Decarbonization of heat pump dual fuel systems using a practical model predictive control: Field demonstration in a small commercial building

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Journal Article

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In the transition from fossil fuel to electrified heating, a concerning trend is emerging in certain regions of the US. Owners of buildings with gas-based systems leave them in place after adding heat pumps (HPs). Existing control solutions for these hybrid (dual fuel) systems are rudimentary and fall short of realizing the full carbon reduction potential of these systems. Model predictive control (MPC) is often regarded as the benchmark for achieving optimal control in integrated systems. However, in the case of small-medium commercial buildings (SMCBs), the control and communication infrastructure required to facilitate the implementation of such advanced controls is often lacking. This paper presents a field implementation of easy-to-deploy MPC for a dual fuel heating system consisting of HPs and a gas-fired furnace (GF) for SMCBs. The control system is deployed on an open-source middleware platform and utilizes low-cost sensor devices to be used for real SMCBs without major retrofits. We demonstrated this MPC in a real office building with 5 HPs and 1 GF for 2 months. The test results showed that MPC reduced 27% of cost while completely eliminating GF usage by shifting 23% of the thermal load from occupied-peak time to non-occupied non-peak times.


Applied Energy



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