Trane Technologies’ Trane Link system took home the Gold award for the HVAC Residential Equipment category. After three years of research, the Trane Link system was introduced into the market April 2022. According to Mark Woodruff, senior product manager, the development of the Trane Link system started when the company heard contractors agreeing that their No. 1 problem was finding good, qualified technicians to come and work for them.
“When we talked to dealers about what those special skill sets were, we started to realize that we could solve those problems with technology and ultimately, that new technology became our new Trane Link system,” explained Woodruff.
Woodruff said the product was designed to simplify “the instillation, commissioning, diagnostics, and remote monitoring of Trane variable speed HVAC systems” and provide techs with a plug-and-play experience. Through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, contractors are able to connect to the system and remotely troubleshoot “virtually any system issue,” if needed. In addition, homeowners can access and remotely control their system through the Trane Home app.
The Trane Link system also includes a SmartCharge function, which Woodruff said automatically completes the refrigerant charging process by providing verified measurements and instant feedback through the Trane Diagnostics mobile app.
“They connect the refrigerant bottle to the equipment, they run the Smart Charge algorithm, and it automatically will charge the system for them while they do other work. They don't have to babysit the equipment while it is being charged, and it charges in an accurate and consistent way,” said Woodruff
He added that contractors revealed that the top reason for a callback the day after an install is incorrect settings, which is why the system comes with a step-by-step guided setup wizard that walks the dealer through any custom configurations that the system can't determine on its own — such as line set length or accessory installation.
Brandon Krantz, service and install manager at Krantz Kooling & Heating, said the Trane Link system provides a superior installer experience.
“Some of the hardest things for my installers to do is to set the equipment up correctly. [The Trane Link] basically programs itself, and it definitely speeds up the install. It gives me a lot of peace of mind because when that installer leaves the job, I know that the equipment is set up correctly,” said Krantz.
Woodruff said although the Trane Link system has amazing technology compared to what was used before, the company is just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible. New sensors have been embedded into the equipment to identify impending problems so that these issues can be addressed early on.
One judge noted that “this is the future of our industry-automated systems that take the guesswork out of proper installs and repairs.”
The Unico System from Unico Inc. was honored with the Silver award for the HVAC Residential Equipment category. The M2430BL1-EC2 electronically commutated air handler units feature SMART controls and each are equipped with an M2430CL1-H hot water coil for heating and an M2430CL1-E for cooling, paired with two Bosch outdoor inverter heat pumps.
According to Ashton Gavelek, marketing brand manager, in cooling mode, the small-duct, high-velocity Unico System removes 30% more moisture and provides even temperatures from ceiling to floor.
Gavelek said the modular AHUs and coils make the system easy to transport, install, and assemble in tight spaces. He said that the product also features a smaller-than-average plenum and flexible supply ducts for added convenience.
“The Unico System is specifically designed to fit into small spaces … and provides energy-efficient, superior indoor comfort for troublesome applications in older, historically significant, or custom designed/built homes,” said Gavelnek.
Carrier’s V-Coil, introduced in February 2021, was awarded the Bronze recognition for the HVAC Residential Equipment category. The V-shape coil design was designed to help meet higher 2023 minimum efficiency requirements while maintaining most cabinet heights. Other design features include the extension of coil life, enhancement of corrosion resistance, and reduction of equipment weight.
Braden Cook, product manager and trainer, said the coil is constructed of flat, aluminum refrigerant channels brazed to ridged aluminum fins and configured in a “V” shape with the header tubes positioned at top. He explained that the coil’s geometry provides improved heat transfer, more even and controlled airflow over the coil, and improved system efficiency.
“This new coil will be replacing the current N-coil design and select A-coils,” said Cook. “We design products with technicians in mind. [This product] will simplify the installation process.”
At this time, the coil is designed to only be used with air conditioners, but the company intends to expand its use in the future.