LAS VEGAS — With energy prices due to rise, customers are looking for high-efficiency furnaces that will reduce their energy bills while still providing optimal comfort. They also want smart, user-friendly controls that will allow them to monitor and adjust their systems whenever and wherever they want. Based on the new furnaces displayed at the AHR Expo, manufacturers have the solutions to fill these needs.
Utility costs are rising and leading consumers to look for smart, energy-efficient products that can positively impact household expenses, said Farooq Mohammad, director, product management, air conditioning division, Rheem Mfg. Co. “Industry-wide, we continue to see interest and growth in connected products that help homeowners maintain and manage their homes’ energy usage.”
One such product is Rheem’s new Prestige Series R97V gas furnace, which features modulating operation (ranging from 40 to 100 percent) in order to provide consistent temperature and humidity levels. “Designed with Rheem’s exclusive PlusOne Diagnostics, our modulating furnace units provide more than 35 features, which make them extremely contractor-friendly when it comes to installation and service,” said Mohammad. “Our PlusOne Ignition system, PlusOne Water Management system, and PlusOne Diagnostics provide instant feedback from the unit to the contractor.”
When installed with EcoNet®, the R97V modulating furnace provides both homeowners and contractors with real-time maintenance and diagnostic information, said Mohammad. “EcoNet helps homeowners reduce energy consumption and save money by connecting a home’s heating, cooling, and water heating units, which gives homeowners the ability to easily manage (and reduce) more than 65 percent of their homes’ energy consumption. And since it’s done via Wi-Fi and a mobile app, homeowners are in control whether they are in their kitchens or on vacation.”
When it comes to high efficiency, Trane’s new S9V2 furnace platform offers some of the highest efficiencies available, providing buyers with opportunities to save on their energy bills. The S9V2 features an integrated furnace control board that allows faster setups and more intuitive diagnostics, a Vortica® II blower that quietly delivers improved airflow, stainless steel primary and secondary heat exchangers that are more durable and corrosive-resistant than aluminized steel, and a three-way poise feature (up, left, or right) and dedicated downflow with multiple venting options in each poise for installation flexibility.
The trend toward higher efficiency in the furnace market is coming at the same time there is a reduction in the labor force, which is having an impact on the industry, said Matt Barga, portfolio leader, product management, Trane. “Due to the shortage of skilled labor, we are making our systems easier to install and service. That can be seen in the S9V2, which was designed based on the input of 12 contractors who came to our facility and explained what they wanted this new furnace to look like. We listened carefully and, as a result, the S9V2 has numerous features, such as no blind screws and burners that can be removed without removing the burner box, which eases installation and service. Contractors have been thrilled.”
Customers are looking for energy-efficient equipment, and the new High-Efficiency Direct-Vent furnace from Williams Comfort Products is an exceptional solution, said Bob Lewis, vice president of marketing and business development, Williams Comfort Products. “This furnace provides contractors a tool to upsell customers, because not only does it save money in energy costs, even more importantly, it reduces one’s carbon footprint. Today, more and more people are interested in doing their part to take care of our environment.”
The Williams High-Efficiency Direct-Vent furnace comes in two sizes (17,500 and 35,000 Btuh) and features two-stage heat exchangers. Electronic controls with digital touch panels with built-in thermostats ensure the furnace maintains correct mixtures while offering user-friendly controls. “These furnaces achieve a rating of 93 percent AFUE and can be vented vertically or horizontally up to 50 equivalent feet to meet any installation requirements,” said Lewis.
The marriage of high efficiency and smart controls can be seen in Daikin’s new DM97MC modulating, variable-speed furnace, which features efficiencies up to 98 percent AFUE.
“With smarter systems and more advanced technology, consumers are the winners, because they get more reliability,” said Kelly Hearnsberger, vice president of residential product marketing, Daikin North America LLC. “It’s good for contractors, too, because smart controls help them to better understand the health of the equipment.”
The DM97MC furnace features a tubular stainless steel construction that is formed using wrinklebend technology, which results in an extremely durable heat exchanger. Paired with a stainless steel secondary heat exchanger, this combination provides reliability, durability, and efﬁciency. The variable-speed motor combines quiet system startup and shutdown with highly efﬁcient performance, while the modulating gas valve operates between 35 and 100 percent capacity, providing ultimate comfort and precise efﬁciency. The furnace is compatible with the ComfortNet™ communicating system, which continuously monitors system performance and allows remote control of the system as an option.
One of the more surprising product introductions came from Fujitsu General America Inc., which announced it would be offering a full line of ducted heating and cooling products starting in May. Fujitsu, which is known for manufacturing ductless systems, will offer a full range of gas furnaces that feature efficiencies ranging 80-95 percent AFUE. When asked why the company decided to step into the ducted marketplace, Erin Mezle, director of marketing, Fujitsu, noted, “We wanted to branch out and grow all over the U.S.”
Publication date: 2/27/2017