A couple of the toughest things about living in the northeast is the vagaries of northern weather and the unavailability of natural gas for heating in many suburban and rural areas. This has left many without an option beyond No. 2 fuel oil. Although geothermal heat pumps are a much more efficient and cost effective long term solution, many do not have the discretionary savings to invest in a 5 or 6 year payback period. Air-cooled heat pumps have never been an acceptable alternative because the indoor discharge air temperatures left one shivering in low ambient outdoor conditions. I installed a variable refrigerant heat pump system in my own home to use as a heat supplement in all but the lowest ambient conditions.
Enter the much ballyhooed variable speed compressor from Copeland. Copeland claims that their new technology will keep homeowners warm with up to 48% greater low ambient heating capacity and no drop off in evap side discharge temperatures. Copeland claims up to 13HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) in optimized heat pumps and 29% greater efficiency than any heat pump currently on the market. Carrier is incorporating the variable compressor in their Infinity line with “Greenspeed Intelligence.” Other manufacturers should follow suit shortly. This compressor will also be used in WaterFurnace’s new water-to-water geothermal heat pump that will be able to reach 160 degree discharge water temperatures and possibly replace many hot water boilers serving baseboard radiation.
Greater heating performance at lower outdoor ambient temperatures is only one excellent feature. These variable speed compressors should also be able to increase overall efficiency at part loads as well as provide optimum dehumidification, pushing the 20 SEER envelope.