Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

The Potential Impact of Micro-CHP in NYS(ST10506-1)

ECR International, Inc.


New York was an early adopter of combined heat and power (CHP) systems; yet the dramatic efficiency and environmental benefits of the CHP technology thus far has been exclusively deployed in large commercial, institutional, and residential facilities. Climate Energy and Honda have developed freewatt, a micro-CHP system that is a direct replacement for gas-fired forced air (furnace) or hydronic (boiler) residential heating systems in the United States. The freewatt system includes a small advanced internal combustion engine, coupled with an inverter output generator that produces 1.2 kW of electric power. Heat is recovered from the engine jacket, lubrication system and exhaust, and is used to heat the home.

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Project Description

The goal of the project is to identify five candidate host sites to receive freeWatt Micro-CHP installations. Satisfactory sites will be demonstrated and tested to Association of State Energy Research and Technology Transfer Institutions (ASERTTI) protocol standards for evaluating the systems performance. Upon completion of the test period, results will be used to develop market assessments and market evaluations for structuring potential regulatory and economic adjustments to introduce Micro-CHP into the residential sector as energy producing opportunities.


The freewatt micro-CHP system is ideally suited for installations into older homes (> 20 years) with either hydronic or warm air heating systems. Gaseous fuels comprise 54% of the fuel usage of these homes, with the remainder being heating oil (42%), and then solid fuels (4%). The five installed freewatt systems provide thermal loads primarily, while generating electricity secondarily. This equates to better compatibility with higher thermal building loads, > 120 MMBTus, not likely to be prevalent in newer homes that have average annual loads < 86 MMBTu. The latest version of freewatt (1.8 kW) provides "black start" capability, meaning it can generate auxiliary power with a grid failure. This product was developed during this project demonstration period. The warm air freewatt plus system (newly developed) has incorporated the ability to heat domestic hot water as well as provide space heating, which typically boosts generator run time and electrical output by 15-35% compared to the earlier version of furnace that provided space heating alone.

Project Results

The five freewatt system installations provided: (1) reduced natural gas costs to owners, (2) annual operating cost savings from $540 - $1,127 while (3) generating annual electric power ranging from 2,850 - 4,580 kWH. NYS Standardized Interconnection Requirements (SIR) were simplified via addition of net metering for residential CHP equipment < 10 kW. Annual averages from the five monitored installations: (1)capacity factor 35%, (2)operation cost savings w/freewatt $790. The freewatt control algorithm is designed to maximize generator runtime while minimizing boiler/furnace runtime. The freewatt should be serviced every 6,000 running hours which costs ~$400, reducing the annual overall savings by 25%. Current prices of the freewatt ($18 - $23K) will limit market participation, if capital costs were reduced to $12 - $15K, and service costs reduced to $200/yr., market attractiveness is projected to increase by a factor of 10 (700 units/yr to 10,000 units/yr). The Green House Gas (GHG) Center under EPA direction, evaluated the performance of the freewatt Micro-CHP System. Field testing was conducted from 9/10/09 - 2/10/10. Measured parameters revealed;(1)Electrical power generation efficiency 21.2%,(2)thermal efficiency 59.6%, (3)CHP system efficiency 80.9% Estimated annual NOX and CO2 emissions of freewatt yielded reductions of 95%, and 45% respectively, vs. NYISO emissions data


ECR International, Inc.
2201 Dwyer Avenue PO Box 4729
Utica, NY 13501

Principle Investigator

Karl Mayer

Universities Involved


Project Type:

On-site Power Production

Technologies Types:


NYSERDA Contact Information

Gregory Pedrick


R&D -Transport & Power Systems

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST10506-1

Last Updated: 1/10/2014