reports the design concept of this product is excellent but the reliability has been a big issue for many years."

I guess the truth is: they haven't improved! The heat pump portions are made in china, in general, and are known by everyone, except the installer/pushers, to not be durable. Please see my previous blog, the answers are well summarized there!

"they need as much as 7 feet clearance from floor to ceiling. You'll also need up to 1,000 cubic feet of uncooled space to capture enough heat from the air, along with a condensate pump (about $150) if there's no drain nearby. Hybrid heaters are noisier than conventional storage-tank heaters, exhaust cool air, and can rob some heated air in winter." CR doesn't have the durability data yet. Storage tank technology trumps all, at the moment.

Why publish fake studies by a government? These are the same types of people who make you pay out of your federal tax dollars $600 million dollars for web sites that don't work!

Also: there's a warranty. Hmm, most warranties aren't worth anything. When your 2 year old water heater breaks, you have a small baby in the house, & you have to purchase another new one because the heat pump parts won't come from china for another month! Have a heart, just install the storage heater for the nice young person.

Greed isn't good. You'll make more money in the long run by being honest with people(you need me to go fetch the christmas movie film citation on that point now?)

Let's go on & on about a closed subject that I've already covered: water heaters. There is a secret proven technology available today(and for 50 years) that makes water heating much more efficient, that has been totally forgotten. I have one. Why don't the super duper study quoters federal state government experts know about it? Oh, they haven't read the ASHRAE Handbook yet, with all their fake certifications?

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Comment by Tom Delconte on December 11, 2013 at 9:25am

Thank you, Curt! I am proposing the re-issue of heat pump/ ac desuperheaters, which are known to work well without problems in warm climates. Cold climate models are now available. They require more plumbing upon initial installation. Your other comments are logical and well formulated, which is unusual for this site! Thanks again! Tom D

Comment by Curt Kinder on November 17, 2013 at 6:20am

Tom has identified a known issue with first generation GE HPWH, model GEH50DNSRSA, manufactured in China, in which the evaporator is prone to leak refrigerant.

To some extent, GE appears to have acted reasonably in the face of warranty claims, although the corporate run-a-round many have experienced is regrettable and a black eye on GE.

GE has since stopped selling the Chinese-made Gen1 model and moved production of an improved Gen 2 model to Kentucky. By most accounts, Gen2 model GEH50DEEDSC is quieter, easier to operate, slightly more efficient, and, if initial reviews are any guide, more reliable.

GE would be well served by replacing, at its cost, any Gen1 unit that experiences more than 1 failure with a Gen2. This program should be implemented ASAP, or GE risks irreparable damage to its brand, undoing a huge marketing investment in HPWH. Gen1 poor experiences have bled into Gen2 reviews, allowing Tom to cackle with joy at negative publicity about a technology he scorns.

Meanwhile, others have stepped to the plate. The Gen1 Rheem / Ruud / Richmond model, which fared so badly in lab tests that I couldn't recommend it, has been supplanted by a greatly improved, substantially more efficient Gen2 model. I await tests of that, but the redesign looks very promising.

A.O Smith, whose HPWH models are sold under Smith, State, American, Reliance, Craftmaster, Kenmore, and Whirlpool names (I think that's all...) has sold workhorse 60 and 80 gallon models. My sole concern about those models has been noise, a tradeoff for more robust operation in colder areas, a result borne out by testing. Smith has come out with a 50 gallon model, SHPT-50, not yet in stores, with an astonishing EF of 2.75 and reported noise level lower than GE. I plan to deploy one ASAP.

I'm puzzled by Tom's venom directed at an entire industry with clear potential to materially impact domestic energy consumption, all based on one model's early failings. I'm not sure what alternative, 50-year-old, water heating technology Tom is flogging; presumably it is solar thermal, against which HPWH compares favorably in many situations - similar efficiency at far lower installed cost.

Tom cites a number of instructions and requirements associated with installing HPWH. That's helpful. None are showstoppers in most homes. If someone tries to cram an HPWH into a linen closet next to master bedroom, they may be unhappy with the result. Whether one is dealing with a water heater, chainsaw or handgun, it is well-advised to read and follow directions to avoid harm and enjoy the product.

Early adopters sometimes take a hit for the sake of those to come. I'm looking to GE to stop the bleeding, but am pleased that there are other alternatives, the beauty of free markets and informed consumers.

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