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MBtek Apollo Heat Pump

Tim_O | Posted in General Questions on

Has anyone used MBtek products before, or seen one of their new heat pumps?  It seems they have been in the wood boiler game for a while, and I think maybe geothermal before getting into these air source heat pumps?  Price seems very competitive, and their wall mount hydronic air handlers are also cheap, so radiant heat and wall mount cooling using the same heat pump becomes a good combo.  And they do not seem to be subject to the large import tariffs that ArcticHeat is from what I can tell (or it’s already baked into the price), but I could be wrong there.  But with very little info about the company, there is a decent bit of risk, so I figured I’d post here, see if anyone has used them or is considering it?

The link is for the 2 ton at $2300.  The next size up is a 3.5 ton at $3200, that one is an EVI pump.  The claim that it works down to -31*F seems bold…

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  1. Scruffinator3K | | #1

    Hey Superman,

    I have also been searching for any feedback regarding these heat pumps with hardly any luck. After enough digging I found they are built in Poland with credible name parts such as Panasonic, Emerson, and Siemens. With that I went ahead and bit the bullet and ordered a 5 ton unit, 3 ton fan coil, and heat pump station for my new shop I built. I plan to use it for radiant floor heat embedded in slab. Ordered it in early October and am told it arrived in US last week and should be delivered this week. So far customer support has been OK. They have always got back to me but sometimes I need to reach out a few times, email + phone call, ect. I'm not thrilled that they have not been able to provide me details regarding the heat pump station accessory, stating they did not receive it from manufacturer yet. All in all so far I'm just really hopeful this thing shows up and works out alright. I have a bit of electrical and plumbing background so I'm planning to install myself. I will let you know what happens!


  2. daleks | | #2

    Has your Apollo 5 ton arrived yet? I like the price vs. the very few other air to water systems available in the US. I would be very interested in pictures of the inside of the HP, or the pump station. I emailed asking for details of what's in the pump station, but no info yet.
    Thanks, Dale

  3. Expert Member
    DCcontrarian | | #3

    I'm very interested to see how this does.

    I believe that air-to-water will break out of being a niche product. There are too many fundamental advantages to piping water through your house instead of refrigerant. I know hydronics is expensive now but I believe if it were done at the scale of minisplits it would be cheaper.

  4. bvz2000 | | #4

    I excited to learn how your experience goes as well. I am in the process of planning a whole new heating system for my house and want to do it using an air-water heat pump. There are very few options here in the U.S. so obviously this one stands out as a prime contender.

  5. Tim_O | | #5

    Wow, I totally missed the replies here. Please let us know how it goes! I just saw they removed the smaller unit from their site. Hydro Solar has their -20*C models on a 25% off now, looks like they are being replaced with -25*C units. I'm with DC on this, there likely will be a big turning point soon as some competition enters the market.

  6. A2WHPGuy | | #6

    Frankly it is not a bad looking unit with up to date F&B found with the larger manufactures. I am hung up on the claims of -31f operation yet the data is to -4f. That is a major difference, -4f is basically like the majority of other manufactures. For the deep north -4f places you in the position of requiring secondary energy. Logically it should be fossil based or electric based secondary energy with auto changeover. I have designed dozens of A2WHP installs (I represent another manufacture) some systems requiring up to 6) 4 ton units. I very much want to know more about Apollo but getting a live person on the phone or return email is a challenge. I totally dig there stats! As far as the future of A2WHP's I predict an explosion starting this year. Even companies like Rellio in Italy a 100 year old oil burner manufacture (70% owned by Carrier today) have taken notice and that plant now manufactures A2WHP's as well as oil burners, I think they see market share drying up? Is A2WHP's the answer to fossil based heat? The technology is getting better but the answer from what we know now is nope, just part of the answer. The better question is do we even know what the energy answer is?

    A2WHP's are good stuff - be cool!

  7. nickdefabrizio | | #7

    A2WHP would be great to replace existing boiler systems if they could be plug and play with existing baseboard distribution systems or work with such systems byadding a little additional distribution (e.g., adding a panel boiler or two in the baseboard runs). Of course the big question is what is the outlet water temperature and how big (and expensive) of a buffer tank does it all need?

    Still, one approach that might be interesting for someone like me (I have a HW boiler/baseboard system and have added a few low temp A2A mini splits to reduce the boiler use in much of the house) is to replace the boiler with a mix of A2WHP and several low temp A2A mini splits in a well designed mix. For instance, I would love to keep the baseboard system for heating bedrooms and bathrooms instead of having to put wall mounted mini split heads in each; and then put the mini split heads in the great room/kitchen areas...This might actually be cheaper than putting in all A2A mini split systems or running ductwork from a ducted mini split.

    1. Expert Member
      DCcontrarian | | #8

      If you're in a heating-dominant climate that's the way to go. Add enough minisplit capacity to meet your cooling needs, the minisplits plus your existing radiators at a reduced temperature may be enough to meet your heating needs.

