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HVAC Clinic

Heat Pump System


Design
Table Of Contents

Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 3
Components of a WSHP ........................................................................................................................ 4
Water Source Heat Pump Systems....................................................................................................... 6
Water Source Heat Pump System Components ................................................................................ 10
Types of Source Heat Pump Systems ................................................................................................ 18
Application Considerations................................................................................................................. 21
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Introduction

Figure 1 demonstrates the operation of a typical vapor compression refrigeration cycle. As refrigerant passes through
the evaporator (A), heat is absorbed by the refrigerant, causing it to boil. Hot, low pressure gas (B) is then brought to
a higher pressure gas state by the compressor. The hot high pressure gas exits the compressor C) and is then
condensed to a lower temperature liquid in the condenser (D). Finally, the high pressure liquid is dropped to a lower
pressure mixture of gas and liquid as it passes through the expansion device.

Figure 1. Refrigeration Cycle

A heat pump contains all of the same components as a typical vapor compression refrigeration cycle, but with an
added four way valve (figure 2). A heat pump can act as either a cooling device or a heating device. By changing the
direction of flow through the four way valve, the evaporator becomes the condenser and the condenser becomes the
evaporator. In the cooling mode, the system operates as shown in figure 2.

Figure 2. Heat Pump in Cooling Cycle

However, in the heating mode, the position of the four way valve reverses, swapping the function of the two heat
exchangers (figure 3).

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Figure 3. Heat Pump in Heating Cycle

In the heating mode, the heat exchanger that acted as a heat absorbing device now acts as a heat rejection device.
Similarly, the heat exchanger that acted as the heat rejection device in cooling now acts as the heat absorbing device.
Simply, the function of the two heat exchanger reverses. The nature of the vapor compression refrigeration cycle
remains unchanged.

Components of a WSHP

Heat pumps are used in many applications where moderate cooling and heating conditions exist. There are
predominantly two types of heat pumps exist; air source heat pumps and water source heat pumps. Air source heat
pumps, such as those shown in figures two and three, transfer energy from the outdoor air to the indoor air, or vice
versa. Water source heat pumps (WSHP) transfer energy from a water source to an indoor air source coil, or vice
versa (figure 4). The remainder of this clinic will be focused on the design of WSHPs.

Figure 4. Components Of WSHP

For the refrigerant to water coil, WSHPs generally utilize a coaxial coil. A coaxial coil is essentially a tube within a
tube, which is coiled in order to decrease the overall footprint. Water runs within the inner tube with refrigerant
running within the outer tube (figure 5). In heating mode, hot, high pressure refrigerant gas runs through the outer
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tubes, transferring heat to the cooler water running within the tubes. In cooling mode, a cool low pressure mixture of
gas and vapor enters the coaxial heat exchanger, absorbing energy from the water running within the coaxial heat
exchanger.

Figure 5. Coaxial Heat Exchanger

In a water to water heat pump, two coaxial coils may be used (figure 6). Each coaxial coil may act as an evaporator
or condenser, depending on the mode of operation. A reversing valve reverses the refrigeration cycle, switching the
heat pump between cooling and heating modes. Water to water heat pumps are generally used in applications where
typical packaged water to air type heat pumps cannot be utilized. For example, if a system requires an air handler
with energy recovery (wheel, fixed plate, heat pipe, etc), a packaged water to air heat pumps will likely not be
manufactured with the required options. In this instance, a water to water heat pump could be piped to a central coil
located within the energy recovery air handler.

Figure 6. Water to Water Heat Pump

A unique component shared by all heat pumps is the reversing valve (figure 7). A reversing valve is also sometimes
referred to as a four way valve. The reversing valve reverses the flow of refrigerant within the cycle, reversing the
functions of the heat exchangers. When the refrigerant flow reverses, the evaporator becomes the condenser and the
condenser becomes the evaporator.

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Figure 7. Four Way Reversing Valve

The remainders of the components involved in the design of a water source heat pump are identical to those of a
vapor compression refrigeration cycle. A compressor compresses a hot low pressure gas to a high pressure gas.
The gas passes through the condenser, transferring heat and condensing to a liquid. The high pressure liquid
refrigerant passes through an expansion device, dropping the refrigerant pressure and temperature before entering
the evaporator. Other than the utilization of a reversing valve and the use of coaxial heat exchangers, the
components of the vapor compression refrigeration cycle remain the same.

