CHICAGO — Mitsubishi Electric Corp. announced it entered into an agreement to establish a 50-50 joint venture (JV) with Ingersoll Rand the week prior to the AHR Expo.

According to the companies, the JV will include marketing, sales, and distribution of ductless and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heating and air conditioning systems through Ingersoll Rand’s Trane and American Standard commercial and residential channels and existing Mitsubishi Electric distributors and representatives in the U.S. and select countries in Latin America.

The systems, manufactured by Mitsubishi and sold by the JV, will be variable-speed mini-split, multi-split, and VRF air conditioners and heat pumps for homes, light commercial, and commercial applications. The venture will distribute products with the Trane or American Standard brand and the Mitsubishi Electric corporate logo to Ingersoll Rand channels.

The JV will also continue to serve Mitsubishi Electric U.S. distributors and representatives with Mitsubishi Electric branded product.

“It’s exciting for the industry,” said Kevin Miskewicz, director, commercial marketing, Mitsubishi Electric US Inc. Cooling & Heating Division. “The ductless and VRF industry is obviously growing leaps and bounds and has been growing double-digits for the last decade or so. This just cements the fact that Ingersoll Rand and Mitsubishi Electric both think that this is a positive thing for the industry and that growth is going to continue. We’re really excited about forming this together and expanding the presence of ductless and VRF technology.”

Mitsubishi is looking forward to the continued growth of the category, Miskewicz noted.

“It’s so exciting after how many years that we’ve been talking about this, the category is still growing double-digits,” he said. “We’re introducing new products at this point to fill in some gaps.”

One such product is Mitsubishi’s new MLZ Series One-Way Ceiling Cassette, an expansion of the M-Series line. Designed to fit between standard 16-inch joists, the MLZ can be easily installed in existing homes and new construction projects.

“Previously, putting in a ceiling cassette which was not sized appropriately meant reinforcement, cutting joists, adding new joists, and cutting through drywall excessively,” Miskewicz said. “The MLZ solves that problem. It slides right between ceiling joists. So, if you’re retrofitting a home, and you want to put ductless technology in it, you don’t have to do any cutouts of the existing joists in the home. It makes it much easier from a retrofit perspective and much easier on the homeowner.”

The MLZ features adjustable airflow and auto vane control, which is capable of adjusting air direction based on the homeowner’s comfort needs. Additionally, the MLZ One-Way Ceiling Cassette can be serviced from directly beneath the unit itself without requiring an access panel. This further eliminates the need for contractors to modify the surrounding area to install or service the product. It also includes a built-in condensate lift mechanism with a 19-inch lift.

“We’re really focusing on those gaps in the market,” Miskewicz said. “And that’s where I see the industry going — it’s turning away from ‘what is this?’ to ‘how do we use this to solve problems?’ Efficiency also continues to be at the forefront. For us, that’s table stakes to be in the business. If you want to be in the HVAC business, you are efficient. Increasing efficiency as best we can is always going to be a goal of ours. In light of that, controls are still important, and have been for years.”

This trend is evidence in the company’s Kumo offerings — the Kumo Cloud® and Kumo Station™, which were introduced at the show.

“The Kumo offering really allows somebody to remotely control their HVAC and other systems, including dehumidification, humidification, ventilation, and more,” Miskewicz said.

Kumo Station expands the capabilities of Kumo Cloud to allow homeowners and building managers to manage cooling, heating, humidification, and ventilation based upon ambient conditions and personal comfort preferences. The four-channel equipment controller, with outdoor air temperature monitoring, integrates with third-party equipment, including two-stage auxiliary heaters, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and ventilation equipment. A patent-pending algorithm enables the Kumo Cloud system to determine changeover based on room temperatures and set points for each indoor unit. This distributed control makes homes smarter and puts homeowners and building managers in control, even when they are away.

Another trend that continues to dominate the market is flexibility, and Mitsubishi consistently strives to make its products more flexible, smaller, and easier to adapt to a space, according to Miskewicz.

In the spirit of flexibility, Mitsubishi revealed two new capacity sizes of its PEAD Horizontal Ducted Indoor Unit at the show. The additions provide lower capacity and higher-static-ducted options that meet the demands of today’s high-efficiency homes. These highly efficient, low capacity units target the Passive House and net-zero-energy applications that continue to grow in today’s energy-conscious society.

The two new horizontal ducted units, PEAD-A09AA7 and PEAD-A15AA7, are compatible with SUZ- and MXZ-series outdoor units and are small enough to be concealed within an attic or closet space.

Mitsubishi’s new 1:1 Ducted Air Handler (SVZ) was also highlighted. Like the M-series’ ductless systems, the SVZ is energy efficient, easy to install, and flexible in its application. What sets the SVZ apart from other models is its one-to-one configuration and smaller footprint. According to the company, the reduced physical size provides more installation flexibility, and the smaller capacities are designed for performance construction applications where you still might like access to designing around ductwork.

“These are perfect for retrofits and replacements in existing homes with ductwork,” Miskewicz said. “You can replace the air handler with this, hook it up to a Mitsubishi Electric system, and you get the benefits of Mitsubishi Electric without ripping out all the ductwork.”

The most visual product at Mitsubishi Electric’s booth was its new CITY MULTI® ceiling cassette indoor unit, featuring the new 3D i-see Sensor™. The sensor was hooked up to a TV, broadcasting thermal profiles of attendees as they perused the booth.

The 3D i-see Sensor is a small, yet powerful component mounted to the exterior panel of the ceiling cassette. The sensor continuously analyzes the thermal profile of a room, identifying cool and warm spots. In order to ensure accuracy, it performs hundreds of circular scans, with multiple points per scan, continuously monitoring a given space.

“The goal of this product is to detect occupancy within a room,” Miskewicz said. “We’ve had this on our big ceiling cassettes for a number of years, and we continue to iterate it to make it smaller and smarter. It spins in a circle in a continuous fashion and recognizes thousands of points within a room, creates a thermal profile, and directs air where it’s needed. So if we’re in a conference room, and we’re at the far end of the table, this is going to direct the vent closest to us to blow cool air — the other vents, not as much. Or, if nobody’s been in the room for 15 minutes, this is going to turn the air off. It’s constantly delivering the best possible comfort and energy savings.”   

Publication date: 2/26/2018