The changing HVAC landscape of 2010 is well represented by a variety of products and accessories that reflect nearly every aspect of the changes - new refrigerants, controls, monitoring and evaluation tools, enhanced efficiencies, and more. The most obvious product changes, in fact, have already taken place. With all central cooling and heat pump systems being required not to use R-22, virtually all manufacturers have made the transition to R-410A systems. Now these systems are enhancing their efficiencies even more to take advantage of federal tax incentives.

This article offers just a sampling of some of the newer system trends. Additional products and technologies will be discussed in the coming weeks.


Lennox recently introduced its new SunSource™ home energy system, which harnesses solar energy to reduce the electricity consumed by a residential heat pump or air conditioner. In its latest model, it also can use that energy to operate other home electric devices, such as lighting and appliances, when the heating and cooling system is not running.

If the system generates more power than the home uses, the line-ready power goes back to the utility company, potentially entitling the homeowner to a utility bill credit.

Contractors can install up to 15 modules per outdoor unit. A communications module allows homeowners and contractors to monitor operation, energy production, and environmental benefits (like carbon offsets) online. Once the system is fully set up, homeowners can expect to see a reduction in their utility bills.

The new system makes homeowners eligible for federal and state tax credits that can significantly reduce the cost of solar modules, including their installation. Incentives (which vary by location) can range between 30 percent (federal only) to more than 90 percent (combined) in some areas, the manufacturer said. Starting this spring, Dave Lennox Signature™ Collection air conditioners and heat pumps will be available “solar ready.” Of course, these systems use R-410A.

The XP17 air conditioning system features a new Silent Comfort fan motor design with composite fan blades to reduce sound levels, which are now as low as 62 dB, according to the manufacturer. It can be installed with the manufacturer’s Humiditrol system, and is designed to be integrated with the company’s gas furnaces, air handlers, PureAir system, and icomfort touch thermostat.

Lennox’s latest SunSource system, in addition to harnessing solar energy to reduce the electricity consumed by a residential heat pump or air conditioner, also can use that energy to operate other home electric devices when the heating and cooling system isn’t running.


Wireless control solutions are a growing option that helps contractors reconfigure controls with much easier installations, especially in commercial applications. Now these controls can harvest energy, and it can be monitored, making them a very of-the-moment solution for the industry.

Echoflex Solutions introduced the EEK200C evaluation kit, which helps facility managers view the performance of EnCana wireless energy-harvesting technologies within the context of their own buildings.

The kit includes building blocks critical to fully integrated systems: energy generation, energy conditioning and storage, sensor power balance, low-power timers, and a microprocessor for custom development. “These are the same components that have enabled automated energy management in more than 100,000 buildings worldwide,” said an announcement from the company.

“System integrators can simulate sensor applications in any environment without any programming or configuration.”

According to Shawn Pedersen, president of Echoflex, “The evaluation kit provides a quick and straightforward evaluation of EnCana radio and energy-harvesting technologies. System integrators can explore how batteryless and wireless controls enable building automation system integration.”

The kit contains a solar-powered temperature sensor, set point adjustment, and reed switch (magnet contact). The radio modules are powered by two ambient sources, “infinite wells of solar and motion energy.”

On the mobile application side, U.S. Energy Group announced that USE-Mobile is an application that provides property managers with the ability to control their buildings with their mobile devices, including iPhones, Blackberries, and other smart phones. The USE-Mobile iPhone application, available now, brings real-time status and building control directly into the hands of property managers, wherever they are and whatever they’re doing.

The mobile smart phone application allows building owners and managers to know exactly what is happening in each building of a large portfolio and take action remotely and immediately. It integrates information from the USE Controller™ energy management system and the USE Verifier® digital fuel gauge.

The app’s features include real-time status of critical boiler information, remotely turning the boiler on or off to provide additional heat when needed, full system integration with the USE-Controller (EMS) and Verifier digital fuel gauge, and a strong user-interface design.

In the coming weeks, this series of articles will explore more new and exciting products and technologies emerging for contractors and their customers.

Publication date:04/12/2010