Technology Gives Homeowners Control

May 19, 2008
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It may look simple, but this Smart Sensor uses a single control to integrate and manage six comfort functions. The system also features automated diagnostics. When maintenance issues arise, the control provides an alert and displays the phone number of an authorized dealer.

Residential zoning systems have come a long way. According to Ignacio Monteros, Carrier’s controls product manager, perceived installation complexity and resulting callbacks have made HVAC contractors more reluctant to install the systems.

With the manufacturer’s latest Infinity™ system and control, such concerns should be a thing of the past. The new system can manage up to eight different zone settings, he said, eliminating hot and cold spots and improving energy efficiency.

“Contractors in general look for zoning system simplicity of installation and configuration, and the best pricing,” Monteros said. “They want maximum efficiency and the easiest way to install it. From a homeowner’s perspective, with the Infinity zoning system, each zone can even be given a name indicative of what it represents, such as ‘kitchen,’ ‘master bdrm,’ etc.”

AUTOMATIC BALANCING

The Infinity system’s intelligence allows it to balance the loads, he continued. “You no longer need a bypass damper,” said Monteros. “Our system’s intelligence knows how to modulate the load per zone, so it does not allow for the load to become excessive in any one zone.”

Of course, the contractor needs to ensure that the ductwork, mechanical system, and bypass damper modulators are all installed correctly. “The contractor needs to pay specific attention to make sure the ductwork is sealed properly,” Monteros said. “In zoning, that damper has to be properly installed to not allow leakage at the damper.”

The system uses a single control to integrate and manage six comfort functions: temperature, humidity, airflow, ventilation, IAQ, and zoning. It includes the Infinity Control, a single control that allows for management of the entire system.

The system also features automated diagnostics. When maintenance issues arise, the control provides an alert and displays the phone number of an authorized dealer. An optional Remote Access Kit will contact the dealer when service is required, permitting remote troubleshooting and giving homeowners remote control of the system via the Internet or phone.

Spelling out zone names makes it easier for end users to program comfort levels.

MARKET PENETRATION

Zoning in general is not a high-penetration installation market, he said, currently going into less than 10 percent of total HVAC installations. “Homeowners and dealers are not comfortable with the complications of configuration and proper installation,” Monteros said.

“Part of it is that consumers simply are not aware that this option is available to them. There is certainly an additional cost, but the savings associated with that are fairly substantial over time,” he added. It allows occupants to decide which space they want to condition, and the number of zones available gives them the ability to condition several different areas of the home or building.

“The owner of that space gets improved comfort with the zoned systems,” Monteros said. “Moreover, their energy savings are improved. Consumers in general are not extremely aware of this. As an industry, we need to do a better job of informing consumers.”

The timing is ideal for successfully presenting these technologies. “With increased energy costs, offering ways to reduce energy costs is going to be a trend,” he said. “It will be like hybrid cars.

“We have been promoting it to dealers pretty actively,” he continued. “Our Infinity Class systems are easier to install and configure. Their ability to assess ductwork loads is part of the regular, automatic plug-and-play installation assessment.”

The complete system is comprised of the Infinity variable-speed furnace, control, and heat pump or air conditioner.

For more information, visit www.carrier.com.

Publication date: 05/19/2008

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