Water Source Heat Pump Systems

In heating, a water source heat pump is a device that absorbs heat from a water loop and rejects that heat through an
air source coil to the conditioned space. In cooling, the water source heat pumps absorbs heat from the air source
coil (and thus the conditioned space) and rejects the heat back to the water loop. In each scenario, the common
variables are conditioned air, the water source heat pump and the water loop (figure 8).

Figure 8. WSHP

Water source heat pumps are typically used in multiple space commercial buildings. Each space is served by one or
more heat pumps. Each heat pump is connected to a closed circuit water distribution loop. The water distribution
loop contains both a heat adder and a heat rejecter. The heat adder and heat rejecter are required in order to
maintain a stable loop temperature. When the sum of the space loads are predominantly in heating, the head adder
adds heat to the loop. When the sum of the space loads are predominantly in cooling, the heat rejecter rejects heat
from the loop. Traditional water source heat pumps systems utilize a boiler as the heat adder and a cooling tower as
the heat rejecter (figure 9). Combining these components, along with an air separator, expansion tanks and pumps
complete the elements required for the water distribution loop.

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Figure 9. WSHP System

A water source heat pump can operate in either heating or cooling when the loop temperature is between 60oF and
90oF. During peak cooling demand, assuming all of the heat pumps are in cooling operation, the heat pumps reject
heat to the water loop, increasing its temperature (figure 10). The heat that is added to the water loop is the rejected
at the cooling tower. The boiler is turned off. There is no need to add heat to the water loop.

Figure 10. WSHP System Summer Operation

During peak heating demand, assuming all of the heat pumps are in heating operation, the heat pumps absorb the
heat in the water loop, decreasing the water temperature (figure 11). The heat that is removed by the heat pumps is
re-introduced into the water loop at the boiler. The boiler is activated, increasing the water temperature back to its
design setpoint. The cooling tower is turned off. Due to the relatively cool return water temperature being introduced
at the boiler, a condensing boiler is preferred. These cooler return water temperatures allow for very efficient
operation of condensing boilers. Often, efficiencys in excess of 94% can be achieved.

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Figure 11. WSHP System Winter Operation

In both of the previous examples, all of the heat pumps were either in cooling or heating operation. However, much of
the time, the loads will be diverse. Some heat pumps will be in cooling mode while others will be in heating mode
(figure 12). A typical example would be spring or fall operation. The heat pumps on the sunny side of the building
would be in cooling mode. The heat pumps on the shady side of the building would be in heating mode.

Figure 12. Heat Pump in Spring & Fall Operation

However, most larger commercial buildings have both internal and external zones. During winter operation, while the
exterior zones will likely be in heating mode, the interior zones will be in cooling mode. These buildings will often
experience large load diversity among the zones, even during winter operation.

Regardless of whether the building is in spring/fall operation or consists of a combination of exterior and interior
zones, there will likely be a large percentage of operating hours when there are simultaneous heating and cooling
loads. If the sum of the zones with a heating load equal the sum of the zones with a cooling load, the water loop
temperature will remain constant. The zones with a heating load will be absorbing heat from the water loop while the
zones with a cooling load are rejecting heat back to the water loop. Cooling tower and boiler operation are not
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required (figure 13). The heat pump loads balance the loop water temperature. In this regards, a water source heat
pump system provides a form of energy recovery.

During simultaneous heating and cooling operation, the loads generally will not balance. Some degree of heat will
need to be added or rejected to the system, requiring some level of boiler or cooling tower operation. However, the
tower or boiler will likely operate a significantly reduced loads.

Advantages of a water source heat pumps system:

Energy savings during heat recovery


Individual temperature control
Reduced piping cost
Reduced mechanical space requirements
Increased heating efficiency
Flexibility

A water source heat pump system offers a designer multiple potential advantages. First, a water source heat pump
offers a form of energy recovery for buildings with simultaneous heating and cooling loads. Depending on building
load profile, a water source heat pump system can present significant energy savings.

Second, each zone generally has its own individual heat pump. Each heat pump has its own associated zone sensor.
This generally allows a higher degree temperature control compared to traditional constant volume systems.

