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Heat pump upgrades

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I own in a high rise building that uses McQuay HCA heat pumps from around 1990. I am looking to fully replace the ones in my suite with their modern equivalent.

The top reasons being the originals are excessively noisy, difficult to maintain, and inefficient. In addition, McQuay discontinued this series of heat pumps so we have no OEM support and all HVAC contractors are limited to purchasing replacement parts from aftermarket suppliers with questionable quality. Those who have done this generally found no improvement over the original and some are experiencing additional defects (e.g. refrigerant gas leaks, compressor lock outs).

Knowing this I don't want to go down the "retrofit" route. I spent the better part of the last year researching possible upgrades for vertical stack water source heat pumps and came up with a list of 10 from 7 different manufacturers. Of those I shortlisted Whalen due to their large install base in Toronto.

At this stage I am trying to identify new buildings that have Whalen installed so I can demo their sound performance. I am also trying to get a quote from installers to do my project but it's been difficult since they never seem to have time to sit down with me and go through the fine details (e.g. part selection, noise control, plumbing, construction schedule, etc). I am hoping it will be easier once the summer is over.

Has anyone else faced similar issues with their heat pump before and how did you deal with it?
 
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I own in a high rise building that uses McQuay HCA heat pumps from around 1990. I am looking to fully replace the ones in my suite with their modern equivalent.

The top reasons being the originals are excessively noisy, difficult to maintain, and inefficient. In addition, McQuay discontinued this series of heat pumps so we have no OEM support and all HVAC contractors are limited to purchasing parts and components from aftermarket suppliers with questionable quality. Those who have done refurbishment generally found no real improvement over the original and some are experiencing additional defects (e.g. refrigerant gas leaks, compressor lock outs) and increased failure rates.

Knowing this I don't want to go down the "refurbishment" route. I spent the better part of the last year researching alternative vertical stack water source heat pumps and came up with a list of 10 from 7 different manufacturers. Of those I shortlisted Whalen due to their large install base in Toronto.

At this stage I am trying to identify new buildings that have Whalen installed so I can demo their sound performance. I am also trying to get a quote from installers to do my project but it's been difficult since they never seem to have time to sit down with me and go through the fine details (e.g. part selection, noise control, plumbing, construction schedule, etc). I am hoping it will be easier once the summer is over.

Has anyone else faced similar issues with their heat pump before and how did you deal with it?
If I were you I would discuss your choice of heat pump with the HVAC contractor that your Corporation uses to maintain the main system (loop, boilers/.chillers and pressures). In my building we have one owner who recently bought a new heat pump and has had repeated problems with it; the Corporation's HVAC contractor was finally consulted and he pointed out that the heat pump installed was not designed to work at maximum efficiency with the kind of loop and pressure we have here!
 
I am aware of stories like that and I am making sure the new system matches the technical specifications of the original. There are devices to measure flow rate, in addition I was told by our building's mechanical engineer that our heat pump water loop runs at approximately 4.5 GPM. For buildings that have variable flow you can also purchase flow control valves to keep your supply flow consistent. I found out these types of details often get overlooked. I really need someone who will work with me and do a complete and thorough job. All companies I contacted are constantly busy with repairs and don't seem to have time for new installs. What companies do developers use to install heat pumps? My options seem so limited as a high rise home owner.
 
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I did contact Whalen and one of the reasons they came first is because of their excellent engineering and sales support. Some other manufacturer's I called for info on multiple occasions didn't answer their phone. The sales reps listed on Whalen's site are actually regional distributors that sell to trade, they won't do installations themselves. Emerson Swan Canada (formerly Air Mechanical Sales of Bolton) put me in touch with a large plumbing & heating company in the GTA but it was a dead end, they didn't want to get involved unless it was dead simple. They quoted me on what it would cost to install a 3rd party clone chassis (as other owners have done), probably a 1 hour job tops, but it would not solve most of the fundamental design flaws of the original system from ~30 years ago, amongst which there are many:

1) The access doors are hard to open and scratch the drywall each time removed, so many owners forego filter replacement on top of regular maintenance
2) An unsloped drain pan causes water to sit still and become prone to algae, bacteria & rust
3) There is no overflow sensor in the drain pan to shut off the system and prevent a flood
4) Excessive sound and vibration coming from the compressor and fan. There is a lot of extra work to be done to block or absorb sound compared to a modern system designed with acoustic isolation from the start.
 
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You keep referring to a compressor, and in other posts, a chilled water loop.
It's one or the other, not both.
 
