There is a definite trend in the HVAC industry toward smarter, more sophisticated products. It’s true that equipment using electronic controls has been around for many years, and many residential and commercial buildings have much more integrated systems as a result. However, manufacturers are taking those controls even further, introducing a spate of new products that includes everything from systems that diagnose themselves to variable-speed air handlers with electronic controls to equipment that adjusts itself based on space conditions.

While there are far too many new products to include here, the goal is to showcase a few of the smart pieces of equipment that are now available in the HVAC industry.

Amana ( introduced its DigiSmart system, which is a wireless energy management system for packaged terminal air conditioners (PTACs). DigiSmart is a suite peripherals and PTAC that wirelessly connect, creating a feedback system where the PTAC turns itself down and/or off based on room occupancy and software settings, reducing energy usage. DigiSmart connects the PTACs with a wireless radio frequency network, which automatically links the units and peripherals and is self-repairing. When a connection is lost, the unit automatically searches for a new connection and re-establishes the network. Because the unit is wireless, the need for an electrician to run wires and connect the network is reduced, saving installation time, said Michael Little, PTAC marketing manager.

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Broan’s ( new SmartSense ventilation system improves IAQ throughout the home automatically and efficiently. This intelligent ventilation system consists of Broan Ultra Silent fans with a SmartSense control connected to each fan in the home. One control is designated as the master, and based on the home size and number of bedrooms, the ventilation rate is entered into the control. The master control monitors the normal/manual usage of the fans in the home and calculates the volume of air ventilated, deducting it from the total ventilation required. If necessary, it will intermittently operate fans throughout the home to achieve optimal ventilation.

The Ultra Silent humidity-sensing fans from Broan utilize Sensaire technology to detect a rapid increase in humidity at the ceiling. The fans then automatically turn on, exhausting excess moisture, and turn off once the job is done. The fans feature 110 cfm, 0.7 sones, 6-inch ducting, and a 3-year warranty.

Bryant’s ( Evolution system control gives homeowners complete control of their home comfort system by managing six comfort functions - temperature, humidity, airflow, ventilation, IAQ, and zoning. The Remote Access feature allows users to change comfort settings through the Internet or telephone, and also notifies the dealer via e-mail, telephone, or pager messages with the homeowner’s maintenance reminders and urgent alerts. The intelligent design allows for easy plug-and-play installation, said Liza Mathew, marketing manager - controls and IAQ, and the four-wire, color-coded thermostat walks technicians through the entire process using intuitive screen prompts. The screen displays operating status and fault history to help technicians diagnose issues with the system.

Carrier ( recently introduced its Infinity Control Remote Access, which allows homeowners to change their comfort settings via the Internet or the telephone. Not only can homeowners maintain control of their heating and cooling systems while they’re at work or on vacation, they can be assured of better IAQ because the Infinity Control monitors the system and automatically reminds the homeowner and the selected dealer via an e-mail notification or phone call when maintenance or routine service is required, the company says. Dealers can spend less time at the jobsite due to the automatic startup feature that identifies equipment and stores the model and serial numbers at the control.

Daikin AC ( offers its new split system-inverter heat pump wall-mounted unit. Each wall-mounted indoor unit has a built-in motion sensor that detects whether the room is occupied. If no motion is sensed in a 20-minute period, the temperature automatically sets up/back 3.5°F. Once motion is sensed, the unit automatically reverts back into normal operation. This function can provide energy savings of up to 30 percent of regular operation, noted Chris Bellshaw, product development specialist. Each system also has a standard self-diagnosis function. In the event of a fault, the contractor can easily interrogate the system, confirm the fault code, and start repairing it with relative ease and minimum time wasted.

Danfoss ( has started offering the Universal TR6 automatic expansion valve. Using temperature and pressure sensors to open or close the diaphragm as needed, this thermostatic expansion valve precisely meters refrigerant flow (either R-22 or R-410A) to maintain proper gas saturation in the coil, said Mark White, aftermarket business development manager. An internal check valve, adjustable superheat, and adaptable inlet and outlet ports make it easy for contractors to install the valve after selecting the refrigerant, tonnage, and connection type. The TR6 allows homeowners to increase the efficiency of their air conditioning unit or heat pump and reduce energy costs - without investing in newer, more expensive equipment.

ebm-papst Inc. ( states that intelligent airflow control is possible using its K3G centrifugal fan series. The series uses a programmable EC external rotor motor with an internal P-I process controller. Constant airflow over changing system pressure can be obtained by using a differential pressure sensor to measure the pressure change across the fan inlet nozzle, and feed this data to the process controller. Once the desired operating point and differential pressure sensor characteristics are entered into the fan EEPROM, the fan speed will react to changes in nozzle pressure to maintain a constant airflow. According to Tom Carlson, product marketing engineer, the K3G is 100 percent speed-controllable without needing to install added components like variable-frequency drives and associated filters.

