Ductless Continues to Vie for U.S. Attention

February 19, 2007
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Jack Ernst (wearing bow tie) answers some customers’ questions at the Samsung/Quietside booth at the 2007 AHR Expo. Among other introductions, the company featured its new Slim Duct EH heat pump.
Click on the image to view an enlarged version of it.

Ductless cooling and heating products and systems continue to mature, improve, and gain momentum in the United States. Proof was in the number of foreign-based vendors that exhibited at the 2007 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating (AHR) Exposition.

Some of these ductless exhibitors really knew how to get the attention of contractors, distributors, wholesalers, and the general public. For example, at its huge booth, Haier America made it known via a large display that it was an official marketing partner of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Formed in 1999, Haier America is the U.S. sales and marketing division of the multinational Haier Group.

Others held hospitality post-show parties. Sanyo Fisher Co., for one, held an interactive presentation at the Dome Lounge of the Dallas Hyatt Tower. On the same evening, not too far away, Daikin AC (Americas) put on a meet-and-greet gathering at the Fuse Restaurant. It came complete with appearances from the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, along with speeches from former Cowboy greats Roger Staubach and Drew Pearson.

In the end, the message from all parties was nearly the same: Buy ductless because it makes sense - and, it’s not just for nonducted homes and buildings, either.

Andrew Ziegler, director of product management for Amcor, could have been speaking for the entire ductless market when he said this about his company’s new offerings: “These high-performance, dual-function units offer easy, no-mess installations while offering consumers the convenience of cooling and heating functions in a quiet, secure, stylish compact design that can be installed in tight spaces, walls, or suspended from ceilings.”

NEW OFFERINGS

Amcor (www.amcorgroupusa.com) introduced its AmcorAire® DuoDuctless minisplits. According to national sales manager Douglas Sandlaufer, this is the company’s second-generation launch into the ductless splits cooling and heating solutions market.

“The AmcorAire duo systems boast remarkable quality at a price unparalleled in the industry,” he said. “They replace outdated, noisy window a/c units that are an invitation to burglars, block your view, and have to be installed every summer - and are a cost-effective alternative to installing expensive central ducted air conditioning systems.”

Amcor introduced four 13 SEER, R-410A wall-mounted a/c-heat pumps, each with a five-year warranty. All new models include interior plug-and-play air handler, exterior condenser, remote control, 25-feet flared pipe, and wire kit.

Chigo (www.chigousa.com) touted its new high-wall, cooling-only and heat pump minisplits. Its high-wall cooling-only units (QCIC 09-24A models) are available in four capacities: 9,000, 12,000, 18,000, and 24,000 Btuh. They are designed to cool a single zone or area quickly, quietly, and efficiently, said the company. The company offers the same four capacities in its new high-wall heat pump minisplits.

Daikin AC (Americas) Inc. (www.daikinac.com) said it responded to customer demands by launching a 13 SEER duct-free product line to complement its existing 15 SEER-plus lineup. According to Daikin’s Christina Trondsen, features include an aesthetic, easy-to-clean flat panel indoor unit; simple installation; “Intelligent Eye” occupancy setback; long pipe runs; low sound levels; and optional low ambient kit.

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY

Fujitsu General America (www.fujitsugeneral.com) featured its advanced variable refrigerant flow (VRF) technology for both residential and commercial systems. It introduced a new lineup of ductless a/c systems featuring VRF. These new systems provide commercial and residential users with new levels of quiet, cool comfort, explained Roy Kuczera, vice president of sales for HVAC products.

“The new compact VRF systems offer the ultimate in flexibility and ease of maintenance, with maximum energy efficiency and a wide variety of installation options for retrofit applications or new construction,” he said. “Fujitsu’s VRF systems provide up to 4 tons of cooling for small-and mid-sized buildings up to seven stories. All systems include indoor and outdoor components and a variety of user-friendly controls.”

Kuczera said VRF systems offer many advantages over traditional cooling equipment. Unlike conventional systems, which turn on and off in order to maintain room temperatures, VRF systems deliver just the right amount of temperature control, he said.

“VRF technology allows you to cool up to eight rooms or more from a single, ultra-quiet, and compact outdoor condensing unit,” he said. “The heart of the VRF system is a multiple-speed compressor that ramps up and down based on the needs of the building load.”

