This paper compares the performance of a novel seamlessly fuel flexible heat pump (SFFHP) and conventional dual fuel heat pump (DFHP) for space heating. The conventional dual fuel systems either run on the gas furnace or electric heat pump at any given moment, as a comparison, the proposed seamlessly fuel flexible heat pump simultaneously consumes gas and electricity by continuously optimizing the proportion of each. The process air flows across the heat pump condenser first and then flows across the furnace coil, therefore, the heat pump temperature lift is reduced. SFFHP delivers energy savings by allowing each subsystem, i.e., gas furnace and electric heat pump, to operate where it performs best.
For DFHP, two operation control strategies, i.e., non-restricted control and restricted control, are available on market. For the non-restricted mode, the thermostat has a switching temperature-programmed according to the balancing point of heating load and capacity curve. Heat pump operates above the switching temperature, while the furnace takes over under the switching temperature. For the restricted control, the compressor of a heat pump is disabled below a predefined lockout outdoor temperature to let the furnace take over. For SFFHP, a model predictive control strategy is developed to continuously adjust the capacities of the electric heat pump and gas furnace based on the foreseen weather data, utility price signals, and marginal grid emission signals with the goal of minimizing the utility cost and CO2 emission while guaranteeing comfort requirements.
In this paper, DFHP and SFFHP are simulated using high-fidelity heat pump performance curves generated from DOE/ORNL heat pump design model. Performance comparison of DFHP and SFFHP during 2019-2020 heating season in Los Angeles shows that SFFHP with model predictive control achieves 23% utility cost reduction and 17 % CO2 emission reduction. Case studies demonstrate that SFFHP can deliver significant reductions in peak demand, utility cost, and CO2 emission. As a result, SFFHP can deliver superior benefits for utility cost reduction and CO2 emission reduction over conventional dual fuel heat pump.