DOE EERE Research Reports

Thermally Activated Chillers & Heat Pumps

Miscellaneous Publications

Market Potential for Residential Gas Heat Pumps
Arthur D. Little
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Abstract: The Allied Chemical Corporation (Allied) is in the process of developing a gas-fired absorption heat pump, which is anticipated to be a residential size unit offering a heating coefficient of performance (COP) of approximately 1.25 and a cooling COP of 0.5. The product is now in the prototype stage with an operating laboratory scale unit and is moving towards field testing. Funding for the development of the Allied gas heat pump is provided, in part, by the Gas Research Institute and the United States Department of Energy with the underlying rationale that the high heating COP of the gas heat pump offers an opportunity for conserving natural gas by introducing higher efficiency heating and cooling products. In order to help guide the research and development effort and to provide some market perspective in the product development process, Allied has asked Arthur D. Little, Inc., to conduct a market assessment.

This report covers that market assessment. Arthur D. Little, Inc., has estimated the sales potential for gas fired heat pumps, commented on various design options under consideration by Allied, pointed out ways to improve gas heat pump marketability and commentd on the necessary marketing support for gas heat pumps. This has included a discussion of necessary channels and other market-related support.

Our analysis covers all gas fired heat pumps as a generic grouping and is not focused towards the potential volume achievable by one manufacturer or any one technology, although the estimated cost and performance numbers are specific to the Allied absorption heat pump. The approach included interviews with various members of the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry, gas utilities, relevant trade associations, manufacturers, distributors, and others closesly associated with the industry. These interviews were particularly useful in identifying the steps necessary to insure market acceptance and in identifying market support issues. The study also included a comparative economic analysis of gas fired heat pumps versus other heating and cooling products to estimate the economic attractiveness and market potential of gas fired heat pumps to various potential market segments. We also have relied on our background in the construction and the HVAC industries in order to put the market potential and necessary market support for gas fired heat pumps in an overall construction industry context and in relationship to general trends in the HVAC equipment industry.

Our basic approach was to start with basic data on housing and heating/cooling systems and using that to define the total annual number of HVAC purchase decisions. These were screened to identify those decisions, homes with gas available and central air conditioning, where gas heat pumps are appropriate substitutes. We then computed comparative payback periods for gas heat pumps and, from these and the number of purchase decisions, we estimated market potential.

Keywords: thermally activated technology, TAT, gas heat pump, market assessment, absorption heat pump

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U.S. Department of Commerce
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