Next, a water source heat pump system utilizes a simple two pipe water distribution system to maintain both cooling
and heating loads. A comparable fan coil system would require a four pipe system (two chilled water pipes and two
hot water pipes) in order to achieve a similar degree of simultaneous heating and cooling zone diversity. The
reduction in piping associated with a water source heat pump system can result in a significant first cost savings
compared to four pipe systems.

Additionally, a water source heat pump system may occupy less mechanical space. Often, heat pumps are located in
the plenum space near or above the conditioned space. While both water source heat pumps systems and four pipe
systems utilize a boiler, a water source heat pump system does not require a chiller. A chiller and its associated
components can occupy a significant amount of mechanical space. This decrease in mechanical space often
translates to decreased first cost.

Water source heat pump systems are generally designed for loop temperatures between 60 oF and 90oF. Often, the
loop temperature is reset based on load and ambient temperature. Nevertheless, even during peak heating loads, the
return water temperature always low (<90oF). Figure 13 below, published in the 2008 ASHRAE handbook - HVAC
Systems and Equipment, demonstrates the boiler efficiencies possible when a condensing boiler is utilized.

Figure 13. Condensing Boiler


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In a typical water source heat pump system, boiler efficiencies of greater than 95% can be easily realized. In contrast,
in a typical four pipe system, the hot water return temperature is typically between 140 oF and 160oF. This generally
results in dramatically decreased boiler efficiencies. Moreover, a water source heat pump can generate a heating
coefficient of performance (COP) of greater than 3.0. Compared to a boiler only system (with a COP<1.0), this can
dramatically decrease heating energy costs (depending on gas costs).

Finally, water source heat pump systems lend themselves well to individual tenant metering and building expansion.
Because each heat pump serves an individual zone, zones can be added to the system as needed (assuming the
boiler and tower have been sized for future expansion). Because each zone has its own packaged heating and
cooling system, individual tenant metering is vastly simplified. The only portion of the building heating and cooling
energy expense that cannot be easily allocated per zone is the energy associated with the cooling tower and boiler.

Disadvantages of a water source heat pump system:

Ventilation
Economizer Operation
Acoustics
Maintenance

The first disadvantage commonly associated with a water source heat pump is the challenge associated with ensuring
proper ventilation. While a third party mixing box can be designed to introduce ventilation air to each heat pump, it
vastly complicates the duct design and installation cost. More commonly, a dedicated ventilation system is employed
which introduces ventilation air to each zone via a dedicated ventilation duct system. The ventilation duct system
consists of its own ductwork (generally sized for the ventilation airflow) and supply diffusers. While generally simpler
and less expensive than individual mixing boxes at each heat pump, a dedicated ventilation system often complicates
the design and adds some degree of cost to the system.

In many climates, ASHRAE 90.1 requires the use economizers to be utilized in the design of the system. However,
unless individual mixing boxes are employed at each heat pump, economizers are difficult to implement with water
source heat pump systems. Dedicated ventilation systems, the most common method of introducing ventilation air,
are generally sized for max ventilation air. This quantity of air is generally far less than the amount of air required for
economizer operation. Individual mixing boxes at each heat pump are rarely used. Thus, implementing airside
economizers can difficult. Often, waterside economizers must be used. More on this subject will be discussed later in
the clinic.

Vapor compression refrigeration systems always generate noise. Water source heat pumps are generally located in
proximity to the zones they are conditioning. Each water source heat pump utilizes a compressor. In addition to fan
noise, the designer needs to consider the additional noise generated by the compressor. The introduction of this
additional noise source may create objectionable noise in the conditioned space.

Finally, water source heat pumps can complicate maintenance for a building. Compared to central plants which
generally have centrally located refrigeration equipment, water source heat pumps are generally spread throughout a
building. In addition, heat pumps are often located in spaces that are rather difficult to access. The increased number
of refrigeration systems (each requiring maintenance) and the location of the heat pumps needs to be addressed with
the building owner before the designer implements a water source heat pump system.

Water Source Heat Pump System Components


Components of a water source heat pump system generally include the heat pump itself, the distribution piping, a heat
adder, a heat rejecter, the air distribution system and generally some form of system level controls. Each of these
components will be discussed in detail.

