These new products include two-stage split systems and their compatible furnaces, variable-speed furnaces and fan coils, and dual-fuel systems, which include split system and package unit offerings. Most of the products have been available for less than six months, so attendees were anxious to learn more about them.
Doug Behr, regional business manager, ICP, kicked off the training by stating, “The products we’re offering today are excellent. They’re easy to service and install, and I think you’ll be excited about them, too.”
TWO-STAGE TRAININGICP divided the training sessions based on its various brands, so, for example, Comfortmaker dealers and distributors gathered in one room, while those offering Tempstar products gathered in another room. The sessions were well-attended, and there were virtually no empty seats in the Comfortmaker training class.
Technical Service Advisor (TSA) program manager Tom Hughes addressed the Comfortmaker class, noting, “We’re very excited about the platform we’re introducing.” This platform consists of two-stage split systems, featuring efficiencies of 15 to 18 SEER, variable-speed indoor fans, and two-speed condenser fans. The Copeland UltraTech compressor is the heart of the system.
“The secret of the Copeland compressor occurs when it changes from low to high. It does this seamlessly,” said Hughes. “This compressor has been in the field for almost four years and is extremely reliable.”
A two-stage compressor operates at 100 percent compressor capacity at high stage and 67 percent compressor capacity at low stage. When applied in the overall system, this 67 percent compressor capacity translates into 80 percent system capacity. Given that in most locations around the country 100 percent capacity is only needed for perhaps 10 hours on the hottest days, ICP contends a single-stage unit is oversized 14 hours of the day.
Even with these benefits, Hughes stated that it’s necessary to educate customers about two-stage technology. “Customers will notice that their units run longer on the lower speed, so you’ll need to explain why this happens. It’s a good thing because it means better energy efficiency and comfort, but customers may be surprised at how long their unit is running.”
All the two-stage products utilize R-410A, and Hughes stressed several times that it is mandatory to charge the machines with liquid refrigerant and that charging needs to take place when the fan is operating at high speed. “Always weigh your refrigerant before charging, it’s definitely quicker,” he said. He noted that using superheat to determine the charge won’t work well in a system using a TXV because it doesn’t give an accurate assessment of how much liquid is stored in the outside coil.
Subcooling, however, is a good tool to use to validate the charge. “Just think of subcooling as an inverse of superheat,” said Hughes. “Look at the unit rating plate for required subcooling and allow the unit to operate for 30 minutes before calculating subcooling. You want to add charge to increase subcooling and remove charge to reduce subcooling.”
ICP units come factory charged for 15 feet of line sets and a specific indoor coil. Dealers were advised to adjust charge 0.6 ounces per foot of line set greater than 15 feet. Hughes noted that due to strict quality control measures, every machine has the correct charge upon leaving the factory.
Some of the dealers were skeptical about whether or not two-stage air conditioners and heat pumps were necessary in the Phoenix market. As one dealer noted, “Here we don’t use air conditioning at all in the spring or fall, but we run it flat out for four months. The two stages really aren’t necessary.” But another dealer noted, “People are always skeptical of something new. A guy at our company put in one of the first two-stage units in his house, and he loves it.”
Behr echoed that sentiment, stating that dealers and distributors just have to become familiar with the new technology, then they will embrace it.
DUAL-FUEL OFFERINGSDual-fuel systems are garnering more attention, especially as the public becomes more interested in energy-efficient systems. A dual-fuel system is simply a gas (or oil) furnace that is paired with a heat pump. The theory behind these systems is that typically it’s more economical to operate the heat pump during milder temperatures and the gas furnace during very cold weather.
At ICP, the split dual-fuel system consists of a single- or two-stage heat pump condenser, an 80 to 90 percent single- or two-stage gas furnace, and a choice of indoor coils that range from 13 to 18 SEER. The package dual-fuel units combine the heat pump and gas heat in one unit, and efficiencies of 13 or 14 SEER are available.
Hughes explained that in the heat pump mode, there can be up to two stages of cooling and heating, as well as defrost. In the fossil fuel (most likely gas) mode, there can be up to two stages of heating.
To determine if a customer can benefit from a dual-fuel system, it’s necessary to determine the load balance point and the economic balance point. The load balance point is simply the point at which the heat pump can’t meet the heating demand by itself, meaning the fossil fuel mode will have to operate. This usually occurs around 30° to 40°F. The economic balance point will determine how often the heat pump will operate versus the furnace.
The economic balance point can be determined once the dealer obtains the cost of electricity, the cost of oil or gas, and the load of the space. Once that information is gathered, the ICP dealer can go to the specific Website (e.g., www.gocomfortmaker.com), put in all the information, and determine whether a customer could benefit from a dual-fuel system.
Hughes also discussed ICP’s new line of dual-fuel thermostats that accompany the product line.