Balboa Clim8zone Heat Pump – First Look and Initial Review
Balboa Clim8zone ™ Heat Pump. What is all that about I hear you say? I had the pleasure of meeting with the Balboa Team this week and was introduced to one of their new products. This is the Balboa Clim8zone ™ heat pump.
In this article I will review the specs and share some of my initial thoughts on the product. Just for total disclosure, I did not see the Balboa Clim8zone ™ running at all so my comments, thoughts and conclusions are based on discussions and conversations with the Balboa team.
Balboa Clim8zone ™ Heat Pump First Impressions
My first impression of the unit was, wow, that Clim8zone ™ is a small unit. The physical footprint was particularly small. My next thought was, well, that would be easy enough to “hide” in a build.
There is no denying that the Balboa Clim8zone ™ has a small footprint. I’ve seen many a heat pump and they range from bulky, to huge. The Balboa Clim8zone ™ certainly was not that. Physical dimensions are 31.3” (L) x 16” (W) x 16.9” (H)
Balboa Clim8zone – Image Credits on this page – Balboa Water Group.
The next thought that I had whilst chatting to the Sales Manager was that it was actually quite a good looking unit. I would even go as far as to say it was quite stylish. Again, if heat pumps are “what you are into” I much preface that comment with they one can say it is stylish. Still a box yes, but a stylish box.
I like tech and always have done so I was keen to delve into the specs of the unit with the guys.
Balboa Clim8zone Specifications
The first claim that the team made was that it was going to cut the cost of running a 5KW spa pack down to 1/5th of the cost. That is quite a big claim so to balance that out, like with any heat pump, it is going to depend on the climate and most definitely the ambient temperature.
The warmer it is outside, the easier the pump works and the less electricity it costs to produce the same amount of heat. Again, simple heat pump facts.
Therefore, if we average out the “salesperson’s pitch” it is still going to be a considerable saving against electric.
The power output of the Balboa Clim8zone ™ was the first thing that struct me as only being “ok”. Having been specifying heat pumps in my builds for some time now, generally, I have been putting the 12KW models into them. This in a mild climate, gives you all year round usage. 17KW models will give you all round usage in cooler climates and you may need more than this if you are in a particularly cold climate.
The output of the Balboa Clim8zone ™ is only 5KW which I thought was on the low side; even if this is designed to be on hot tubs, especially plastic shell ones.
What struck me here was the heat up times are going to be roughly in line with an electric heater. If you have read the blog or watched my YouTube channel before, you will know that electric is the slowest means of heating a tub.
And the rest?
The rest of the specs for the Balboa Clim8zone ™ were pretty much inline with what I would expect from a good quality heat pump. It can operate at low temperatures, can heat and chill and is fully inverted.
“With lower, sustained costs and guaranteed excellence, the Clim8zone™ heat pump is built on innovation and engineered for performance with a quiet operation and a small footprint,” said JP Parent, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Balboa Water Group. “Fully integrated with Balboa’s powerful BP Control System and SpaTouch3™ panels, the Clim8zone™ Heat Pump features a variable speed compressor and a smart algorithm to optimize energy output. The Clim8zone™ Heat Pump meets what the industry has been asking for, including the ability to cool the water of a swim spa to the ideal temperature to exercise,” he continued.
Compatibility of the Balboa Clim8zone ™
This was the next point that struct me as not being great. There are a lot of hot tubs out there in circulation that have Balboa packs. Whilst the specification say that you can attach Clim8zone™ Heat Pump to any BP system this is not technically true. For example, I have a BP601, but mine is a few years old now. It is not possible to update them and the firmware / chipset that I have in my unit would not be compatible with the BP601 I have.
There is a specific model of BP that is compatible, so in short, anything purchased in 2022 will be totally fine. However, if you are looking to retrofit this to your existing system, it probably not going to work. This is a bit of a shame as I think that Balboa have alienated a lot of their existing market in doing this.
I am sure you could connect it to an only system and use the flow sensors to control it, but when it is marketed as a fully integrated unit, you really want this functionality.
Also, in terms of compatibility, it is only compatible with the Spatouch control panels and the new graphical display topsides like the TP700. It is not compatible with any of the TP400 or 600s which again there are a lot in the marketplace already.
Additional features and benefits of the Balboa Clim8zone™ Heat Pump from Specs:
Clim8zone™ functions at low ambient air temperatures (-20°C/-4ºF) in colder climates
Variable speed compressor with smart algorithm
Operates quietly at less than 50dBA
Operates effortlessly from the SpaTouch3™ panel
Fully integrated with the BP Systems and uses the same spa heating pump as the spa’s traditional electric element heater.
Features a typical energy efficiency (COP) of 5 to 10 times a traditional spa heater and may reach up to 15 times in certain operating conditions, using less energy to keep the water hot, providing significant smart savings.
Three heat pump efficiency modes settings: auto smart mode as default, which features high energy efficiency, as well as a manual high mode and a manual low mode.
Allows the spa user to set the spa BP Control System to utilize the Clim8zone™ Heat Pump alone, the spa’s traditional electric element heater alone, or both simultaneously when necessary.
31.3” (L) x 16” (W) x 16.9” (H)
My conclusions on this are quite straight forward. I think in terms of its size and appearance it is great. I am not convinced that it is powerful enough to really chance the way you heat/use your hot tub as the heat up time is about the same as electric.
There is no denying that there is a saving to be made and with energy prices increasing running costs are important. For my the lack of what I will call “retrofitability” is a big thorn in the side for the Clim8zone™ Heat Pump.
Whilst Balboa have not decided on a list price yet, the sales team did give me an indication and it doesn’t look like they are going for the lower end of the market. It seems to me that for the spec, their prices will be sitting on the higher side of mid-priced units.
This could all change when it is available on the market in late March early Arpil 2022.
If I can help you with supply or indeed more information, then please do get in touch.