Extra Edition / Technical

Rise in Brownouts Creates Opportunity for HVAC Technicians

Study Shows Homeowners Understand the Risks, but Are Not Proactively Protecting Air Conditioners

SPRING GROVE, Ill. — Only two out of ten (22 percent) of United States homeowners protect their major appliances, including air conditioners, from brownouts and other power quality issues despite the fact that nearly nine in ten (87 percent) understand that a brownout can damage these same major appliances, according to a new study conducted for Intermatic by Harris Poll.

As summer temperatures heat up and the potential for brownouts increases in many parts of the country, homeowners need to protect appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators, and more to avoid costly damage.

“Most people don’t think twice about plugging a $200 television or $800 computer into a surge protector to ensure they are protected from transients and surges. However, expensive systems like central air conditioning units, which would cost thousands of dollars to replace, sit completely unprotected from surges, brownouts, and blackouts,” said Brian Lamberty, product marketing manager, Intermatic. “We were alarmed to find that 86 percent of homeowners are at risk of incurring significant replacement costs because their air conditioning units are not protected from power surges.”

Key findings of the poll include:

• Forty-four percent of U.S. homeowners said they have experienced at least one brownout in the last year. A rise in average global temperatures along with more extreme storms and heat waves has led to an increased threat of blackouts and brownouts. In addition, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, many of the transmission lines that provide Americans with electricity throughout the country are at least 25 years old, making them more susceptible to power disturbances.

• Although the majority of homeowners (84 percent) protect their home electronics from power quality issues, only 17 percent protect their air conditioning and heating systems. Homeowners may not understand that brownouts can cause similar damage to an air conditioner as they do to a computer, television, or home audio system, and a/c units require protection as well.

• Among those who have experienced a brownout in the last year, 12 percent had to replace a major appliance because a brownout or power surge caused damage. If the appliance that needs to be replaced is a central air conditioning unit, for example, the average national cost to homeowners is $5,402, with most homeowners spending between $4,552 and $6,252, according to HomeAdvisor.com.

“Homeowners and small business owners must put measures in place to safeguard expensive appliances including their heating and air conditioning systems,” said Lamberty. “Making a minimal investment in a combined surge and brownout protective device today can bring tremendous peace of mind the next time the temperatures soar, lights dim, or lightning strikes.”

For example, Intermatic offers all-in-one protection from brownouts, surges, and short cycles with its Compressor Defender™ device. This device can be installed inside a condensing unit or externally on an a/c disconnect to protect compressors and circuit boards in residential and light commercial applications. For more information, visit www.intermatic.com.

Publication date: 7/21/2014

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