Three years of research and development went into the 2018 Dealer Design Awards gold-winning product in the HVAC Residential Equipment category. Lennox’s SL280NV Ultra Low NOX gas furnace was built to address a market need in the South Coast and San Joaquin air quality districts in California, which require the reduction of emissions to 14 nanograms of NOX per joule. This regulation, coupled with innovations from Lennox and its dealers, led to the final design.

“Lennox continually strives to incorporate feedback from dealers in the design of all of its equipment, and this unit was no different,” said Steve Pitlik, director product management - heating. “The main focus was to make this product safe and easy to install while meeting performance standards related to noise, airflow, and, of course, emissions.”

In addition to the ultra-low emissions performance, the SL280NV Ultra Low NOX gas furnace operates at low sound levels, the cabinet height is only 33 inches, and the furnace is 10 to 15 percent lighter than a standard unit. The installation requirements are the same as Lennox’s current unit, which makes this environmentally friendly furnace easy to install.

That’s one reason why Ray Broman, president, Honey’s Air & Solar, Modesto, California, likes the new furnaces.

“These furnaces are installed the same way as traditional furnaces,” he said. “Other manufacturers are beta testing similar furnaces that take additional steps — and about 60 extra minutes — to install. Since they do not take any longer to install, there is no additional charge to the end user for a product that is better for the environment.”

Broman has installed about 40 of these furnaces since March, noting that they are the only furnaces that meet the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s ultra-low NOX rule. “As such, we do not have to pay a mitigation fee to use them in the San Joaquin Valley.”

Bob Briley, energy manager, We Care Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Solar, Murrieta, California, also appreciates the ease of install.

“The new changes did not affect installation, so it does not take any more time to install,” he said. “The benefit of this new technology is knowing that we are all doing something about the environment. With a cleaner-burning furnace and meeting all the required codes and regulations, the customer knows We Care is doing it right.”

Lennox has launched a complete portfolio of furnaces to complement the SL280NV, including the new EL180NE, SL297NV, and the EL195NE Ultra Low NOX gas furnaces.

“We now have products available with single- or two-stage gas valve with variable-speed or constant torque motors in both the condensing and non-condensing lines,” said Pitlik.


The Coleman® Echelon™ variable-capacity communicating air handler from Johnson Controls Inc. won silver in this category. The increasing demand for high-efficiency variable-capacity equipment drove this product’s development, said Ken Ely, director of residential product management.

“The specific customer needs were realized by extensive qualitative and quantitative research, employing a combination of surveys and interviews with dealers, distributors, and consumers — our three primary customers,” he said.

Each of these groups specified their own unique wants and needs, and the product was designed to address those factors. Subsequently, dealer focus groups were formed, which allowed constant review of the product, progress, and specification to help steer product direction.

The air handler features variable-speed technology; MaxAlloy™ corrosion-resistant aluminum coils; low-air-leakage cabinets; and EcoTrak™ technology, which allows blower settings to be customized for different comfort needs. The Coleman Echelon Hx™ Touch-screen thermostat works with the air handlers to enhance performance, efficiency, and ease of use.

Contractors will appreciate the air handler’s multi-position feature, which ensures that regardless of the installed position, all the components are included to fit the product into the required space. Field-installed duct flanges simplify the air handler connection to the ductwork, and a factory-mounted electronic expansion valve (EEV) means one less component to worry about during installation.

Due to the increasing demand for high-efficiency variable-capacity equipment, this product family will most likely be expanded on in the future, said Ely.


Taking bronze is the angled service ports and enhanced contactor feature from Goodman® Manufacturing. This optimized design feature allows technicians to easily verify the charge on a cooling system without competing for space with sheet metal housing, tubing, or other components. The 45-degree angle fits comfortably within the existing packaging and provides an easy-access flared copper service valve, which is ready to braze right out of the box. The elevated contactor offers a simple yet innovative solution to not having enough room.

The angled service valve enhancement was co-developed by the company’s engineering and product marketing team, along with customer feedback from ideation to production, said Seth Ure, product manager, outdoor split systems.

“We relied heavily on our world-class engineering team to implement the design change in a way that minimized cost impact and optimized the contractor experience,” he said.

Fundamentally, the design change was intended to improve unit serviceability, and there are a few variations of this product enhancement available.

“Angled service valves and an elevated contactor are just the latest improvements to our overall portfolio of features intended to make contractors’ lives easier,” said Ure.

The Goodman brand team continuously evaluates new ideas to make its products more serviceable, and many of the best ideas begin with contractor feedback, according to Ure.

“We fully expect this to continue, and we’re excited about some of the big changes we have planned for the next few years,” he said.

Publication date: 7/23/2018

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