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Emerson Climate Technologies ( introduced its UltraTech™ communicating system, which delivers better comfort and efficiency via a two-stage Copeland Scroll UltraTech compressor and variable-speed blower motor. When these technologies are integrated with the outdoor control board, indoor control board, and easy-to-use programmable thermostat, the HVAC system can share information systemwide for better performance. By sharing information systemwide, UltraTech autoconfigures and checks system settings, with no additional wires needed. Onboard Comfort Alert™ diagnostics and active protection from severe fault conditions help reduce callbacks and improve service and reliability. A “call for service” indicator on the thermostat is displayed when system faults are detected.

Fujitsu General ( has developed the System 15RLQ, which is a new 20 SEER ductless split system in the Halcyon line of R-410A inverter wall-mounted air conditioners and heat pumps. The 15RLQ, with its DC-driven, inverter-controlled compressor, automatically varies compressor revolution to consistently provide the proper capacity to meet a room’s changing load. When maximum capacity is not required, the compressor idles at 1,000 to 1,500 rpm, which means input power decreases, resulting in energy savings. When maximum capacity is required, the system arrives at set temperature in half the time of a conventional system because the compressor can ramp up to 6,000 rpm during startup, said Roy Kuczera, senior vice president.

GE ECM by Regal-Beloit ( recently unveiled its ThinkTank 3.0 blower motor. The new motor features BlaKBox technology for diagnosing system functions and customizing unit performance, thus giving manufacturers the ability to refine furnace, heat pump, and air conditioning products with expanded diagnostic functions. The ThinkTank utilizes AirKom, which is a proprietary operating system that allows manufacturers to program, send data, and receive feedback from the motor. The AirKom operating system gives the ThinkTank 3.0 an ability to talk and listen, while BlaKBox stores motor performance data. The self-aware motor means that contractors will be better able to collect field data and subsequently simplify service.

Goodman’s ( new GMH95 95 percent AFUE and GMH8 80 percent AFUE gas furnaces feature the new DualSaver™ two-stage (convertible) technology. Unlike conventional, single-stage furnace technology, the DualSaver technology eliminates the temperature swings resulting from abrupt, high-stage stops and starts of the furnace by operating at a low heating stage the majority of the time, for gentle, quiet heat. Then, if the desired temperature is not reached within a reasonable amount of time using the low stage, the furnace automatically steps into the high stage to ensure optimal comfort. According to Jim Miller, marketing manager – furnaces, the convertible gas furnaces can be set to a self-learning mode that will regulate between low- and high-stage heating to optimize both performance and heating comfort.

Heatcraft’s ( Smart Defrost Kit™ (SDK) is an innovative defrost solution that lets contractors provide their customers with significant operational savings – while boosting their own profit-making potential, said Jim Kitchen, product manager. The SDK is easy to install and uses a microprocessor and proprietary intelligence to learn the refrigeration system, evaluate how much frost has accumulated on the evaporator coil, and then bypass unnecessary defrost cycles, reducing the number of defrosts by as much as 40 percent. Virtually maintenance-free, the SDK is designed with features like status LEDs, which make installation and troubleshooting easier, and dual safety backup relays that eliminate the chance of a system malfunction.

Heil ( introduced its True Dual Fuel programmable thermostat, which can save homeowners money and protect the heating and cooling system by selecting the most economical fuel source under the current conditions, states the company. Trip Todd, product manager, said the thermostat is an important part of the dual-fuel system because it monitors outdoor temperatures and signals the system to switch automatically to the most economical energy source. The proprietary system design helps protect equipment by keeping the heat pump and furnace from running at the same time. The thermostat features seven-day programming, three-stage heating/two-stage cooling, blue backlit display, and humidity control.

Honeywell ( offers its VisionPRO IAQ total home comfort system, which eliminates the need for multiple controls in a living space by managing a home’s temperature, humidification, dehumidification, ventilation, and air filtration from a single touchscreen control. VisionPRO utilizes house characteristics and outdoor temperature to automatically control inside humidity, as it simply and seamlessly controls temperature, humidity, and fresh air. The system only requires three wires at the thermostat to retrofit multistage equipment or IAQ products. The thermostat’s flexible programming capabilities give homeowners the option to create a customized program for each day or combination of days.

Invensys Controls ( recently introduced its new Robertshaw® i-Series programmable thermostats, which can be set up in half the time of competitive models using an installation wizard feature, says the company. Four new models are available including universal staging and humidity control versions. The new Setup Wizard saves contractors installation time and makes programming easier for homeowners by navigating users through a series of menu-driven screens with simple instructions, available in English, Spanish, and French. The wizard allows users to set the time and date on their thermostat, set the thermostat for the connected equipment, schedule service reminders, and select comfort settings, personal preferences, system settings, fan modes, and security options.

