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Anyone have any Daikin Altherma experiences??

I'm intrigued by the potentials, using off peak electricity and super insulated storage.

Interesting concept. This, coupled with solar and other alternative energy sources, could change the way we do business. If a person has no choice but electricty, why WOULDN'T a person want a mechanical return on the investment of 3 or 4 to 1?

And it can COOL too...

Technology, it is a changin'

It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.


  • tim smithtim smith Member Posts: 2,226

    Mark, I did this same investigation a year ago. Did not get many hits on this site. I did find a company in Scotland who had done nearly 500 and just really loved this unit. Also talked to I company in portland who put I think the first one in the US. All was good reviews. I still have not taken the leap but may yet. A buddy of mine has one in now, I need to follow up with him. Good luck, Tim
  • pipe4zenpipe4zen Member Posts: 108

    Has one in their Maine shop, he posted some results here. Perhaps he'll chime in , or do a search for that thread.

    Definately a game changer, I heard Mitsubishi has their version also, just not here yet.

    Got me thinking about inverter technology, and why the American "geothermal" water to water heat pumps have not embraced inverter technology. Perhaps patent issue.

    My opinion is the future will be predominate electric based, by natural gas power plants. NG is really cheap and attractive now. i think "geo" because of bore hole costs will fade away, and wall hung mod/con boilers will follow after that, yep, times a changin'
  • TechmanTechman Member Posts: 2,144
    Daikin Altherma

    Ther was supposed to be a complex in Hew Hampshire,I beleave, with another complex being added on. I attented a  class on the Altherm. Interesting,very interesting! But, I don't remember very much on the thermal storage.Regards!
  • NRT_RobNRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,009
    we have one

    and in fact we like it so much we're distributing the unit.

    extensive datalogging basically proved that the MFG data on COP/water temp/Air temp is pretty close to spot on. which means, here in maine, about a COP of 3 seasonally for heating. right now on a 40k load that would save a client in maine about $2000/year vs propane in a 95% efficient furnace and about $1000/year vs low 80's real world oil efficiency (atmospheric). Hard to compete with natural gas right now, but for anyone else, or anyone interested in net zero/net less systems, it's pretty good for sure. and air is a lot harder to guess wrong with than dirt is!

    we are radiant cooling with it as well. knock a few grand off of the install cost for a condenser or more for a chiller and you've got a really nice return on investment in most cases.

    COP of 2 at zero degrees ain't nothing to sneeze at, eh?

    We are thinking heat pumps will be the final winner of the HVAC world. You just can't beat getting more energy than you used. when all energy is expensive... which will happen... the economics will be a no brainer.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • Dan FoleyDan Foley Member Posts: 1,046
    edited August 2011


    I have two Altherma systems up and running and two more ein the pipeline.  I am presently designing a system for a small winery that will be tied to radiant heat, radiant cooling as well as a fan coil for dehumidification. 

    Here is a link to a column I wrote on the Altherma:

    Call me for details.

    - DF
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,582
    Thanks everyone...

    Looks like the future of hydronics is here today. If someone would have asked me 10 years ago if I would have believed an air source heat pump could be the next generation of thermal generation devices, I'd probably have said no way...

    To the person asking about thermal storage, certain electrical utilites offer a significant reduction in the KWH charge if you use electricity during "Off Peak" conditions. This means that you can charge a water based thermal storage tank during the night, take the compressor off line during Peal Load conditions, and fall back to the storage tank to get you through the day. In some of the cases that I've looked at, the cost per therm is less than that of natural gas, and that was based on a 1:1 COP. With a 3:1 COP, it will be even better yet.

    The future is here today... In speaking with the folks from the Daikin calss, they said a WWHP with variable speed compressor is doable, and they should have something out in the near future. That won't do anything for the cost of vertical bore holes, but I can see a "hybrid" system, whereby you drill half as many wells as you would normally need, and use the air source when available, and when the COP drops to a low condition, switch to the VBH's.

    I am doing some planning in my head whereby I will attempt to use my "alternative" energy sources, to assist the ASHP for Hydronicahh.