Every heat pump is capable of operating within a certain fluid temperature range:

LhcuTra.png


There is no chilling done on the supply line, that's only done intentionally on fan coil systems.

In the summer our supply line temperature normally runs at 80F. On a hot day it can reach 90F. A cooling tower is used to reject excess heat outdoors and maintain a maximum supply line temperature. In the winter the system operates around 67F.

Not every closed loop water source heat pump uses water either, it's usually a mix of water, glycol antifreeze and corrosion inhibitors. Efficiency is gained by using a low viscosity heat transfer fluid to minimize pumping costs and keep the lines free of scale and dirt build up.

There are a lot small details like this that need to be considered and cannot be rushed, my biggest fear is a contractor that cuts corners and the job isn't done properly.
 
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I called Emerson Swan back today and they gave me two other installation companies I could try, I guess I'll see how this goes.
 
There is no chilling done on the supply line, that's only done intentionally on fan coil systems.

In the summer our supply line temperature normally runs at 80F. On a hot day it can reach 90F. A cooling tower is used to reject excess heat outdoors

A "cooling tower" is also known as a chiller.
 
We had Whalen where I used to live. I had no issues with performance or sound, although some of my neighbours complained about noise.
 
I came across this thread and I realize it is old. My recommendation would be to completely avoid Whalen. I have a Whalen Series VI-A heat pump. It developed a small leak which caused the refrigerant to slowly leak out. You won't even realize there is a problem until more than 50% of the charge is lost and the unit is no longer heating / cooling. It is very expensive to fix because Whalen, in their infinite wisdom, decided to not put any service access ports on the unit. Stay away from any system that doesn't have service ports. If anything goes wrong with the refrigeration circuit you're going to be stuck with a repair cost almost half the price of buying a brand new replacement.
 
I came across this thread and I realize it is old. My recommendation would be to completely avoid Whalen. I have a Whalen Series VI-A heat pump. It developed a small leak which caused the refrigerant to slowly leak out. You won't even realize there is a problem until more than 50% of the charge is lost and the unit is no longer heating / cooling. It is very expensive to fix because Whalen, in their infinite wisdom, decided to not put any service access ports on the unit. Stay away from any system that doesn't have service ports. If anything goes wrong with the refrigeration circuit you're going to be stuck with a repair cost almost half the price of buying a brand new replacement.

I ended up ordering and installing Johnson Controls vertical stack heat pumps in fall of 2018 for ~$11K + HST each.

At the time Johnson Controls had a heat pump sound room at their factory in Ajax so customers could demo the product and speak with the engineers. I found this extremely valuable.

Service should be straight forward with Johnson Controls, the refrigeration chassis has service gauge ports for field diagnosis and service.

My exact order is below.

JCI “Skymark” Vertical Stacked Heat Pump Chassis & Cabinet
Qty 1, JCI Model #VPCS18 Chassis, 1.5 ton, 208-230/60/1
Qty 1, JCI Model #VPB18 Cabinet, 1.5 ton, 208-230/60/1
The above offered equipment includes the following.
• 208-230/60/1 power supply as indicated above
• 2-Way Motorized Valve
• 4.5 USGPM
• Quiet Chassis
• Cupro-Nickel Water Coil
• ECM
• Reduced Height w/4” Stand
• Stainless Steel Drain Pan
• Standard Airside Coil
• Standard Water Coil
• Hose Set
• Insulated Acoustic Return Air Panel
• Supply Air Grilles
• TEC3331 Thermostat
• Custom Riser Openings

4 years later and still going strong!
 
I regret to inform everyone of bad news. I found out near the start of the pandemic Johnson Controls International ("JCI") shut down the Skymark factory in Ajax which manufacturered these heat pumps. JCI no longer OEM manufactures vertical stack water source heat pumps (the type used in condos), and instead they made a distribution agreement with Unilux for similar products under the brand "Arcadian"". Arcadian heat pumps use a completely new cabinet and chassis design so these won't be backwards compatible with JCI/Skymark systems.

My original warranty is still valid for another year but replacement parts for unique components like the airside coil will be hard to come by. I am disappointed by this turn of events and in retrospect probably should have gone with Whalen.
 
I stumbled across this thread and thought I would provide info if anyone needed it. The current Whalen distributor has replacement chassis, manufactured by Whalen, available for old McQuay HCA and JCI (Skymark) units as well as others.
https://whalencompany.com/
 

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