Taking home the Gold Award in the High-Efficiency Residential category of the 2017 Dealer Design Awards is the York® Affinity™ unit from unitary products group, a division of Johnson Controls Inc.

This system was designed with more than 250,000 man hours of system research, five years of accelerated field testing, and extreme weather testing from minus 10° to 140ºF to ensure reliable performance that lasts. Testing was done that equated to 49,000 summers of operation and 20 million cycles. Extensive research and development over these past two years was conducted to perfect the algorithms that drive the variable capacity operation to keep all system components working in harmony and optimizing comfort while minimizing power consumption.

“Both qualitative and quantitative research was used,” said Ken Ely, product manager, unitary products group, Johnson Controls Inc. “We utilized a combination of surveys and interviews with dealers, distributors, and consumers — our three primary customers — each with many of their own unique wants and needs, which this product does an excellent job of addressing. Dealer focus groups were engaged through the iterative stage gate product development process, constantly reviewing the product, progress, and specifications and helping steer the product direction.”

The York Affinity Series YXV split system air conditioner reaches a higher level of energy efficiency, reliability, and comfort, thanks to system levels up to 20 SEER and advanced technologies that deliver the full potential of an intelligent, variable capacity system. This product was designed for new or replacement residential comfort conditioning applications.

This unit was designed to ease technicians’ daily jobs. Technicians can quickly evaluate overall system conditions, including the refrigerant charge during an annual clean and tune, without a manifold gauge set or refrigerant line temperature probe thanks to the built-in Charge Assurance system. Simply remove two screws on the outdoor unit to expose the touchscreen display, which is designed to be visible in the brightest light and function in the coldest temperatures. When the cover is removed, the capacitive touchscreen is energized, and you are immediately greeted by either a smiley face or a frowny face. The smiley face indicates that all systems are operating correctly with no alerts. A frowny face is an indicator that an alert has been generated, telling the technician that additional diagnostics are required. On the same display, techs will see direct readouts of high- and low-system pressures oriented as they are accustomed to see on a manifold gauge set with suction and liquid line temperatures clearly displayed below. To go a step further, the system immediately calculates system superheat and subcooling, simplifying charge evaluation for technicians and helping to assure optimum system performance while consuming a minimal amount of contractors’ time. If an alert code exists, the system records a thumbprint of the occurrence, recording all the system conditions, including charge, at the time of the occurrence. So, now, contractors do not have to be present when the alert occurs to understand what was happening with the Charge Assurance system because the system records all the performance variables.

The quick, customized system setup is another benefit for contractors on the job. As soon as the system is energized, all the different systems start to communicate and will begin to automatically configure. Adjusting the system for local climate conditions is simplified using the exclusive ClimateSet feature. With a simple menu selection from the Hx communicating thermostat, the unit is configured to address specific geographic climate challenges. By simply selecting from normal, dry, or humid, the installing contractor custom configures the unit operation for that specific installation. Additional fine-tune adjustments are always available to create that true custom comfort solution. In the end, homeowners receive a system that provides a superior level of comfort using as little energy as possible, and the contractor is able to set up a custom comfort solution more precisely and in less time.

Finally, the remote access makes this a contractor-friendly product. Not only can consumers access and monitor their home thermostat settings and alerts from a smart device through the Wi-Fi-enabled Affinity Hx touchscreen thermostat, but servicing or installing contractors can also access consumers’ systems remotely, with their permission, to diagnose, adjust, or monitor the system using a smart device and the Hx Thermostat Pro app. Using the service app, contractors now have the option to offer a system monitoring service to their customers. More importantly, on a service call or maintenance visit, they can use their service app to review the system condition, including charge and any existing alerts, before they even leave their office. This allows contractors to be better prepared and spend less time at a job, which allows them to make more money.

“This product seems to have many of the features we as contractors are looking for,” said one of the contractor judges. “Due to limited interest from consumers on the highest-end equipment, I would hope many of these features would be soon adopted on lower-tier units.”


Taking home the silver award is Rheem Mfg. Co.’s Prestige Series R97V Modulating Upflow Gas Furnace.

The R97V modulating gas furnaces are patented heating units that modulate between 40-100 percent operation to minimize inconsistent cold spots inside the home. These furnaces provide consistent temperature and humidity levels, which result in exceptional home comfort. The units meet Energy Star Most Efficient product qualifications, which ensure homeowners with a comfortable home and lower utility bills.

Designed using Rheem’s 360°+1 Product Development philosophy, the Rheem and Ruud modulating furnaces provide more than 35 new features, which make them exceptionally contractor-friendly. These units are the only ones that feature Rheem’s exclusive PlusOne Ignition system, PlusOne Water Management system, and
PlusOne Diagnostics.

When installed as part of the Rheem EcoNet Smart Home System, the Rheem Prestige Series R97V furnace provides both homeowners and contractors with real-time maintenance and diagnostic information. The Rheem EcoNet app gives homeowners the functionality to set comfort levels and change operating modes through a central hub, which is accessible from a homeowner’s mobile phone or tablet.


Winning the bronze award is Enertech Global LLC’s GeoComfort Navigator Series 2-Stage Split Geothermal System.

GeoComfort’s new geothermal split system is equally well-suited for new construction and existing home installations. The space-saving footprint of this unit makes it an excellent choice for new construction homes with minimal space for mechanical equipment. The unit can be used alone or added to a conventional furnace in new or existing homes to supplement the geothermal system in severe temperatures.

The GeoComfort includes a foam-enclosed, enhanced-surface coaxial heat exchanger that improves heat transfer for increased efficiency, a small footprint for installation where space is limited, and two-stage Copeland UltraTech scroll compressors that ensure exceptional reliability. The unit has a flow-switch-protected heat exchanger and an oversized control box that accommodates accessories, such as direct digital controls (DDCs) and soft start kits. The top and all side panels are removable for easy service access. High and low service ports are included at the compressor for improved serviceability. The external mount desuperheater switch allows for easy shutoff for diagnosis or during the winter months. It has double O-ring fittings for source-loop connections and front-seated service valves. Additionally, the UL GREENGUARD Gold-certified foam cabinet insulation improves air quality and has low chemical emissions.   

Publication date: 7/24/2016

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