    Thanks for the response, and great article Dan, thanks for the link. Hope to see more writing on your part.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • NRT_RobNRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,009
    thermal storage

    daikin is heavily into investigating thermal storage. even absent KWH price breaks... shifting your load to when it is warmest/coolest outside can have MAJOR COP and EER improvements.

    think 20 degree swing in outdoor temperature. that's easily over a COP improvement in most conditions with ASHP. if I can do seasonal COP of 4 with just ASHP and tank... well, there goes any need for dirt....
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • FortunatFortunat Member Posts: 103
    thermal storage

    I'm too am somewhat interested in thermal storage with the Altherma but I wonder if you can actually justify it. It seems like the COP curve may work against you as you try to justify the cost of the storage.

    The Altherma's performance is fairly sensitive to both ambient temperature and water temperature and using it with thermal storage might hurt you on both of these.

    Off peak electricity tends to be available over night (among other times) when ambient temperature is low. If COP slips by a point at night, that eats significantly into any savings you might be seeing from a lower electric rate.

    On the other end, if you are using thermal storage, you are necessarily heating the tank to some temperature higher than what you need for heating. For a 600 G storage tank, every 10 degree increase in tank temp stores about 50,000 BTU, so to get you through a day in a somewhat average house you might be talking about a 40 degree rise or so. Heating water to 40 degrees hotter than what you need for distribution also comes with a substantial COP penalty for the altherma and so again offsets some of the pricing advantage of off peak electricity.

    I suppose that if you had details on the electric rates, a bunch of COP data for the altherma and a years worth of hourly temperature data you might be able to accurately model the whole thing and see if it is worth it.

    My instinct is that in the kinds of homes that the Altherma is built for (reasonably well insulated buildings with modest heat loads and low temp distribution), you might find that it takes a very significant off peak electricity discount to overcome those other two factors...that's just my guess though...I haven't looked at it closely.

  • Kevin_in_DenverKevin_in_Denver Member Posts: 588
    Off Peak Rates are Now Hard to Find in Colorado

    Off Peak rates in Xcel territory in CO have been inadvertently phased out through sloppy rate policy implementation and lack of interest:

    I had high hopes that the coming Smart Grid would revive the large off-peak savings we used to enjoy. But alas, the Smart Grid Pilot Project proved to be a big failure and a public relations nightmare:

    So, investing in a big storage tank to save on electricity will be way in the future for Colorado.
    Superinsulated Passive solar house, Buderus in floor backup heat by Mark Eatherton, 3KW grid-tied PV system, various solar thermal experiments
  • zacmobilezacmobile Member Posts: 211
    edited August 2011
    Electro Industries NorAire

    This just came across my desk, seems like a budget alternative to The Altherma. Seems like it fills the void between a mod-con & geo, as where i'm from it is cheaper to do geo than Altherma.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,582
    It's not for everyone....

    but the REA's still offer it, and one would have to believe that if they do it, that others (non REA producers) will follow.

    Based on the above link, residentially OFF peak electricity is available for 4 to 5 cents per hour, versus ON peak at around 11 cents per KWH.

    Propane, up at Hydronicahhh is going for $2.50/gallon if you purchase in advance (top off policy). That equates to $3.47/therm assuming 90% efficiency

    At $0.11/KWH, that would be $2.92/therm, assuming 100% efficiency.

    With a COP of 2:1, that would equate to $1.46/therm, and that is the ON peak rate...

    At $0.05/KWH, and a COP of 3 to 1, that would equate to a per therm cost of $0.48...

    At $0.04/KWH, and a COP of 4 to 1 (typical summer conditions), that would equate to a per therm cost of $0.36...

    Not much brain power required to figure out what makes economic sense in this situation...

    There IS a Daikin Altherma in the future of Hydronicahhh :-)

    One has to design their system around the low temperature of availability, but ALL systems in the future should be built that way anyway... Excellent home for Warmboard S panels.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Kevin_in_DenverKevin_in_Denver Member Posts: 588
    Daikin is still pricey

    So for myself, I'm holding off until there are split HPWH systems available. Right now these aren't much more than rumors, but they make a lot of sense and should be about 1/4 the cost of the Daikin.