Components of a water source heat pump system:

Heat pump
Water distribution loop
Heat adder
Heat rejecter
Air Distribution System
System level controls
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Multiple types of water source heat pumps are available to system designers. Types of water to air heat pumps
include vertical, horizontal, rooftop, console and vertical self-contained (figure 14).

Figure 14. Configurations

Horizontal water source heat pumps are generally used above ceiling spaces. Horizontal water source heat pumps
are often used in office buildings. Vertical water source heat pumps are often located in closets next to the
conditioned space. Vertical water source heat pumps are often used in offices, residences and condominium
complexes. Console water source heat pumps located in the conditioned space. As such, console or unit ventilator
water source heat pumps are often used for schools or retrofit applications where ceiling or closet space is not
available. Vertical stack water source heat pumps are located in high rise buildings. Vertical stack water source heat
pumps are ideal for high rise condominiums or hotels. Finally, rooftop water source heat pumps are, as the name
implies, located on the roof. Rooftop water source heat pumps are used in applications where interior space is at a
minimum. Rooftop water source heat pumps, when located in colder climates, must be utilized with some type of
glycol solution to prevent freezing of the heat exchangers and distribution piping. However, rooftop water source heat
pumps have the advantage of being able to easily economize, a function most water source heat pumps are not
designed to manage.

In addition to water to air heat pumps, several other types of water source heat pumps are available. Water to water
heat pumps can be utilized in systems that dont facilitate the use of standard water to air heat pumps. As discussed
earlier, water to water heat pumps generally employ two coaxial heat exchangers. In larger applications, heat pump
chillers may be used. Heat pump chillers can range anywhere from 8 to 1000 tons. Heat pumps chillers less than 50
tons generally use coaxial heat exchangers. Heat pump chillers above 50 tons generally use shell and tube heat
exchangers. Heat pump chillers are ideal for use in larger commercial buildings with year around simultaneous
heating and cooling demands. In buildings with large year around simultaneous heating and cooling loads, heat
pumps chillers often provide a payback unparalleled by most modern HVAC systems.

Figure 15. Water to Water WSHP

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The water distribution system connects the heat pumps to the heat rejecter and head adder. The water distribution
system consists of the pumps, expansion tank, air separator, isolation valves, drain valves, strainer, balancing valves,
flow indicators and possibly auto-flow valves and water regulating valves (figure 16).

Figure 16. System Accessories

First, the pumps are generally located downstream of the heat adder/rejecter and upstream of the heat pumps. This
location generally assures the system remains under positive pressure. The pumps used in water source heat pump
systems may be selected as either constant volume or variable volume pumps. If two way control valves are used at
each heat pump, a variable volume pumps or motors with ECM motors should be selected. As each heat pump is
cycled off, the two way valve is closed. As valves close, the pump is modulated to a reduced flow. Systems that
employ two way control valves at each heat pump may present significant pump energy savings compared to a
constant flow system.

A strainer prevents debris from being introduced to the pump. An air separator is located at the highest location within
the system. An expansion tank, which allows for the expansion and contraction of the water as conditions change, is
located downstream of the heat adder. Isolation valves allow isolation of all critical components within the system.
Critical components generally include the heat adder/rejecter, water pumps and heat pumps. This allows the critical
components to be maintained and replaced. Drain valves are located at the bottom of each supply and return riser to
permit flushing for startup and system maintenance.

Balancing valves with flow indicators are generally used at the pumps and heat pumps. The balancing valves and
flow indicators assure each heat pump is receiving the required design water flow rate. Alternately, an autoflow valve
may be used in substitution of the balancing valve and flow indicator. An autoflow valve is a spring loaded valve
which self-balances at a predetermined flow rate (figure 17). As the pressure changes in the distribution system, the
spring loaded cartridge adjusts, allowing a constant flow of water to pass through the device. Autoflow valves can be
ordered to match the design flow rate of the heat pump. Autoflow valves, while more expensive than typical balancing
valves, vastly simplify balancing of the water distribution system.

Figure 17. Autoflow Valve


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Water regulating valves are used to modulate the water flow to heat pumps in systems that may encounter cooler
water temperatures. The water flow is modulated to maintain head pressure in the heat pump. Systems that see
cooler temperatures, generally during winter operation, whould be designed with water regualting valves. Water
regulating valves are commonly used in ground source systems, especially in cooler climates.