Lennox Industries ( offers its L Connection Network, a light commercial building automation system that makes it easy to manage HVAC, constant volume and variable volume zoning, and building operations such as lights and fans, minimizing energy and maintenance costs. The Comfort Sensor combines optional relative humidity (rh) and carbon dioxide (CO2) sensor options with a temperature sensor in each zone. According to Mark Hess, product manager - commercial controls, the simple and intuitive Comfort Sensor interface allows for easy day-to-day communication with the system. Zone controller capabilities are also available when the Comfort Sensor is used in commercial zoning applications, which means less wiring and fewer sensors to install separately, and more flexible comfort control.

Maytag ( is showcasing its 23 SEER split system air conditioner with iQ Drive™. The iQ Drive provides homeowners with superior home comfort and efficiency due to the technology’s ability to determine and match the exact air conditioning load to a home, said Marc DeLaurent, product manager – split systems. The units use only the exact cooling capacity necessary at a given time, which lowers the amount of energy used by the system. In addition, the iQ Drive technology continually monitors the system and communicates with the key components to ensure reliable operation. The diagnostic features that come standard with the controller-thermostat provide homeowners and technicians with alerts and direction to improve their ability to maintain the unit.

Peco ( is expanding its line of heat pump thermostats to include the TH170, which is offered with and without humidity control. Instead of dated designs that attempt to control humidity with a simple temperature adjustment, the TH170 uses 10 different user-selectable options to humidity, dehumidify, and control outside air. With five inputs and six outputs, the thermostat can be configured for variable fan speeds, heating and cooling stages, and outdoor air requirements. By monitoring both outside air temperature and humidity, the thermostat has the intelligence to cool using outside air, while maintaining the desired humidity control. It’s truly the most flexible thermostat on the market today, said Taraneh Foster, marketing communications specialist.

Rheem ( is featuring the Comfort Control System on its Rheem Prestige Series and Ruud Ultra Series condensing units. The Comfort Control System is an onboard diagnostic and monitoring system featuring an easy-to-read, seven-segment LED information display located inside a convenient service panel. When abnormal conditions occur, the system sends a “Call for Service” notice to the homeowner’s thermostat. Upon arrival, the servicing technician is able to quickly and accurately review system status and fault history. An active protection feature takes the unit offline if the Comfort Control System senses critical conditions that may cause compressor damage or failure.

Totaline ( has two new smart products, including the EZ thermostat programmer and Comfort Call. The EZ Programmer allows the user to copy stored information from a thermostat, then the information may be loaded into other thermostats, without the need to manually enter each item. The EZ Programmer automatically recognizes the thermostat model that it is connected to and uploads the correct data for that model.

Comfort Call, a thermostat accessory that works with Totaline Slimline thermostat models, is a remote access system that allows homeowners to call their thermostats from any phone, any time, anywhere, to monitor and adjust the temperature of their homes. Comfort Call consists of two parts: a base station that connects to the phone line and a wireless module that plugs into any Slimline thermostat. It works in a way similar to checking voicemail messages. Jason Schneider, Totaline thermostat product manager, noted that Comfort Call allows flexibility ... and that’s smart.

White-Rodgers ( is offering its 16E09-101 electronic temperature controller, which is a combination refrigeration-heating electronic temperature control. Unique to the control is an alarm output that warns customers any time their controlled unit is outside the programmed temperature range by more than 5°F or C. Jay Wirts, director of distribution marketing, noted that the controller uses innovative technology to maintain a very consistent temperature, thus maximizing energy efficiency and preventing large, costly swings of more than 5°. It also allows users to preprogram its sensitivity to temperature change, avoiding unnecessary alarms. The end user can set a delay time of anywhere from one to 99 minutes.

York UPG, Johnson Controls ( is featuring its Affinity modulating gas furnace, which fully modulates the gas valve, circulating blower, and inducer to closely match the amount of heat needed at any time. Mickey Smith, York brand manager, stated that for the contractor, the modulating gas furnace is easy to install, maintain, and operate. The sensors and controls are internally mounted and automatically compensate for air supply and exhaust variations, wind gusts, and long vent runs.

York is also highlighting its Millennium single-package rooftop unit, which has smart features built into its Simplicity Elite control. The control contains Intelli-Start logic, which learns the warm-up and cool-down characteristics of an occupied space, so the space is at the right temperature at the right time. According to Tony Landers, commercial marketing manager, the single package rooftop unit is easy to install and service.

Publication date:06/25/2007