Over the last decade, the landscape of HVAC motors has changed exponentially. While the previous generation of permanent split capacitor (PSC) motors boasted very similar compositions — a capacitor, a neutral, and an L2 wire — electronically commutated motors (ECM) are much more complicated, featuring an array of 4-pin, 6-pin, and plug-and-go inputs; retrofit wire colors; hardwire connections; and more.

In many cases, ECM motors are leaving technicians scrambling for help. When problems arise, many HVACR professionals are turning to one man for help: Chris Mohalley, recipient of The NEWS’ inaugural Best Trainer award.


Mohalley, 44, is the Genteq certified master ECM trainer. With nearly 20 years of HVAC field experience, and 12 years of instruction and extensive product training, he’s one of the nation’s most sought-after educators.

Like many others, a young Mohalley was searching for a career and stumbled into the HVACR industry. After a succinct two-week training course, he was hired as an entry-level maintenance technician. For the next eight years, he served all aspects of the HVACR industry with an open mind and a deep thirst for knowledge.

“I attended numerous manufacturer, trade association, and independent seminars related to technical advancement and customer service,” he said. “I then began creating training manuals using manufacturers’ literature and used these to facilitate training lessons for my coworkers.”

Mohalley joined International Service Leadership Inc. as an assistant instructor in 2000 and within two years helped construct and lead its Chicago technical training center. During his tenure, he was featured in a technician’s communication DVD, contributed to the development of the company’s North American Technician Excellence (NATE) preparation manual, and trained and proctored technicians for NATE certification.

In 2005, he started his own company, HVAC Dynamics LLC, and began training for Genteq, offering ECM instruction to manufacturers, contractors, wholesalers, instructors, and others.

Mohalley boasts an impressive pedigree, holding all NATE HVAC certifications, acting as a NATE technical committee subject matter expert and proctor, and maintaining membership with RSES.

He was honored as the sixth-annual NATE Golden Toolbox award winner in 2011, which recognizes an industry professional demonstrating outstanding service, support, and advocacy for technician certification.

Now, Mohalley may add another accolade to his mantle as the winner of The NEWS’ inaugural Best Trainer contest.

“There are a lot of fantastic trainers in our industry, and I can’t even tell you how great it feels to be one of the leaders of that group,” he said.

“HVAC may not be the most glamorous industry, or you might not make the most money doing it, but it’s good honest work. When you provide a customer with responsible results, the thanks and appreciation they share makes it all worthwhile.”

ECM Mechanics

Mohalley performs more than 80 unique ECM training sessions each year. He said ECM designs have existed for more than 20 years, and the highly controllable technology is utilized in almost every HVAC system motor application.

“We need to begin thinking of the motor as a circuit board. If I put a certain voltage on a certain tap, how will the board react? With a motor, it’s easy, as in most cases the tap should cause the motor to run, but the real question is, how should the motor run? Should it run faster, slower, should it turn on right away?”

While contractors used to simply toss aside instruction manuals, they are now a crucial part of the installation and maintenance process.

“Most technicians remember a time when you didn’t need a schematic. Things were so simple — transformer, thermostat, limit switch, gas valve, transformer. Now you take the door off and, without the schematic, you don’t know where to begin,” Mohalley said. “Circuits, pressure switches, and limit switches are no longer in series with the devices they control. They’re in parallel circuits off the control board, so the control board can monitor each switch. Without the manual telling you how the circuit board and the components work, you’re lost.”

Mohalley said, as difficult as this technology can be to grasp, he tries to make his lessons as practical as possible. “I present the need-to-know information in as basic of terms and concepts as possible to make a technician’s job as easy as possible,” he said. “My lessons are geared to help technicians be better, faster, and more accurate than they ever were before.”

High Praise

Mohalley started working for Genteq more than seven years ago, and his skills and knowledge are highly touted by his superiors.

“We couldn’t name a better guy to win this award. Chris exemplifies passion for the industry and a continued desire to train technicians, helping to make them as good as they can possibly be,” said Paul Selking, HVAC business leader, Genteq. “Chris is relatable and carries excellent credentials. Better than anyone else, he can take content that is very difficult to understand and boil it down to a technician’s language.”

Mohalley travels nearly year-round, providing instruction for numerous manufacturers, distributors, and contractors. He frequently makes stops at Arzel Zoning in Cleveland, where, over the last four years, he’s helped instruct nearly 1,000 students at the manufacturer’s Comfort College instruction.

“Our relationship with Chris dates back to the late 1990s, when he smacked us around a little when we needed a good smacking,” said Mark Votaw, vice president of zoning product and sales, Arzel Zoning. “He is one of the nation’s real trainers and when he speaks, people listen. And, in turn, they gain true HVAC instruction.”

Publication date: 11/12/2012