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Northern Tier Spec Sound Ratings for HPWH - question to the group

Created 7/28/2011 by Stephanie Vasquez-Pettit
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The Northern Tier Spec currently requires dBa ratings below specified levels for each tier.  While none of the currently available models would be excluded based on these specified levels, future models may be.

Since this specification does not affect energy savings, it appears to be something that program people should weigh in on.  Should the NTS specify acceptable dBa levels?

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Comments (7)
Dave Kresta on 07/28/11 on 11:38 AM (Pacific Time)
My concern is that if we don’t include the sound levels in the spec, then if a device that is louder comes out (could happen as manufacturers look to cut costs to drive prices down) it could become a problem with customer satisfaction. The Northern Climate Spec has two purposes: ensure reliable energy savings, AND customer satisfaction/comfort.
Stephanie Vasquez-Pettit on 07/28/11 on 02:18 PM (Pacific Time)
There have been other measures - such as dishwashers and refrigerators - that could have had sound ratings for customer satisfaction, but it doesn't affect energy savings.  Energy Star Refrigerators did not get louder.  If a manufacturer decides to produce a HPWH that is louder than 65 dBa, the market will respond to that brand how the market chooses.

Consumer education would effective in helping homeowners to understand if this is the right choice for them, as was done with ductless heat pumps.  The NW DHP Project would be a great model to adopt for this technology.  Ensure contractors are trained for best-practice installations, that they have good fact sheets and other materials, that consumers understand whether it is a good fit for them, what to expect once it is in, how to interact with it, and have a website with all the information compiled. 

It would be disappointing to see a new brand with a COP of 3.0 be excluded for rating at 67 dBa.
Dave Kresta on 08/02/11 on 07:58 AM (Pacific Time)
We will have to get broader input on this, especially since a sound requirement was in the original Northern Climate Spec. Taking it out now would be a pretty big change. Thanks for the input, however, and I definitely think best-practice installation practices are a key in this area.
Christine Bunch on 08/10/11 on 03:08 PM (Pacific Time)
The sound issue really only is applicable for installations in conditioned space and doesn't affect the current installation requirement we have if installed in a garage.  However, if you read the reviews of products on Sear's web site you'll see the comments made by customers who have installed it in a conditioned space and their issues with the sound.  If we want these products to be accepted, we need to go beyond education.  I am in agreement with Dave that it needs to be included in the NT spec.
Dennis Rominger on 08/12/11 on 07:10 AM (Pacific Time)
I agree with Dave & Christine. 
Cheryl Fretz on 08/24/11 on 02:36 PM (Pacific Time)
I also feel dBa levels are important even though they do not save energy.  Essentially this is the same as the color quality of a CFL.  Sound is a component of home owner satisfaction and comfort.  Addressing this issue early on will go a long way to ensuring the long term success of this technology.
Casey Maharg on 06/04/12 on 04:01 PM (Pacific Time)
I agree that dBa levels are important. Anything that we can do to bring those down will go a long way toward customer acceptance, especially regarding the vibration issue that caused so much dissatisfaction with the HP-50. However, the actual dBa may be less of an issue than the existence of a new noise. Their old tank probably ran silently.  If an installer doesn't set expectations about noise, that is probably a larger issue than the actual volume.

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Sector: Residential
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