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The top 5 heat pump technology trends seen at ISH 2013
- Hybrid HP-gas boilers – new products targeting retrofit replacement sector
- Gas heat pumps – early stages, but a widening range of products is emerging for new build and retrofit
- Inverter-driven compressors – increasing engagement from European heating companies?
- End user controls and mobile apps – getting smarter, or just a marketing tool?
- Smart heat pumps – New SG Ready label on most German HPs, but no clear standard yet
Hybrid HP-gas boilers – new products targeting retrofit replacement sector
New hybrid products launched at ISH widen the range of hybrids which could be suitable for retrofit.
- Several hybrids were on show including Junkers (Bosch), Vaillant, Baxi (BDR Thermia), and new products from Daikin and Viessmann.
- The Daikin system (an integrated split system) has a compact wall-hung indoor unit only marginally deeper than a combi boiler, and requires no water tank – giving it strong potential as a gas boiler replacement product in markets where space is at a premium (UK, NL?).
- Viessmann’s hybrid (also an integrated split) has a floor standing indoor unit, requiring some more space than the Daikin system. The integration potential with PV could make the system look attractive in markets where self-consumption is incentivised (DE?).
Gas heat pumps – early stages, but a widening range of products is emerging for new build and retrofit
The market today is limited by a lack of products, but ISH 2013 shows promising signs of product emergence. The next 2-3 years of development and commercialisation will be critical in determining the performances which are really achievable, the cost-reduction potential, and ultimately the size of the market opportunity.
- Key manufacturers showing GHP at ISH included Viessmann, Vaillant, Robur, and new entrant E-Sorp.
- Viessmann launched its gas adsorption Vitosorp 200-F, and also showed a prototype of its gas absorption heat pump, which is at least ~3 years away from commercialisation – but is a compact, potentially ‘retrofit-able’ product.
- New entrant E-Sorp, from Austria, showed their concept for a residential gas absorption heat pump at ISH – the product is currently at the prototyping stage.
Inverter-driven compressors – increasing engagement from European heating companies?
Traditionally inverter-driven compressors have been developed only by the (Asian) aircon companies. European companies buy in the technology as OEM products. ISH demonstrated a shift towards European companies manufacturing inverters themselves, or learning how to do it through partnerships:
- Viessmann launched its first heat pump featuring its own-designed inverter (a HP+HRV product).
- Stiebel Eltron also showed an existing inverter-driven system of its own design (even if it is a high end product in terms of cost).
- Glen Dimplex showed a system developed with Mitsubishi – who agreed to give Dimplex access to the inverter control technology beyond what it would normally have as a basic OEM customer.
End user controls and mobile apps – getting smarter, or just a marketing tool?
Some of the most prominent features at ISH 2013 were the large number of online tools, software and mobile apps on show designed to enable end-users to easily (and remotely) control their heating systems (and potentially wider home environment). Heating companies are moving into this space, where they could find competition from, or partnerships with, for example, home energy management system developers.
Smart heat pumps – New SG Ready label on most German HPs, but no clear standard yet
The popularity of the ‘smart heat pumps’ topic did not translate into a large number of products at ISH. The most prominent activity we saw was the German “Smart Grid Ready” label – seen on most of the German heat pumps being shown at ISH. This is not yet a clear standard (e.g. no standard requirements for communication protocols). But the label is an effective political marketing instrument to exert pressure on utilities/government to provide the necessary environment within which to capture the value from heat pumps in smart grids.
Overall heat pump market trend: Are heat pump players converging and competing in the same space?
Two of the major types of manufacturer active in the heat pump market have traditionally both had some competitive advantage of the other for certain applications. But there is increasing convergence in the technologies being accessed by the two types of player, and products on show at ISH 2013 were testament to this increasing trend.
- European boiler companies have traditionally had the advantage of access to gas boiler technologies, allowing them to develop hybrid and bivalent systems. At ISH we saw the first Asian air conditioning company to launch a product packaging an electric heat pump with a gas boiler – is Daikin the first of many aircon/pure HP companies to create new competition for the gas boiler manufacturers?
- Companies coming from an air-conditioning background (mostly of Asian origin) have traditionally had the advantage of access to inverter technology, enabling them to develop their own inverter-driven compressors (and sell the complete systems on to other market players). At ISH we saw growing engagement from European boiler/heating companies in developing their own inverters – is the latest development from Viessmann a signal that the competitive advantage of the aircon companies is being eroded?