The products also offer service factors and technical features that should be appreciated by HVAC contractors and service technicians.
"Design and aesthetics have never played a more important role in consumer goods," noted Andy Fracica, York brand marketing manager. "So, the Affinity Series 12- and 13-SEER units arrive with something never seen in the industry before - a choice of six exterior colors to complement consumers' homes, landscaping, and lifestyles.
"When you add the energy efficiency and quiet operation of the Affinity Series, you'll see that York offers a full palette of style and value."
The contemporary design of the units includes a tightly patterned coil guard, which helps increase safety and protects the coils from the elements. The G90 steel cabinetry was power painted to withstand a 1,000-plus-hour salt spray test, and the 2- to 5-ton units offer "increased durability in the harshest environment," the company says. The line also features a rustproof composite base pan.
High-efficiency scroll compressors have been isolated behind a composite material that does not rattle or vibrate, thus enhancing reliability and contributing to the units' quiet operation. The fan design helps to make the units among the quietest in the industry, the company says.
The units are also easy to install and service, states the company. "A full end-access panel, with a handle and sliding full-access control box, provide installers and service technicians with easy access to internal components," said Fracica.
An isolated compressor compartment, side discharge service valves, and standard electrical whip with an adjustable knockout plate improve serviceability. A factory-installed, solid-core filter-drier and the use of standard components (from existing high-volume products) should help reduce installation time.
The line products also feature a demand defrost board that features service analyzer capabilities; integrated controls; fault code retention; hot heat pump and fossil fuel jumpers; high- and low-pressure switch connections; and a pipe-freeze protection timer.
In the A/C models, the 12-SEER unit uses R-22 and the 13-SEER unit uses R-410A. Additionally, the 13-SEER unit is Energy Star qualified.
According to a recent study by Frost & Sullivan, the U.S. residential HVAC equipment market generated revenues of $10.78 billion in 2002, with sales projected at $12.84 billion by 2009. There are great opportunities for products that offer differentiation.
"While projections for growth are solid, we think UPG and its channel partners - independent distributors, factory branches, and dealers - can gain market share in the critical residential replacement business," noted Tom Huntington, president of York UPG.
"The way to do that is with a product line that offers true differentiation through a striking appearance and an innovative feature set that will appeal to both the imagination of homeowners and the expertise of our dealers. With the York Affinity Series, we have arrived."
To create the new generation of products, the manufacturer embarked on what it calls "an intensive product development program, enlisting the services of Fitch: Worldwide, a leading branding and design firm." York shared its design goals with Fitch - powerful brand and market differentiation, consumer appeal, and dealer preference.
Fitch developed focus groups and conducted online surveys of distributors, dealers, and consumers, asking consumers and dealers what they wanted and needed. York then defined its feature sets and showed prototypes to research participants. It then integrated these comments and suggestions into the line's aesthetic and technical design elements.
Field-testing began last July on prototype units. Concurrently, York equipped its manufacturing facility in Wichita, Kan., to produce the new line. The company invested nearly $20 million in tooling, created 12 assembly lines to accommodate the line, arranged capacity for R-410A systems, constructed a new sound lab, and designed the manufacturing facility with capacity to meet future demand.
Aesthetics played a large role in the Affinity Series development. Homeowners can choose from a palette of colors including Champagne, Stone, Terra Cotta, Bermuda, Gun Metal Blue, and Jet Black.
"And why not?" asked Doug Widenmann, director of marketing for York UPG. "People like color and they spend significant amounts of time, energy, and money enhancing the comfort and appearance of their single largest investment - their home. In fact the Affinity color options are based on some of the most popular colors for home decor."
He continued: "The launch of the entire line ... will be marked by strong marketing support. Product sales and service training, sales tools including literature and Web updates, distributor-dealer resources online, and integration into existing e-business tools, will figure prominently in the launch throughout 2004, along with trade and consumer advertising and public relations, special promotions, and trade show exposure."
According to Fracica, "Affinity positions York and its distributor network for growth at a time when favorable interest rates, higher energy costs, and consumer confidence are increasing sales of high-end, high-efficiency, high-profit HVAC systems."
For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.yorkupg.com, or visit www.yorkupg.com/Affinity (available March 1).
Publication date: 01/26/2004