Manufacturers Provide Support for R-410A Education Effort

November 23, 2009
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Every day, dealers must discuss the phaseout of R-22 with customers and help them understand why the old refrigerant is going away and a new refrigerant - R-410A - is taking its place. This can be a confusing topic for customers to comprehend, which is why manufacturers have provided dealers with all kinds of educational materials to help explain the phaseout of R-22 and benefits of moving to R-410A.

EDUCATIONAL OFFERINGS

Carrier has been offering residential products with R-410A (its Puron® brand refrigerant) since 1996, and to support those products, the company has provided its dealers with extensive sales and technical training and educational materials to use with their employees, as well as homeowners. “Currently, we offer consumer brochures, training materials, and dealer sales kits designed to tell the reliability, environmental impact, and potential cost savings of products with R-410A,” said Michelle Caldwell, Carrier brand manager.

Beyond sales tools and training, Carrier has provided dealers with advertising materials and press materials to use to market Puron refrigerant. “Our messaging focuses on the environmental benefits of R-410A versus R-22, the higher efficiencies of equipment containing Puron refrigerant, and the phaseout of R-22 and potential cost increases for service on equipment containing this refrigerant,” said Caldwell.

Although the transition to R-410A is still a few weeks away, Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI) has been discussing and planning for it for several years. From a technical perspective, the company offers a training program called ProficienTECH that is designed to bring any level of technician up to speed on all of the nuances of R-410A. The course is available via standard classroom instruction or online in a self-paced format that includes a final exam.

“From a retail sales perspective, we have provided our dealers with several materials to assist their efforts,” said Brian Michael, brand manager - Coleman and Luxaire Heating and Air Conditioning. “First is a brochure specifically designed to educate consumers about R-410A. This piece discusses what the consumer needs to know about R-410A, including the definition of refrigerant and why it is important to understand it, the effects of refrigerant on the environment, how refrigerant functions within each component of a home comfort system, the importance of matching systems, cost concerns, and how to select a qualified dealer.”

Dealers can utilize Nordyne’s green program, ecoLogic, to properly position themselves for the refrigerant changeover. (Courtesy of Nordyne.)

Second, JCI has provided a template press release that the dealer can customize. Like the brochure, this piece focuses on refrigerants and why they are important and touches on related topics intended to educate the public. The release also introduces the idea of considering high-efficiency products for the most conscientious, sustainable solution for a home comfort system. “Contractors can work with their local media to place this release in consumer newspapers, magazines, and other appropriate outlets in their region, making contractors the experts on R-410A education,” noted Michael.

As a dealer direct manufacturer, Lennox supports its dealer network by providing tools and information to educate the dealer and consumer of the upcoming mandatory change in refrigerant.

“We have provided a quick consumer guide called ‘We’re Glad You Asked,’ made available to Lennox dealers online, which provides homeowners with an easy-to-understand description of the role of refrigerant in the system and the pending changes in refrigerant,” said Mike Moore, director of training and development, Lennox. “Additionally we offer classes at our local sales facilities to help installing dealers understand the technical and sales differences in R-22 vs. R-410A. These classes focus on proper installation and conversion of systems from R-22 to R-410A.”

Lennox’s dealer training division, HVAC Learning Solutions, offers R-410A assistance to dealers in a variety of ways. Technical training includes R-410A online eLearning courses titled Brazing and Leak Testing R-410A Systems, Servicing R-410A A/C Systems, and Service I -Refrigerant Cycle. Sales training includes an instructor-led sales course titled Build-a-Salesperson, which highlights the benefits of purchasing a R-410A unit over a R-22 unit.

Trane provides its dealers with the information and training needed in order to assist homeowners in meeting their comfort needs. (Courtesy of Trane.)

Nordyne has created a homeowner’s guide to refrigerant to help its dealers properly position the changeover, as well as R-410A, with their customers. “All of our consumer literature features R-410A information,” said Carol Baker, vice president of marketing, Nordyne. “We also have ongoing R-410A training for dealers through our technical service advisors and broadcast R-410A training on our interactive network for dealers. Nordyne actively communicates a countdown with distribution to plan for final orders for R-22.”

Dealers can also utilize Nordyne’s green program, ecoLogiC™, for marketing purposes, as it specifies that all air conditioner and heat pump products use R-410A, while providing additional comfort features and increased energy-efficiency performance. “We emphasize these types of products to dealers and consumers through finance and rebate promotions, as well as ongoing communication support, from print to Web formats,” added Baker.

With a focus on education, Rheem has put several programs and practices in place to support its dealers throughout the R-410A changeover. One such program is the Rheem Communications Network (RCN), an e-newsletter used to deliver important Rheem news directly to distributor and contractor customers. This system has helped to deliver important information on the transition, including final order dates for R-22 products and the introduction of new R-410A products.

Rheem has also developed content for www.rheem.com to help educate homeowners about the refrigerant transition. The Website features a page dedicated to the issue that discusses homeowner concerns and answers questions such as “How does the R-22 phaseout affect homeowners with existing R-22 systems?”

Mike Himel, district parts manager for Rheem, offers advice to a local contractor. Rheem’s Training Network has trained thousands of technicians on R-410A over the past few years.

Rheem’s training department, called The Training Network, has continued to develop timely technical training programs, such as an online training module called Total Access Training (www.thetrainingnetwork.com), which is available online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “Technicians no longer have to wait for a traditional training event,” said Raymond Granderson, training manager of The Training Network, Rheem and Ruud. “They can simply participate in a virtual class at any time that is convenient. The Training Network has trained thousands of technicians on R-410A over the past few years on technical aspects, as well as provided talking points for contractors to use when discussing the refrigerant with homeowners.”

Trane has incorporated the refrigerant changeover issue into elements of its training and education programs and always strives to assist its dealers in helping them to educate and inform their customers.

“We’re making sure our dealers explain to customers that as of January 2010, we’ll no longer be able to manufacture R-22 products, but that doesn’t mean they can’t sell or distribute them,” said Joe Dachowicz, director of product management for Trane and American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning.

“It’s important for customers to understand that there are lots of systems with R-22 in existence and there will be R-22 refrigerant available on either a virgin or reclaimed basis for awhile.”

All of Nordyne’s consumer literature features R-410A information, and the company also offers ongoing R-410A training for dealers. (Courtesy of Nordyne.)

Even so, Dachowicz added that customers need to know that the supply of R-22 will decrease over time, and the cost for reclaimed refrigerant will only increase.

“At some point in the future, all air conditioners will be replaced by R-410A systems. Trane has always believed in providing its dealers with the best information and training available so they can assist homeowners in meeting their comfort needs and be able to present them with the products that best satisfies those needs.”

For consumers who are making part of their purchasing decisions based on environmental responsibility, Trane has a consumer brochure that discusses the differences between R-22 and R-410A. To ensure dealers have the latest facts and updates, Trane offers both online and various instructor-led R-410A classes.

Dealers who need additional materials to present to consumers regarding the transition to R-410A need look no further than their OEM. With myriad educational offerings, manufacturers are doing their part to ensure dealers have the information they need to help educate customers about the latest refrigerant mandate.

Publication date: 11/23/2009

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