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Looking at options -- dead heat pump compressor

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Mithramuse
Mithramuse Member Posts: 3
Hi all,

I've been reading this site for a while now, mainly as regards hydronic under-floor heating (I installed tile on around half my first floor, and it's COLD in the winter); finally joined a couple-few months back thinking to start asking questions, but life, well, gets busy sometimes.

A recent unwelcome addition to the general busyness is the discovery that the compressor on my outdoor heat pump has died. Since part of my problem with the current setup in my house is the wintertime heating bill (roughly 4x the electricity consumption compared to summer! And the house is electric-only), I was looking at radiant floor heating of the first floor as a way to one, offset the use of the heat pump somewhat, and two, make for a nice warm floor. I just wasn't sure whether using an electric boiler or water heater (non-heat pump; there's no internal conditioned space large enough for that) would actually improve energy efficiency compared to the air-to-air heat pump.

With the demise of the heat pump compressor, though, I'm casting my net a little wider. First, a few details:
1) The house is two stories, around 2,430 square feet on two roughly equal stories.
2) Existing heat pump is (was) around 9 or 10 years old, installed by the prior homeowner. I bought the house about 3 years ago. It's a 3t system, ArcoAire, 14 SEER, using R22 coolant.
3) House does not have gas service, along with my street, though some houses elsewhere in the development do have gas. Per discussions with long-time residents, construction of the development was in phases, and during some of those times there were restrictions on the gas supply so not all houses could be connected? (This is in central/southern New Jersey, Burlington County, around 30 years ago.)
4) The space to install an indoor unit may be... tight, especially for gas, so even if I could get gas I'm not sure a burner would fit. The indoor unit is in a closet off the kitchen, essentially under the staircase up to the second floor, sharing space with the hot water heater (which needs to be a compact design, no room for a full height unit). I had a high efficiency gas unit installed in my old townhouse and the furnace/AC combined unit was certainly larger than the space available in this house.
5) My outdoor unit ices up severely in wintertime, especially the last two winters it was nearly a block of ice. It's on the north side of the house so doesn't see a lot of sunlight during winter, plus the whole trying to extract heat from sub-freezing air, I'm not sure it was working very well (hence the stratospheric electric bills in winter, it was using the auxiliary resistance heaters a lot). Is NJ really a great place for an air-to-air heat pump, or is that more the only option with electric heat and the fact that the contractors did put in the ductwork when they built the place?

I'm curious what the 'best option' might look like. I've read up on geothermal / ground source heat pumps in the past, though not specifically on this site (seems a little less conversation here on that), and that does appeal since I might be able to use that not just for heating and cooling but also as supplemental heating for DHW and/or my envisioned first floor heating system.

On the flip side, upfront costs for that are likely through the roof, so just replacing the heat pump might end up being the way to go -- any preferences or recommendations on systems? (No, I don't have a heat loss calculation... does the slantfin iPad app give a good number for a non-radiant application, in that respect? I would just have to ignore the boiler recommendation I guess.)

The guy who inspected my unit today also said he could quote replacing either the compressor only or the outdoor box (though to 13 SEER only, 14 SEER in R22 isn't available any more) but he didn't entirely recommend either since R22 won't be available in a couple of years. Either of those options is likely around the same price; I'm inclined not to do so, mainly due to the R22 issue.

I'll also be poking around the 'find a contractor' page a bit more tonight, but wanted to read anyone's opinions on the possibilities for all-electric heating and cooling in New Jersey.

Thanks,
Aaron

Comments

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,526
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    New airhandler with R410 refrigerant and a new condensing unit for cooling only. Propane fired modulating condensing boiler for heat and DHW. Hot water coil in the existing air handler or in the ductwork.
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,766
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    What utilities are you married to out there Aaron ?
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • 4Johnpipe
    4Johnpipe Member Posts: 480
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    Lets convert you to propane...look us up on the find a contractor page...
    LANGAN'S PLUMBING & HEATING LLC
    Considerate People, Considerate Service, Consider It Done!
    732-751-1560
    email: langansph@yahoo.com
    www.langansplumbing.com
  • Mithramuse
    Mithramuse Member Posts: 3
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    Rich said:

    What utilities are you married to out there Aaron ?

    PSE&G... I asked about getting gas here, but they seem perfectly happy to charge me through the nose for electricity instead. Imagine that. :neutral:

    Can't say I ever really considered propane, guess that's something else to read up on!
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,766
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    As John Langan said . You should call us .
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
    RobG