Higher SEER doesn’t make a contractor’s life easier, asserted TJ Wheeler, vice president of marketing and product management at Friedrich Air Conditioning Co. In fact, it might make it more complicated. What does make a difference to a contractor is ease of installation and maintenance, and that was Friedrich’s focus in the redesign of the Floating Air Ductless line, on display at the 2020 AHR Expo.
“There’s always been this numbers race — ‘Can I do another SEER?’ — so it’s 16 SEER, 18 SEER, 22 SEER, 30 SEER, 43 SEER … Is anybody asking for that?” he questioned. “So we said, ‘Who is the most important customer?’ And one of the main people in this value chain is the contractor, because they’re often making the solution discussion of a ductless or a PTAC; they’re doing the installation, but they’re also making the brand recommendations.”
The design is called FastPro™ and, according to the company, it makes units 40 percent faster to install, 45 percent faster to clean, and 50 percent faster to service, due to very few fasteners and simple, unobstructed access to coils and other components. For the model on display, Wheeler said, that equates to a couple panels that open up and hinge, plus about five screws.
“Instead of having about 17 screws and all these plastic clips that typically break when you try to either install or maintain it, we made it intentionally come apart really easily with some Lock Tight clips,” he said. “You can actually take the entire drain pan and blower assembly out, so you can see not only the connecting tubing and wiring for when you’re installing the unit, you can actually see both sides of the indoor coil. So not only did we save time — which equates to money — on the install side as well as on the maintenance side, but we did it all in manufacturer design.”
NOT SCREWING AROUND: Attendees at the Expo survey Friedrich’s FastPro™ design. According to the company, it makes units 40 percent faster to install, 45 percent faster to clean, and 50 percent faster to service, due to very few fasteners and simple, unobstructed access to coils and other components.
QUIET, PLEASE: Friedrich’s FreshAire® PTAC was designed to operate quietly. “When you take a PTAC, which normally has a solid wall to the outside, and you try to bring in fresh air, you now open up that wall,” said TJ Wheeler, vice president of marketing and product management. Friedrich created a more complicated pathway to “basically attenuate” the sound.
The unit launched last year in its first-generation version, and the newest model — on display at the Expo — has built-in Wi-Fi. At the booth, a mechanized version of the unit, illuminated by glowing purple lights, glided open and closed on loop, a testament to the technology’s capability.
Also on display at the booth was the Friedrich FreshAire® PTAC, a fully integrated make-up air system that meets ASHRAE 62.1-2013 requirements and brings up to 52 cfm of conditioned, MERV 8 filtered outside air into the space. The unit went through extensive sound testing, and a third-party lab said that the FreshAire had the highest STC rating of any makeup air unit, Wheeler said.
“Which is important because when you take a PTAC, which normally has a solid wall to the outside, and you try to bring in fresh air, you now open up that wall — a hole out to the parking lot, highway, airport,” he said. “So what we did is, we made a more complicated pathway to basically attenuate the sound. It’s a pretty consistent buzzword: ‘How quiet is your unit?’ And we compared very favorably. It’s pretty exciting stuff.”
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