CHICAGO — Portable units are used in a variety of applications, including when a primary HVAC system breaks down, when spot cooling is needed, when supplementary cooling is needed, or when portable conditioning is required for an event. Units that both cool and heat are in high demand, but other trends include remote monitoring and, for larger units, the ability to fit through a standard door width.

Portable Heat Pumps

Airrex USA LLC supplies portable a/c units, dehumidifiers, high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) air filtration units, and heat pumps that both cool and heat.

Bill Hochmuth, vice president of sales for Airrex USA, said “Our units are used in both residential and commercial/industrial applications. They can be used to cool computer rooms, crops, animals, outdoor tents, work areas, machinery, and mostly people/workers.”

Heat pump units that both heat and cool “are going to be the largest growing sector of the rental market,” said Hochmuth. “Now, a rental location can rent the same unit year round and not have to buy and carry one that heats and one that cools.”

At the 2015 AHR Expo, the company showed its new portable heat pump units in both 1- and 1.5-ton capacities.

Hochmuth believes “the tent rental market will be most affected by these products. For a spring event, consumers do not know if their special day/event is going to be a hot or cold day. Our heat pumps would actually let them heat in the early morning and cool in the hot afternoon — all with one unit. People who rent tents have hesitated on purchasing units for just this reason along with the multiple power requirements of past units. With our heat pumps, one unit does it all, and they work on a simple 115-V receptacle.”

Haier America supplies both straight cooling and heating/cooling portable units, ranging 8,000-14,000 Btu in size. Peter Roffe, product manager, air quality, Haier America, said, “We offer a wide range of single- and dual-hose options, depending on customers’ cooling needs.”

Haier’s portable units are applicable for home offices, garages, sun rooms, bonus rooms, additions, etc. “These areas may have a lack of proper heating/cooling or poor air circulation,” said Roffe. “Portable units are generally used for supplemental or spot cooling and heating, which makes them great options for the aforementioned areas.”

Roffe said Haier is starting to see “a move toward dual-hose implementation across all portable a/c sizes. Dual-hose provides cooling efficiencies by pulling in air from the outside through one hose, which is used to cool off the compressor and transfer the heat from the condenser coil. That air, which cools the compressor and condenser coils, is then expelled out through the second hose. Single-hose units draw in air from the room being cooled. As you remove air from the room to cool the unit, air is drawn into the room from other unconditioned spaces. While single-hose units are widely used and accepted by consumers, dual-hose units cool the room faster than single hose units.”

Haier displayed a 13,500-Btu dual-hose portable unit — model HPND14XCP — at its booth..

Remote Monitoring

Mike Renier, vice president of sales, KwiKool Portable Cooling Systems, said his company offers 1- to 12-ton portable air conditioning units in 42 different models.

“Eighty percent of our units are used in server rooms,” he said. “The remainder are used in other commercial and industrial applications.”

Regarding trends, Renier believes high-tech customers, in general, “are going to demand air conditioning systems that can be monitored remotely. This would also extend to portable units,” he said.

“Portable air conditioners do have a positive long-term future, but must certainly evolve based on customer needs,” said Renier. “Our philosophy is to identify a customer need and work our way back to an affordable solution. This means KwiKool is open to customer feedback and suggestions and will use this information to develop new products. An example of this process is our Attic Master. Our customers expressed a need for a portable air conditioner for cooling a person [i.e., a technician] in high-ambient environments, such as an attic that could not be cooled with conventional air conditioners. The key to this new product development process is timely delivery. New products must be delivered to the market within one year. If a manufacturer waits longer, the marketplace will have changed, making the new product obsolete before it’s even offered.”

MovinCool supplies portable and ceiling-mount spot air conditioners from 1-5 ton, including both air- and water-cooled units as well as a portable heat pump. Eddie Stevenson, marketing communications manager, MovinCool, DENSO Products and Services Americas Inc., said his company’s units “are used to cool people, processes, and equipment in a wide variety of markets, including manufacturing, health care, IT, education, and government, as well as outdoor events.”

Stevenson also sees a growing demand for equipment that provides an “all-in-one heating and cooling solution for the portable units market, with models that are lighter and more compact. We also see a trend in controllers for portable units offering more functionality with greater compatibility.”

To meet the need for heating and cooling in one unit, MovinCool showed its new portable heat pump, the Climate Pro™ 18, at the 2015 AHR Expo. Stevenson said the Climate Pro 18 boasts a cooling capacity of 14,600 Btuh, heating capacity of 13,700 Btuh, and a minimum operating temperature with plenum of 24°F. “A new controller features a larger LCD screen that displays diagnostics and step-by-step instructions to start, set up, or restore operation.”

