The 2018 Dealer Design gold-winning product in the HVAC High-Efficiency Residential Equipment category, the MLZ One-Way Ceiling Cassette by Mitsubishi Electric, was designed to simplify installation and maintenance while providing homeowners with improved IAQ via advanced filtration, energy efficiency, and Mitsubishi Electric’s auto vane control technology that enables occupants to customize the airflow rate and direction. The unit syncs with Mitsubishi’s kumo cloud® app and web service, allowing for remote and intelligent management of airflow direction, temperature, and overall personal comfort from the convenience of a smartphone or tablet.

“From the HVAC contractor’s perspective, the most important features are those we designed with ease of installation and maintenance in mind,” said Michelle Robb, director of residential marketing, Mitsubishi.

The MLZ does not require ductwork and facilitates ease of installation with a size and shape that fits between standard 16-inch joists. The unit simplifies maintenance by removing the need for an access panel; technicians can service the MLZ from below, which helps eliminate the need for technicians or remodelers to modify the surrounding area to install or service the product. A built-in, 19-inch condensate lift mechanism provides significant installation savings by eliminating the need for condensate pumps in most applications. Washable filters allow for advanced filtration and improved IAQ. With wider air distribution and a sleek, narrow-body design, these indoor units sit flush to ceilings and don’t require ductwork, accommodating residential retrofits or new construction.

“This unit appears to be very appealing by presenting the benefits of a mini-split system without the negative of having the fan coil/air handler within the room,” noted one of the contractor judges on the Dealer Design Awards panel.

Research and development on the MLZ began two or three years ago, based on feedback from homeowners and HVAC contractors that was captured through focus groups, surveys, consumer panels, and in-person usability testing.

Richard Poag, owner and CEO, Canton Heating and Air, located in the greater Atlanta area, performed a residential install of the MLZ this June.

“I was really impressed,” he said. “It’s a one-way throw, but in my opinion, it throws in four different directions. You can set the fan on oscillate, and it almost moves from left to right: it works really well. The resident loved it — they’re very satisfied.”

Mitsubishi’s future plans for the MLZ include offering the product as a single-zone system.


Taking silver in this category is the 5 Series 506A11 Outdoor Packaged Geothermal Heat Pump by WaterFurnace Intl. Inc.

As part of the WaterFurnace 5 Series, the 506A11 Outdoor Packaged System is a complete heating and cooling geothermal heat pump that delivers efficiencies as high as 27.6 EER for cooling and 4.6 coefficient of performance (COP) for heating. The system provides a wholly outdoor option for the geothermal HVAC market. All components are either housed beside the home/building or mounted to the roof, making it popular in the retrofit market for homes that have limited or no indoor utility space. Most often used for residential heating and cooling, it can be applied to the light commercial market as well.

Features include a dual-capacity compressor and variable-speed ECM fan motor for quiet and efficient operation, Aurora advanced controls for two-way communication among components, and the AID (Aurora Interface Diagnostics) tool that allows the technician to plug directly into the control board for troubleshooting or setup. It’s also compatible with WaterFurnace’s IntelliZone2 zoning system and the Symphony Home Comfort Platform. Internal loop pumps are housed within the cabinet so the technician doesn’t have to run indoor loop piping, and an all-aluminum air coil makes for a long-lasting life span and cuts down on corrosion.

The 506A11 Outdoor Packaged System launched in March, after two years of feedback from dealers and customers. Future plans could include a variable-capacity compressor for even more efficient operation.


Taking bronze is Johnson Controls Inc.’s Champion Momentum™ Series HL20B, a split-system heat pump that can provide quiet, high-efficiency cooling up to 20 SEER and heat down to an outdoor temperature of minus 5°F for residential uses. When matched with a modulating gas furnace, it can also be used as part of a dual-fuel installation, adjusting capacity year-round to maximize comfort while minimizing sound and energy consumption.

The HL20B is a four-wire communicating system that uses traditional 18-gauge thermostat wire. When properly wired and powered up, the unit recognizes all the individual system components and configures the system accordingly while retaining the ability to fine-tune installations to deal with humidity or airflow challenges.

The HL20B’s smart device apps and system controls provide remote access to assist the consumer, contractor, and dealer with troubleshooting and diagnostics. During an annual clean and tune, technicians can quickly evaluate overall system condition, including the refrigerant charge, without a manifold gauge set or refrigerant line temperature probe via the built-in Charge Guard™ feature. When the screen cover is removed, the screen displays either a smiley or a frown face, indicating that systems are operating correctly or that diagnostics are required. If an alert code exists, the system records a thumbprint of system conditions at the time of the issue. Using the HX Pro contractor app, the contractor can access the unit remotely (with the homeowner’s permission) to adjust, diagnose, or monitor the system from their office or service truck.

The touchscreen display also shows direct read-outs of high and low system pressure, displayed in the same format as a manifold gauge set, and it automatically calculates superheat and subcooling.

The HL20B’s platform was developed with more than 250,000 man-hours of system research, five years of accelerated field testing, and extreme weather testing. Research included a combination of surveys, interviews, and focus groups with dealers, distributors, and consumers.

Publication date: 7/23/2018

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