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Northeast HVAC News

Cure Available for Ailing Acadia Heat Pump.
Problem can be reversed by installing a $30 part


Hallowell International LLC, which manufactured residential and commercial heat pumps, got its start five years ago with financing help from the city of Bangor ME. Its pumps, including the Acadia heating and cooling system that was marketed specifically to colder climates, are among the latest heating alternatives for a nation heavily dependent on fossil fuels.
Although Hallowell grew fast in 2008, aided by increased fuel costs, the company struggled over the last couple of years. Those struggles have been compounded by customer frustration, including from one of the company’s biggest customers, a military housing project in New Jersey that purchased 1,370Hallowell units — 30 percent of which have failed — over the past three years.

Hallowell International is now defunct and David Friedman, a retired engineer from New Hampshire, said a majority of failures of heat pumps made by the Company can essentially be reversed by installing a $30 part.

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The real issue for the thousands of stranded Acadia owners is the fact that most HVAC companies have turned their backs on their Acadia customers. Mr. Friedman’s inspiration- Gabe Josephs (Josephs LLC , South Deerfi eld MA) - not only stuck by his 30 initial customers - but also supplied daily service information at no charge to any and all who contacted him through the Google Acadia Site (http:// groups.google.com/group/ hallowell-acadia?lnk=srg). “It is important for HVAC contractors to know that these units are worth servicing - that help is available for technical questions via www.savemyacadia.org and its principals - and that if the FWO is not installed there is a high probability that the compressor will fail --- a sad thing for any family that made a recent investment in green technology” noted Mr. David Friedman.
He added “The number of people who have logged onto our savemyacadia.org is up to about 150 and new high quality discussions continue to make it an invaluable place for either HVAC suppliers or owners to look to for advice”. There are reportedly 3,000 Acadia’s in the field.

The goal of SaveMyAcadia.org is to widely distribute technical and service information to HVAC techs – allowing the Acadia units to be routinely serviced. To that end the site will have technical documentation, FWO’s, service guides and general discussions about various performance issues. Product users generally report that given quality installation including proper sizing and ducting, they got good energy efficiency when units were new. The major failures were associated with a fl awed starting circuit that has been redesigned and extensively tested for reliability.

This fl awed circuit was not present in the ACHP - an earlier version of the Acadia. In addition, there have been widespread reports of improper de-icing and various erratic heat mode problems. Mr. Friedman noted “We believe that the core cause of these issues was a combination of inferior temperature sensors, some poor installation procedures for these sensors, and perhaps a connector problem inhibiting their proper connection to the PCB board which runs the Acadia”. Since the starting circuit fix was released - some 25 people have installed the FWO with no additional reported failures.

Reason for FWO: (Applicability: The work order is applicable to all Hallowell Acadia 2, 3 and 4 ton units.) The current dual relay/dual contractor motor starting circuit has two significant design faults. The electrical circuit uses two contacts of a single contactor to both (with the first contact) power the given direction of compressor operation, and with the second to control a low level current coil of the potential relay needed to control start cap disconnect for that direction of spin.

Due to either arcing, or due to environmental contamination if an open relay, or most probably due to the uneven wear on the power verses the logic contact – the logic contact has repeatedly failed open. This failure propagates by preventing the potential relay from operating, holding the start cap in the circuit, often blowing the start cap and then damaging the compressor.

A second and perhaps more significant problem is that this circuit –although specified and authorized by Bristol, produces very high torque starting and we have been advised by Bristol that they “prefer” that we use equalized start and PCTR start method which limits starting surge to on the order of 10 amps. In the Acadia design, there is a 2-5 minute dwell time between starts which allows for the differential pressure to bleed to about 1/3 of max, and thus there is no need for the maximum starting torque.

Source: Save my Acadia Org. - Gabe Josephs and David Friedman David Friedman continues to consider further improvements. He is testing ways to add breaker protection to individually protect each of the three possible compressor modes.

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