HVAC Turns 13!: Going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

June 26, 2006
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In the last six months, HVAC manufacturers have introduced a flurry of new products to the market. The reason, of course, is the need for equipment to meet the new 13 SEER mandate, which became law at the end of January. What's interesting to note is that manufacturers are not only introducing 13 SEER units, many have gone far beyond the mandate to produce units that have ratings of 18, 20, and even 23 SEER. Most contend that consumers are interested in the higher-efficiency units, given the spiraling costs of energy, while others state the more efficient units provide a better level of comfort to occupants.

Whatever the reason, consumers have a wide array of new products to choose from, and they're relying on their local contractor to help them decide which system best meets their cooling - and financial - needs.

American Standard (www.americanstandardair.com) introduced its Allegiance 18 air conditioners and Heritage 18 heat pumps, both of which have ratings of 18.9 SEER. The company stated that the units' fan system is designed to lower sound levels, making these systems among the most efficient and the quietest outdoor units in the industry.

Key product features and benefits of the Allegiance/Heritage 18 include dual Durationâ„¢ compressors for two-stage cooling. The two-compressor design allows the equipment to provide the maximum benefit to the consumer in comfort and efficiency for a two-stage design. The variable-speed condenser fan motor operates at 440 rpm on low speed, providing very low noise levels. Greater humidity control in cooling is made possible by the Comfort-R mode of operation with either an American Standard variable-speed Freedom 80 or 90 furnace or variable-speed air handler.

Additionally, the woven Spine Finâ„¢ all-aluminum coil provides maximum surface area for more efficient heat transfer capabilities. Dealers also have quick access to all electrical and refrigeration components for fast installation and service including easy coil cleaning.

Bryant (www.bryant.com) launched its Evolution 187 ANA air conditioning system with R-410A. The company states that this model provides quiet, luxurious comfort with the exclusive Evolution control, which allows for precise control of two-stage cooling. Intelligent circuitry monitors cooling operation and automatically adjusts system settings to maximize comfort and efficiency.

The Perfect Humidityâ„¢ function enhances home comfort with superior humidity removal versus standard air conditioning systems, and it saves significantly on cooling costs with energy efficiency of up to 17 SEER. For maximum comfort and control over temperature, humidity, air quality, fan speed, and ventilation, the company recommends including a variable-speed Bryant furnace.

The Evolution system features the five-point AeroQuiet IIâ„¢ design, which keeps operational sound to a minimum. The Model 187A operates at sound levels as low as 72 dBa. Bryant's 7-mm Microtube Technologyâ„¢ refrigeration system with copper tube/aluminum fin coil maximizes transfer of heat to ensure cooling efficiency. Coil materials and design minimize chances for rust and corrosion for lasting performance.

High- and low-pressure switches and the filter-drier protect the compressor. Bryant's DuraGuard Plusâ„¢ protection package ensures lasting durability and good looks through years of exposure to weather, sports and lawn equipment, and more. The package includes a galvanized steel cabinet; louvered coil guard; baked-on powder post-paint; and color-matched, ceramic-coated screws.

"From initial design through product testing and an assembly process that includes our five-step 100 percent run test, we go beyond the industry's expectations for quality and reliability to be sure that every unit we make measures up to the toughest standards," said Kevin Dudash, Bryant brand manager.

Carrier (www.carrier.com) unveiled its new generation Infinity system with a programmable digital control that was redesigned for ease of use by the consumer and simplified installation by the dealer. The single control integrates and manages all six comfort functions: temperature, humidity, airflow, ventilation, indoor air quality, and zoning. Additionally, it provides unprecedented system diagnostic capabilities.

"The Infinity Series features a truly unique control system that not only enhances efficient operation but provides two-way communication to the entire system. The communication feature allows the indoor product to alter airflow for optimum performance as well as provide troubleshooting assistance for the service technician," said Susan Fisher, manager of product marketing, Carrier.

The Infinity control provides the additional security of doubling as a service tool to maintain optimum performance. When maintenance issues arise, the control will provide an alert and display the phone number of an authorized Carrier dealer. An optional remote access kit will allow the system to contact the dealer when service is required, permit remote troubleshooting, and give homeowners remote control of the system via the Internet or a telephone.

A complete Infinity system consists of an Infinity variable-speed furnace, the Infinity control, and either an Infinity heat pump or an Infinity air conditioner, which uses non-ozone-depleting R-410A refrigerant. Variable-speed technology means Infinity systems deliver quiet, efficient, and consistent year-round comfort.

