Elon Musk has proclaimed that HVAC is his ‘pet project’ and has even suggested a timeline: ‘Maybe we can start working on that.’
As a high-profile business magnate, industrial designer and engineer, Musk is CEO of automobile company Tesla, whose goal is to accelerate the use of sustainable energy. Tesla is on the cutting edge of technologies that can transform how we use energy, and Musk believes the benefit of that technology will translate well into home HVAC systems.
Heat pump technology
“You can make a way-better home HVAC system that is really quiet and super-efficient and has a way-better filter for particles,” Musk said at a recent Tesla presentation. “It works very reliably.” A feature would be use of a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
Musk’s vision is to adapt heat pump technology the company uses for its Model Y automobile to home HVAC systems
Musk’s vision is to adapt heat pump technology the company uses for its Model Y automobile to home HVAC systems. “It’s tiny. It’s efficient and designed to last 15 years. It operates in all conditions from the coldest winter to the hottest summer,” says Musk. The small units can be ‘stacked’ to provide a super-efficient and scalable home HVAC system, says Musk. A lot of work has already been done for a ‘kick-ass’ system, he adds.
Cheap solar power
A further benefit would be the ability of home systems to communicate with Tesla cars so that the home HVAC system ‘knows’ when residents are coming home and can dial in the settings for heating and cooling to make the house comfortable when they arrive. Because HVAC systems are such big users of energy, it makes sense that Tesla would target the industry as a means of promoting greater use of sustainable energy.
Musk says that wind and solar comprise 76% of new electricity in the United States this year, and Tesla offers the cheapest solar power in the U.S. – only $1.49 per watt for a solar system installed on an existing roof. As a technology disruptor, however, Musk mentions that scaling the manufacture of products is 10 times more difficult than creating a prototype – suggesting a probable delay before any HVAC product that Tesla introduces would become widely available.
From Electric Vehicles To HVAC
When Tesla entered the electric vehicle market, it helped to jump-start investment in electric vehicles even among traditional automakers. Might the visionary company have a similar impact on the mature HVAC industry? Specifically, would Tesla’s delivery of a reliable and efficient product spur faster innovation for HVAC in general??
Efficiency is one of the main competitive factors among HVAC equipment suppliers"
Senior Capital Equipment Analyst Kyle Peters of The Freedonia Group thinks so: “Efficiency is one of the main competitive factors among HVAC equipment suppliers, and it’s no surprise that most have embraced technological change to make their systems more efficient and appealing to customers.” Tesla’s entry into the market would accelerate that trend, says Peters.
“While existing manufacturers are already developing the next generation of filtration technologies to maintain their hold on the industry, its considerable growth potential is likely to attract new industry participants like Tesla,” says Gleb Mutko, another Freedonia analyst.
In addition, Musk’s entry into the HVAC market will likely increase investor interest in HVAC and filtration systems and provide impetus for additional product development. Based on the innovation and investment we are seeing in the HVAC market already, it’s a sure bet the industry will look very different in the next decade. Increasingly, it also appears that Elon Musk will be playing a part in that transformation.