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Commonly Asked Questions About
Electric Thermal Storage (ETS)

"I have never heard of ETS. Is this new?"
Electric Thermal Storage (ETS) has been in the United States since the early 70's, and has been utilized in Europe since the 1940's. The advancements in ETS technology have resulted in highly efficient heating equipment used in many areas across North America to deliver great comfort; and, when combined with an off-peak electric rate, results in low operating costs.

ETS equipment utilizes the low cost off-peak electricity to store a sufficient amount of heat to meet home or business comfort requirements. Dead River Company sells and installs ETS equipment, including room heating units, whole house forced air furnaces, heat pump boosters, hydronic furnaces and water heaters.

As a Maine PUC approved Competitive Electricity Provider (CEP), Dead River Company also sells around-the-clock electricity, as well as the off-peak electricity supply used to heat ETS units and electric water heaters during off-peak hours.


"What are "Off-Peak Electric Rates"?
Utility companies - like Central Maine Power and Emera Maine (formerly Bangor Hydro Electric) in Maine - offer lower or discounted electric rates, commonly referred to as "Off-peak" rates. Throughout the night when most are asleep, there is a significantly lower usage of electricity by consumers; these are referred to as "off-peak hours". During "off-peak hours," there is a reduced strain on electricity generation and distribution systems. The savings Utilities experience are generally passed on to customers through lower or discounted transmission and distribution (T&D) rates - or "Off-peak" rates.

As a Maine PUC approved Competitive Electricity Provider, Dead River Company sells both around-the-clock electricity, as well as off-peak electricity supply in the Central Maine Power and Emera Maine Electric markets of Maine.

In Maine, off-peak electricity can be used to heat Electric Thermal Storage (ETS) units at rates that are comparable to fuel oil at $3.20/gallon.


"How can ETS technology be applied in my home?"
Dead River Company offers several ETS options for homes. Individual room heating units can be used alone to include the replacement of a wood or pellet stove or as a supplement to your primary heat source. The centrally ducted furnaces are used as a whole house stand alone furnace or it can be used to supplement a heat pump to offer even better efficiencies and lower operating costs.

The hydronic systems are used to provide in-floor heating, tie into water baseboard or radiators and can even provide ducted heating. The domestic water heaters can be applied as an ETS technology, saving you money on your water heating needs. Since space and water heating generally consume the most energy in the home, savings can be realized using ETS equipment with off-peak electric rates.

A Dead River Company energy professional can meet with you to discuss your heating needs and energy-saving goals and present practical solutions.


"I have a 1000sf home. What size equipment do I need?"
There are several factors involved in determining the correct size(s) of equipment for your application. A heat loss calculation should be performed to determine the appropriate model(s). The size of the area, construction detail (insulation values), number and size of windows and doors, and number of off-peak hours available are all factors involved in making this determination.

Schedule an appointment with a Dead River Company energy professional, who will meet with you to discuss your heating needs and energy-saving goals and present practical solutions.


"How long will the ETS equipment hold heat?"
The ETS equipment is generally sized to satisfy the heating requirements on the coldest days of the year. When sized properly, the equipment will satisfy desired comfort 24 hours a day. The heater's brick core which is used to store the heat is well insulated so static heat dissipation is minimized. The heating equipment has the ability to discharge heat even while it is storing heat during off-peak hours.


"What happens if the unit is charged up, and I don't need heat? Is that heat wasted?"
The ETS equipment is well insulated so the majority of the heat is retained in the brick core until needed. Some heat will radiate from the outer surfaces of the heater; however, this heat usually is going into the conditioned space thus it is being used to satisfy comfort. Therefore, the heat is not wasted. During shoulder months (October, November, March, April) of the heating season, it is important to regulate the amount of heat being stored in accordance to outdoor temperature to reduce the amount of radiant heat.


"How do I get the heat out of the heater?"
Just like any heating system, a room temperature thermostat is set to the desired comfort level. Heat calls from the thermostat trigger the unit to discharge its heat into the area either by operating blowers to circulate air or by operating pumps to circulate water depending upon the system being used.


"What is the life expectancy of the heater?"
This equipment is designed to provide many years of operation. Life expectancy depends on proper sizing, installation, environment it is operating in. The Steffes heating systems, which Dead River Company sells and installs, have proven to be very reliable. All residential heating systems have a five-year limited manufacturer's parts warranty.


"Can I install the heater myself?"
ETS heaters are 240V directly connected heating appliances. Qualified licensed electricians are required to do the installation to ensure all local, state and federal electrical and safety listing codes are adhered to.


"What type of maintenance is required?"
ETS systems require very little maintenance, if any. It is suggested to regularly clean around the heater and make sure no debris falls behind the equipment. In addition, on centrally ducted systems, regularly replace the air filter so optimum efficiency can be maintained.


"Does ETS store "COLD" in the summer time?"
No. An ETS heater is strictly a heat storage device.


"Where can I put an ETS space heater?"
ETS space heaters can be placed virtually anywhere in a room. However, we do not recommend placing them at the bottom of the stairs as heat rises and will go up the stairway instead of into the room.


"Do I have to be concerned about flooring support?"
If your floor can support a refrigerator, it will be able to support an ETS room heater.


"Can I install the equipment in my garage or workshop?"
Since this environment is prone to more dust and airborne particles and may have varnish, paint or other odors present, caution is recommended. Odor amplification and sooting issues can occur more readily in these types of environments. For this reason, the manufacturer, Steffes does not recommend ETS heating for these types of applications.


"Are ETS units rated for mobile homes?"
Yes, ETS units can effectively and efficiently heat a mobile home.


"Can I run my ETS heating system on a generator?"
Yes, but the generator must be sized for the amount of load connected to it. It is recommended to power the blower/controls/pumps circuit only from a generator as the charging (element) circuits are large loads and require a significantly sized generator. By powering the blower/controls/pumps circuits from a generator, the heat stored in the bricks can still be used to satisfy heating requirements during a power outage.
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