CHICAGO — This year, Johnson Controls Inc. and its respective brands had one of the largest presences during the three-day AHR Expo, occupying 16 booth spaces, akin to a small city.

Within its city-like set-up, the manufacturer highlighted the new crown jewel in its product offerings: the York® YZ Magnetic Bearing Centrifugal Chiller.

“It’s our first chiller that’s optimized to use a new refrigerant — R-1233zd(E),” said Nicholas Staub, product portfolio director, York Chillers; North America, Building Efficiency, Johnson Controls. “The choice of refrigerant enabled us to build a machine that can be more efficient than anything else we have on the market. The refrigerant, and the design choices that came from the refrigerant, allows us to be 9 percent more efficient than our previous generation.”

Chosen for its efficiency, safety, availability, low environmental impact, and cost, nonflammable R-1233zd(E) has an ultra-low global warming potential (GWP) of 1 and is readily available from refrigerant manufacturers.

The chiller uses an integral, variable-speed drive and advanced magnetic bearing technology that features a single moving assembly suspended in a magnetic field that does not require lubrication. This technology requires 80 percent fewer moving parts than traditional oil- or refrigerant-lubricated drivelines. The result is enhanced reliability, reduced maintenance, and improved efficiency.

Additionally, its OptiView™ Control Panel with Connected Services offers over 100 set points, readouts, alerts, trending reports, and more. Data can also be securely connected to an analytics platform for remote monitoring and predictive diagnostics.

“The chiller is smart and able to connect to the Cloud,” Staub noted. “The analytics platform tells you when something is wrong. It will say, ‘You might want to clean the tubes inside here because they’re starting to get fouled up.’ In the past, you would just do it once a year in the summertime. Now, we try to do it based on the conditions of which the chiller is operating at. It’s more predictive maintenance, not scheduled or prescriptive maintenance. And the smart platform allows the data to be stored in the Cloud, where customers can see it, and we can see it, and we can optimize the system for performance. And the smart integration is seamless. It’s like OnStar for your car — it’s a standard part of the chiller already.”

Another product prominently displayed at the expo was the York Affinity™ Variable Capacity Residential Series. These high-efficiency systems feature inverter-driven variable-capacity technology, which dynamically adjusts capacity and airflow, unlike conventional systems that simply turn on or off. Air circulates more precisely and quietly, maximizing comfort while reducing energy consumption. The systems’ Energy Star® Most Efficient qualified, up to 20-SEER YXV air conditioners and YZV heat pumps can reduce energy costs by as much as 50 percent compared to older 10-SEER units and may qualify for utility rebates.

Efficiency is enhanced by matched and communicating indoor equipment, coils, and air handlers seamlessly integrated with the Wi-Fi-enabled York Affinity Hx™ Thermostat. The touch-screen thermostat allows homeowners to precisely control and monitor their home comfort systems anywhere they have internet access. In addition, communicating indoor and outdoor units enable a self-monitoring feature that allows a contractor to quickly identify and diagnose system issues — potential or immediate — and minimize interruptions to comfort.

“What’s exciting about these systems is they’re really starting to break into the tactical use, not only for a homeowner, but for the installer,” said Chip Wade, designer, HGTV personality, and spokesperson for Johnson Controls. “Let’s start with the thermostat — obviously connectivity is a huge deal — and we’re on our way for a release very shortly with a voice control with Amazon Alexa. One of my favorite features here is the Halo functionality where you’re able to set a Halo radius for your proximity, so when you get outside of that, it automatically triggers things, like away mode. I also love the fact thar this is such a small unit. We’re used to seeing these massive, big thermostats. In fact, I had one in one of my properties before where the interface was so big and bright that you almost couldn’t sleep. You almost had to put something over the top of it. Having something much more concise, with all the connectivity, is really just amazing. Being able to monitor it, but also the functionality of your service providers being able to monitor it is phenomenal.”

Wade also spoke of the systems’ built-in Charge Assurance™ monitoring on air conditioners and heat pumps.

“One of things I love the most is it will give real read outs — it will give a binary error code that tells you exactly what’s going on,” he said. “There’s a little cover in the units that open up, so you can make sure the pressures and everything are set without actually having to connect any gauges. So it offers more tactical usability on top of the efficiency. These units go up to 20 SEER, and they’re zoneable.”

Johnson Controls also featured its new Metasys® Enterprise Management (MEM) product, a comprehensive, analytical, cloud-based optimization platform that proactively analyzes building energy and equipment data across an enterprise to identify issues, faults, and opportunities for improved performance and operational savings. MEM works with the Metasys building automation system, other building automation systems, and energy meters that support BACnet IP communications to extract otherwise overwhelming amounts of data and transmit it securely to the cloud where it is turned into actionable information.

Energy Management features automatically collect, analyze, and display information for all configured physical meters and virtual meters located in a facility’s operation. Energy demand and consumption is aggregated and displayed using intuitive, out-of-the-box dashboards. Powerful analytics root out energy and equipment-related problems 24/7. MEM also provides actionable insight through the Fault Detection and Diagnostic (FDD) feature as part of the add-on Equipment Management feature set. This feature allows building operators to take corrective action through FDD-driven work orders. MEM is also easy to configure and use, making it almost immediately operational. Its system architecture is scalable to the facility’s energy needs and equipment monitoring requirements, able to accommodate buildings and systems of varying complexity, size, and scope.

Overall, the manufacturer is looking forward to continuing to increase the energy efficiency of residential, institutional, and commercial buildings in 2018, according to Bill Jackson, president, Global Products, Building Technologies & Solutions, Johnson Controls.

“Sustainability has always been a hallmark of who we are at Johnson Controls, and it will continue to be,” Jackson said. “But the breadth of our product portfolio is where we can really help customers — combining the best building automation systems and controls with industry-leading equipment and air systems, unleashing new benefits that were previously unimaginable.

“By uniting technologies like occupancy sensors and daylighting sensors with energy management systems like Metasys and Verasys, we can help create ‘smart’ buildings that optimize the capabilities of HVAC equipment, like our new York YZ chiller, which is 30 percent more efficient than any large-tonnage chiller available,” he added. “We’re really excited about how we’re bringing all the advantages of our offerings together to make buildings smarter and more sustainable than ever.”  

Publication date: 2/26/2018