Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home, a leading provider of eldercare services in Singapore has recently upgraded their facilities for the provision of personalized and affordable healthcare. No longer using high consumption electrical water heaters, they have made the switch to heat pump water heaters to provide consistent hot water for their shower facilities, all while saving 75% on electrical running costs.
Water heater upgrading works took place in the wing above, which comprised shower areas, laundry room, and kitchens spread out over three floors. We explored two options of water heater placement and type.
- Option A was to use central heater system, where large heaters were placed on the ground level and hot water piped to the entire building.
- Option B was to use a micro heater system, where smaller heaters were placed above the ceiling close to the point of use.
Whether to use central heaters or micro heaters are dependent on several factors, most of which have to do with project layout. Key questions asked are:
- Is there sufficient space?
- What are the differences in product cost?
- What is the incremental piping cost?
- What are the differences in running cost?
1. Is there sufficient space?
Option A – large heaters require a bigger area of installation
Option B – Micro heaters are small and may be placed above false ceilings if there is one
2. What are the differences in product cost?
Option A – fewer units, lower product cost
Option B – more units, higher product cost
3. What is the incremental piping cost?
Option A – large heaters are placed far away from the point of use and require an additional recirculation loop (red pipes in diagram above) for hot water to reach users quickly
Option B – micro heaters are close to point of use, no need for the recirculation loop
4. What are the differences in running cost?
Option A – Having a recirculation loop means more heat loss to the environment and a higher running cost.
Option B – Although micro heat pumps are about 5% less efficient than central heat pumps, the heat loss from recirculation loop far outweighs this advantage.
Space constraints are a key determinant factor especially in Singapore, where every square inch is precious. The other factors are cost related and can easily be worked out. Here are some sample cost data based on this project.
After weighing their options carefully, Lee Ah Mooi went ahead with the Micro option, but there is no hard and fast rule as every job site and space requirements are different. Costs also vary with different projects.
This is what the water heaters look like installed above the false ceiling. They require a ventilation grille in the ceiling to allow for air circulation.
Heat pumps, like regular electric heaters are still controlled by the heater switch outside the bathroom. In Lee Ah Mooi, the heat pump control panel has been relocated to the top of the ceiling so users can easily see how much hot water is left in the tank. Users can also adjust the heat pump water heater settings with an infrared remote control.
To find out more about heat pumps and how they save energy for small organizations in Singapore, you may read more about our recent projects here: