FAQs


HOW IT WORKS

Micro combined heat and power, or micro-CHP, is an extension of the well established use of co-generation technology for single family homes, small office buildings, or other small commercial and industrial facilities. Energy applications typically require some combination of heat, air conditioning, ventilation, and mechanical or electrical power. Normally, energy is produced by a heat engine that can nearly achieve perfect efficiency and must always produce a surplus of low-temperature heat, usually referred to as waste heat. Since the waste heat cannot be efficiently transported over long distances, burning fuel at the site of energy production and usage enables cogeneration technology, or combined heat and power (CHP) devices, to produce electrical energy with heat as a captured by-product. CHP systems have been effective for more than three decades, producing economically efficient industrial energy on a large scale, typically measured in megawatts (MW) of electricity, with residual heat production used for some type of water or space heating. Micro-CHP systems, on the other hand, are used in homes or for small commercial or industrial applications. They reverse the traditional CHP order of priority by being controlled by heat-demand and delivering power as the by-product in the form of electricity, typically on the scale of less than 100kW. In addition to providing maximum efficiency in heat usage and power generation, micro-CHP systems achieve significant economic savings by enabling one to sell excess electrical power back to the electrical utility in a "net-metering" model. 

How does this device work?

MCCHP systems, such as M-TriGen's PowerAire, combine to produce cooling as well as heat and power. Sometimes referred to as Tri-Generation, combined cooling, heat and power systems achieve very high levels of efficiency in the production of power, heat and cold air. Efficiency levels achieved using this technology provide the user with significant cost savings and reduced impact to the environment.

What are the benefits of M-TriGen?

CHP is more efficient than separate generation of electricity and thermal energy


• Higher efficiency translates lower operating costs
• Higher efficiency reduces emissions of all pollutants, including CO2, NOX and SO2
•CHP can increase power reliability and enhance power quality
•On-site electric generation reduces grid congestion and avoids distribution costs.

Can the unit power the entire home?

That would depend on the size of the home and the loads that you wish to power. In a conventional 2,000 sq. ft. home, the system can be configured to provide all of the cooling and heating that is necessary through the PowerAire system. The system provides 6kW of electric power that should be sufficient to power all of the loads of a conventional home. A bank of batteries provides sufficient power to handle peak and surge loads of high demanding motors and appliances. A universal load management system provides priority logic for any critical electrical loads. MCCHP systems, such as M-TriGen's PowerAire, combine to produce cooling as well as heat and power. Sometimes referred to as Trigeneration, combined cooling, heat and power systems achieve a secondary level of efficiency in optimizing the production and usage of cool air through the use of conventional HVAC compressor driven by the engine drive train or including an absorption chiller. Trigeneration systems are effective for buildings as well as some industrial processes requiring continuous uses for both heating and cooling.

Will this device replace my electrical provider?

Again, that would depend on the size of the home, the loads that you wish to power and your desire to be off grid. In many cases it becomes the primary source of power with the grid as backup.

What, specifically, differentiates this from standard generic or other natural gas generators, other than capturing the exhaust heat?

Generic generators are only designed for standby duty, unlike M-TriGen that is designed for continuous duty. Continuous duty generators are designed to last under severe conditions, whereas standby units are designed to provide power for short periods of time. Generic generators have very low efficiency ratings and therefore burn 2 to 3 times more fuel than the M-TriGen. Standby generators are also sized to provide loads to all of the appliances in the house cumulatively as opposed to real consumption patterns. This often results in the over sizing of the unit that also affects the efficiency of the system negatively. The PowerAire is a heavy duty system designed to run continuously but will throttle faster or slower to meet the load demand of the home.

How loud would the system be?

The M-TriGen is designed not to exceed the noise level of conventional outdoor HVAC condensers (68 db). Hospital grade and critical grade silencers are available as optional equipment to meet the needs of the most noise sensitive applications.

Can I drive my current HVAC system with the PowerAire system?

The M-TriGen PowerAire is often times compatible with some of the components already in place in homes with HVAC systems. A home survey is required to determine what components may be reused. The PowerAire is configured as an independent HVAC system, but may be integrated to existing HVAC systems with additional design and engineering. Please consult our design team if you have a special need that requires the integration of the PowerAire with and existing HVAC system.

Can M-TriGen power my air conditioning during a power outage if I don't install the PowerAire system?

Our PowerGen system operates to provide electrical power to a built-in generator that could handle a standard HVAC system.

What is the difference between the PowerFurnace and the PowerAire system?

The PowerFurnace provides electrical power and heat for reuse, whereas the PowerAire additionally provides air conditioning.

What is the impact of dehumidifying the air in my home using this system on my AC power usage?

With independent control of humidity, the temperature of the space can be raised (2 to 3 degrees F), without sacrificing comfort, resulting in significant energy savings. In addition, controlling the space humidity in the 45-50% RH range, improves indoor air quality by preventing the growth of mold, mildew and, in particular, dust mites, which can trigger many allergies.

What if I incorporate it into my solar hot water heating system?

M-TriGen is compatible with most solar hot water systems. Our system was designed to provide an independent hot water circuit that can be integrated to existing solar hot water, boiler systems, hot water tanks, water to air radiators, etc.

How will this work if I have a solar electric system with Enphase Micro-Inverters, and I don't want to re-string the system?

The PowerAire system is designed to integrate and control renewables like solar or wind power through its built-in inverter. However, M-TriGen can be designed to work side by side or together with Micro-Inverter systems. Our design team will be able to suggest configurations once you provide your existing system drawings. We can also do a site survey and a proposed system design drawing.

If I am building a new home and my architect or builder has no knowledge of how to integrate this equipment into the design, can you provide design services and if so, what is the process and what are the fees?

M-TriGen provides design and integration support services for the integration of the M-TriGen into both new and existing homes. For new applications we would review the project plans and work with either the architect or HVAC subcontractor.

What size swimming pool can be heated?

The system can be configured to provide as much as 6 tons of heat (72000 BTU's). The heating impact depends on the size, depth of the pool, and the amount of time the system is operational each day.

What size water tank can be heated?

The system can be configured to provide as much as 6 tons of heat (72000 BTU's). This is as much as 75% of a typical homes furnace. In most cases the gas needs for water heating can be eliminated with the use for the systems waste heat.

Can the daily run time be automatically and manually adjusted through the electronic control unit (ECU) on the M-TriGen?

The amount of daily run time can be automatically or manually adjusted through the electronic control unit (ECU) on the M-TriGen. The PowerAire unit is remotely addressable from electronic devices such as a cellphone, Ipad or computer.

What is the largest M-TriGen you can make?

M-TriGen currently builds 5 kWe to 10 kWe systems.

What colors do they come in?

Gray.

How long has M-TriGen been in business?

M-TriGen has been in business since 2011 and has been conducting R&D for 6 years.

Has the system been tested by any safety standards or to some specifications?

M-TriGen will secure such certification as the market demands in the near future.

- ADVANTAGES -

How does the M-TriGen pay for itself?

Unlike generic and all other standby generators, there is an actual level of payback for the M-TriGen. M-TriGen's systems are designed to offset standard grid energy costs and to produce power that can be sold to the grid together with other renewable energy systems. The ability to resell to the grid is limited to the rules and regulations of the retail power service provider at the location.

What is the payback for the M-TriGen?

The M-TriGen is not a system that was created to produce a calculated period or standard ROI. It produces electricity at less cost than that of grid transmitted energy. The capital costs are offset by the expense one would incur for individual appliances such as a standby generator, and an air conditioning unit, furnaces, condensers, hot water tanks, and pool heaters, which must be included to produce a true ROI. Generally speaking, the ROI for a complete system where sell-back to the grid is possible will range from 3 to 7 years.

What is included in the generation costs?

The daily operating cost consists of the market price of fuel, primarily natural gas or propane.

Are there any tax credits or rebate programs?

There is a 10% federal tax credit for commercial applications of combined heat and power. If solar power is incorporated into the system, certain tax advantages can be carried over from the 30% solar tax credit since there are certain components within the M-TriGen system that apply.

How does the price of natural gas effect the ROI projections?

The highest cost that is considered in the ROI is the price of natural gas and the capital cost of acquiring and installing the unit. The ROI period will increase as the cost of natural gas rises.

What is the effect of runtime on the life expectancy of the engine?

M-TriGen systems are designed to provide years of uninterrupted service. However, as with any appliance, the runtime hours have a direct relation to the expected life of the unit. M-TriGen is designed to run for 60,000 hours before a major overhaul is considered.

- DESIGN & INSTALLATION -

What is involved with the installation and how long does it take?

The installation of the applications such as dehumidifier and air conditioning will require similar time and requirements as those of a conventional HVAC system. Typically, these items can be retrofitted and operational within 2 days. The same can be said of the plumbing related services such as water heating and pool heating.

How much space do I need?

The main unit it installed outside and takes up the space of a conventional standby generator. In some instances, depending on the air flow requirements of the PowerAire unit, we may require additional space of 3X5 ft. to place a supplemental condenser system.

How many separate contractors will be performing the work (electrical, HVAC, MEP, etc.)?

Preferably, one contractor should complete the entire contractor in time. Typically, a good HVAC contractor would be licensed to do plumbing and other required work.

Can my builder install your system and will the warranty be affected if the builder is not a certified or licensed installer?

Yes, However, the warranty will be affected if the system is not installed by a trained and certified installer and inspected before startup by M-TriGen.

Are there any issues meeting conventional building codes for permitting and are inspectors going to have issues with areas of uncertainty if this does not meet conventional standards?

There are no major issues with permitting since the system is composed of standard equipment and interfaces per NEC code.

Can I put this in myself?

No. the PowerAire system can only be installed by a trained and certified installer. The warranty will be affected if the system is not inspected before startup by M-TriGen.

Will I need to modify my electrical system for the power output?

The PowerAire system includes an additional distribution/circuit (dedicated load) panel, inverter system, and battery bank. as well as a load management system.

Can you use the existing electrical and/or refrigeration lines to adapt to this device?

This is not a proven option at this time, but will potentially be in the very near future.

Should I keep my old A/C?

This is optional based on the selected design of the system. Generally the M-TriGen PowerAire serves as the primary A/C system but if desired it can supplement or manage the existing system. The decision to keep the existing system is based on a number of considerations that should be discussed.

I have a 5 ton and a 3 ton- should I remove one for this?

You may do so, as the PowerAire will provide less expensive and more efficient HVAC than most conventional systems.

What kind of gas line hookup do I need?

A 1-1/4" iron pipe connection is recommended.

Does the system require regular maintenance?

Yes.​

What level of maintenance is required?

An initial service is recommended upon the first 700 hours of usage and then subsequent service calls are recommended every 2500 hrs or every 6 months (whichever occurs first). The service technician will change out filter elements and also change out the oil as is recommended by the engine manufacturer.

What types of things are covered under the warranty provided?

All major components. The warranty does not cover filters and other expendable items.

What is the warranty on the installation?

2 years on components and parts; 5 years for major components such as engine, alternator and compressor. Standard wearables (clamps, hoses, etc.) are not warranted.

Is there an extended warranty available and/or a maintenance contract available?

Yes, M-TriGen can provide a service agreement to help extend the life of the equipment.

If I incorporate this system and integrate it with my existing A/C, furnace, pool heating, etc. am I at risk of voiding my warranties on those existing appliances?

That would depend on the warranties of your existing appliances. Please consult with your existing appliances manufacturers.