"In the ultimate configuration, the system can be accessed remotely for management of the system and troubleshooting. The product achieves up to 21 SEER efficiency with extremely low sound levels. The refrigeration system is based on Puron refrigerant and Carrier's unique Microtube Technology to reduce overall refrigerant charge," noted Fisher.

Coleman, Luxaire, and York (www.colemanac.com, www.luxaire.com, and www.yorkupg.com), all brands of the Unitary Products Group - a Johnson Controls Company, introduced the [mc]2 MicroChannel MiniCube. The unit's compact design incorporates microchannel technology to make it the smallest 13 SEER air conditioning system in the industry. Available in 1- to 3-ton sizes, the new air conditioner can be the perfect fit for multifamily applications, or anywhere cooling is essential and space is limited.

"As homeowners are looking to replace their old air conditioning units, the [mc]2 air conditioner is particularly unique because it's the only 13 SEER design that fits into the same space as older models," said Tim Lashar, Luxaire brand manager.

"And, the [mc]2 is known for its superior corrosion resistance, proven by 7,000 hours of salt-spray testing, that makes it very desirable for seacoast applications or anywhere there is a lot of dirt and dust in the air."

The [mc]2 air conditioner uses an aluminum microchannel technology coil to provide higher efficiency without a corresponding increase in coil surface area. This technology reduces the size of the unit by up to 40 percent, when compared to traditional 13 SEER products, and uses far less refrigerant. The unit's footprint is 21-3/4 inches square, and its height varies from 22-1/2 to 30-3/4 inches, depending on the unit's capacity.

A polymer mesh and a coated steel coil guard protect the [mc]2 condensing coils from damage, while a high-pressure relief valve and a temperature sensor protect the compressor from undesirable operating conditions. Top discharge blows warm air up and away from the structure and surrounding landscape and minimizes operating sounds. A rigid top panel, cushioned compressor mounts, and rippled condenser coil fins further reduce operating sound levels.

The [mc]2 air conditioner features fully exposed refrigerant connections and a single panel covering the electrical controls for easy servicing. Secured, reusable service valves, on both the liquid and vapor sweat connections, make evacuating and charging easy.

Comfort-Aire's (www.heatcontroller.com) new line of 13 SEER ductless mini-split systems offers a wide range of capacities and configurations. There are single zone models sized from 9,000 to 24,000 Btuh, a dual-zone model in 24,000 Btuh, and a tri-zone unit in 36,000 Btuh. All models come in both air conditioning and heat pump platforms.

"The new 2006 platform allows Heat Controller to offer all the features and benefits our customers have come to expect including ultra-quiet operation, low-voltage interconnect between indoor and outdoor units, flexible installation, and attractive design," said Mark Lupton, sales manager for room air products, Comfort-Aire. "At the same time, we were able to add benefits such as higher efficiency (13 SEER), the use of environmentally friendly refrigerant R-410A, and built-in low ambient operation down to 0°F. The best part is, we were able to offer all this with minimal changes to the overall size of outdoor and indoor units."

The new line includes features such as multiple comfort modes: cool, dehumidify, automatic operation, and sleep mode. For increased comfort, the indoor unit airflow has an automatic swing action for a gentle, breeze-like effect and ultra-quiet operation. Each indoor unit comes with a full-featured remote for convenience. Installation is simplified with low voltage connection between indoor and outdoor components. A hole less than 3 inches in diameter is all that's required to connect indoor and outdoor sections.

"The mini-split design provides unlimited flexibility and freedom as compared to traditional ducted systems and for this reason has continued to increase in popularity. Mini-splits have become the ‘go to' products for challenging applications and installations," stated Lupton.

Heil and Tempstar (www.heilhvac.com and www.tempstar.com), both brands of International Comfort Products (ICP), announced new lines of residential air conditioners and heat pumps that the company says are tougher, quieter, and easier to install, service and sell than ever before.

Heil's QuietComfort DX air conditioners and heat pumps feature ratings of 13 to 18 SEER, while the Tempstar's SmartComfort TX air conditioners feature ratings of 14 to 15 SEER. Both brands feature compressor sound jackets and efficient two-speed fan motors for quiet performance.

"The features dealers will like best are the ones that make these units so much easier to install and service," said Robert Peitz, director of product marketing, ICP. "We've allowed for easier access to the control panel, set it up with plug-and-play connections, and added a side access panel for easy access to the compressor and other components."

