ATLANTA — More than most places, the AHR Expo is one of those wall-to-wall events where breakfast is the most important meal of the day. LG Electronics strengthened the case for that adage with its press breakfast at the Georgia World Congress Center. It featured insights and comments from a panel of executives and kicked off with Kevin McNamara, the senior vice president and general manager of Air Conditioning Technologies for LG Electronics USA.
McNamara described how consumers might see an entire wall of VRF units at an outlet in Europe, while there might be just a few units here. However, he sees the U.S. as finally being past the tipping point now for broader acceptance, announcing that LG will be “investing very heavily here in the U.S. to make clear what we can do for our customers.”
The manufacturer’s Multi V™ 5 air-source VRF system and its LGRED° technology were in the spotlight, designed to do away with the occasional perception that VRF is more suited for cooling than heating.
“We waited until we could perfect the application,” said McNamara. “[The team wanted to] make sure that a 12-ton unit at 22°F is going to give you 12 tons, and not at the cost of 20 tons.”
Carl Barnard, director, control sales, LG noted that 90 percent of U.S. buildings are under 150,000 square feet. This represents a large opportunity to reach owners who are looking to improve performance and offer them a single-source solution. Barnard declared that while so many people are still “flying blind” regarding their assets’ activity, there’s no need anymore — a paradigm shift is underway. In that regard, LG will use its AI and ThinQ cloud resources to manage data, all while using open APIs.
Donald Decker, director, owner sales, LG, expects big things from an expanded sales team that can use more industry-specific terms to talk about solutions with clients working in particular sectors. He sees the three key markets as health care, retail, and hospitality — all perfect, he said, not only for VRF but for other LG offerings in solar, TVs, appliances, and energy storage.
Decker said that owners are getting savvier regarding the design and construction processes. That tied into McNamara’s comment that 80 percent of what their team does originates from customers coming to them and saying, “Hey, can you guys do this? …” In fact, he said that market feedback drove the Multi V 5, with heat recovery a key and the 5-ton unit hitting the “sweet spot” for meeting many needs in the U.S. market.
McNamara concluded by predicting great growth in the schools sector, observing that these settings are perfect for VRF, and the company is well-positioned for success there.
The Multi V 5 wasn’t the only attraction on the LG marquee this year, even if a couple of others aren’t as obvious to the naked eye.
The ThinQ reference above works with the LG SmartThinQ app. It is compatible with all the WiFi-enabled indoor units from the manufacturer, but the potential kick for consumers is that it can also control other enabled LG devices in their homes. So an LG option for indoor comfort may be the nudge to enjoy using SmartThinQ to control their refrigerators, ranges, washing machines, and/or robotic vacuums.
For commercial customers who may want to add VRF technology to their existing HVAC and controls environment, the company offers the LG MultiSITE Communications Manager. It allows the company, for the first time, to eliminate the need for an additional third-party gateway and integrate with an existing third-party BMS.
A couple of items were on display ahead of reaching the market in coming months.
Debuting at AHR 2019 were LG’s redesigned high static ducted units. With a cleaner chassis design, the units have a reduced height and overall width with the control box to maximize design space. In addition to the reduction in size, the new design is lighter and features bottom access to the control board for improved installation, commissioning, and maintenance. The new high static ducted indoor units come in a range of capacities and will be made available in spring 2019.
LG’s latest vertical air handling units (VAHUs) for ducted residential and light commercial applications also previewed at the show. Providing design flexibility of the four-way installation capabilities (vertically, horizontally from the left or right, or inverted with a down-flow conversion kit), the new VAHUs now feature a constant cfm motor, which maintains a constant airflow for better efficiency and comfort. The VAHUs are Wi-Fi capable, furthering the homeowner’s ability to control their heating and cooling needs through the LG SmartThinQ app. The new VAHUs will be available through LG distributors in the spring.
Publication date: 2/18/2019