At the same time, Fujitsu unveiled additional new, R-410A inverter Halcyon minisplits. It developed three new ductless split systems, enlarging its Halcyon line of R-410A inverter wall-mounted air conditioners and heat pumps. The new models have efficiency ratings of up to 20 SEER and 10.0 HSPF, said Kuczera.

The new 15RLQ provides a 15,000 Btu, 20 SEER, Energy Star®-qualified heat pump, “complementing the lineup by providing a just-right option if the 12RLQ is too small and the 18RLQ is too large,” said Kuczera.

The new 18RLQ is an 18,000 Btu, 19 SEER heat pump, newly equipped with an IAQ plasma air filter. The new 24RLQ is a 24,000 Btu, 18 SEER Halcyon heat pump, also equipped with an IAQ plasma air filtration.

A representative from LG Electronics, HVAC Division, stands by one of the company’s PTAC offerings displayed at the 2007 AHR Expo. LG Electronics announced a new wireless thermostat for its line of ductless minisplits.

SUPPLYING COMFORT

Haier (www.haieramerica.com) featured its new HSUC12XHC-G/W, an energy-efficient minisplit that “gives you the cooling power of an air conditioner without the background noise,” explained marketing manager Lucy Liang. The sleek appearance and multiple functions of these units “make them the ultimate appliances for a comfortable home, all year round,” she said.

Heat Controller Inc. (www.comfort-aire.com) introduced two new sizes of ductless minisplit ceiling cassettes in its Comfort-Aire line. These cooling units come in 24,000- and 36,000-Btuh capacities and each includes a remote control and wired wall thermostat.

According to national advertising manager LeeAnne Perkins, the DMC ceiling cassettes “provide the effectiveness of a split system without the cost and inconvenience of adding ductwork. These models are ideal for locations where it’s too expensive or impractical to install ductwork for air conditioning, or where a window air conditioner can’t be used.” The ceiling cassettes can be operated in cooling mode, dehumidification mode, fan-only mode, and sleep mode to enhance comfort at any time of the year, she said.

Meanwhile, Comfort-Aire’s new split system heat pumps feature advanced design and construction, “making them well suited for single-family, multi-family, and light commercial applications,” explained Perkins. The HRE line comes in 1.5-ton to 5-ton capacities. Units come pre-charged with R-22 for a 25-inch line set and ARI-matched coil.

Rated at 13 SEER when installed as a matched system, the heat pumps feature heat pump duty compressors “for efficient operation.” “Demand Defrost” also contributes to efficiency by defrosting only when necessary, explained Perkins.

LG Electronics, HVAC Division (www.lgusa.com) introduced a new wireless thermostat for its line of ductless minisplits. Regional sales manager Mark O’Donnell termed the new thermostat as “an industry first,” as it can be used in place of the supplied wireless remote for applications where a permanent installation is required.

In addition to all the features that come standard, this thermostat also has an occupancy sensor and energy management features, said O’Donnell. “You can also input your cost for electricity and get a report of actual cost to run the system,” he said. “Just like our wireless thermostat for our PTACs, this one is easy to install and is available now.”

Nordyne International (www.nordyne-intl.com) said it will introduce a 13 SEER ductless unit/system soon to the Chile market. In a press release on its Website, Nordyne International president Hector Henriette stated, “We are aware that most international markets will eventually migrate to higher SEER standards. However, we anticipate a slow transition and therefore we will continue to maintain our offering of 10 SEER products, which will complement our high SEER product offering in both R-22 and R-410a refrigerants.”

He added, “Our application of Demand Flow Technology (DFT) affords us the opportunity to build high-quality products for all customers and its execution makes it possible to assemble many different products on the same production line regardless of efficiency requirements. Our production lines are capable of building different models to satisfy all of our customers’ demands.”

FLEX DUCT POSSIBILITIES

Samsung/Quietside (www.quietside.com) featured its new Slim Duct EH heat pump. John Miles, director of engineering and technical support, said the unit combines “Smart Inverter” technology, designed for enhanced comfort and energy efficiency, with ducted discharge, all designed to allow conditioning of a larger area or multiple areas from a single unit.

“A programmable seven-day wired controller provides precise system control in an easy to operate format,” he said. “Finally, this is ductless technology for the contractor who loves running ductwork.”

