The biggest change affecting the HVAC market in 2010 is the official stop to the manufacture and sale of systems that use R-22. We checked in with a few manufacturers to see how the official transition has been going. In short, they said contractors are doing very well indeed.
Andy Armstrong, director of marketing-North America, Unitary Products, Johnson Controls Inc., said the company’s dealers, “whether they carry the York, Coleman, or Luxaire brands, have enthusiastically embraced selling non-R-22 systems.”
“We knew the R-22 phaseout was coming, so we planned accordingly,” Armstrong said. “Those plans included incorporating R-410A into our systems and educating dealers about the benefits of R-410A for them and their customers. In turn, they are successfully selling R-410A heat pumps and air conditioners to their homeowner customers.”
“HVAC dealers selling and installing Goodman and Amana brand products and systems have always responded exceedingly well to market changes,” said Gary Clark, senior vice president of marketing for Goodman Global Inc.
“Regardless of whether the HVAC marketplace is challenged with new energy efficiency guidelines, regulation codes, economic conditions, or the introduction of a new refrigerant, we believe that dealers readily accept the challenge and move forward.”
Nathan Walker, product manager of split systems at Goodman Global Inc., said, “HVAC dealers have had several years to plan their transition plans from R-22 to R-410A. The refrigerant change, coupled with federal and state tax credit programs, has allowed dealers to deliver an easy-to-understand discussion with homeowners regarding the transition to R-410A.”
“You must use good refrigerant and brazing practices,” said Greg Luckett, Lennox Commercial territory manager for Kentucky and southern Indiana. “Nothing has changed over the years. You just need to make sure you have the proper procedures in place.”
“Line set sizes must be correct when it comes to sizing them,” he said. “R-410A does not have the forgiveness that R-22 systems allowed for a line set sized incorrectly. This can be very difficult to overcome on retrofit applications when they are impossible to access.”
In addition, “With the retrofit application on R-410A, it is so important to have duct work that is correct, and proper airflow is also critical,” Luckett said.
“Most dealers have embraced this well. Still, there are a few that are lagging, but for the most part, the transition to R-410A has become the norm.”
LINE EVOLUTIONThe manufacturers’ cooling lines have evolved to address contractor and consumer needs. “Johnson Controls, along with our distributors and dealers, recognized a long time ago that R-410A would be a suitable replacement for R-22,” said Armstrong.
“In the beginning, our engineering team recognized that there is a major difference between R-410A units designed from the ground up, and units designed for R-22 that are re-engineered for R-410A. We used the ground-up philosophy from the very beginning,” Armstrong said, “and we’re very confident in this approach.”
“When it was decided that R-410A was to be the refrigerant replacement of choice for R-22, we began the process of optimizing the performance of our condensing units,” said Walker. “Our engineers determined that smaller-diameter copper tubing, specifically 5 mm, delivered the best heat transfer properties compared to 3/8-inch copper tubing. As a result, we developed and applied for several patents for our SmartCoil™ condenser coil units.”
“HVAC contractors and homeowners share some common needs with regard to HVAC products and systems,” said Clark. “Both want a dependable HVAC product or system that provides comfort and energy efficiency levels as stated by the manufacturer.
“As with all our product lines, we are in constant communication with both HVAC dealers and homeowners, and we seek their input as we develop new products and enhance our current offerings.”