The heat adder in a system may consist of:

Boiler
Ground Source
Heat Exchanger

Boilers are generally the most common method off adding heat to a water source heat pump system. Two types of
boilers are available; condensing and non-condensing boilers. Non-condensing boilers generally utilize copper tubes
and can achieve combustion efficiencys up to 86%. The return water temperature for non-condensing boilers should
be kept above 140oF. Below 140oF, condensation occurs. Condensation will lead to a loss of heat transfer and
eventually heat exchanger failure. If non-condensing boilers are employed, the piping and controls should be
designed such that return water temperatures are kept above 140oF. However, condensing boilers present an energy
savings opportunity when designed to operate in water source heat pumps systems. Because of the lower return
water temperatures associated with water source heat pump designs (generally less than 90 oF), combustion
efficiencies of greater than 95% can be easily achieved. The design and construction of condensing boiler heat
exchangers, generally utilizing stainless steel heat exchangers, allows condensing boilers to operate at much lower
return water temperatures without damaging the heat exchanger.

Ground sources are also used as common sources of heat energy. Ground sources are largely considered a free
source of heat energy. Ground sources encompass vertical ground source systems, horizontal ground source
systems and lake/ocean systems. Any natural source that acts as a heat sink would be considered a ground source
system. These types of systems will be discussed later in this clinic.

Finally, a heat exchanger tied to some other high temperature energy source may be used. The energy source may
be building waste steam, a geothermal source, solar, or heat from co-generation.

A heat rejecter in a system may consist of:

Open loop cooling tower and heat exchanger


Closed loop cooling tower
Ground source

An open loop cooling tower is a device that sprays warm water over a fill while air is drawn upward across the fill
(figure 18).

Figure 18. Open Loop Cooling Tower


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As the warm water evaporates, heat energy is released in a process called heat of vaporization, cooling the remaining
water that returns to the sump. As water evaporates, solids that were contained within the evaporated water are
transferred to the cool liquid water that returns to the sump. As a result of the evaporation, the water within a cooling
tower may contain a high degree of solids. These presence of these solids pose a potential scaling hazard to heat
exchangers. The coaxial heat exchangers used in water source heat pumps are intended for closed loop systems.
These heat exchangers cannot be cleaned and are difficult to replace. For this reason, as brazed plate or plate and
frame heat exchanger is used to isolate the water within the open loop cooling tower from the water distribution loop.

With a closed loop cooling tower, the fill is replaced with a metal (generally stainless steel or polymer) heat
exchanger. Water is sprayed over the heat exchanger while a centrifugal fan blows air up over the heat exchanger.
Water evaporates and heat of vaporization cools the metal walls of the heat exchanger. Warm water is passed
through the heat exchanger. The warm water, as it makes contacts with the relatively cool metal walls of the heat
exchanger, is cooled to a lower temperature (figure 19). Closed loop cooling towers are commonly used in water
source heat pump systems. The primary advantage compared to a similar open loop cooling towers is that the tower
can be used as a dry fluid cooler during winter months. Open loop cooling towers are generally drained during the
winter months in colder climates. Otherwise, the fluid within the cooling tower may freeze. Closed loop cooling
towers function effectively as dry coolers, with no water in the basin, during cool winter months.

Figure 19. Closed Loop Cooling Tower

Finally, natural sources, such as the ground or lake water may be used as a heat sink. Ground source systems will
be discussed in more detail later in this clinic.

The air distribution system for a water source heat pump system is, for the most part, no different than any airside
system. The heat pump is connected to one or multiple supply diffusers by ductwork (figure 20). The return may be
ducted to a return grille, or an open return system may be utilized. Flexible connections should be made at each duct
connection at the unit. Preferably, at least two duct elbows should be made between the unit and the diffuser/grille in
order to help attenuate noise. Of the three methods of duct design (velocity, equal friction and static regain methods),
the equal friction method is the method chosen by most designers.

Figure 20. Air Distribution System


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The primary difference when comparing water source heat pump systems to other traditional airside systems lies in
the design of the ventilation ductwork. As mentioned earlier in this clinic, water source heat pumps are typically not
provided with mixing boxes. Thus, some other means of introducing ventilation air into the conditioned space must be
considered. The most common of these methods is a dedicated ventilation system.

