South Korean manufacturer LG Electronics plans to introduce residential propane (R290)-based air-to-water heat pumps in early 2024, emphasizing its dedication to embracing natural refrigerants in its quest for energy-efficient heat pump technology across Europe.
Andreas Gelbke, the company’s Director, discussed this development at the ISH trade show, held March 13 to 17 in Frankfurt, Germany.
Gelbke noted that a significant number of heat pump units “still rely on non-natural refrigerants.” LG transitioned to R32 heat pump units five years ago but now plans to adopt propane-based technology for its forthcoming product line. This move targets markets in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the Nordic countries, aligning with LG’s extensive experience producing natural refrigerant-based compressor sizes.
Focusing on European market needs, LG developed its residential R290 heat pump line to meet specific criteria, anticipating a swift development towards R290 technology in the heat pump market.
The R290 heat pumps cater to the refurbishment market, where property owners are replacing traditional oil and gas boilers in existing buildings. R290 refrigerant is able to reach a 75 (167°F) outlet water temperature, making it suitable for older buildings that demand higher outlet temperatures for space heating. This enables customers to switch with minimal modifications to their current infrastructure.
High outlet temperature
Key features of LG’s R290 heat pump include the high 75°C outlet temperature, consistent operation at ambient temperature as low as -15°C (5°F) or below without sacrificing heating capacity and no requirement for backup heaters in most German regions. Gelbke urges all customers to “check the whole dataset under different operating conditions” before buying the product.
Initially, the new line will offer four size options with nominal capacities of 9, 12, 14 and 16kW (2.6, 3.4. 3.98 and 4.5TR). “LG’s heat pump-sized 16kW can compete with 22kW [6.3TR] heat pump of other market competitors in terms of coefficient of performance/efficiency,” said Gelbke.
Launching at the end of 2023 and entering the market in 2024, LG’s R290 heat pump is aiming to capture significant market share where demand for energy-efficient and environmentally friendly technology is high. LG’s in-house manufacturing of compressors, electric motors and pumps enables a stable supply chain and abundant production capacity.
While LG will not immediately cease production of R32 heat pumps, the company will gradually ramp up R290 production as the market demand for natural refrigerants increases. As consumers become more knowledgeable about R290 heat pump benefits, LG is primed to benefit from this expanding market segment, emphasizing its focus on energy savings and eco-friendly solutions.
“LG’s heat pump-sized 16kW can compete with 22kW [6.3TR] heat pump of other market competitors in terms of coefficient of performance/efficiency.”Andreas Gelbke, Director of LG Electronics