When to Switch to Emergency Heat? – Short #190

Author: Bryan Orr
Original Air Date: March 26, 2024
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In this short podcast episode, Bryan talks about when to switch to emergency heat. He talks about coefficient of performance (COP) and how it’s a deciding factor when to run emergency heat, which is when a system ONLY runs the backup heat; it doesn’t use it as supplementary heat.

When we have a heat pump with backup electric heat, we shouldn’t ever rely just on emergency heat; we want the heat pump to run. Electric heat is just designed to supplement the heat pump’s heating because it’s inefficient. Hybrid or dual-fuel systems can use gas or hydronic fuel-based heat, and they work well on their own (such as if the heat pump is broken). You can’t usually run the fuel-based emergency heat at the same time as your heat pump, so it makes sense to run just the emergency heat if it is fuel-based.

The thermal balance point is the point at which the heat pump can no longer keep up with the heating load by itself; the temperature in the space will start to drop, but the heat pump will still produce heat. The thermal balance point can give us a clue about client comfort, not efficiency. COP is a measure of efficiency, and an electric heater has a COP of 1. A heat pump with a COP above 1 saves energy (compared to using just electric heat). COP is the heat delivered in BTUs divided by the energy supplied; it’s a ratio.


You can read the “Good COP – Bad COP” tech tip at https://hvacrschool.com/good-cop-bad-cop/

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