The company also showed its MH free-joint multi systems. Miles said up to four high wall units can be connected to a single outdoor heat pump Smart Inverter “to provide optimum comfort for multiple areas.” He added that the indoor units are sleek and attractive in design and that multiple capacities allow mixing and matching of units connected to the outdoor unit.

Also highlighted at the booth were its:

  • Mini DVM, which combines a 50,000-Btuh VRF outdoor unit, featuring the Copeland digital scroll compressor, with multiple styles and capacities of indoor units.

  • AQB high wall heat pump, designed to provide quiet conditioning from a stylish indoor unit connected to a Smart Inverter outdoor unit for a maximum SEER level of 20, said Miles.

  • Vivace units, which Miles noted as having the “world’s first MPI hydrogen ion generator in a high-wall ductless, to combine IAQ with comfort.”

  • QSCE/QSHE Quietside 13 SEER cooling-only or heat pump high wall units, available in nine 24,000 Btuh capacities, using R-410A refrigerant, he said.

    Sanyo Fisher Co. (www.sanyohvac.com) introduced its ECO-i variable refrigerant flow systems, which the company said are ideal for hospitals, nursing homes, and other commercial properties. Spokesperson Beverly Steinberg noted the “ecologically sound and energy-efficient” systems use an inverter-driven compressor “to maintain a constant temperature, thus saving energy and keeping the environment at a comfortable temperature.” Sales, training, and service support will be provided, she added.

    The company also talked about its new concealed duct air conditioners and heat pumps. New to the line is the UH2672R indoor unit, which couples with the C2672R outdoor unit. This system is useful for places “which need extensive air conditioning, including conference halls, showrooms, and restaurants.”

    Sealed Unit Parts Company (www.supco.com) introduced its new Sea Breeze line of 13 SEER ductless minisplit a/c and heat pump systems. Features of both systems include four operating modes, three fan speeds, auto restart after a power failure, and a “sleep mode,” designed to allow for a gradual change in temperature over a period of time, explained the company.

    SlimDuct (www.slimduct.com) announced that it has been appointed exclusive distributor for the continental United States for the SlimDuct range of generic installation accessories, which the company said are suitable for all makes and models of minisplit air conditioners currently available from any manufacturer worldwide, as well as the entire spectrum of conventional ducted split systems.

    The SlimDuct line consists of a range of specially designed extruded PVC ducting (sometimes referred to as line chase or leader pipe), which conceals the line sets, wiring and condensate drain pipe, which are a standard part of all split air conditioning installations and which are very often left exposed on the outside of the building. Available in four sizes, the SlimDuct system includes a range of extruded PVC ducting, injection molded plastic fittings, and accessories.


  • SIDEBAR: MINISPLIT OFFERINGS

    DALLAS - At its booth at the 2007 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo), EZ Trap featured its new Aspen range of miniature condensate pumps, which are specifically designed for minisplit air conditioners.

    Aspen Maxi and Mini Orange pumps are split type with a clear plastic reservoir directly coupled to the internal drain hose of the evaporator unit. This is connected to the pump unit, which can be mounted inside the evaporator, inside the lineset cover, or remotely above the ceiling up to a height of 4 feet and a distance of 6 feet from the reservoir. The pumps are ETL-listed and handle up to 60,000 Btu per hour. Push-in electrical connections are designed to facilitate easy installation and removal for inspection or maintenance.

    According to Lou Laroche, national sales manager for EZ Trap, Aspen Maxi and Mini Lime pumps are designed for wall mounting as part of the lineset cover. Available in two types to fit most lineset covers available in the United States, it is designed to provide space for the lineset, as well as the pump, he said.

    In another development, its Model EZT- 180 MiniTrap is designed specifically for use with minisplit evaporators. It is designed to prevent back draft, conserve energy, protect IAQ, and the waterless design eliminates winter freezing. According to Laroche, the EZT-180 never needs priming and the integral bleed hole prevents air lock, allows free condensate flow, and the flapper valve prevents inward airflow as well as ingress by insects, rodents, odors and noise from exterior sources, he said.

    For further information, e-mail gerry@eztrap.com or go to the company’s Website, www.eztrap.com.

    Publication date: 02/19/2007

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