An innovative control box offers an easy-to-remove two-screw panel for convenient troubleshooting access to components, control accessories pre-punched for attachment, and the self-diagnostic Comfort Alertâ„¢. Comfort Alert troubleshooting LED fault indicators accurately diagnose practically all system-related malfunctions, says the company. Three-piece grille panels make it easy to remove each panel separately as needed, making it easy to view and clean debris.

Features that the consumer will like include the new Air Management System with increased fan propeller diameters to improve performance without increasing sound, as well as an attractive new design. "These are among the quietest mainline split systems ICP has ever built," noted Peitz.

Lennox (www.lennox.com) launched The Dave Lennox Signatureâ„¢ Collection XC15 air conditioner and XP15 heat pump, which the company stated provide peace and quiet and peace of mind. Both contain the patented SilentComfortâ„¢ technology for smooth, quiet cooling, and the exclusive Lennox Operations Monitor continually monitors system performance to help technicians solve problems faster and more accurately.

Both the XC15 air conditioner and XP15 heat pump are Energy Star®-qualified and provide cooling efficiencies of up to 16 SEER. The XP15 has heating efficiencies of up to 8.5 HSPF. These higher-efficiency ratings can translate to hundreds of dollars saved each year. Both products also feature R-410A.

The XC15 and XP15 feature a precision-balanced, direct-drive fan for ultraquiet operation and a high-efficiency outdoor coil for heat transfer and low air resistance for high-efficiency operation. The Copeland scroll compressor with SilentComfort technology helps control air temperature for greater comfort, and the durable steel cabinet is made with high-quality, prepainted steel and textured finish, tested to withstand the harshest environments. The SmartHingeâ„¢ louvered design allows quick, easy access to interior components from all sides for cleaning and maintenance, while protecting coils from damage and providing a clean appearance.

The XC15 air conditioner and XP15 heat pump are both customizable with the new Humiditrol® whole-home dehumidification system, which uses patented technology to provide a level of humidity control never before available. "Lennox has been aggressively pursuing indoor air quality for the last several years, and we believe we have the most robust and competitive product offering in the industry," said Terry Johnston, vice president, marketing, Lennox, LII Heating & Cooling.

Maytag and Westinghouse (www.maytaghvac.com and www.westinghousehvac.com), both brands of Nordyne, unveiled their 23 SEER split-system air conditioners. Developed by Nordyne and Panasonic, the 23 SEER unit with iQ Driveâ„¢ utilizes inverter rotary technology to achieve the highest efficiency level available today, the company says.

"We're very excited about our new iQ Drive series of products," said Drew Fitzgerald, vice president - marketing, residential and light commercial, Nordyne. "When compared to 10 SEER systems, this new technology can deliver annual operating savings well over 50 percent while providing superior humidity control. And because they're in our current footprints, they will be much easier for contractors to handle and install than many of the other higher-efficiency products on the market."

The 23 SEER systems feature a smaller footprint, a special new display-screen thermostat, and a high-grade-steel motor. With a sound-absorbing base, swept fan blade, fixed upper bearing and lower discharge and muffler, the new units also deliver decreased energy bills, better dehumidification, and the lowest sound levels in the industry. Compliant with North American industry standards for POE/PVE oil and environmentally friendly R-410A, the Maytag 23 SEER PSA4BI systems and Westinghouse 23 SEER FS4BI systems are available in 2-, 3- and 4-ton capacities. According to the manufacturer, a 5-ton unit will be available in December 2006.

Fitzgerald noted that the company is significantly increasing its offering of R-410A products and that trend will continue as more and more contractors make the transition. "We've seen steady growth in the R-410A segment of our business and anticipate that will accelerate. We offer 13 and 14 SEER systems with R-410A and all of our 15 SEER and above products use R-410A. However, there is still a strong market for R-22 equipment, and we will satisfy the demand for both for our customers."

Mitsubishi Electric (www.mehvac.com) introduced its new Mr. Slim® M-Series line of inverter-driven cooling-only and heat pump products. The MSZ-A09NA indoor model, which has a cooling capacity of 9,000 Btuh and a heating capacity of 10,900 Btuh, qualifies for Energy Star-Tier 2 with a SEER of 17, an EER of 13, and an HPSF of 8.2.

The M-Series line uses R-410A and provides a variety of outstanding features, all with no price increase to distributors, according to Chuck Applebee, product manager, Mitsubishi Electric. "We're proud to offer one of the best family of products available to our customers. Not only does the M-Series provide end users with lower energy cost operation and improve the air quality inside homes, but the M-Series' low sound ratings and powerful performance are unparalleled in the industry."

