A Guide on How to Install Your New Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater
Hybrid heat pump water heaters sound almost too good to be true: they create hot water for your home by drawing heat right out of the air. They run on electricity, not oil or propane, they’re reliable and their only byproducts are cold air and water. While they don’t emit noxious fumes like old fossil-fuel-burning water heaters, it’s important to install a hybrid hot water heater correctly for maximum efficiency.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide – feel free to jump to the section you’re interested in
- Cost to Install a Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater
- Where to Install a Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heate
- Permits Required for Hybrid Heat Pump Hot Water Heater Installatio
- Contractors for Hybrid Heat Pump Hot Water Heater Installation
When installing a new hybrid heat pump hot water heater it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s directions and to have licensed and experienced contractors doing the work. But in general, the steps are:
- Select the location for the new heater (more on this below).
- Remove old hot water heater: Your old water heater will need to be drained and plumbing, electricity and/or fuel lines will need to be disconnected. This can be a dangerous process and only a licensed contractor should perform these steps.
- Place new hybrid hot water heater: A drain pan under your heater is insurance against water damage in case of a leak, and is required in some locations. Make sure your heater is level before proceeding.
- Connect the plumbing: If you’re lucky, your new hybrid heat pump hot water heater will fit right where your old one was and no additional plumbing work will be needed. More commonly, though, pipes will need to be reconfigured to reach the inflow and outflow lines and may need to be rerouted if you’re putting your new hybrid hot water heater in a different room. If pipes need to be soldered this needs to happen before they are connected to your heat pump hot water heater: applying heat to the tank fittings may damage internal components.
- Connect the drain line: Like an air conditioner, a hybrid heat pump hot water heater creates water through condensation. Attach one end of your drain pipe to the condensate port on the heater and the other to a floor drain (or through-wall fitting to have the condensate drain outside). The drain pipe must angle downhill from the port to the drain; if this isn’t possible a pump must be installed.
- Fill the tank: Running any hot water heater with an empty tank can cause damage, so fill the tank of your new appliance with water before reconnecting the power. Make sure to open faucets in your home to bleed air from the system during this process.
- Connect the power: When your tank is filled (and everything around it is thoroughly dry), it’s time to reconnect the power and put your new hybrid heat pump hot water heater to work.
Cost to Install a Hybrid Heat Pump Hot Water Heater
The cost to install your new hybrid heat pump water heater will vary by where you live, the location you install the heater and the heater itself. A hybrid hot water heater can cost less than a thousand dollars or more than two thousand – though much of this cost is recouped through energy savings, while installation will generally fall less than the $2,000 mark.
Where to Install a Hybrid Heat Pump Hot Water Heater
Because hybrid heat pump hot water heaters do not emit dangerous fumes, they may be safely installed in places that conventional oil- or propane-fueled hot water heaters cannot. And since hybrid hot water heaters actually cool the air around them they may provide some climate control as a fringe benefit wherever they are installed. There are pros and cons to installing a hybrid hot water heater in various areas of your home:
Basement: A basement can be an ideal place to install a hybrid heat pump water heater. Locating the unit near a furnace will ensure the air around it stays warm enough for efficient operation – above 50 degrees Fahrenheit – even during the winter. It’s best if the basement is not climate controlled or air-conditioned: In an air-conditioned basement, the cool air produced by a hybrid water heater can lead to higher heating bills in winter.
Garage: In warmer climates, a garage is an option for installing a hybrid heat pump water heater, and the heater will help cool the garage in hotter months. However, this is not a good option in areas where the temperature will drop below 40 degrees or so since cold temperatures inhibit the efficient operation of the heat pump.
Closet: Because hybrid hot water heaters pull heat from the air around them – then discharge cool air – they need about 1,000 cubic feet of air around them, roughly the size of a 12-foot by 12-foot room. A small space like a closet, even with louvered doors, may cool down to the point where there isn’t enough ambient heat available.
Attic duct: If the surrounding space isn’t ideal for a hybrid heat pump hot water heater, an attic duct may be the solution: the heater draws warm air from the attic and vents cool air into the attic via a separate duct. The two ducts are located at least 5 feet apart to prevent recirculation of cooled exhaust air.
Outdoors: An outdoor installation is only an option in areas where the temperature remains above freezing year-round. Hybrid hot water heaters do not operate in below-freezing temperatures.
Permits Required for Hybrid Heat Pump Hot Water Heater Installation
Removing a conventional hot water heater and installing a hybrid can be a complex operation, potentially making changes to a home’s plumbing, gas, and electric systems simultaneously. It’s not surprising, then, that the process will often be subject to state and local building codes. The best way to navigate the codes – and the permits you may need – is to contact your local building inspector and hire a licensed contractor who knows your building codes and is used to working within them.
Contractors for Hybrid Heat Pump Hot Water Heater Installation
Finding the right contractor can be the key to having a hybrid heat pump water heater installed correctly and safely, and is certainly easier than doing it yourself. Beyond word-of-mouth recommendations, local building inspectors or trade groups may have a list of licensed contractors in your area.