How Gradient is Transforming Public Housing with Innovative Window Heat Pumps

How Gradient is Transforming Public Housing with Innovative Window Heat Pumps

In 2022 Gradient was named a winner in the Clean Heat for All Challenge with its proposed cold climate heat pump technology. Under the award, Gradient will provide 10,000 window heat pumps to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

Gradient and NYCHA: Pioneering Heat Pump Solutions 4 All 

When Gradient applied for the Clean Heat 4 All Challenge, our cold climate window heat pump was not completely developed yet. In fact, when the team was initially filling out the proposal, the team at Gradient was in the process of building the first prototypes. 

During the early days of the NYCHA product, tons of sketches were traded back and forth to ensure the design space was fully explored,” says Arturo Sullivan, a Sr. Mechanical Engineer at Gradient. 

“The install experience was constantly at the front of our minds. It wasn't until a solution for installation was defined that the other elements started falling into place,” he says. 

Learning about Heat Pump User Needs

Thanks to NYCHA’s partnership, Gradient got to interview NYCHA residents and learn about their needs, preferences, and challenges with heating and cooling in their homes.  

“The interview process was crucial to building a customer-centered product. Many of the NYCHA residents’ insights were directly reflected in our final product” says Jeff Patton, VP of Product at Gradient. 

The engineering team’s iterative approach allowed for constant improvement of the product based on customer feedback. Some of Gradient’s innovative technology such as our novel meltwater atomizer developed as a result of NYCHA’s need to solve a problem: water dripping on the sidewalk and freezing, creating slick and unsafe surfaces. 

"To meet the challenges associated with cold climate operation in multi-family buildings, we re-engineered our heat pump from the ground up. This effort included the development of an atomizing meltwater management system, reduction in the number of components, and a simplification of the overall system from two pieces to one." - Daniel Bowman, Manager of Thermal Engineering at Gradient.  

Gradient Window Heat Pump Demo and Installation Days

Gradient’s approach to the NYCHA Clean Heat 4 All Challenge began with a thorough demo installation process. In November of 2023, Gradient delivered and installed 37 All-Weather 120V window heat pump units. 

On day 1 of the NYCHA install, Gradient team members completed a demo installation and training.  Here, our staff provided hands-on training to NYCHA staff in just under an hour, showing them how to install and uninstall the Gradient All-Weather 120V heat pump. 

On days 2 through 5 of the installation, NYCHA staff installed 36 Gradient heat pumps in 12 apartments. That’s less than 4 days! The radiators in each apartment had to be removed, which was the lengthiest part of the process and took 2 to 3 hours per home. 

Our team members got to spend at least 30 minutes with residents to educate them on usage and answer any questions. The staff at NYCHA prepared the install brackets and windows for each apartment and then came in to install the Gradient window heat pumps one at a time. Each unit took less than 15 minutes to set up once radiators were out and windows were prepared.

The staff at NYCHA said the Gradient heat pump installation was easy and seamless. They especially liked the product’s user-friendly install features.

The NYCHA Resident/Gradient Experience

The feedback from NYCHA residents on the Gradient installation was overwhelmingly positive. Residents quickly felt the impact of Gradient's technology in their homes.

Testimonials highlighted not only the improved comfort and air quality but also unexpected benefits, illustrating the personal and practical advantages of Gradient’s window heat pump system.

Some residents noted how easy the Gradient units are to clean and maintain compared to the dusty radiators that were nearly impossible to clean. After a few days with the heat pumps, many residents began giving away their personal electric and oil heaters because they had no use for them anymore. 

Other residents noted that their air quality significantly improved and said they could breathe much better.  One was so pleased with the heat coming from their Gradient that they decided to use it to dry their hair after a shower. As weeks and months went by, residents expressed how pleased they are to finally have control of their indoor temperature. 

Immediately after installation, some folks decorated their units and placed items such as plants or picture frames atop the indoor part of the system. 

Building a Sustainable Future: The Gradient and NYCHA Partnership

With ongoing support and continued dedication to sustainability and innovation, Gradient is committed to pioneering a future where clean, efficient, and accessible heating solutions are the standard, not the exception.

As we celebrate these initial victories and prepare for the broader rollouts, it becomes clear that the journey towards a cleaner, more sustainable future is well underway. We couldn’t be more excited. 


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