ECO2 Systems CO2 heat pump
Maho Ito of ECO2 Systems, at AHR Expo 2024

ECO2 Systems to Launch Modbus Connectivity for CO2 Heat Pump Water Heater

Modbus will allow the heat pump’s controller to communicate with utilities, enabling demand control.

ECO2 Systems, a U.S. manufacturer of CO2 (R744)-based heat pump water heaters (HPWHs), has announced that in May or June it will launch its fifth generation (Gen5) model with Modbus connectivity to utilities.

The Modbus capability will allow the heat pump’s controller to communicate with utilities so that “when they want to control demand they can send a signal” to the unit, explained Maho Ito, Managing Director for ECO2 Systems, during an interview at AHR Expo 2024, held January 20–22 in Chicago.

During peak demand periods, she continued, the utility could opt to turn off the heat pump, but “if the homeowner needs to take a shower, he can override it.”

“We’re in the age of demand control,” added Ito. “In California, rebates are not allowed without demand control.”

ECO2 Systems offers SANCO2-branded air-to-water commercial and residential CO2 HPWHs for domestic hot water; about 40% of the business is generated by residential units and the rest by commercial, said Ito. In 2020, Ito and John Miles, also a Managing Director for ECO2 Systems, started the company by acquiring the rights to sell Japanese OEM Sanden’s CO2 HPWHs in the North American marketplace. Miles and Ito marketed the OEM’s heat pumps in North America prior to the acquisition.

In addition to offering the new connectivity feature, ECO2 Systems is working on improving the UEF (Uniform Energy Factor) of its heat pumps by changing the controller and compressor set points, said Ito. The company aims to reach a UEF of 3.7 for its Gen4 model GS4-45HPC (with a 43gal/163l water tank), which is currently at 3.1. The change could help buyers get incentives in addition to the federal and state ones already available. “It’s minor tweak but could help a lot of people to buy our system,” she said.

Operating down to −25°F

ECO2 Systems’ Gen4 model operates in ambient temperatures from −25°F to 114°F (−32°C to 46°C), with a COP from 2.8 (at 17°F/8°C) to 5.5 (at 80°F/27°C). It delivers a heating capacity of 4.5kW (1.3TR), with a water temperature setting of 145°F to 150°F (63°C to 66°C), using inverter compressors and a DC fan motor and water pump. It comes with storage tanks of 43, 83 or 119gal (163, 314 or 450l).

The general decarbonization trend, especially in U.S. states like California that are mandating it, is helping ECO2 Systems’ business, which has been “steady,” Ito noted. “Southern California is switching to heat pumps, and all manufacturers have to be ready to accommodate their needs.” Rebates and incentives have also helped sales in New York and New England.

Another environmental advantage of ECO2 Systems’ heat pumps is that they use a natural refrigerant, CO2. “People are more educated and know CO2, and they are starting to know our name,” said Ito.

CO2 heat pumps are priced higher than comparable alternatives but with rebates, greater efficiency and other factors the ROI can be reduced from seven to three years, she said. On its website ECOSystems offers a savings/ROI calculator based on zip code, water usage and the cost of electricity and gas.

ECO2 Systems was among several manufacturers exhibiting CO2-based commercial heat pump water heaters at AHR Expo 2024.

“People are more educated and know CO2, and they are starting to know our name.”

Maho Ito, Managing Director, ECO2 Systems

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