A dedicated ventilation system is an airside system that conditions outside or ventilation air to be delivered directly to
the conditioned space (figure 21). A dedicated ventilation system generally simply tempers the outside air for delivery
to the space. Tempering air is the process of bringing the outside air to the temperature of the space air in the
conditioned space. The air distribution system is designed to deliver the maximum sum of the peaks ventilation
airflow to the conditioned space.

Figure 21. DOAS System

Dedicated outside air systems (DOAS) can introduce air into the conditioned space using one of two methods. Air
can be introduced directly into the space, utilizing its own supply diffusers. Alternately, air can be ducted directly into
the water source heat pumps return ducts (figure 22).

Figure 22. Methods of DOAS Air Introduction to Space

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The first method, ducting directly to the space, is the most costly due to the extra diffusers and ducting involved.
However, this method ensures that all of the ventilation air is being delivered to the occupied space while decreasing
water source heat pump fan energy consumption. The fans supplied in water source heat pumps are generally
forward curved fans with static efficiencys less than 55%. The fans in the dedicated ventilation system are often
higher efficiency backward inclined or airfoil fans. If the ventilation air is being delivered to the heat pump, the heat
pump fan must be able to distribute the ventilation air. Thus, delivering air directly to the space can generally save
some fan energy.

Conversely, systems that deliver air directly to the heat pump have the added advantage of being able to deliver
conditioned air directly the heat pump, possibly decreasing the load on the heat pump. If ventilation air is being
delivered directly to the space, it generally cannot be conditioned. That it is say, it should be delivered at the room
temperature setpoint. Otherwise, if both the heat pump and dedicated outside air system are providing conditioned air
(i.e. 55oF air in cooling and 100oF air in heating), then both are sharing some portion of the load. It then becomes
very difficult to determine how to control two inputs (the heat pump and the dedicated outside air system) in order to
maintain one output (the space temperature). However, if air is delivered directly to the heat pump, air temperatures
above or below room temperature may be supplied. This allows the designer the added flexibility of being able to
decrease the load on the heat pump and take advantage of additional means of energy recovery. For example, in
drier climates, indirect/direct evaporative cooling DOAS systems can maintain 55 oF-60oF supply air with relative ease
during the peak summer months. This discharge air range can often be attained while maintaining a relatively dry
discharge air relative humidity (<70%). This is advantageous in that the downstream cooling coils will often run as
sensible only coils. If indirect/direct evaporative cooling is utilized at the DOAS system and the air is being delivered
to the heat pump, often the heat pumps can be decreased in size (figure 23).

Figure 23. Indirect Direct Energy Recovery for Sensible Only Systems

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The example shown in figure 23 assumes a 90% effective 12 celldeck evaporative cooler in exhaust air stream, a
72% effective sensible only energy wheel and a 68% effective 6 celldeck evaporative cooler downstream of the
energy wheel in the supply air stream. This system is designed such that the leaving air temperature will ensure that
the downstream coils are not required to remove any added moisture. That is, the system runs as a sensible only
system down to nearly 50oF. In the attached example, the water source heat pumps can run down to 50oF without
requiring any latent removal. Furthermore, even with a leaving air temperature of very near 50oF and a sensible heat
ratio of .85, the return air wet bulb entering the exhaust evaporative cooler will still be less than 61 oF. Thus, as the
system circulates, the performance actually improves.

DOAS systems lend themselves well to energy recover in virtually all climates, including those with higher ambient
wet bulb temperatures. Because DOAS systems are often delivering tempered air and 100% of that air is outside air,
energy recovery will often prove beneficial at reducing the ventilation load. Outside air energy recovery is often
difficult and impractical when the outside air intakes are spread throughout the building. However, assuming the
outside air intake and building exhaust are centrally located, energy recovery is much easier to implement. Thus,
systems like energy wheels, air to air heat exchangers, heat pipes and coil run around loops can effectively and
inexpensively be put into practice (figure 24). In addition, ASHRAE 90.1 may require the designer to implement
energy recovery, depending on the quantity of ventilation air being delivered.

Figure 24. ERV in Humid Climates

While water source heat pump systems can certainly run on standalone only controls, the system can benefit greatly
from communicating system level controls (figure 25).

