When we’re children, other people - parents, teachers, coaches - tell us what to do. Finally, when we reach adulthood, we are a bit more in control of our own lives (even if it doesn’t always feel like it). We can eat dinner when and where we want, we can choose to live where we want, and, overall, we have control over how we live our lives, within reason.

It’s the ability to control the comfort in the homes in which we reside that makes residential controls so useful to homeowners, whether or not most people ever think about it that way.

The winners of the 2011 Dealer Design Awards in the Residential Control category have gone beyond making it possible for homeowners to control their indoor environment - they also put contractors more in control of scheduling their workforce because of the products’ ease in being installed and serviced. In this category, Comfort Products Inc. won gold, EWC Controls took silver, and Jackson Systems LLC received the bronze.



The ComfortPLENUM, CPH21 and CPV21, from Comfort Products Inc. is a 21-by-21-inch sheet metal plenum lined with 2-inch duct liner for insulation. It mounts to residential evaporator coil cabinets or air handlers. This plenum is between 3 and 5 feet long.

Rectangular dampers have been designed to attach to the inside wall of the plenum. The plenum can operate as few as two zones or as many as nine zones. On the outside of the plenum, a large decal called a cutting guide shows the contractor where he should cut a hole for his duct take-off. The cutting guide on the outside corresponds to the damper on the inside of the plenum. When the hole is cut through the cutting guide, then duct take-off is mounted. Air will pass from the inside of the plenum, through the damper and into the attached ductwork. The contractor normally cuts a round hole from 6 to 16 inches through the cutting guide, removes the sheet metal, and cuts and removes the insulation on the inside of the hole. The damper will be exposed through the hole.

A starting collar can be installed in the hole and mounting tabs folded around the perimeter of the hole, or the installer can “spin in” the starting collar, the company said.

Ductwork can be attached instead of having to mount dampers. Damper location, damper mounting, damper hanging, and damper wrapping is not required; there’s less opportunity for duct leaks because there are fewer connections.

The damper motors are mounted on a plate on top of the plenum. The damper plate with the motor is sealed to the outside, on top of the plenum. Damper blades are gear-driven using opposed-blade action for even airflow. One-half-inch gasket material adds extra insulation around the damper gear box.

“This is a great idea for areas where dampers would normally be very hard to install,” stated one judge. “While there are probably better options for some duct configurations, this gives a lot more options that were previously not available while keeping airflow consistent and not greatly increasing static pressure.”

Another judge said, “It looks most interesting.”

A third judge said, “It looks like a simple product for the residential market.”



EWC Controls’ ClimateTalk Zoning CT3000 is a hybrid zone panel designed for the new emerging communicating equipment protocol with two- or three-zone capability. “With the ClimateTalk communicating protocol designed into the zone panel, the system is truly plug-and-play,” said the company.

With a simple four-wire connection, the CT3000 will allow for true proportional fan control and staging capacity of the equipment. The equipment can be four stages, three stages, two stages, or a single stage with ECM fan systems, heat pumps, electric air handlers, or fossil-fuel furnaces with air conditioning. The CT3000 has the ability to eliminate the need for a bypass damper on some systems due to the staging control and proportional fan control.

The four-wire connection and auto-configure to any HVAC communicating equipment features reduce installation time and errors.

The communicating protocol eliminates all field setup for the installer. Once the CT3000 is connected to the equipment and thermostats, they will talk to each other and provide each other with the necessary data that is needed to perform at maximum efficiency.

Equipment diagnostic codes, shown in layman’s terms, will display on the LCD display or on the digital thermostats in the home. This allows the contractor to diagnose the problem at arrival or have the homeowner read the fault code over the phone for immediate diagnoses.

According to the manufacturer, only the faulted zone circuit will shut down, allowing the CT3000 to continue to produce heating or cooling in the other zones. This feature helps eliminate a no-cooling or no-heating call from the homeowner during peak service hours, allowing the contractor time to respond.

“It looks quite promising,” said one judge. A second judge said, “It appears to be a nice product; it seems to be the future for talking equipment and controls.”



The Wireless Comfort WCZ-600 zone panel from Jackson Systems LLC is a six-zone, two-position forced-air zone control panel. It offers universal control for single-stage, multistage, heat pump, and dual-fuel systems (up to four heat/two cool).

The zone panel allows users to maintain different temperature set points in up to six separate zones throughout the home or office while utilizing a single HVAC unit. The WCZ-600™ features wireless communications between the panel, thermostats, and dampers. The dampers require no tubing or wiring from the panel. The thermostats can also be placed without the need to run wires to them. This eliminates the cost and labor time of running wire between the panel and the thermostats, and between the panel and the dampers.

The wireless communication also makes thermostat placement easier because no wiring needs to be run and the location can be basically anywhere it is appropriate within the space. The PDM (Programming Display Module) walks the contractor through a series of questions that assists in setting up the panel properly for the project.

“This is an impressive system due to the use of wireless technology,” said one judge. “We are installing more and more zone systems, and the ability to be able to not have to run wires between the panel and the dampers and thermostats would give us an opportunity to sell them in applications where previously it was impractical.”

2011 Honorees: Residential Controls

Gold Winner
Comfort Products Inc.
ComfortPLENUM CPH21 and CPV21

Silver Winner
EWC Controls
ClimateTalk Zoning CT3000

Bronze Winner
Jackson Systems LLC
Wireless Comfort WCZ-600 Zone Panel

Honorable Mentions
Honeywell International Inc.
Prestige IAQ YTHX9321R5002

Trane ComfortLink™ II Thermostat

Emerson Climate Technologies Inc.
Emerson® Blue™ Easy Set™ Thermostats 1F86EZ-0251; 1F89EZ-0251 for Heat Pump Applications

Publication date:07/11/2011