Stevenson also noted: “With the recent increase of reshoring manufacturing jobs to the U.S., we see market potential in providing portable cooling solutions for industrial applications and an increase in people cooling.”

OceanAire Inc. manufactures a full line of portable air conditioners and heat pumps for commercial and industrial use. Product sizes range 12,000-60,000 Btuh in cooling/heating capacity. “We offer product customization for specialized cooling and heating applications,” said Mike Schopf, vice president, sales/engineering, OceanAire Inc.

Schopf said: “Supplemental cooling and heating are the most common uses of this equipment. In some applications, the portable cooling and heating products serve as redundant equipment for critical-use facilities, where they supplement the unitary equipment at the site or serve as back-up cooling/heating in the event the unitary equipment is out of service.

“Within our market, there is a trend toward the use of portable heat pumps. The portable heat pumps offer cooling and heating solutions for most commercial building applications, such as offices, retail stores, and special events. The rental companies find these units attractive, since they can be applied throughout the year. OceanAire has been manufacturing portable heat pumps for more than 16 years, and we have seen an increasing demand for these units in the rental markets,” said Schopf.

For 2015, the company introduced its CACH1211 heat pump model at the AHR Expo. Schopf said the compact size and available field installation options make the unit highly versatile for cooling and heating applications.

Evaporative Cooling

Celebrating its 25th anniversary with the launch of a revitalized corporate identity, Portacool LLC offers a variety of portable evaporative cooling products, including a full line of portable products designed to cool larger industrial areas down to smaller residential applications.

Portacool CEO Ben Wulf noted the company makes its own evaporative media. “Expanding the KÜÜL evaporative media line is a large part of Portacool’s vision in the near term. At the moment, the evaporative technology market is semi-stagnant. The products that are on the market have been on the market for years. We will continue to forge new innovation in the evaporative cooling market.”

At the AHR Expo, the company introduced a new residential product. According to Portacool, the Cyclone® 1000 is a portable evaporative cooling unit designed for spot-cooling spaces where air conditioning is impractical. From outdoor areas, such as the patio to the garage or hobby space, the Cyclone 1000 effectively provides cooling effects as much as 30°F using the process of evaporation.

On the industrial side, Wulf sees the market wanting more power and velocity with smaller footprints and more product upgrades/features. On the residential side, users also want maximum power on a smaller footprint, he said.

Temp-Air Inc. supplies 1- to 75-ton portable air conditioners constructed of powder-coated steel to withstand rugged environments. Many of its portable a/c units also include electric heat and dehumidify modes. Applications include new construction or retrofits; supplemental cooling; emergency cooling; air conditioning failure; planned maintenance; spot cooling of data centers, production areas, and temporary facilities; industrial process cooling; military and disaster relief; and special events.

Amanda Rahn, marketing manager, Temp-Air Inc., said: “A trend we see is for larger portable units to be built with a narrow body in order to have the ability to fit through the width of a standard door to increase application versatility and ease movement from one area to the next.”

Rahn said: “Our newest portable air conditioner rental model is the PAC-10P. This 10-ton portable air conditioning unit is new to the Temp-Air rental fleet as of summer 2014. Our sale unit is the model TC-120B.”

Equipment specifications are 4,000-cfm evaporator air and 6,000-cfm condenser air; dimensions are 86 inches long by 34.5 inches wide. Power options include 460 V, 3 phase; 35 A and 230 V, 3 phase; and 70-A minimum circuit amp capacity. The unit is said to be ideal for use during air conditioning failure or planned maintenance.

Gregory H. Peery, national sales manager, specialty products, Therm-Air Portable Products, manufactured by United CoolAir Corp., said the company currently supplies the portable market with more than 25 different models in both air conditioning and heating units. “The majority of our a/c units are available with either electric heat or as a heat pump.” Portable a/c units range in 3- to 30-ton sizes in both horizontal and vertical versions. Electric heaters range 15-150 kW in size. Peery said the company’s portable air conditioning and heating units are used anywhere there is a need to change the condition of the environment.

Equipment needs to provide both cooling and heating in the same unit, he said. “This gives owners the ability to use the equipment year round.”

At the AHR Expo, United CoolAir introduced its MACH145 unit, under the Therm-Air brand. The horizontal portable 12-ton unit is 34.5 inches wide, allowing it to fit through a standard 36-inch door opening. It’s available as cooling-only and cooling with electric heat. “The next big opportunity for the portable market is dehumidification,” said Peery. “Dehumidification opportunities in the rental market are numerous. From restoration work after a storm, flood, or hurricane to construction drying, portable HVAC units can be used in almost any application where the control of moisture is needed.”

Publication date: 2/23/2015

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