Grundfos: Be, Think, Innovate (blue stripe)

CASE STUDY

Contact:
Helen Mubarak
Grundfos North America
913.302.3702
hmubarak@grundfos.com

John O’Reilly
O’Reilly-DePalma
815.469.9100, ext. 302
john.oreilly@oreilly-depalma.com

Additional Resources

Grundfos Home Page

Grundfos Media Room

News/Press Release

Grundfos Pumps Unveils New Generation of Circulators, With Power‐Consumption Savings of up to 80% or more


PROJECT PROFILE

Location:
Westcliffe, Colorado

Venue:
Residence

System Type:
Circulator Pumps


PROJECT DATA

Structure Type:
Single-family dwelling

Area Heated:
2,200 square feet

Tubing Layout:
1) Uponor hePEX™ buried in basement slab

2) Insulated hePEX stapled to subfloor on main level

Outdoor Design Temperature: -24°F

Heat Plant, Size:
Central Boiler Classic CL 5036 wood-fired boiler (250,000 BTU)

System Supply Water Temperature: 185°F

Tubing Size:
3/8-inch Zones

Number of Loops,
Average Length
:
18 loops, 200 feet

Tubing Spacing:
8-inches to 12-inches on center with banding around room perimeters

Circulator Pumps With ECM Technology Next Trend In Intelligent Hydronics Design

July 26, 2011

By Bob Reinmund, Senior Product Specialist
Grundfos Pumps Corporation

Download / View Case Study:

icon-ms-word  MS-Word (.doc)

icon-document  Text (.txt)

icon-pdf  Acrobat (.pdf)

Image Gallery

Over the last five years, circulators used for hydronic and radiant heating systems have become more energy-efficient thanks to ECM (Electronically Commutated Motor) technology. The intelligent speed control these circulators provide is drastically reducing energy use without sacrificing performance.

ECM technology has gradually attracted the attention of sustainable building proponents such as Alex Wilson, founder and executive editor of BuildingGreen.com, an independent building industry resource.

These variable-speed, ECM circulators make a lot of sense for several reasons, writes Wilson in his “Alex’s Cool Product of the Week” blog published April 10, 2010.

“One, they allow you to save pumping energy by varying the flow rate. Two, by reducing the flow, they can increase the temperature difference between water leaving the boiler and water returning – which improves efficiency – so you use less heating fuel… And three, these pumps compensate for the fact that circulator pumps are almost always significantly oversized,” asserts the 30-year industry veteran and authority on energy efficiency and environmentally responsible design and construction.

GRUNDFOS
ALPHA™ ECM Circulator

Designed for hydronic heating applications in residential and light-commercial applications, the Grundfos ALPHA™ ECM circulator features a permanent magnet motor that will cut power consumption by a minimum of 50 percent, as compared with other circulators in its class.

The design is a dramatically more efficient motor that generates less heat and energy waste, while delivering a starting torque four times higher than a standard induction motor — a key feature should the circulator experience long periods of idleness.

The ALPHA features an innovative AUTOADAPT™ function that automatically and continuously adjusts circulator performance based on the changing needs of the hydronic heating system.

An easy-to-read display offers a range of unique, features for monitoring the system:

  • A large, real-time display indicates energy consumption (Watts).

  • This same display will toggle every four seconds between power consumption and the flow indicator, showing the relative estimated flow rate in gallons per minute (GPM).

  • A one-touch, button-type interface permits the user to toggle quickly and easily among seven different hydraulic operating modes: three fixed speeds, three levels of constant pressure, and the AUTOADAPT setting.

For more information on ALPHA, visit poweredby.grundfos.com

Instead, today’s most advanced ECM circulators automatically determine the lowest possible operating-efficiency point to meet changing system demand. Said differently, this technology provides the minimal output required to achieve optimal comfort — all without direct human intervention.

Target – 40% power reduction: To understand why this technology is so appealing, put yourself in the shoes of plumbing contractor Mike Wolking, who was asked to design a plumbing and hydronic heating system for a custom solar home in south-central Colorado.

In addition to specifying a system that could provide space heating and domestic hot water for the 2,300-square-foot, two-story ranch, Wolking’s design had to consume roughly 40 percent less energy.

Completed in March 2009, the off-grid home uses 16 solar photovoltaic panels to generate all of the power necessary to fuel the radiant heat, hot water and all the modern amenities you would expect in a 21st century American household: washer, dryer, dishwasher, personal computers, and even a flat screen plasma television.

Wolking, a 12-year plumbing-industry veteran, who doubles as the lead guitarist for the Sons and Brothers bluegrass band, worked with homeowners Johnny and Gayle Ainsworth to design a heating system that would be both comfortable and energy-efficient.

In fact, one of the major challenges for the project was to power the home’s heating system while using less energy than three 100-watt light bulbs. The system today exceeds this seemingly implausible goal, drawing just one-fifth of that 300-watt target – 57 watts – thanks to a revolutionary new ECM circulator from Grundfos Pumps.

