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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    Bellevue, Washington, United States
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    The Air Generate Heat Pump Water Heater

    I thought I'd share my experience with the Air Generate ATI66. First, you should know I live in a solar powered house so I try to minimize my power consumption. Since the Air Generate only used 1600 KW compared to an electric tank that uses 5000 KW it seemed like a great option. I really liked the quality of the heat pump unit. It used an R410a Panisonic compressor that achieved a 2.5 cop rating. It also used a reversing valve for occasional defrost and so the heat pump could heat the water even if my garage was 20 degrees.

    I used the ARI66 for 1,5 years but then one day the blower quit working and gave an A5 trouble code. I did a little investigating and found the pressure switch was throwing this code because the coil was icing over due to the fan not working. I did more checking and found Air Generate was having to warranty replace a lot of their tanks for this very same problem. I have friends who work at a water heater specialty installation company in Seattle and they literally have dozens of old Airgenerate tanks sitting in storage waiting to go back under warranty.

    What's unique about this issue is that most plumbers don't know how to work on heat pumps. The marriage of heat pumps to water heaters created a unique problem where Air Generate could not find qualified techs to repair their tanks in the field so the plumbers were replacing these $2000 tanks all together. When I diagnosed this problem I traced it back to a bad start capacitor located in the black control box. The part only costs around 2 dollars and only took about 10 minutes to replace.

    Later I sent an email to Air Generate and told them about my experience. A few hours later I got a call from the president of the company. He thanked me at least 10 times and told me how this information is going to save his company a small fortune. From my end as a HVAC contractor it didn't seem like such a big deal to just correct the problem. I hope this information is helpful in case any of you get calls on this product.

    BTW the start capacitor is a 2 uf and it's located in the black control box. If you want to make it easier to replace you can install the new unit on the outside of the black box and attach the harness from the fan motor. I hope this is helpful.

  2. Likes Ben14 liked this post
  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Billington Heights, NY
    Posts
    6,237
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    it sounds like the president of the company is (insert preferred adjective here) for not having smart engineers or techs who could figure out this little issue.

    So do you get a cut of all that money saved?
    Experience - knowing when to get the hell out of the way and plug your ears. "Don't be a sissy. Turn it on!"

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    edmonds wa
    Posts
    3,061
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    They need to look a little harder to find a warranty repair co, at least to try to fix, instead of replacing.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Bellevue, Washington, United States
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    When they first started getting this code problem they tried having their plumbers replace the control board, and even the blower motors to no avail. The tanks are made overseas and it seemed like their engineers in the US weren't aware at first that their are 2 different capacitors for this unit: 1 for the compressor, and 1 for the blower motor.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    edmonds wa
    Posts
    3,061
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    Easier to troubleshoot than to just throw parts at it, but its their money. In the northwest area around seattle, we have lots of service providers that would like inside dry work, I know i do!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Morgan Hill Ca.
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    1,398
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Colver View Post
    I thought I'd share my experience with the Air Generate ATI66. First, you should know I live in a solar powered house so I try to minimize my power consumption. Since the Air Generate only used 1600 KW compared to an electric tank that uses 5000 KW it seemed like a great option. I really liked the quality of the heat pump unit. It used an R410a Panisonic compressor that achieved a 2.5 cop rating. It also used a reversing valve for occasional defrost and so the heat pump could heat the water even if my garage was 20 degrees.

    I used the ARI66 for 1,5 years but then one day the blower quit working and gave an A5 trouble code. I did a little investigating and found the pressure switch was throwing this code because the coil was icing over due to the fan not working. I did more checking and found Air Generate was having to warranty replace a lot of their tanks for this very same problem. I have friends who work at a water heater specialty installation company in Seattle and they literally have dozens of old Airgenerate tanks sitting in storage waiting to go back under warranty.

    What's unique about this issue is that most plumbers don't know how to work on heat pumps. The marriage of heat pumps to water heaters created a unique problem where Air Generate could not find qualified techs to repair their tanks in the field so the plumbers were replacing these $2000 tanks all together. When I diagnosed this problem I traced it back to a bad start capacitor located in the black control box. The part only costs around 2 dollars and only took about 10 minutes to replace.

    Later I sent an email to Air Generate and told them about my experience. A few hours later I got a call from the president of the company. He thanked me at least 10 times and told me how this information is going to save his company a small fortune. From my end as a HVAC contractor it didn't seem like such a big deal to just correct the problem. I hope this information is helpful in case any of you get calls on this product.

    BTW the start capacitor is a 2 uf and it's located in the black control box. If you want to make it easier to replace you can install the new unit on the outside of the black box and attach the harness from the fan motor. I hope this is helpful.
    Not trying to sound like I am knocking on you, but why do you have the water heater installed in a cold zone? It would seem to me you could pick up quite a lot of performance from the heat pump if it were in a warmer spot.

    I too am in the planning stages of building an off grid home, we plan on having a heated/cooled mechanical room for all the equipment.

    Just food for thought.

    GT
    If a day goes by and you have learned nothing, I hope you got a lot of sleep.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Bellevue, Washington, United States
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    GT Jets: I strictly follow the manufactures recommendations when I install a system and this is why I rarely have problems. Most of the issues people raise on this site are due to installer error. It says in the install manual that it must be installed in a location that receives outside air.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    7,896
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    I use to work on my share of ETech's HW heat pumps. Almost the same thing happened in that most problems I found were problems any basic HVAC guy/gal could find and solve. One had a leaking schrader & most has some sort of electrical problems such as a bad start/run cap.