Figure 25. WSHP System Control

A system level controller should communicate will all of the heat pumps in order to determine the cooling or heating
state, ambient dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures and optimize the water loop temperature. An optimized water
temperature based on system load and ambient temperature can vastly reduce system energy consumption. In
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addition, if variable speed pumps are utilized, the system level controls can determine the flow required in the system
and optimize pump speed. Finally, assuming a DOAS in used, the system level controls can determine the ventilation
airflow required to the building and the optimum ventilation supply air temperature in order to minimize ventilation load
energy consumption.

Types of Water Source Heat Pump Systems


Much of the discussion relating to water source heat pumps has focused on cooling tower and boiler systems. A
cooling tower and boiler system utilizes a cooling tower as a heat rejecter and a boiler as a heat adder (figure 26).
The loop temperature is typically maintained between 60oF and 90oF. The cooling tower may be an open loop cooling
tower with a heat exchanger or a closed loop cooling tower. The water that is subject to heat of vaporization within
the cooling tower must be kept isolated from the water within the distribution piping in order to maintain scaling of the
heat pump coaxial heat exchanger.

Figure 26. Cooling Tower & Boiler System

A ground source heat pump system uses the earth a heat rejecter and head adder (figure 27). The earth is used a
natural source of energy during heating or a natural source heat sink during cooling. Ground source systems take
advantage of the relatively constant temperature of the earth or surface water (lakes, ocean, etc). Ground source
systems, when designed properly, may not require the use of a boiler or cooling tower. While the energy consumption
of ground source systems is reduced compared to cooling tower and boiler designs, the additional first cost
associated with the additional piping and excavation must be considered.

Figure 27. Ground Source Heat Pump Systems


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A surface water heat pump system is a water source heat pump system that uses water from a well, lake or stream as
a heat source / heat sink (figure 28). Water temperature is related to climatic conditions and may vary from 30F to
90F. Ground water heat pump systems can often be installed in the rage of $1,200 - $2,000 per installed ton (loop
cost only). However, local codes and environmental concerns generally limit the jurisdictions in which ground source
heat pump systems can be utilized.

Figure 28. Surface Water System

A ground source heat pump is a water source heat pump system that utilizes glycol circulating through a subsurface
piping loop. Ground temperatures are relatively constant below a depth of 5-6. Figure 29 demonstrates the
variations typically experienced as a function of depth. Ground source systems take advantage of this relatively
constant ground temperature.

Figure 29. Ground Temperature Variations

The heat exchange loop may be in closed loop vertical bores or horizontal trenches. The typical operating range for
ground source systems is in the range of 30F to 90F (figure 30). Typical installed cost is in the rage of $2,000 to
$3,000 per installed ton (loop cost only). Vertical systems can require as little as 275 square feet per ton. Typical
bore depths are about 200 and are spaced at 15-20 intervals.

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Figure 30. Horizontal & Vertical Ground Source Systems

Figure 31 demonstrates the construction of a typical 200 vertical bore hole with piping. Note that backfill or grout is
required in order to achieve maximum conductivity at each well.

Figure 31. Well Construction

The thermal performance of a horizontal or vertical geothermal system is a function of the geographic and soil
conditions. Test wells are excavated and soil tests are taken in order to determine the actual capacity of a given
system. The soil test measure thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity and the undisturbed ground temperature.

Definitions:

Thermal Conductivity The resistance that the soil provides to the transfer of heat (also used to rate grout or
soil performance)
Thermal Diffusivity The rate at which heat moves away or towards the bore annulus
Undisturbed Ground Temperature The average temperature of the natural soil in a given location

Thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity and the undisturbed ground temperature will determine the actual capacity
that can be realized for a given horizontal or vertical system.

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Application Considerations
Water Side Energy Recovery w/ Sensible Coil

While water source heat pump systems, if properly designed, can save a tremendous amount of energy, they have
one inherent energy disadvantage. Most WSHP system components are not designed to be able to utilize airside
economizers. While dedicated outside air systems that utilize some type of energy recovery can provide very cool dry
ventilation air in the spring through winter months, they are generally not designed such that they can transport the
volume of air required for effective airside economizers. In climate similar to those in Northern Nevada where airside
economizers can be utilized between 3000 & 4000 hours/year, this can aggregate to a fairly large amount of lost
energy savings potential.

On method by which a WSHP system can utilize the energy savings potential of those cooler drier hours is to
implement a sensible cooling waterside economizer coil within the device or discharge ductwork (figure 32).