First introduced by Grundfos in Europe roughly a decade ago, the ALPHA™ is an energy-optimized, 115-volt circulator that automatically and continuously adjusts its performance to adapt to the changing needs of the hydronic heating system. As a result, the ECM circulator is designed to cut power consumption by at least 50 percent and usually more, as compared with other circulators in its class. For Wolking and Ainsworth, the savings surpassed 75 percent.

Emphasis on energy savings: Wolking installed a standard 1/25-horsepower (HP) primary circulator that delivers hot water from Ainsworth’s 135,000 BTU, propane-fired Weil-McLain boiler to a mixing valve and a secondary loop. Two additional 1/25-HP circulators feed the home’s three heating zones through more than 3,200 feet of Uponor 3/8-inch hePEX™ (crosslinked polyethylene) tubing, buried in the basement slab as well as stapled under the main floor.

Domestic hot water was provided by a 150,000 BTU Rinnai propane-fired tankless water heater. Both the boiler and tankless unit were supported with a 12KW Gillette standby propane generator that kicks in when the solar panels haven’t generated sufficient power (or roughly 10 hours per month).

All three of the original circulators did not incorporate ECM technology, and thus provided a constant output and continual energy consumption. In fact, while Wolking’s design performed effectively, its inefficient energy use placed a significant drain on the home’s electric power consumption, which limited use of other appliances and devices.

“The original circulators did the job, but were energy hogs,” Ainsworth remarks. “They were running all night long during the winter and depleted our solar battery bank. Each morning, we would have only 30 percent power remaining, and our goal is to maintain at least a 50 percent power reserve, so this drain was significant.”

Ainsworth, a retired commodities broker, spent eight months searching for an alternative that would provide the same system head and flow rates, while consuming less energy.

Breakthrough technology: In an internet forum, Ainsworth explained his problem to other solar power enthusiasts, who recommended the Grundfos ALPHA.

In January 2010, Ainsworth called contractor Wolking back to replace the three original circulators with the high performance, low-energy-use ALPHA. Wolking, a second generation master plumber, had used another brand of circulators all his life, and was skeptical that any circulator could deliver dynamic flow rates while minimizing power consumption.

“The high-tech pump exceeded the manufacturer’s claims regarding energy use, performance [homeowner comfort] and its silent operation,” explains Wolking, a self-professed numbers fanatic. “Because we design radiant systems based on flow rate formulas and temperature differentials, the fact that the ALPHA can approximate real-time GPM [gallons per minute] volume gave us the ability to fine-tune the system’s performance.”

Intended for residential and light-commercial hydronic applications, ALPHA features the innovative AUTOADAPT™ function that automatically and continuously adjusts circulator performance to the changing needs of the heating system. The ECM circulator will automatically find the lowest possible operating-efficiency point to meet demand, notes Wolking, thereby saving both energy and money.

“For example, upon installation the 1/12 HP circulator was running at 9 gallons per minute (gpm), drawing 27 watts,” explains Wolking, who now is a strong proponent of ECM circulator technology. “Two days later, the system was operating at 2 GPM and drawing 9 watts – a far cry from the constant 82 watts the original circulator required 24/7.”

3 Circulators Watts/unit Avg. Total Consumption Savings
Original Induction Motor 82 246 watts
Grundfos ALPHA 19 57 watts 77%

Out of the box, an ECM circulator will yield the same flow rate while consuming 50 percent less energy over a traditional induction-type circulator. Some ECM circulators, such as the ALPHA, use an integrated logic board to “learn” the system’s usage patterns in order to boost the standard 50 percent energy savings into the 70-80 percent range. As the valves in the different sections open or close with rising or falling demand, the ALPHA automatically ramps up or down to meet the load.

According to Ainsworth, the new circulators have indeed made a huge contribution to energy savings. Instead of draining upwards of 70 percent of the solar battery bank’s energy, the three new ALPHAs use roughly 35 percent – or half the energy consumed by the original circulators.

“The energy savings were instantaneous; almost like waving a magic wand over our solar battery bank deficit,” recalls Ainsworth. “We could have installed more solar panels or purchased additional battery capacity, but the pumps were the problem, not the system parameters.”

Ainsworth has been so impressed with the three high-performance, low-energy-use ALPHA circulators that he recently installed a fourth Grundfos pump to power an outdoor wood boiler designed to replace the traditional propane boiler and tankless water heater.

“While the traditional energy usage between conventional pumps and the ALPHA are similar, the major difference is the AUTOADAPT capability,” concludes Ainsworth. “The adaptability of the ALPHA software to anticipate system demand and adjust consumption accordingly is truly unique and the main contributor to my system’s success.”

Contractor Wolking echos these sentiments. "Fossil fuels have long ceased to simply be cheap and abundant,” says Wolking. “ECM circulators give plumbers an entirely new level of control over system design and performance. For me, it's a game-changer.”



ABOUT GRUNDFOS
With an annual production of more than 17 million units, Grundfos is the world’s leading pump manufacturer, serving the residential, commercial-building and process-industry markets, as well as being a major supplier to the ground water, irrigation, water-supply and water-treatment industries. The company specializes in circulator pumps for heating and air conditioning as well as other centrifugal pumps for industrial applications, water supply, sewage and dosing. In addition to pumps, Grundfos also produces standard and submersible motors as well as state-of-the-art electronics for monitoring and controlling pumps.

