Dual Fuel system in Massachusetts - oil and heat pump?

4 Replies

Just picked up an 8000sqft building in Western mass (7 apartment, 1 commercial space) that is heated by oil and paid for by the landlord.  My partner and I are looking at creating a dual fuel system, where heat pumps make hot water on the milder winter days but the oil kicks in during the bitter times.  Am also having a solar contractor looking at putting up panels, with the hope that once the solar loan is paid off, we'd be getting a large amount of our heating for free (solar runs heat pumps which heats the building.)  

Curious if others have experience with this in Mass where the solar incentives are solid and if so, any advice?

No experience but do you have an oil fired boiler hot water system now or a forced air system? Sounds like hot water baseboard? So you want to install solar to power electric heat pumps to heat your hydronic system and have oil kick in if the electric doesn't meet demand?  Am I understanding this?    Be Curious to see how this works for you. 

Yes, exactly.  I spoke with an insulation/air sealing specialist and he suggested combining the three (solar and air source heat pumps plus oil backup) was the way to go - plus there are lots of loan programs in Mass (solar loans, heat loans for heat pumps, etc) to help move in this direction.  I'll update as we move along.

Posting to follow, and also wondering how you're going to do the switchover in very cold weather? I know the heat pumps don't work on the coldest days, but we have to manually turn ours off and turn the backup on. It's my impression that it's bad for the heat pump to leave it on under those conditions. Is there a way to automate the switchover? I'm sure there is (unbeknownst to me), but curious what your contractors propose.

You should be able to automate a switchover with some sort of temperature sensor which triggers shutoff. I wonder if that would be built in to heat pumps?   You do have to find an HVAC guy who thinks out of the box.  Oil burners don't like to be shut off though, they can be difficult to restart.

Yes, A ton of stuff in MA, I have never found a way to leverage them for my MA home but its there...

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