So I have to admit that I’m the crusty old curmudgeon who is way behind on things like home automation. After a recent issue with my water heater I opted to replace it with one that utilizes heat pump technology. I know a lot of people are installing tankless models and I strongly considered that path. My challenges were as follows–
- Relatively High Demand (replacing an 80 Gallon Conventional Electric)
- Conventional 80 Gallon Electric Models are difficult to purchase (at least in consumer models)
- Tankless Owners seem to prefer gas over electric models
- Venting a tankless gas heater would require relocation of plumbing
Given these constraints, I stumbled into the hybrid water heater models. These are big tank models that utilize heat pump technology as a preferred method of moving heat into the water. As demand increases, traditional resistance coils can be invoked to generate heat.
The goal is to be more efficient than tankless models and have the option for rapid recovery. My biggest concern was the added complexity and additional components that could fail. Nonetheless, the energy ratings were very good and there are some rebate programs and tax incentives to offset the cost. I ultimately chose a GE Geospring 80 gallon model.
This model offers a $50 WiFi connect module that I purchased a couple of weeks after I installed the unit. The module leverages the Internet to reach out to the GE cloud and allow remote administration. So it allows things like changing the temperature, invoking or revoking vacation mode, and changing how aggressively the resistance coils engage (modes-heat pump, hybrid, high-demand, resistance only). There is literally an app for that.
This also allows for integration with IFTTT Recipes. I now have a schedule that lowers the water temperature and places the unit into heat pump only mode during the day. As our early morning shower time approaches, the temperature is raised and the unit switches into high demand mode. After the morning routine, I give it a break by lowering the temperature and placing it in heat pump mode.
I despise complexity without some good reason for it. Had I been able to purchase a conventional 80 Gallon heater for a reasonable amount of money, I would’ve probably proceeded in that direction. Given the constraints I was facing, I felt like this was probably the best choice. The opportunity to save energy in the process should be a great additional benefit and the ability to integrate this into IFTTT is just too cool not to share. I just hope that I don’t run into any premature component failures.
Disclaimer: This article includes the independent thoughts, opinions, commentary or technical detail of Paul Stewart. This
may or may does not reflect the position of past, present or future employers.