Founded in 1945 in Bjerringbro, Denmark, The Grundfos Group employs nearly 20,000 in 82 countries on five continents worldwide, including 1,400 in the United States. A top priority on the Grundfos corporate agenda is an active commitment to improving the environment, both in terms of providing innovative pumping solutions as well as reducing the company’s own footprint. The company contributes to global sustainability by investing heavily in research and development to pioneer technologies that improve quality of life for people and care for the planet.

For more information, visit the website at www.grundfos.us or view the Grundfos Corporate Sustainability Report at http://www.grundfos.com/about-us/reports/sustainability-reports.html. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

For editorial assistance, contact: 1) John O’Reilly or Joel Williams, c/o O’Reilly/DePalma, 32 West Nebraska Street, Suite 1C, Frankfort, Illinois 60423; tel.: 815-469-9100, extension 302; fax: 815-469-2555; E-mail: john.oreilly@oreilly-depalma.com or joel.williams@oreilly-depalma.com. 2) Helen Mubarak, Communications Officer, Grundfos. Tel. 913-302-3702; E-mail: hmubarak@grundfos.com.

# # #

 

Back to top

 

 

 

 

IMAGE GALLERY

To download a hi-res .tif file, click on the desired image and a zip archive automatically downloads to your computer. Due to how various browers handle downloads, you may have to expand the zip archive manually.

The zip archive expands into a .tif file; 6" wide x 4" high (1800 x 1200 pixels) x 300ppi; CMYK; unless otherwise specified.


Ainsworth ResidenceAinsworth Residence

This 2,300-square-foot, two-story custom solar home in south-central Colorado uses 16 solar photovoltaic panels to generate all of the power necessary to fuel the radiant heat, hot water and all the modern amenities you would expect in a 21st century American household: washer, dryer, dishwasher, personal computers, and even a flat screen plasma television.

File Name: Grundfos-CS-Ainsworth-2341.tif

Image Size: 6" wide x 4" high (1800 x 1200 pixels)

Seeking to reduce energy consumption at his off-grid solar home, retired commodities broker Johnny Ainsworth spent eight months searching for an intelligent Electronically Commutated Motor (ECM) circulator that provided the same system head and flow rates, yet consumed less than 75 percent of the energy used by the original, fixed-speed pump.

File Name: Grundfos-CS-Ainsworth-2396.tif

Image Size: 6" wide x 4" high (1800 x 1200 pixels)



Ainsworth Residence Ainsworth Residence

To scale back the energy usage, plumbing and heating contractor Mike Wolking installed a Grundfos ALPHA™ ECM primary circulator that delivers hot water from a 135,000 BTU, propane-fired boiler to a mixing valve and secondary loop to heat the custom solar home. Two additional ALPHA circulators feed the home’s three heating zones through more than 3,200 linear feet of Uponor 3/8-inch hePEX™ tubing buried in the basement slab, as well as stapled under the main floor.

File Name: Grundfos-CS-Ainsworth-2437.tif

Image Size: 6" wide x 4" high (1800 x 1200 pixels)

Three ECM circulators feature an innovative AUTOADAPT™ function that automatically and continuously adjusts circulator performance to the changing needs of the heating system. For Homeowner Johnny Ainsworth, the energy savings approached 75 percent.

File Name: Grundfos-CS-Ainsworth-2463.tif

Image Size: 4" wide x 6" high (1200 x 1800 pixels)



Ainsworth Residence Ainsworth Residence

ECM circulators find the lowest possible operating-efficiency point to meet system demand and then continuously adjust that setting to achieve optimal comfort at minimal power consumption — all without direct human intervention.

File Name: Grundfos-CS-Ainsworth-2518.tif

Image Size: 4" wide x 6" high (1200 x 1800 pixels)

DC to AC power inverters and solar controllers help maximize energy yield from photovoltaic panels.

File Name: Grundfos-CS-Ainsworth-2538.tif

Image Size: 4" wide x 6" high (1200 x 1800 pixels)



Bob Reinmund Ainsworth Residence

Bob Reinmund, Senior Product Specialist, Grundfos Pumps Corporation

File Name: Grundfos-Bob-Reinmund.tif

Image Size: 5" wide x 6" high (1500 x 1800 pixels)

Homeowner Johnny Ainsworth (left) and plumbing contractor Mike Wolking.

File Name:
Grundfos-CS-Ainsworth-Johnny-MikeWolking-1.tif

Image Size: 4" wide x 6" high (1200 x 1800 pixels)



Ainsworth Residence Grundfos ALPHA

Homeowner Johnny Ainsworth (left) and plumbing contractor Mike Wolking.

File Name:
Grundfos-CS-Ainsworth-Johnny-MikeWolking-2.tif

Image Size: 4" wide x 6" high (1200 x 1800 pixels)

Grundfos ALPHA Circulator

File Name: GF0901A-ALPHA-GrA7934p.tif

Image Size: 5" wide x 6" high (1500 x 1800 pixels)

   

Back to top