Technician-Friendly Heat Pumps Gaining Market Share Across US
Inverter compressors, self-diagnostics propel heat pumps forward
Air-source heat pump sales are heating up.
This is evidenced by the latest Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) shipment numbers, which identified that heat pump shipments were up more than 14 percent in March 2018 when compared to March 2017.
This increase can be attributed to several features modern heat pumps offer that have proven attractive to consumers, including efficient performance, low sound levels, the ability to heat and cool a residence with one unit, and more.
In addition to consumers, contractors are benefitting from the abundance of features today’s heat pumps are equipped with, including their versatility and the use of variable-speed compressors, self-diagnostics, communicating capabilities, and more.
Johnson Controls Inc.’s York® Affinity™ Premium Residential Systems have effectively introduced emojis into the HVACR industry.
“The York Affinity units feature Charge Assurance, which is built-in, advanced charge monitoring,” said Ken Ely, director of residential product management, ducted division, Johnson Controls. “Contractors can access a capacitive touchscreen by removing just two screws, where they have immediate access to head pressure, suction pressure, superheat, subcool, liquid temperature, and suction temperature readings. If the system’s good, the charge is good, and there are no warnings, then a technician is greeted with a big smiley face. If there’s an issue, the screen emits a frowny face.”
According to Ely, the process takes less than five minutes.
Nortek Global HVAC’s heat pump units utilize all-aluminum coil technology, which helps strengthen performance.
“Our all-aluminum heat pump has been in commerce since 2012 and continues to grow in use,” said Tim Alford, product manager, split systems, Nortek Global HVAC. “Even our two-stage, 16-SEER heat pump utilizes the all-aluminum coil technology. These coils can be designed with a smaller height, and the design itself reduces the chance of leaks by eliminating the number of factory braze joints.”
Nortek also recently updated the functional and aesthetic design of its sheet metal cabinet to be more contractor-friendly.
“The coil guard panels can be removed without removing the top pan or corner post panels,” said Alford. “Removing two screws allows contractors to pull off the panels for easy access to the coil for routine service work and cleaning. The systems featuring the new jacket are durable, attractive, and easy to service and install.”
Bosch’s Inverter Ducted Split Air Source Heat Pump does not require communication between the indoor and outdoor units, as the system modulates solely off the suction temperature and pressure.
“We have a fully modulating, inverter-driven compressor that features full modulation between 25 and 100 percent output,” said Goncalo Costa, director of product management, Bosch Thermotechnology. “This system operates at 18 SEER, and the range is quite simple. We only have two outdoor units and four indoor units. Our contractors can essentially address the entire range of applications, from a 2-ton to a 5-ton application, using these units. This unit is by far the fastest growing product we have in our portfolio.”
The Bosch units all have a small footprint, measuring 29-by-29 inches in size, which makes them desirable in applications where space is limited.
Ecoers ESI ULTRA SERIES inverter unitary systems come equipped with remote monitoring and self-diagnostics technology designed to save contractors time and fuel when troubleshooting.
“Ecoer’s cloud-based technology is communicated through 4G cellular technology instead of Wi-Fi,” said Louis Ing, president, Ecoer Heating and Air Conditioning. “This guarantees stable self-diagnostics and that the alert function will work. This will also help the industry to improve maintenance quality and save on costs.”
The Ecoer Inverter Heat Pump system also makes third-party thermostats adaptive.
“This allows homeowners to access any fancy thermostats they’d like while at the same time enjoying our smart technology as well as a high level of comfort,” Ing said. “Also, technicians are welcome to use the original wiring if it’s still functional, which makes retrofits and replacements much easier.”
Trane’s XV19 uses the ComfortLink® II controller to provide simple setup and configuration for contractors. They can also diagnose issues remotely via the Nexia® platform.
VOLUME AND EFFICIENCY
Trane’s XV19 low-profile variable-speed heat pump can run from 30-50 percent of its rated capacity, which helps increase efficiency and lower utility costs.
The system features a SEER of up to 19.5 and HSPF of up to 11.5, which makes it Trane’s most efficient variable-speed residential heat pump to date. Each unit is built with a Climatuff® variable-speed compressor, condenser coil with refrigeration grade copper tubes, aluminum fin surface to maximize heat transfer, and an integrated fan system with swept blade design to improve airflow and reduce sound levels.
“Exceeding EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] Energy Star’s Most Efficient criteria, the XV19 can save homeowners hundreds of dollars yearly by reducing electrical usage and operating costs,” said Tim Storm, Trane product manager. “Working with our distribution partners, we identified the right system design to meet our customers’ needs.”
Bosch’s Inverter Ducted Split Air Source Heat Pump operates down to 56 dB.
“We’ve had contractors calling us and stating that something was wrong with the outdoor unit because they couldn’t hear it running,” Costa said. “If you’re running these products in the shoulder seasons, there’s a very low demand on the output and, essentially, the product is running at 25 percent of its capacity. It operates very, very quietly.”
York’s Affinity units are recognized among Energy Star Most Efficient criteria and perform at ratings up to 20 SEER and 11 HSPF. Though efficiency is important, Ely said the units don’t sacrifice comfort in the name of efficiency.
“Our units are equipped with a Climate Set feature, which provides a selection of preconfigured operating profiles to optimize the system for operation in a specific climate,” he said. “This feature allows a dealer to quickly configure the unit. When the heat pump is powered up, the systems immediately talk to each other, so they know what they are and what they’re supposed to do. If I live in a humid environment, I can select that setting during setup, which configures how that blower and compressor work together. Without inverter compressors, techs aim to slow the blower down to control humidity.
“However, with inverter-driven equipment, we can speed the compressor up and get the same result,” Ely added.
Publication date: 5/28/2018