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HHS Heat pumps: A Q&A with Tim Fawdray

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

IMG SOURCE: Unsplash

Given predictable increase in activities in the heat pump market (the season, HHS compliance deadline and the lockdown being behind us 🤞🏻), we've gotten together with Tim Fawdray, Managing Director of Varcoe, to tackle some of the common issues landlords face when purchasing a heat pump: 

Q. The heating assessment tool is only telling insofar as what the required heating capacity is for a rental. Beyond that, how do landlords work out which is the best heat pump to buy?

There are a handful of brand choices when it comes to heat pump in NZ. They are all fairly similar in performance, noise outputs and efficiency but quite different in quality. We find that units produced in Japan, Malaysia and Thailand (e.g. Mitsubishi, Daikin, check with your supplier!) tend to be of better quality. There is a small difference in price but not a lot in the scheme of things (around $100 to $200).

Q. What has been COVID-19's effects so far on the heat pump industry and what are the trickled-down effects on customers? 

The effects are and will continue to be largely around supply chain disruption (i.e. turn around time for procurement and installation) and pricing. For that reason, Varcoe has always carried sufficient stock to lessen the effects of a supply chain disruption. Thankfully, our customers are not affected so far.

There are a few brands that are struggling at the moment due to factories shutting down around the world. By this time next year I would expect there to be a supply issue. Already we are seeing wholesalers increasing their prices.

Q. What is the standard warranty for heat pumps and is it worth purchasing a warranty extension?

Good question, standard warranty for a heat pump is 5 years and in my opinion it is not worth paying for a extended period as most warrantable events happen in the first few years. Very few seem to be between 5 and 7.

Q. How often should rental heat pumps be serviced?

We would recommend that the filters are cleaned every three to six months by the tenant and if that is happening then you shouldn’t need a service for a few years. If the filters are not been cleaned regularly then probably service once a year.

We currently offer the first service free to APIA members which is a good opportunity for us to educated the tenants.

Q. In your experience, what is the level of rental heating compliance so far?

I don’t believe its very high at the moment. I would expect there to be a mad dash to comply this time next year. What is concerning is that we are seeing a lot of heat pump suppliers not measuring up properly and relying only on the government’s heating assessment tool to recommend a model. This would leave their landlord customers with the mistaken belief that they are compliant when later on they could get a nasty shock when the property is assessed.

Q. How do landlords pick the right heat pump supplier in an unregulated industry? 

That’s is a great question. Keep it simple. Use companies that have been around for 10 years plus. I tend to think the longer a business has been around, the more likely that they are doing things correctly. For example, Varcoe invests a great deal in staff training. Our installers work alongside a qualified refrigeration or heat pump supplier for a couple of years before taking the steps to install heat pumps by themselves.

It is really easy to stand up a man-in-the-van type business (especially when HHS has created a captured client base) but it is also very easy to wind it down leaving the customer with no long term support.

Varcoe offers APIA members a range of discounts on heat pumps, bathroom extractors and range hoods. Click here for more information.


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