The Gold award in the High-Efficiency Residential Equipment category goes to the Ducane Lynx 18 inverter-driven heat pump, model 4HP18V, from Allied Air Enterprises.
The 4HP18V offers high-efficiency and high-technology performance at an attainable price point in the residential replacement market, as well as commercial single-phase applications.
“They pay for efficiency and technology, not extra installation time,” said Cameron Prince, senior manager, product marketing.
Using proprietary QuickLink inverter technology, the Lynx can balance its operation with a wide range of existing indoor equipment, plus provide 2- to 5-ton coverage with only two units.
“QuickLink simplifies how the unit is controlled,” Prince explained. “There is a push button on the control board to select the unit’s tonnage and dip switches set to select the preferred operating mode.”
The heat pump is typically used with air handlers or coils and gas furnaces but can also be applied in straight cool applications. While it is not communicating, its design works with most 24 V thermostats and can match with a variable speed, constant torque, or PSC blower motor on the indoor side. For cold climates, it heats down to -15°F.
One of the manufacturer’s priorities was sound reduction. Ducane’s Lynx 3-ton model delivers a 72 dBA sound level at full capacity and 60 dBA — half as a loud as a standard 14-SEER single-stage heat pump — at low capacity. Other sound dampening features include a variable-speed compressor and compressor cover.
On the install side, research showed contractors wanted simplicity. For easy parts replacement, the Lynx product line keeps the unit control separate from the inverter control.
“Should a board replacement be required, there are seven connectors, six screws, reinstall and rewire,” Prince said. “While the on-board intelligence is proprietary, many of the parts are not, which means it’s much more likely that a technician will have the parts they need in their vehicle the first time, avoiding a trip back to the supplier.”
Additionally, the 4HP18V comes from the factory with service vales that have 45° access ports. This provides clearance for service tools to remove Schrader valves for faster pump downs as well as easier access to install gauge sets.
Ducane took a two-SKU approach to cover a complete application range with fewer units for the dealer and distributor to stock, as well as advanced controls that are easy to set up and compatible with standard 24 VAC thermostats.
“All contractors are struggling with access to equipment, finding many sizes of different pieces of equipment out of stock,” noted a DDA judge. “This solves a very real problem in our industry.”
Jason Cotney, owner at Blow Hard Heating & Air LLC in Prosperity, South Carolina, said his customers are amazed with the units’ efficiency and resulting cost savings. He also likes that it can work on any existing fan coil.
“If the customer wanted to just upgrade part of the system, maybe didn’t have the funds to go ahead and do a complete and total changeout, it can work with the existing fan coil underneath the house and still give the benefits of an inverter system,” he said. “Then later on, they can go back and upgrade the fan coil with the actual paired unit for the condenser.”
Winning Silver was the Ultra-Low NOx Gas/Electric Packaged Unit, Model R8GE, by Nortek Global HVAC. This 14 SEER, 81% AFUE gas/electric packaged system achieves low NOx emission levels through the use of a new burner mesh technology that premixes the gas and air prior to ignition to create a cleaner burner. It emits less than 14 ng/J, cutting NOx emissions by more than half.
Nortek designed the unit specifically to address two areas of the country with the strictest ozone regulations: California's South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD).
“Trends indicate that there is likely to be wider spread adoption of regulations such as these in other states/regions in the future,” said Dave Garvin, product manager. “As greater emphasis is placed on decarbonization in the HVAC industry, products like our ultra-low NOx gas pack are critical.”
For ease of installation, all eco-friendly enhancements are internal to the equipment. The unit has a two-light fault code to make troubleshooting quicker. Technicians have external access to the refrigeration system and can access the control compartment and burner without disrupting the unit's airflow.
A. O. Smith rounded out the category with a Bronze award for its ProLine XE Condensing Tankless with X3 Scale Prevention Technology. The new technology prevents scale buildup in a unit, eliminating the need for descaling maintenance and tripling the unit’s expected lifetime.
When scale from hard water forms a layer coating the inside wall of a tankless heat exchanger fin pipe, it acts as a thermal insulator, preventing heat from properly transferring into the water. This causes the heat exchanger material to retain the excess heat, eventually overheating and damaging the unit. Once scale forms, scale removal maintenance can be performed, but the heater will never return to peak efficiency.
With X3 Technology, technicians no longer have to service scale buildup or the resulting damage. The technology eliminates the need for annual flushing, making routine maintenance easier for technicians. Plus, with a better long-term unit performance outlook, the unit is less likely to require emergency service.
Inside the unit, heat exchanger tubing is made of commercial-grade copper alloy, which resists the damaging effects of corrosion that can cause heat exchangers to leak
The units can be used in indoor and outdoor residential applications and are particularly useful for homes with hard water. They feature a Uniform Energy Factor of 0.93 and comply with Ultra-Low NOx regulations.