    2. A2WHPGuy | | #9

      Howdy Nick, traditional boiler designs use affordable high temp baseboard often designed for 176f. This keeps baseboard lengths to a minimum. Any A2WHP for res based use will supply no hotter than 140f and then it is directly tied to ambient conditions, at very low conditions your hot water supply may be down to 105f. Most well engineered A2WHP,s will see the decreased supply starting at about 14f. Today we design for 110f baseboard and these low temp/high output baseboards work well with an A2WHP. There are many rules to hydronic heat but it comes down to the lower the supply the lower your energy cost will be. Even with a well designed oil or gas fired system why 180f when 110f works? Think about your own boiler if you could get the same results in the home with 110f water just how much fuel could you save? Lastly, the buffer tank plays a major role in a well designed system.

  8. Scruffinator3K | | #10

    Hi guys,

    Sorry for the delay getting back here. So far my experience has been somewhat disappointing. I finally received the heat pump and pump station on Jan 9th. This is after being promised delivery in October and then again in December. The two fan coils ordered did not show up with it even though they were on the packing list. It appears the carrier lost them along the way and I have no resolution yet. On to the equipment I did receive... the 5 ton heat pump and pump station appear to be robust and well constructed. My major issue is that the controls and wiring are not straightforward, the HP came with marginally useful instructions/diagrams. The station came with no prints or manual at all and they still have not provided one after asking several times. They claim its still being translated from chinese... The other issue I have is with the plumbing connections. Ports on the HP are 2x 1" FNPT and the station has 5x 1-1/4" MNPT. I knew the HP was 1" so I had everything ordered and ready to plumb based on that which obviously won't work, so had to order some reducers. I'm trying to figure the wiring and stuff out still and I'll update more soon. It really isn't too bad looking, but the worst is communication between HP and station and I really hate to guess on it. I'll attach a few pics of the inside also.


    1. Expert Member
      DCcontrarian | | #11

      If you go on there are literally thousands of air-to-water heat pumps available. From what I've read millions are sold every year in China. Looking at the MBTek website it looks like they are an importer of Chinese equipment.

      There's nothing wrong with that, but importing stuff from China has a lot of pitfalls, they should be taking care of that stuff instead of pushing it onto the customers.

    2. Aqua_Shop | | #18

      Eric any new info on your system? I am thinking of pulling the trigger with MBTEK as well and would love any info or insights you have!

  9. A2WHPGuy | | #12

    Just wondering Eric,

    I assumed Polish manufactured but just read Asian. Most Asian products never make it main stream in North America over the absence of being listed which the code enforcement will want to see before he/she signs off. Do find any label for either Ul or ETL listing? There should be one on the HP tag itself and secondly on the control box. Should this not be approved you may sneak it by enforcement inspection but god forbid there is a fire.

    1. Expert Member
      DCcontrarian | | #13

      A Google search tells me that Apollo is a rebadged PHNIX, which is Chinese.

  10. bibia | | #14

    Hello all!
    Ive been through the SAME communication loop as Scruffinator3K. I purchased the 6 ton unit for my shop early last fall when the website claimed October delivery but I just picked up the HP from my shipping dock today (Jan 25). I've also been very hopeful for 'as promised' performance and am also a little let down by the detail in the user manual. This chat is the most relevant resource I've found regarding the Apollo besides the MbTek website.

    I'm impressed by the build quality and must say that everything looks super solidly built. I'm still waiting on the station but will likely try get the HP to heat my space without the station in the mean time as it will likely be 4-6 weeks until that piece arrives. I've also ordered one of the smaller wood boilers as a 'back-up' heat source but am not quite certain of how I'll plumb it all together effectively. When I was communicating with them last year they said that the two units could work in tandem so I hope there is a straightforward way to do so. Will update this once I have some more info soon.

    1. Aqua_Shop | | #17

      Any update on your system and install journey? I have been working with MBTEK on pricing a very similar system. A wood fire boiler with heat pump backup, radiant floor heating for a shop, fan heads for cooling, and we have an aquaponic greenhouse so we would be using the heat to warm that water too.

      I am being told that it is simple and they can work with each other I would just have to have a valve to divert between the 2 different systems. I am worried that the instructions for install will not be all that cut and dry. I am confident I could figure it out, but I would like to get enough info to install without having to figure it all out on my own.

      I look forward to hearing how your experience has been so far. Thanks for any info!

      1. bibia | | #19

        Yes I do have updates...sorry to be the negative nancy in the chat but I had nothing but an outright miserable experience working with the MBTEK crew. My heat pump did arrive after 5 months of delays but none of the rest of the system arrived with it. As you presumed of the instructions, they were pretty difficult to understand and even labeling between the instruction and the electronic control board were different from each other. Im a pretty handy guy but it was daunting enough that I wasnt feeling confident about the DIY. When my boiler finally arrived another month later, it was trashed. Not MBTEKs fault but of course just another challenge. For me, that was the last straw. With over half the system still not delivered and various valves still 'out of stock' after 6 months, I cancelled. We NEEDED heat last fall and they'd strung me along through a very cold winter and we'd had enough. Within a week I had functional heat using a different heat source, should've done that months earlier. Of course, I'm losing efficiency and capacity this way but despite my higher electrical bill, it'll take 10 years to even equal the upfront investment cost of the heat pump...still not sure how I feel about it now but at least we're warm.

