Condensing units were historically described as boxy and boring. But what was once a plain-looking metal box with louvers (and often made too much noise) has been replaced by sleek designs and metals, colorful shades to match home exteriors, colorful graphics to display loyalties to college sports, and super quiet operation with very low decibel levels. Condensing units have come of age.


And what people don’t see can be just as important: high efficiency, low utility bills, and a small carbon footprint. The behind-the-scenes technology is just as important as aesthetics and silent operation, and contractors need to get up to date on all aspects of condensing units.

Bob Labbett, vice president of marketing for Emerson Climate Technologies, offered some insights in this Q&A on condensing unit technology and how it affects today’s HVAC contractor.

What Contractors Should Know About Condensers

What new advances in condensing unit technology are available now that HVAC contractors are most interested in?

Labbett: “There are a number of advancements in condensing unit design that are taking hold in the HVACR industry. These include high-efficiency compressors, electronic system controllers and the capability for diagnostics, compressor protection, and communications. Other design elements include vertical configurations for installation flexibility and reduced noise levels. Contractors want technicians to get in and out as fast as possible, and they don’t want callbacks. These design improvements help do just that.”

What traditional condensing unit features are most important to HVAC contractors and customers?

Labbett: “A relatively recent trend with condensing units is the move to do as much assembly as possible at the factory. These value-add condensing units include factory-installed sight glasses, system protectors, and in some cases pre-charged condensing units with quick disconnects. The advantage to this approach is reduced installation times and less chance for system contamination or leaks.”

How do HVACR contractors sell new technology and traditional features to customers?

Labbett: “Contractors struggle to sell value when it comes to condensing units because price has been a significant market driver and manufacturers have done a poor job providing them with the essential tools that they need to upsell the latest technologies. For this reason, Emerson Climate Technologies has increased its efforts to support contractors with a wider range of sales tools that demonstrate savings and TCO [total cost of ownership] benefits, including product selection software, energy calculators, and customer case studies. We have also begun to work actively with public utilities in select states, to increase the energy efficiency rebates that are available for our products.”

What is Emerson doing to stay abreast with condensing unit technology?

Labbett: “We offer indoor and outdoor condensing units that leverage the latest in compressor technology. From hermetic, semi-hermetic, and scroll-based units to electronic controls and enclosures/hoods, each platform gives contractors and end users the option to select the refrigerant, horsepower, and application temperature combination that meets their requirements. Plus, we now have a specific program in place that will make it easier and more cost competitive to replace traditional reciprocating condensing units with a more efficient and reliable solution. New full-featured units that are rated for multiple refrigerants have also streamlined the number of models, making it possible for distributors and contractors to carry less inventory.”

Publication date: 6/4/2012