    The problem was & still is that most users call plumbers. And most manufacturers use the lowest cost companies which typically means they have to be shown what a HW heat pump looks like.
    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public's own money.
    - Alexis de Toqueville, 1835

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Morgan Hill Ca.
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Colver View Post
    GT Jets: I strictly follow the manufactures recommendations when I install a system and this is why I rarely have problems. Most of the issues people raise on this site are due to installer error. It says in the install manual that it must be installed in a location that receives outside air.

    Really not trying to be an ass. but no, it doesn't.

    They can be indoors and only the exhaust air needs to go outside... The manual says in plain English that the temperature range is 20-120F. It was only because of the 20F comment that I made the earlier statement. I was just thinking that if you could feed it 60-70F air in the winter, it would be more efficient.

    No offense intended.

    GT
    If a day goes by and you have learned nothing, I hope you got a lot of sleep.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by GT Jets View Post
    Really not trying to be an ass. but no, it doesn't.

    They can be indoors and only the exhaust air needs to go outside... The manual says in plain English that the temperature range is 20-120F. It was only because of the 20F comment that I made the earlier statement. I was just thinking that if you could feed it 60-70F air in the winter, it would be more efficient.

    No offense intended.

    GT
    There has always been an interesting technical argument concerning the installation location of these heat pump HW tanks. If installed inside such as the basement or laundry room even with an exhaust that room get cold due to the air conditioning effect of these systems causing many home owners to complain. I've had my share of these calls.

    If installed in the garage then the loss of "free heat" as some call it is defeated cause it's mainly in outside air. The only benefit I tell my customers is that when you pull you car in the garage and close the garage door the hot car gives off lots of "free heat" that can then be used by the heat pump...if it's calling for heat.
    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public's own money.
    - Alexis de Toqueville, 1835

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Southwest Iowa
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    109
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    Just finished an install/service 3 day class in Topeka last week for geo systems. My house burnt in '09 and I have it built again but am taking time. I built a 1200sqft cabin, now is time for my hvac installation but before I do that, i'm considering off grid power supply, solar and wind. Ideas and thoughts are welcomed.

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  14. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Portland OR
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    Quote Originally Posted by GT Jets View Post
    Really not trying to be an ass. but no, it doesn't.

    They can be indoors and only the exhaust air needs to go outside... The manual says in plain English that the temperature range is 20-120F. It was only because of the 20F comment that I made the earlier statement. I was just thinking that if you could feed it 60-70F air in the winter, it would be more efficient.

    No offense intended.

    GT
    So where do you get 60-70 degree air from in Seattle in the winter? If your answer is inside the house then where does that heat come from? There is no benefit unless outside air is being used. I HATE heat pump water heaters because about 90% are installed wrong. If it's in a conditioned space, it will never get more than a 1 COP, regardless of its it vents to the outside. If it's a conditioned space and vents out then where does the conditioned space replace its air from? Outside! So now you use your primary heat source to heat outside air so your water heater can use the heat? Bunch of BS, unless you can put it in a garage in Arizona that brings in outside air, it cools the garage in the summer and there is usually enough heat in the air in the winter for a 1.5 to 2 COP.
    Check out my YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/skyheating1 We have customer testimonials, product reviews and more!
    Like us on FACEBOOK if you like our advice here!

  15. #13
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    Mar 2010
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    Morgan Hill Ca.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkyHeating View Post
    So where do you get 60-70 degree air from in Seattle in the winter? If your answer is inside the house then where does that heat come from? There is no benefit unless outside air is being used. I HATE heat pump water heaters because about 90% are installed wrong. If it's in a conditioned space, it will never get more than a 1 COP, regardless of its it vents to the outside. If it's a conditioned space and vents out then where does the conditioned space replace its air from? Outside! So now you use your primary heat source to heat outside air so your water heater can use the heat? Bunch of BS, unless you can put it in a garage in Arizona that brings in outside air, it cools the garage in the summer and there is usually enough heat in the air in the winter for a 1.5 to 2 COP.
    Dude,

    Don't take it so personal...

    My simple statement was that if you are in a 20F environment, having it in the garage is foolish. Why store your HOT water in a 20F space? You lose quite a lot of the heat you just spent a long time trying to generate. Add to that, in a 20F space, the heater will have to go into a defrost, would not have to in a 60F space. You seem to be ignoring the fact that the duty cycle on this device will be quite low, especially when the storage tank is in a space only 30 cooler than the tank.

    All I was trying to say is that if it were in a utility closet fed by the warm zone, the heater would be more efficient than if in a 20F garage (even though I know the OP was just using the 20F comment as an extreme example). Your clothes dryer will use about the same amount of air...

    Chill. It was just an observation. Don't get so serious.

    I plan on having the remote condenser to my refrigerator and the ground source heat pump all in the same mechanical area and keep all heavy electrical users near each other, it will back up to the laundry area/mudroom. That was all I was saying.

    BTW, if you have a house in Arizona and you don't have solar water heat, you are a sufferer of mental instability.

    Relax.

    GT
    If a day goes by and you have learned nothing, I hope you got a lot of sleep.

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