        1. Aqua_Shop | | #20

          Thanks for the update. I hate your experience was terrible. Certainly makes me think if I try them I'll need to get some schematics from them first and know that they have the units available.

          Aside from the shilling damage did it seems like the units were built well? If you had been able to have all the pieces and get it hooked up, did you get the feeling that use/operation would have been good. Or did you get underwhelming impressions on the quality too? I realize that more of a hypothetical. Thanks again

        2. Tim_O | | #21

          That's very unfortunate. Seems like the wait for an affordable heat pump goes on! Hydrosolar having their outgoing model at 25% off is probably the best price for now. But especially with the niche market these have, a place that has good tech support for a DIY'er would be key. I don't know how that is at the different suppliers.

        3. DaveJohnson | | #23

          Were you able to get your money back when you canceled. I have now paid for my 6 ton unit and am going through a similar round of commitments and delays. I don’t trust what they tell me anymore. I think I need to cancel.

  11. Joseph_TN | | #15

    I am very interested to hear more about the experience. Literally the only cost effective ATW heat pump I have found. (Also why is it so hard to get pricing on HVAC equipment??? Like what is the big secret...).

    1. Expert Member
      DCcontrarian | | #16

      The big secret is they're sold through installers at a markup. The manufacturer doesn't know how much the installer is going to mark it up. So the manufacturer doesn't want to embarrass the installer by saying, "This unit costs $X" and then the customer gets a proposal from the installer with a price much higher than $X.

  12. RickyJ_GDE | | #22

    Hi All, I just saw this post and I'm a little late to the party but wanted to share my experience. Like Scruffinator3K, I ordered the 5 ton air to water heat pump around July 2022 was told it would arrive October and I finally received in January. I installed it myself and commissioned in April so my experience is only for Summer and late Spring so far. I don't have experience with the pump station or fan coils but have gotten pretty into the weeds on how the 5 ton unit functions. If anyone still has questions let me know and I can elaborate but I'll touch on some highlights:

    -As already covered, shipping time is a crap shoot, I am transitioning from an aging but still in service oil boiler so I could afford to wait. Having time to plan and be patient, and probably not fully relying on this as your only heat source would bring the stress level down (not ideal I know). It seems like their lead times have improved though.

    -The installation manual leaves much to be desired, but has been improving. I've been following the various iterations of installation manuals on the website and it looks like new iterations of controllers and hardware have been swapped willy nilly so its hard to know what you are going to get. On the plus side, the newer controller looks much more feature rich and improved from my model so its a plus with buying later.

    -MBTEK support does always get back to me but I wasn't impressed with their knowledge. They forward all technical requests to the manufacturer and are not particularly organized about it so you may need to ask several times before getting an adequate response.

    -Their hardware looks nice and well made, but I am really disappointed with the controls. Its buggy, lacks features, and isn't particularly effective at managing the variable speed hardware. Like I mentioned, if you order now you'll get a new controller which looks much better but I don't have experience with it. The controller was so bad I have resorted to building my own. I have a background in electronics so this was fun for me but clearly not a good product experience.

    -The main problem with the controller is a lack of built in outdoor reset control or weather compensation. You can only select one static temperature and have to change it manually.

    - Also with mild temperatures, the 5 ton has way more capacity than the load but the controller is very aggressive with the compressor frequency, operating it way higher than it needs to be and not reducing until its already too late. It essentially takes away some of the value of the variable speed. I sized the unit expecting the output could be modulated to 1/3 of nominal but it rarely if ever operates that way in practice, so that was another thing I changed to improve its efficiency.

    -The water pump control is either always on, follow the compressor or turn on in 50% duty cycle intervals. There's no option to run for a delay after the compressor shuts off to purge remaining heat. A time delay relay can help with this.

    -If you are using a buffer tank, the heat pump does not know the tank temperature unless the water pump is running. If you are planning for the buffer to supply a zone for a while with the heat pump off, I guess the heat pump just has to guess when to turn back on or you need to keep the pump running which would be a big waste. I think this type of control is better suited to not having a buffer at all, and the heat pump output perfectly matched to the load, if the flow rates work for your system.

    -Related to above, MBTEK does not have flow resistance data published for the heat pump. That makes it harder to calculate flow rates for sure. After about a month of asking I received this data which I can share if it helps anyone.

    Overall, you can see I was very motivated to get this project done, and MBTek helped get equipment but its far from a polished system. I can't yet speak to reliability or longevity, and how MBTEK handles warranty claims etc, but they ultimately helped me achieve my goal of transitioning the house off oil in the most cost effective way. I sure hope the situation gets better to allow others to do the same more easily. I am excited not to screw around pre-buying oil contracts this heating season, and the unit has been successfully supplying domestic hot water for us all Summer. Let's hope for a successful winter!

    1. DaveJohnson | | #24

      Are these heat pumps CSA certified?

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