Just about every manufacturer recommends homeowners have their air-source heat pumps serviced twice a year — once in the spring and once in the fall. Most believe that semi-annual maintenance helps keep equipment operating at peak performance and ensures the unit is ready for the heat of summer or cold of winter.
When a couple of do-it-yourself (DIY) homeowners cited how easy it was to install their respective equipment themselves and how little skill was needed, it begged the question: With the current skilled labor shortage, are HVAC systems destined to become plug-and-play appliances?
Up until recently, sales of air-source heat pumps were on a tear, growing from 1.6 million units in 2009 to 2.3 million units in 2014, according to the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). But, in 2015, sales of heat pumps slipped 3.6 percent from the previous year.
Not that long ago, if a conversation centered on heat pumps, it was fairly safe to assume that the equipment referred to ducted, split-system, electric, air-source units. That assumption started to change a few years ago with the growing popularity of ductless heat pumps.
Building owners and managers are seeking experienced system integrators who can help guide them through the complex process of choosing a total BAS solution that goes well beyond just controlling the heating and cooling equipment.
VRF systems have become very popular in the commercial market and are expected to gain even more market share in the coming years. Each system type comes with its own unique set of benefits, and as long as building owners and managers remain open minded, they may be surprised at the possibilities now available.
HVAC contractors seem to be feeling cautiously optimistic about short-term growth, at least according to ACCA, whose Contractor Comfort Index (CCI) scored a 76 in January 2016. But, there is still concern about the U.S. economy and conditions around the world, in general.
The hot ticket at the recent Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration (AHR) Expo was a seat at Building Services Research and Information Association’s (BSRIA’s) presentation on global HVAC trends.
The latest report from HARDI shows that average sales for HARDI distributor members increased by 8.2 percent in December 2015, but annualized growth for all of 2015 registered a bit lower at 5.7 percent. This compares to the 6.1 percent gain in 2014, the second consecutive year of slower growth since a 7.3 percent increase was reported in 2013.
Sales of HVAC equipment were somewhat flat in 2015, according to AHRI, which reported year-to-date combined U.S. shipments of central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps decreased by 0.6 percent, and shipments of gas warm air furnaces increased 2.9 percent.