    Here's one available in Australia already:

    Quoting Michael Chandler at the GBA:

    "At this point the Daikin Altherma, Multi Aqua, Space Pak, Unichiller RC, and Aqua Products reverse-cycle chillers are too multi-purpose and expensive to economically serve the simple need to heat a tank of water with a recharge rate of 60 to 140 kBTUh (the typical range for combined heat and hot water systems)."
    Superinsulated Passive solar house, Buderus in floor backup heat by Mark Eatherton, 3KW grid-tied PV system, various solar thermal experiments
  • NRT_RobNRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,009
    there are some definite issues

    but the modelling you describe is what is being done. by siggy, actually, so I think it's likely to be good work too. I cant wait to see it though... I too am curious about cheating physics but looking at air and COP numbers in MFG lit I'm not quite sure I see a definite path forward just on air temps.

    peak rates are different though, they can often be a quarter of full price so worthwhile much more quickly even if you take a COP hit... though, energy bills are already so low the price may be hard to justify.

    for intermittant energy generation (AHEM PV AHEM) it sure seems nice ;)

    we'll see though. I'm not recommending it to anyone without some hard numbers to back it up.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • NRT_RobNRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,009
    I find that interesting

    as at current pricing here in maine, COMPARED TO PROPANE an altherma installation achieves double digit return on investments in many, even most cases.

    compared to OIL, less (but still significant, something like 7%) and Natural gas is cheaper still. all numbers with NO fuel cost inflation. add some standard inflation rates and it looks even better.

    I don't think I've ever seen a geo system cheaper than an altherma... not sure how that would happen, other than with an open loop geo system.

    Mark Chandler in that article is saying current ASHP with outdoor units are too expensive as DHW ONLY options, but he is not saying that they don't make sense for the heating/cooling systems they are designed for. Of course you would never install an RCC or ASHP system for DHW only. I think he's missing the forest for the trees a bit there: the ASHPs can already do DHW, so the technology "has converged" already.

    of course we are at the bleeding edge for ASHP here in america. prices will fall and the technology more ubiquitous. I'm pretty sure in a world with expensive energy the heat pump will be the winner... more energy out than in is pretty tough to beat.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • AsaAsa Member Posts: 1
    Troubleshooting Altherma

    We have had the Altherma installed in our house in Washington DC for about 9 months. It's coupled with radiant floor heat, with a solar pre-heat. House is very well insulated - 1.5 ton heating and cooling load.

    We've had two issues: First the Altherma isn't accepting the solar water pre-heat. We got solar preheat a few days in the summer, and then that's it. Very confusing - and our HVAC installer can't figure it out.

    And now, after the first cold spell, the system seems to be switching between domestic and space heating. We have either hot water for showers, or space heating, but not both. It seems like they are on 6 hour + increments. This also wasn't a problem in the summer, or early spring last year when we used it for space and domestic water heating.

    Any thoughts on what the problem is?

    I know the system should work perfectly, because it has, if only for a bit here and there - I'm just concerned now that it might be too advanced for our local HVAC industry to handle.
  • NRT_RobNRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,009

    is tricky: it has a lot of settings involved, including how long to run without using the backup heater, how often to run in "sanitary" mode, various target temperatures, etc.

    that part is complicated and could cause a "runaway" DHW demand pretty easily.

    not sure what your question is about the preheat... that's for DHW only, right? it's not running at all?
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • David107David107 Member Posts: 1,189
    Other advantages: CO, utility infrastructure

    As HO this is really exciting news. No more combustion in the home, risk of fire, CO release. If widely adopted, savings on natural gas infrastructure upgrades to neighborhood streets. Less maintenance?
  • NRT_RobNRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,009
    It's official

    just learned yesterday, more about the DHW functions.

    there are settings that can turn off the heat pump for DHW and simply go to electric booster heater in cold temps to avoid situations like the one you describe. other settings can compensate for that by raising the top of the tank's temp to store the same number of BTUs.

    there are also priority settings so you can determine whether DHW or space heating has priority and what runs for which in the system...

    there are specific solar settings as well.

    Your installer should have a manual with all of these settings and how they work, but there is a learning curve. Daikin can assist with that, though.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
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