The M-Series also offers a variety of control settings, giving each individual end user the flexibility to meet their desired temperature conditioning in all climate types. The Econo Cool mode technology allows temperatures to be set 2° higher without sacrificing comfort, resulting in a 20 percent decrease in energy costs. The DC inverter-driven condenser fan motor offers 60 percent greater efficiency than an equivalent AC motor, providing more efficient operation and lowering energy usage.

"Over the years, our customers have told us specific product features they'd like to see in our Mr. Slim product line, for instance low ambient cooling down to 14°F (outdoor temperature), greater performance in a more compact unit, and a sleek indoor unit design. We incorporated these features and more into our new product lineup. Each unit is packed with user-friendly features that both contractors and end users will appreciate," said Applebee.

Rheem and Ruud (www.rheemac.com and www.ruudac.com) launched the Rheem Classic Series and Ruud Achiever Series 13 SEER optimized condensing units. These new high-efficiency models are available in both R-22 and R-410A refrigerant units and combine all-steel, durable, low-profile cabinets with multiple contractor installation and service advantages.

The new Rheem Classic RAND and Ruud Achiever UAND feature R-22 and can reach capacities up to 15 SEER when matched with an RCFA indoor coil. The Rheem Classic Series RANL and Ruud Achiever Series UANL feature R-410A and can reach capacities up to 16.2 SEER when matched with a RCFL indoor coil. The RANL and UANL are available with flexible options, including the standard model and a feature-loaded version complete with high- and low-pressure controls and easy-start assist components.

The 13 SEER Rheem Classic Series and Ruud Achiever Series are available in 1.5- through 5-ton capacities. All models feature a smooth-line, low-profile cabinet design that blends attractive styling with features that significantly decrease the amount of time needed to install or service. The durable, wraparound, all-steel, fully louvered cabinet provides maximum coil protection from yard hazards and weather extremes.

"Because we work so closely with contractors from around the nation in the design and continuous improvement of our products, more contractors are discovering how easy our products are to install and service and how accommodating our programs are in supporting and growing their businesses," said Adam Schuster, manager, product marketing and development, Rheem Air Conditioning Division. "Our new 13 SEER products with many industry-leading common-sense design features deliver differences that contractors can really sell and that make a real-world difference to homeowners and to contractors' bottom lines."

Sanyo (www.sanyohvac.com) unveiled its newly re-engineered line of HVAC products. The line-up consists of 50 models, all of which use inverter control technology and R-410A. The inverter control provides rapid cooling and heating, so the desired temperature is reached more quickly than a traditional system, says the company. Once reaching the desired temperature, the inverter control unit maintains a more constant temperature, with considerably less fluctuation than the peaks and valleys of a conventional unit.

"We're making some of our most advanced features and technologies available in models throughout our new line," said Tom Crock, national sales manager, Sanyo. "The abundance of advanced technologies, including inverter control, means that more of our customers will now be able to experience the energy-saving benefits and quiet operation they deserve."

Another feature of the new models is the Air-Clean Apatite filter, which traps germs, dust, and dirt, making for cleaner inside air. A large surface area with a porous structure allows for better absorption of potentially harmful substances. The negative ion generator, which is also a feature of every unit, has physical and mental health benefits by helping to purify and freshen the air by releasing more negative ions into the room.

All models are housed in a new design, which is smaller and lighter than previous models. The lighter weight makes them easier to handle and more cost-efficient when shipping.

"The new look and the technical advances of the 2006 line is critical to the success of this introduction," said Crock. "Our new, complete lineup with product through 48,000 Btu sets us apart from the rest and delivers greater efficiency and cost savings."

Trane (www.trane.com) introduced the XL19i line of air conditioners and heat pumps, which have energy efficiency ratings up to 19.5 SEER.

The XL19i line features a variable-speed outdoor fan motor and dual Climatuff compressors, which the company says is like getting two energy-saving systems in one - a compelling sales advantage with today's rising energy costs. The exclusive, all-aluminum Spine Fin coil provides very low airflow resistance, greater heat exchanging capabilities, and more resistance to formicary corrosion and leaks.

Trane has designed quick access to all electrical and refrigeration components for fast installation and service including easy coil cleaning. The company states that the XL19i's premium styling blends well with today's most popular exterior architectural details. Baked-on powder paint that covers all louvered panels uniformly increases protection from rust and corrosion.

Publication date: 06/26/2006

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