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Sparks

Sexier Heat Pumps Are Hitting the Market

The first Quilt units will be available to San Franciscans in just a few weeks.

A Quilt heat pump.
Heatmap Illustration/Quilt

Quilt, a climate tech startup banking on the appeal of sleeker, smarter electric heat pumps, announced today that its products will be available to order in the Bay Area starting May 15.

I first wrote about Quilt a year ago after the company raised a $9 million seed round. Its founders told me they wanted to create the Tesla of heat pumps — a climate-friendly product that prevails because of its superior design and performance, with sustainability as a bonus.

“That’s the only way you win, right?” Paul Lambert, Quilt’s CEO said when I visited the company’s office in Redwood City, California, last summer. “You almost need, like, this Trojan horse. You need to be able to convince people who are skeptical. It needs to be better on its own merits.”

Conventional heaters generate warmth by burning fuel, whereas heat pumps transfer it using electricity. They come in two main form factors: a central system, which conditions the air throughout a building via ducts and vents, with machinery that can be hidden away in the attic or basement; and a mini-split, a room-by-room solution that typically looks like a white, oblong, plastic box mounted on the wall. Quilt is redesigning the latter.

The company won’t release full product images until the launch in May, but a new teaser released today shows a mini-split peeking from the edge of the frame with blonde wood paneling to match the wood of other furniture in the room.

Courtesy of Quilt

The company also revamped the outdoor component of the mini-split, which typically looks like an industrial metal fan.

Courtesy of Quilt

Quilt just closed a $33 million series A funding round led by climate venture heavyweights Energy Impact Partners and Galvanize Climate Solutions, which will help get it through its launch and initial expansion.

The company is promising a lot — not just a more customizable and aesthetically pleasing product, but also improvements on efficiency and comfort, smarter software, and a better customer experience beginning with the point of purchase. Quilt is limiting its launch to the Bay Area because that’s “where the bulk of our team is on the ground to support homeowners through the purchase, install, and rebate process,” Lambert told me in an email this week. “Los Angeles will follow soon after and then we’ll use our waitlist to guide our expansion.” He said there were already thousands of interested homeowners on the waitlist.

Though there’s certainly evidence that homeowners want a nicer looking product and an easier installation experience, the biggest hurdle to heat pump adoption is that they are far more expensive than natural gas heating systems. Lambert wasn’t ready to share how much the system would cost, but promised it would be “priced competitively and transparently.”

At such a small scale, it’s likely that Quilt will join the ranks of other luxury decarb products, like the Impulse Labs induction stove — at least to start. But the company has high hopes. “Our goal is to get Quilt into as many homes as possible to supercharge the clean energy transition and to meet rising demand for a smart, intuitive, design-forward heat pump,” Lambert said.

Green
Emily Pontecorvo profile image

Emily Pontecorvo

Emily is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Previously she was a staff writer at the nonprofit climate journalism outlet Grist, where she covered all aspects of decarbonization, from clean energy to electrified buildings to carbon dioxide removal.

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