The theme of Panasonic’s booth this year was “Redefining Comfort to Deliver Quality Air For Life.” As Victor Flynn, senior product manager at Panasonic, explained, with the HVAC industry focusing so much effort on temperature alone, Panasonic felt it was necessary to redefine comfort with a much broader meaning.
“This means HVAC solutions for not only temperature comfort, but also enhanced comfort provided by solutions such as purification, deodorization, connectivity, fresh air, reliable/well-designed solutions (e.g., reduced callbacks, long-term value, better homeowner/end user comfort), and service/support,” he said.
To that end, Panasonic highlighted three new products that will help meet its expanded definition of comfort when they become available later this year.
The first is the high-performance ClimaPure™ XE Series ductless heat pump system (available in March), which features nanoe™ X — a built-in unique air and surface purification technology that provides a comfortable environment for occupants by reducing pollutants and odors at a nano-scale. The patented technology disperses hydroxyl (OH) radicals through the air and deep into fabrics to effectively decrease common odors and pollutants in the indoor environment. As an added benefit, nanoe X also helps retain skin moisture and reduce dryness issues for occupants.
“The ClimaPure XE Series features whisper-quiet heating and cooling, high-performance operation in cold climates, and advanced built-in air and surface purification technology, setting a new standard for a comfortable indoor climate,” said Flynn. “This cold climate unit can go down to minus 15°F, and it’s actually NEEP (Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership) listed, which is often used for rebate programs.”
The unit’s built-in Wi-Fi means all functions of the unit can be monitored remotely. In addition, it is possible to monitor up to 200 units in 10 different locations from one app, said Flynn. This is ideal for landlords, for example, who may want to keep tabs on how much energy is being used in their multiple buildings.
Panasonic also showcased its expanded line of ducted VRF air handling units, which now include solutions for 6-, 8-, and 10-ton requirements. With high static capability up to 1.5 inches ESP and 3,600 CFM, Panasonic’s large duct units are the ideal VRF solution for larger spaces in a wide variety of building applications, noted Malcolm Persaud, senior product manager of commercial products at Panasonic.
DUCTED VRF: Panasonic’s expanded line of ducted VRF air handling units now include solutions for 6-, 8-, and 10-ton requirements.
The third new product — ECO Ventilate packaged fresh air and dehumidification system — complements Panasonic’s ECOi VRF product lines, providing a complete comfort solution that encompasses heating, cooling, fresh air, IAQ, and humidity. Sizes currently available range from 12 to 100 tons and 2,000 to 11,000 CFM, and standard features include modulating hot gas reheat coil, factory-installed unit controller, and integral liquid subcooling coils for further capacity. Heating options include electric heat with silicon controlled rectifier (SCR) controls or natural gas heater with 10:1 modulation. The ECO Ventilate also offers a compact footprint in the EVK model with vertical or horizontal discharge arrangement.
“In addition to high operating efficiency, these units feature excellent part-load characteristics, which are achieved with the inverter duty compressor on the lead stage of the dual circuited packaged units,” said Persaud. “With high-performance in a wide range of sizes and versatility to use in many different applications and climatic conditions, ECO Ventilate packaged dedicated outside air systems (DOAS) provide an optimal solution for ventilation and dehumidification.”
With all three of these new solutions, Panasonic is giving contractors additional innovative options to offer in residential and commercial applications that meet the needs of building owners and occupants for improved HVAC comfort and IAQ, said Flynn.
Besides innovative products, Panasonic wanted to emphasize to contractors attending the Expo that they need to be knowledgeable about the many different comfort elements in mini-split and VRF systems — not just temperature comfort — that are advantageous for both owners and end users, said Persaud.
“That is why, as a manufacturer, we offer free training, so contractors can understand how to deliver the right comfort for different users,” he said. “We realize that a system is only as good as its installation, and we take pride in our training program and highly trained team that can help technicians with their projects.”
Given that ductless system sales continue to grow at a fast clip, more technicians will likely want to take advantage of this type of training.
“The growth has been in the double digits, and we’re starting to see multi-zones growing at a faster pace than single zones,” said Flynn. “That means ductless systems are not just being used in additions or garages, but people are buying them as a primary heating device, which is a whole paradigm shift that is happening.”
Ductless systems are particularly beneficial in old homes that have hydronic heating, which are often located in the Northeast. As Flynn noted, many of these homes are over 100 years old and feature stunning architecture, and owners want to fix them up, rather than tear them down. Installing ductwork is often not an option, so a multi-zone unit is a perfect solution, he said.
In keeping with the theme of “Redefining Comfort” in the booth, Flynn believes that in the coming years, the HVAC industry will continue to evolve past the temperature-only requirements for heating and cooling spaces.
“I think we’ll see HVAC comfort redefined in the industry to also include comfort increasingly meaning the right humidity level, limiting drafts, increasing purification elements, and easy installation and servicing,” he said.
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