Potential Panel Issues
Depending on the type, age, and space available, or not, in your home’s electrical panel, the electrical portion of a heat pump installation’s costs can be ‘average’ or ‘significantly above average.’ Take a look below at three different situations and compare with your own panel. There are others, so yours may not look like one of these. Alaska Heat Smart will help you evaluate your electrical panel constraints as part of our Home Heat Pump Assessment. Homeowners can also email us photos of their panel if they would like to ask this question separately.
Thanks to Richard Hayes of Southeast Electric ((907) 790-2949) for the following photos and panel analyses.
Full Panel – If you look at the breakers installed in this panel, there are already a number of tandem breakers installed along with double pole breakers. Neither of these style breakers make it possible to consolidate electrical circuits to make room for the added requirements of a heat pump. Also, there is a caution sticker at the bottom of the panel. This sticker often indicates that there is no bussing behind the knockouts. This means that is may appear that you have sufficient room for the needed breakers but there is in fact no concessions for installing breakers behind the panel cover. End result, added expenses will increase the cost of an installation.
Zinsco Panel – These breakers are no longer available and the breakers that you can find are not typically UL listed for installation due to the safety concerns that accompany this panel manufacture. If the panel looks like this one, a panel replacement would be necessary in order to add any circuitry for a heat pump installation. End result, added expenses will significantly increase the cost of an installation.
Good Panel – Plenty of space, well labeled, in good repair. Even if this panel were full of breakers, there is plenty of room for the installation of tandem breakers to consolidate the circuits and make more room. End result, homeowners should be able to move forward with a heat pump installation without significant added expenses.
Electrical Service Issues
A typical ductless/mini-split heat pump installation can require 20 to 40 amps of electricity (@240 volts). That’s in addition to the other electrical demands present in the house. This typically will not be a significant limitation for newer houses in Juneau, but older houses were constructed when residential electrical loads were far lower, so the electrical service from the utility was smaller – the electrical wiring from the utility source into the house can’t carry as much power. This is something that should be assessed by a licensed electrician before deciding to move forward with a ductless heat pump installation. Learn more about retrofit considerations on our Retrofits page.