2019 Dealer Design Awards: Residential Controls
New residential controls please homeowners and contractors
ProductEcoNet® Smart Thermostat
Gold-winning Rheem Mfg. Co. spent three years researching and developing its next-generation EcoNet® Smart Thermostat, which builds off the company’s extensive work in sensor technology that began in 2012.
“Unique to the category, it is the only thermostat smart enough to optimize the performance of a home’s HVAC and water heating appliances,” said Carson Burrus, controls product manager at Rheem.
In designing its new thermostat, Rheem’s mission was customer-valued innovations. Rheem performed extensive voice of customer through contractor focus groups, homeowner surveys, training demonstrations, and field tests during product development. The company conducted in-depth interviews with contractors across the country to better understand the pain points during installation and service, as well as how an intuitive control could help overcome common challenges and reduce callbacks. This expert advice on setup and serviceability issues helped lead the design process.
“To ensure the EcoNet Smart Thermostat would be considered among the best-performing communicating thermostats in the industry, Rheem took a 360-degree approach to product design, analyzing each internal and external component to deliver a product that looks as good as it works,” said Burrus. “Instead of a cheap plastic bezel and resistive touchscreen, the EcoNet Smart Thermostat uses premium materials, like a stainless bezel and edge-to-edge blacked-out glass. The thermostat has a remarkable depth-off-the wall of less than 1 inch, making it one of the thinnest in the industry.”
The design of the thermostat is one of the first things that really impressed William Brittingham, vice president at Jerry Brittingham A/C & Heat Inc. in South Daytona, Florida.
“It looks great on the wall because it has a modern smart look to it,” he said. “The touchscreen feels and operates much like a smartphone, which is a familiar feel to almost anyone these days. The Wi-Fi feature is also a huge perk of this controller, because our customers want the ability to monitor and control their comfort from anywhere. The EcoNet Thermostat also has the ability to control Rheem/Ruud Smart water heaters, and this feature adds another way to increase a home’s energy use and efficiency.”
The auto-configuration feature on the thermostat recognizes all installed Rheem smart air and water equipment automatically, configuring and calibrating them for optimal performance and efficiency. Advanced sensor technology continually monitors connected equipment and runs diagnostics on hundreds of components in real time to detect any maintenance or performance issues. When issues are found, the system generates automatic alerts that are sent via email or text to the homeowner with descriptive diagnostic information, helping the contractor identify the specific issue or component before arriving at the job site.
“In terms of service, our technicians love these thermostats,” said Brittingham. “With the EcoNet controller, they can check to see if any alerts have occurred, as well as see a description of what happened. It even keeps a history of alerts or alarms that have gone off in the past. This tells technicians what they may need to spend more time addressing while on a call and helps with quicker and more accurate system diagnosis.”
ManufacturerEmerson Commercial &
Product50X57 Universal Single-Stage Furnace Control
for ECMx Blower Motors
Emerson won Silver for its 50X57 Universal Single-Stage Furnace Control for ECMx Blower Motors, which provides control of the gas valve, flame-sensing circuit, and the furnace blower in both air conditioning and heating modes. The universal control, which was in development for a year, is a response to the furnace fan efficiency ruling (FER), which prohibits permanent-split capacitor (PSC) blower motors in new furnaces beginning July 2019.
“With the market demand shifting to the higher efficiency models, having a universal control for ECMx blower motors will help contractors have the right control on their truck,” said David Vie, director of electronics, White-Rodgers for Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions. “Universal controls allow contractors to cover more applications with fewer controls, reduce inventory, and save time by eliminating extra trips.”
The universal control features a unique plastic cover design that easily installs in most systems. Parallel connectors greatly reduce the need for wiring adapter harnesses, and its ability to automatically configure operational features simplifies setup. This single control services Carrier, Lennox, Trane, and York models and has been designed for seamless installation. The cover on the control offers multiple mounting options to fit all OEM models. There is a simple push button fault recall with tri-color LED status codes and a fault code label on the control.
ManufacturerGoodman Mfg. Co
ProductComfortBridge™ Technology With CoolCloud™ App
Taking Bronze is Goodman Mfg.’s ComfortBridge™ Technology With CoolCloud™ app, which spent almost four years in the making. This solution moves the control board from the thermostat and places it securely in the gas furnace or air handler, allowing for the use of any 24-V single-stage thermostat to work with Goodman and Amana brand high-efficiency systems.
“Many times, homeowners purchase a control system before replacing their current HVAC system, and they don’t want to purchase another expensive thermostat that only works with their newly installed system,” said Jim Fisher, director of controls, motors, and IAQ products at Goodman Mfg. “Conversely, HVAC dealers want better options compared to stocking a wide array of smart thermostats and controls to support their customers’ needs.”
With ComfortBridge technology, HVAC dealers and homeowners can enjoy the flexibility that allows for the use of any 24-V single-stage thermostat. This technology was also designed to be easier to install, diagnose, and service. Compatible with ComfortBridge technology is the CoolCloud app, which offers a wireless connection to the system to quickly connect, configure, and diagnose applicable HVAC equipment.