Rheem Mfg. Co.’s gold award for the Rheem Prestige Series Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater in the 2014 Dealer Design Awards’ Residential Equipment category began with the development of the first-generation Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater, which the company brought to market in 2009. The company spent more than seven years conducting research for this product design.

Rheem representatives explained that it relied heavily on feedback from its wholesale and contracting customers as well as utility companies when creating this product. In addition, the company took customer feedback from the launch of the first-generation Heat Pump Water Heater into consideration during the development process. Prototyping and field trials played critical roles in the research and design as well.

“Nice job, Rheem. You’ve made a great product even better,” said one of the contractor judges. “There is no better money-saving option than replacing a standard electric water heater with a heat pump heater. The savings alone make it a no-brainer.”

The Rheem Prestige Series Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater is a residential, tank-type water heater with an Energy Factor (EF) of 2.45, making it the most efficient water heater Rheem has ever developed. Some of its key benefits include a color, backlit touch-screen control that provides homeowners with service alerts as well as detailed text-based diagnostic information for the contractor. It is EcoNet™ compatible, which enables Rheem heating, cooling, and water heating products to communicate with each other on one network. It has an operating temperature range of 37?-120?F and is certified for operation in Northern climates.

“This unit can be installed in cooler geographic areas while using the heat pump more days throughout the year,” said Rheem, in a press release. “It has a 12-year warranty for the tank and parts and dry fire protection that shuts down a water heater when it is not full of water.”

The unit was designed for residential applications, and it can be used in both retrofit and new construction scenarios. The unit is 21 inches in diameter, which helps contractors fit the unit through access doors or other narrow spots. The installation process is nearly the same as any standard electric water heater, except contractors need to take into account that it requires a condensate drain due to the inclusion of heat pump technology.

Bryan Collar, senior product manager, Rheem, explained that, in 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will mandate all residential electric storage water heaters larger than 55 gallons will be required to exceed an EF of 2.057.

“This means any electric storage units developed in this capacity will most likely have to employ heat pump technology to get to that high of an EF,” he said. “With this in mind, Rheem will further innovate the hybrid water heater marketplace over the next few years.”

While the product already features Wi-Fi capabilities, Rheem is intending to roll out some additional Wi-Fi capabilities, including an application that will allow consumers to control the Prestige Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater from a mobile device.

“We also expect this water heater to become even more valuable to utilities in the future,” said Collar. “When utilities link the Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater to their grid, they can monitor and control energy usage at the point of use. In this scenario, a participating homeowner would permit the utility to limit the operating times of his/her water heater to off-peak hours in exchange for a lower monthly bill. This approach allows utilities to cut back on energy demand when electricity supplies are relatively scarce and expensive.”

Silver Winner

Carrier Corp. received the silver award for its Comfort Series Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV). According to the company, the unit represents an advancement in home ventilation through the use of a unique two-duct connection. The product is said to minimize efficiency loss by transferring heat or energy from outgoing air to fresh, incoming air.

Carrier spent a year conducting dealer and builder focus groups as well as studying the applications and need for ventilation in tightly constructed homes. Carrier is a proponent of expanding ERV usage throughout the U.S.

Bronze Winner

Ingersoll Rand, parent company of American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning, took bronze with its AccuComfort Platinum ZV variable-speed heat pump and air conditioning system. The Platinum ZV runs at the exact speed needed to maintain a home’s ideal temperature within half a degree of the selected comfort setting, said the company. This feature helps maintain indoor comfort, no matter the weather outside. The 21 SEER system operates at sound levels of 55 dB for air conditioners and 54 dB for heat pumps.

Platinum ZV is said to help resist cracks, corrosion, rusting, and warping with its appliance-grade finish and Durabase™ Basepan. Additionally, its heavy-duty steel louvered panels protect the coil from dirt and damage while maintaining optimum airflow.

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