Thousands of products are being touted as “green” and/or “energy efficient.” But what does that really mean? We asked our contractor advisory panel to identify their go-to green products. Here’s a sampling of the greenest of the green.

Daikin VRV Line

Chosen by: Dave Kyle, general manager, Trademasters Service Corp., Lorton, Va.

About the product: Daikin’s VRV products are designed for use in large buildings, and can serve up to 62 indoor fan coils from one modular system.

Kyle’s take: Heat recovery systems allow for simultaneous heating and cooling eliminating season changeovers. These systems offer our clients considerable savings in both operational and maintenance costs. Their fully integrated control systems are also a great benefit for monitoring energy use. The installation is much less intrusive to the building occupants than many systems, and does not generally require extended service outages because it can be installed in parallel to the existing systems. We have installed this in occupied offices, laboratory spaces, and other occupied work areas with minimal disruption to the building occupants. Projects can be easily phased as well.

Eternal Hybrid Water Heaters

Chosen by: Ken Misiewicz, CEO, Pleune Service Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.

About the product: Offered in both residential and commercial models, its triple-pass heat exchange provides hot water with up to 98 percent efficiency, and also features a self-cleaning design to flush out sediments.

Misiewicz’s take: We have had success in replacing existing systems that currently have a boiler and large storage tanks with these units. The customer is currently keeping a couple of hundred gallons of water hot all day for a couple of shift changes where water is needed for a 20-30 minute window. Once we explain the benefits of on-demand type systems and the savings you achieve by only heating the water needed, it’s usually a pretty easy sell. There are also currently utility rebates available in our area that helps defray some of the installation costs. The payback on most projects is less than three years. One of the particular benefits of the Eternal brand is the style of the heat exchanger, it’s more like a little fire tube-type boiler. It does not require as much maintenance as other tankless heaters.

Everywair Flaresolutions’ Flexflair

Chosen by: D. Brian Baker, president, Custom Vac Ltd., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

About the product: The flare is a renewable copper trumpet ring that replaces the traditional flare connection. A specially designed nut, in combination with a stainless steel core, presses the copper trumpet ring down onto the SAE seat.

Baker’s take: The Everywair flare fittings are one of the most unique products on the market. They have virtually eliminated our refrigerant loss on systems installed by us in more than eight years. Today, we still find ourselves unable to braze all the systems, so, when we can’t, we turn to the Everywair fitting. I saw the product one year at ASHRAE and the rest is history.

GeoComfort Compass Series

Chosen by: Butch Welsch, owner, Welsch Heating & Cooling, St. Louis

About the product: GeoComfort describes the Compass Series accordingly, “It’s as beautiful as it is functional.” The GTX024 features up to 20.3 EER and 4.3 coefficient of performance (COP).

Welsch’s take: We have had a great deal of success using geothermal products from GeoComfort out of Greenville, Ill. A recent edition of The NEWS pointed out a number of the benefits of geothermal systems, not the least of which is the 30 percent tax credit. We have found that most home builders in the large custom-home market are pushing geothermal systems to their buyers. The home buyers are especially interested because not only can the cost be justified (taking into account the tax credit), but the flexibility of installation is very important as well. For example, obviously there are no outdoor condensing units. This is a big feature. The large custom homes typically have a pool, significant landscaping, and really don’t have a good location for outdoor units. In the same way, since the indoor units do not require a flue, there is much more flexibility for us to locate those indoor air handlers in locations where we can minimize ductwork and provide the best overall comfort for the homebuyer. GeoComfort has worked very closely with us to help us become a significant player in the geothermal market here in St. Louis. We provide pricing for the GeoComfort systems on virtually every custom home we work in.

Mitsubishi Electric US Heating & Cooling Division’s City Multi VRF Heat Pumps — Outdoor Units

Chosen by: Dave Kyle, general manager, Trademasters Service Corp., Lorton, Va.

About the product: The Mitsubishi City Multi VRF can cool or heat up to 50 individual zones and is available in sizes from 6-30 tons.

Kyle’s take: In commercial and government applications, we have had great success in offering VRF systems. This unique system is excellent for decoupling our commercial and government clients from central steam, allowing them to get away from their ancient and often failing infrastructure. It has minimal impact on historic buildings (over ducted systems), individual control in each space, eliminates the use of unsightly window air conditioning units, and works at low outdoor temperatures.

Rectorseal’s Novent Locking Refrigerant Caps

Chosen by: D. Brian Baker, president, Custom Vac Ltd., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

About the product: The locking caps help prevent tampering or access by unauthorized personnel. Novent refrigerant locking caps are secured to a unit with a special key sold only to certified HVAC technicians.

Baker’s take: We saw the Novent refrigerant tamperproof caps and began using them shortly after they entered the market. To date they have worked flawlessly, saved thousands of dollars in stolen refrigerant, and kept others from tampering with the systems we’ve installed.

Stulz Direct Room Ultrasonic Humidifier

Chosen by: Greg Crumpton, president, AirTight Mechanical Inc., Charlotte, N.C.

About the product: Made in the U.S., its evaporative cooling/adiabatic cooling helps reduce air conditioning system compressor run times and reduces the heat load in the space. It is designed for stand-alone room applications.

Crumpton’s take: The Stulz Ultrasonic Humidification concept is fairly simple and straightforward. Rather than using heat to create a vapor as you typically do in an infrared or immersion heater-type humidifier canister, the ultrasonic technique uses a high frequency to break up the surface tension on the water within the humidifier, where it is then drawn into the airstream. An ultrasonic humidifier, as compared to the normal infrared humidifier that is factory provided in a computer room air conditioner (CRAC) or computer room air handler (CRAH) unit, operates at a 93 percent energy savings. Meaning for every dollar of energy used to create humidity within a traditional CRAC style unit, the same amount of moisture will be induced into the air for only 7 cents.

WaterFurnace Intl. Inc.’s 7 Series

Chosen by: Travis Smith, owner, Sky Heating & Air, Portland, Ore.

About the product: The WaterFurnace 7 Series variable-capacity ground-source heat pump has efficiency ratings of 41 EER and 5.3 coefficient of performance (COP). The unit combines a variable-capacity compressor, variable-speed loop pump, and variable-speed blower motor.

Smith’s take: Hands down the greenest product we’ve used. It’s also the product we are having the most success with. WaterFurnace originally predicted something around 25 percent of their sales would be the 7 Series and then asked us for our prediction. We said about 50 percent of the homes would go with a 7 Series and, in reality, they’ve seen closer to 80 percent of new homes upgrade to the WaterFurnace 7 Series when geothermal is a consideration. Every customer that has one has absolutely raved about it and the efficiency, comfort, and lack of noise, as well as amazing control options make it one of a kind. I can’t say enough good things about it.

Yaskawa America Inc.’s Variable-Frequency Drives

Chosen by: Ken Misiewicz, CEO, Pleune Service Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.

About the product: Yaskawa offers a variety of variable-frequency drives with horsepower ranging anywhere from 3-500. The units are designed for HVAC applications, which include air handlers, cooling towers, and pumps, combining reduced size and cost with step changes in performance and quality.

Misiewicz’s take: Variable-frequency drives are a good product whatever the brand, however we like the Yaskawa brand particularly because of the ease of initial programming. Its configuration set up and programming is almost the exact same process throughout their entire line. If a technician knows how to program a 5-hp drive, he can also program a 100-hp drive. Again, the incentives help sell the benefits, like longer belt life, less peak amperage draws during the day, and extended life cycles of motors.

Publication date: 9/30/2013 

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