As a result of the pandemic, individuals are spending more time at home than ever before, and they are increasingly concerned about the quality of the air they’re breathing. The same concern can also be seen in the commercial market, as building owners and managers are looking to ensure proper IAQ in offices where employees have returned to work.
This is resulting in a boost in business for HVAC contractors, who have long been seen as experts in the field of IAQ. Those who are well versed in the latest technologies have seen growing demand for their services — and they’re expecting this interest to continue even after the pandemic ebbs.
One of the IAQ solutions that has proven popular for both contractors and customers is the REME HALO® from RGF Environmental. This in-duct air purifier can be used in just about any residential, commercial, or industrial application in which a ducted HVAC system is installed. The REME HALO is very effective, because it combines seven different technologies into one product, said Dr. James Marsden, executive director for science and technology at RGF Environmental Group.
POPULAR PRODUCT: RGF Environmental is manufacturing the REME HALO in-duct air purifier as quickly as it can, in order to supply contractors with this very popular product.
“The antimicrobial technology component is called photohydroionization® (PHI), and this is a UV-based technology that neutralizes airborne and surface bacteria, viruses, and mold, while eliminating gases (VOCs) and odors,” he said. “The UV helps drive a chemical oxidative reaction, which takes water vapor and converts it to hydro-peroxide, which is one of the best antimicrobials known. This process leaves no chemical residue whatsoever.”
This is really important, because research is coming forward that shows that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, commonly known as COVID 19, is emitted in droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, etc., said Marsden.
“Almost 90% of the particles that are created in a sneeze or cough are about one micron in size, and they can stay airborne for long periods of time,” he said. “So if you want to fully control those risks, you need to eliminate that virus in aerosol form out of the air, which means that you have to have an active air treatment system. And that's where REME HALO comes into play.”
To prove its efficacy against the virus, RGF funded a third-party study, which revealed that REME HALO is highly effective in neutralizing the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The test procedure used the SARS-CoV-2 virus inside a large chamber (1,280 cubic feet), representing a real-world air-conditioned office or home, and the virus was nebulized into the space, simulating a sneeze or cough from an infected person. With the REME HALO operating inside the chamber, the virus was reduced on contact, resulting in a 99.9% reduction of the virus within the simulated real-world space.
“That third-party testing took place this summer, and it showed that in both applications — inoculated surfaces and surfaces exposed to the aerosol virus — there was a 99.9% reduction,” said Marsden. “Once equilibrium was reached in that large chamber, which took about 45 minutes, almost all the virus was inactivated. Of course, this was performed under controlled conditions, so we aren’t making any claims that the REME HALO will diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, virus, or illness.”
One contractor who is a big fan of the REME HALO is Erin Hardy, who along with her husband, Heath, owns Axis Mechanical LLC in Magnolia, Texas. Their company started offering the technology four years ago, after installing it in their own home. They saw the benefits immediately and knew immediately that it was a product they wanted to share with their customers.
“We have two sons who were often sick with strep throat, and we haven’t had a single case of strep in our household since installing the REME HALO,” she said. “As a mom, I love that REME HALO is treating my entire home, not just one room. We have had air purifiers that we purchased from Amazon in the past, but they only treat a small area of the home. With REME HALO being installed in our attic, I don’t have to have a system in each room, and I love that it is taking care of all of the air inside my home. ”
To date, Axis Mechanical has installed about 100 REME HALOS, and they have seen more demand for the product since COVID-19 became an issue. That’s because the pandemic has led many customers to become more conscientious of the air quality in their homes, said Hardy.
“We also live in a region that is prone to mold spores, and the REME HALO is one of the only products I know of that is effective in reducing that toxin,” she said. “In fact, one of our customers is a doctor who specializes in environmental toxins, and he ‘prescribes’ the REME HALO for his patients.”
While sales of REME HALO are up, Hardy is quick to point out that as a “mom and pop” company, they don’t offer the product as a benefit to their company so much as a benefit to their customers.
“We have never paid for advertising of the REME HALO system; instead, we have shared about our personal experience with it on our company Facebook page,” she said. “Our customers who have the REME HALO have then been quick to share their success with the system with their family and friends as well.”
Danny Towers, vice president of operations at Weather Engineers Inc. and Envirovac in Jacksonville, Florida, also can’t say enough good things about REME HALO. He started offering the technology in 2015, after he started receiving complaints from customers about a different IAQ product he had been offering for close to 20 years.
EASY INSTALLATION: Senior service technician Glenn Pearl (left) and technical advisor Chris Schwartz from Weather Engineers Inc. demonstrate how easy it is to install a REME HALO.
“We were looking for another a new product to add, because the one we were currently using just wasn't meeting our standards,” he said. “A local industrial hygienist recommended REME HALO for a particular customer with severe allergies. We installed it in the client’s home, and they were very satisfied with the results. During the next year, we installed 12 HALOS in the homes of our employees and began testing the product for ourselves. We also visited the factory and made sure the product, technology, and manufacturer aligned with our values. This year we will probably install about 400 of them. It’s been a great addition to our business.”
What Towers likes most about the REME HALO is that it is easy to install and comes fully packaged with a transformer and everything needed for installation.
LOADING UP: Service apprentice Roy Clark Jr. (left) and install apprentice Chase Hughes from Weather Engineers Inc. load REME HALOs into their truck. This year, the company will install about 400 of the devices.
“Once one of our team members determines that the HALO will fit within the system configuration, installation is simple,” said Towers. “Find the supply location recommended, use the template provided, cut the hole, secure the HALO to the duct, install the transformer, and power it up. Depending on the supply duct access, it can take less than 30 minutes to install. The HALO has an indicator light so you can see that the purifier is working, which is a great feature that clients love.”
Offering the HALO has been of particular benefit this year, as it has helped offset some of the commercial business that has been lost due to the pandemic, said Towers, who noted that he has installed more HALOs commercially than residentially this year.
“We had a commercial client who wanted to put in higher MERV filters, but the reduced airflow was going to have a negative effect on the HVAC performance,” he said. “So we installed the HALO instead. The technology causes small particles to stick together, then they are picked up by the filter. For the customer, it was a great option, because it increased the ability to pick up more particulates and also add purification without starving the airflow of the air conditioning system.”
This is just a great product, added Towers. “It reduces airborne surface microbials, bacteria, viruses, mold, smoke odors, VOCs, allergies, and dust, and it’s got a great warranty. Not to mention the manufacturer support is just incredible. The HALO has really been a blessing for us this year.”