HVAC Startup Introduces Climate-Change-Friendly Ductless Heat Pumps

Brian McCowan, ERS, for Zondits

April 1, 2017, Dallas, TX. “My mother always told me, ‘Wally, when life gives you lemons, we Terras make lemonade.’” That statement from Wallace Terra introduced a new line of modular heat pumps designed to be compatible with a changing climate. According to Terra, of the startup Terrafirma, the heat pumps being introduced are ductless mini-split models that emphasize cooling season efficiency and are also modular in their ability to adjust to changing climatic conditions.
The company was in the middle of final design details when the U.S. presidential election was decided. “When the current president was elected, it became clear that the U.S. was not going to take a leading role in the attempt to mitigate climate change,” said Terra. “At that point we tweaked our modular design to be more directly responsive to this harsh reality.” Terrafirma claims that their heat pumps include discrete control systems for both heating and cooling, and modular refrigeration loops that can be adjusted for heating and cooling capacities. The idea, which they are terming flexitemp, is that the heating and cooling capacity is factory-set for the region in which they will be installed. But as climate conditions change, a control that is compatible with smartphones, Amazon’s Alexa, and several microwave ovens, allows heating capacity to be lowered and cooling capacity increased without changing the overall physical size of the system.

The inner workings of a WTF-12

The introduced models are identified as the following:
WTF-9, which has a nominal cooling capacity of 9,000 Btu/hr that can be easily increased to 10,500 with a corresponding decrease in heating capacity
WTF-12, which can be adjusted from 12,000 to 14,000 Btu/hr cooling capacity
And WTF-18, which also can be adjusted by similar factors
Terra explained, “The model names WTF refer, of course, to my name and the company name. But at the factory we often refer to them as Waive the Future heat pumps.”
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