Figure 32. WSHP Waterside Economizer

Being that the cooling coil is controlled to run as a sensible only coil, it can generally be placed in the discharge
ductwork without the need for condensate management or a drain pan. Due to the reduced internal cooling loads
often associated with the hours with which a waterside economizer cycle can be utilized, a relatively low pressure
drop one or two row coil can be implemented. This relatively small coil (in terms of fin spacing and rows) reduces the
pressure drop imparted on the supply fan.

Additionally, in areas with relatively low ambient wet bulb temperatures (like Northern Nevada), a waterside
economizer can actually be utilized for a slightly larger percentage of hours compared to an equivalent airside
economizer. This is assuming the cooling tower and heat exchanger is sized at a reasonable approach (7-10oF for
the cooling tower and 2-3oF for the heat exchanger).

Heat Pump Chillers

A heat pump chiller is a chiller that is designated to heat. Thus, the chiller is controlled to maintain the leaving
condenser water temperature. The leaving chilled water is not controlled, and is considered wild. However, unlike
typical chiller, boiler systems, heat pump chiller hybrid plants offer a tremendous opportunity for savings.

A typical four pipe system generally employs some type of boiler to heat the building. The rejected condenser heat
represents wasted energy and is results in a relatively low COP of the plant (figure 5).

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Thus, for a system that requires 35% more peak heating energy than peak cooling energy and utilizes an 85%
thermal efficiency boiler, the overall plant efficiency (COP) is 1.34.

As mentioned above, a heat pump chiller controls the leaving condenser water temperature and rejects the heat as
useful energy (figure 6). In the case of heat pump chillers, the heat is often used for reheat coils (such as those used
on shutoff VAV reheat coils) or potentially domestic hot water loads. The heat is no longer being rejected to a cooling
tower or air cooled condenser and wasted as unused energy.

Figure 33. Heat Pump Chiller Plant System

Due of the nature of the refrigeration cycle and its associated increase in condenser head pressure, the COP of the
chiller itself will decreases. The efficiency decrease will be directly related to the temperature required at the reheat
source. For a building requiring a 150oF reheat source, the chiller COP may decrease by as much as 50%. However,
the overall plant COP will increase significantly. For a building requiring a 150 oF reheat source, the plant COP
increases from 1.34 to 6.71.

This is results in an overall increase in plant efficiency of 500%. However, there are two initial design challenges
associated with heat pump chiller plants. The first challenge is associated with sizing the heat pump chiller. In the
example above, the peak heating load is exactly 135% of the peak cooling load. However, rarely will this represent
the ratio of peak heating to peak cooling loads. In addition, the chiller will rarely if ever run during the peak heating
season months. Thus, we generally size the heat pump chiller to satisfy the peak reheat demand during summer
operation. Recall that ASHRAE 90.1 does not place any limitations on reheat energy during non-simultaneous
cooling and heating operation. Thus, we can satisfy the peak winter heating demand with a boiler without concern for
limitations of reheat energy as determined by ASHRAE 90.1. For example, lets assume a 100 ton VAV system (with
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shutoff reheat terminal units) that has peak summer reheat load of 486,000 btu/hr. In this instance, we would size the
heat pump chiller at 30 tons and a cooling only chiller at 70 tons (figure 7).

Figure 34. Hybrid Heat Pump Boiler System

Note that the heat pump chiller is operating at a reduced heating hot water supply temperature. While the peak
supply hot water temperature is 150oF during the peak winter months (in the example above), the supply water
temperature at the heat pump can generally be reduced as it is only operating in heating during the non-peak heating
months (spring, summer and fall). During those periods, the hot water temperature can be reset as a function of
ambient temperature, increasing the heat pump chiller COP.

Overall, the plant efficiency is still increased dramatically compared to a similar traditional chiller/boiler system:

Thus, the plant COP (during non-economizer/non-winter operation) still experiences an overall efficiency improvement
of as much as 300%. To be clear, this doesnt necessarily translate to utility savings as often the cost per therm for
gas is significantly less than the cost per therm to produce heating energy from electricity. Nonetheless, the savings
are generally still significant compared to a traditional chiller/boiler VAV system and the system has the added benefit
of providing nearly unlimited reheat energy for the terminal units of a VAV system.

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