When a visionary industrial designer turns his attention to the HVAC industry, it’s probably wise to take note. Recently, technology entrepreneur and philanthropist, Elon Musk expressed his vision for residential HVAC, based in part on a new heat pump his engineers designed for the Tesla Model Y electric compact sport utility vehicle.
Efficient, quiet home HVAC system
According to several reports, Musk seeks to build an efficient and quiet HVAC system for the home, piggybacking on the technology used to make heaters for the newest Tesla Model Y. It’s the first of Tesla’s electric cars to use a heat pump, which is more efficient than previous electric heating systems.
Tesla’s previous vehicle models used resistance heating, which is a battery hog
Tesla’s previous vehicle models used resistance heating, which is a battery hog. The new heat pump component, including a compressor/chiller and liquid cooled condenser, is designed to be more energy-efficient and provides a more reliable vehicle operation range in cold weather conditions.
Model Y heat pump
“The model Y heat pump is some of the best engineering I’ve seen in a while,” said Musk on Twitter, adding “[The] team did next-level work.”
Musk would ‘love to do HVAC that’s quiet and efficient with humidity control and HEPA filter’ for the home.
Tesla car-inspired temperature controls
Musk stated that he imagines a full-home HVAC system that is inspired by and maybe linked with the temperature controls inside someone’s Tesla vehicle. The proposal is in line with Musk’s mission to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy.
He said, “Reducing a home’s energy usage while deploying solar power capacity are complementary goals”.
High-efficiency particulate air filters
Tesla HEPA filters are about 10 times larger than a normal automotive cabin air filter
Tesla already has experience with HVAC systems and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters used to clean the cabin air in their Model 5 and Model X vehicles.
The Tesla HEPA filters are about 10 times larger than a normal automotive cabin air filter and about “100 times more effective,” according to the company.
Tesla HEPA filters
The filters remove at least 99.97% of the fine particulate matter and gaseous pollutants, as well as bacteria, viruses, pollen and mold spores. Tesla refers to the extreme level of air cleaning as ‘Bioweapon Defense Mode’.
Among other benefits, the filtering system protected California drivers from smoke and kept the vehicles’ cabin air clean during the recent wildfires. Musk first mentioned home air conditioning systems about two years ago, alluding to a home HVAC system that is quiet and efficient with humidity control and a HEPA filter.
HEPA filter in a home system
“The use of a HEPA filter in a home system would be a ‘life changer’ for people with allergies”, says Musk. The growing popularity of home air purifier products supports the conclusion.
Communication between a Tesla vehicle and a Tesla home climate system would allow an intelligent air conditioning system to ‘know’ exactly when a resident will get home and only cool the home as appropriate to save energy.
Energy-efficient, high performance HVAC systems
Musk has also questioned the wisdom of home air conditioner systems that make pure, fresh water
Musk has also questioned the wisdom of home air conditioner systems that make pure, fresh water and then dump it on the ground.
The HVAC market has had its share of innovation in recent years, as today’s more energy-efficient, quieter and better-performing systems can attest.
Smart thermostats, climate control systems
There has also been lots of development in the area of smart thermostats and climate control systems, with the results approximating what Musk envisions achieving with communications between his smart vehicles and smart home systems.
But is it time to rethink the technologies again? There is certainly opportunity in the market for any systems that provide better, more sustainable performance, no matter where the ideas originate.
Given Musk’s success envisioning a future of electric cars and lower-cost space travel (among other ideas), his thoughts on the future of the HVAC market are at least worth considering.