HVAC manufacturers rely on engineers and product developers to continuously innovate and rethink existing systems. This innovation plays an important role in producing highly efficient products that consumers now demand.
However, another factor designers need to keep their focus on beyond improved and optimized performance is creating a product that works for all members of the two-step distribution process. HVAC contractors are an important part of that distribution model and they are looking for state-of-the-art solutions that truly meet the needs and expectations of homeowners, while making installations easier and more efficient.
Everyone involved in the industry talks about the workforce development problem. With many older workers retiring, HVAC contractors are not finding enough of the younger generation to take their place. Another way to attack the problem is decreasing the amount of time a technician or installer spends on a job.
The ACHR NEWS’ Dealer Design Awards highlight the top products in the HVAC industry as judged by contractors. In addition to many other factors, ease of installation, maintenance, and service is an important one when the products are judged. Because that means a technician can get the job done a lot quicker with less probability of a callback.
Take, for instance, leading manufacturer Trane’s S9X2 Gas Furnace design, which recently received Gold honors in the 2020 Dealer Design Awards.
To learn from Trane’s process, we connected with the team to see how they worked with their dealers to develop this cutting-edge furnace. They assembled a 12-person dealer council to evaluate what works and where improvements could be made on existing pieces and landed on revamping three key features.
- Blower Housing Rails – Historically, the blower housing can be difficult to maneuver in and out especially in crowded or tight installation spaces. The S9X2's blower housing rails make the blower housing and blower motor easier to slide in and out of the furnace cabinet. The rails help technicians more easily remove the blower for servicing too.
- Furnace Control – Many furnace airflow speeds are chosen through the use of dip switches and physically rewiring the control board, but this process takes a considerable amount of time and requires that the unit be shut down before rewiring or changing dip switches. All of the S9X2’s nine speed taps are electronically selectable with their menu-driven Integrated Furnace Control (IFC). This allows a technician to change the airflow setting with option buttons and without having to shut down the unit or a lengthy wiring process.
- Serviceable Burners – One of the most frustrating features of old furnaces is they required technicians to disconnect gas lines, remove the entire set of burners, and replace them after cleaning. The S9X2 burners can be snapped in and out of place one at a time with no disconnections required. This makes it easier to clean or replace as needed.
The S9X2 delivers the comfort and efficiency that homeowners are looking for while making it much easier for dealers and technicians to install and service. S9X2’s dealer-first features change the way units are installed, helping homeowners save time and money. The S9X2 furnace offers two stages of gas heat for comfort in cold weather and a CTM blower for maximum efficiency in warm weather while maintaining the quality and reliability for which Trane is known.
The company is currently working on developing a fully modulating S-Series family that includes all of the dealer-focused features listed above and more. Stay tuned!