Technicians Glen Mansfield and David Kennedy pull new duct through an opening underneath the manufactured home of Wilfred Ross. The Ross home was determined to be the perfect place to install the first Rheem RQMJ 12-SEER dedicated horizontal package unit, and the installation required replacing the old ductwork, which was falling apart. (Photos courtesy Rheem.)
HAINES CITY, Fla. - New technology that features air conditioning in a horizontal package unit was in need of a place for a first installation. Fortunately, the manufacturer, supply house, and installing contractor involved in the search found the right locale in Haines City.

In this Florida community, at the home of 83-year-old Wilfred Ross, a 22-year-old package unit was failing, and failing fast.

"The compressor was going out, sending metal fragments into the reversing valve, causing it to stick," said technician David Kennedy, who had been sent to the home by Jerry Mong, owner of Central Florida Air Conditioning Inc. "With the compressor about dead, the unit reached the point where it would not be economical for Mr. Ross to repair it."

Ross had more than an inkling as to the verdict concerning the cooling (and heating) of his home.

"I knew they were right when they recommended a new unit," admitted Ross, a retired machinist who contacted Central Florida Air Conditioning about the system. "I've called on them numerous times. They know their stuff and always fix my problem. They're also very polite and very efficient."

Mong did not want Ross and his wife, Mildred, to go through a Florida summer without air conditioning. In this case, a call to the local Rheem distributor, Gemaire Group, provided a solution.

Fortunately for the Ross family, Gemaire and Rheem Air Conditioning Division were working together to find what they wanted to be "the perfect home" to install the first Rheem RQMJ 12-SEER dedicated horizontal package unit. Hearing about the problems the Ross family had, Rheem and Gemaire thought this was an appropriate way to use the unit.

In the end, they provided the equipment at no cost, Central Florida AC provided the labor at no charge, and Haines City provided all permit fees at no cost.

Glen Mansfield (left) and David Kennedy provide the final wiring connections. The unit’s four service panels are designed to provide the techs with easy access to all internal components. A durable steel cabinet is designed to protect the coils while allowing the unit to be installed with a flush fit against the home.

The Unit

In this changeout, the 12-SEER heat pump replaced a worn 8-SEER package unit. The company said the Rosses could expect "a major reduction in their monthly energy utility bill" in the cooling and heating of their 1,200-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath manufactured home.

"The unit is available in both heat pump and cooling models and was specifically designed to provide low-cost, superior operating performance for residential applications in both manufactured and traditional home environments," said the company.

"This unit provides numerous options for contractors and homeowners looking for an all-in-one unit that provides home comfort solutions in either heat pump or cooling unit configurations."

The unit installed has a 33-inch by 59-inch footprint (which are in all sizes ranging from 2 to 5 tons, said company officials) and a Copeland Scroll compressor. Features include compact size and flush-mount installation design, a two-sided coil, and an all-steel full-louver cabinet, designed to protect the outdoor coil.

According to the manufacturer, other features of the single-unit system include forkable base rails, designed to allow for separation between the unit base and the ground level; a removable drain pan; accessible evaporator coil and indoor blower assembly; high static airflow performance; and factory/field-installed electric heat. The control box is accessed with the removal of two screws. Entry to the fan motor and scroll compressor is via the removal of the grill.

Company officials said input from Mong and other contractors throughout the United States was gathered during product focus groups and dealer product development audits conducted nationwide.

Company engineers and product concept development specialists said the unit was designed with attention to ease of installation. Once the design was in the prototype stage, the product development teams traveled to contractor meetings throughout North America, asking for analysis and feedback on how to improve the prototype. According to the manufacturer, contractors provided suggestions to enhance ease of installation and other design improvements. Those changes were evaluated and incorporated into the final product design, the company said.

Technician Glen Mansfield hauls away the 22-year-old package unit from the Ross home. The unit that replaced it was the first Rheem RQMJ 12-SEER dedicated horizontal package unit ever installed.

The Installation

Technicians Kennedy and Glen Mansfield first removed the old package unit from its concrete pad, then crawled underneath the manufactured house, unfastened the original ductwork, and dragged it from beneath the home.

"As you can see, the duct is old, dusty, and coming apart," said Mansfield, pointing to several gashes and holes in the duct.

Mong brought two 25-foot boxes of 14-inch duct and one 25-foot box of 12-inch duct. The technicians connected the 12-inch duct to both 14-inch ducts using a Y-shaped pipe. Mansfield and Kennedy climbed back underneath the house, taking the duct with them. The space underneath the house was approximately 14 inches, just enough room for the duct that was of the same size. A trench had to be dug where the 12-inch duct connected to the manufactured home's duct system, which alleviated any chance of crimping.

Poorly designed duct systems are one of the more common problems in the manufactured home industry, said Mong. His team exercised proper duct procedures from the unit to the connection of the home's duct system, but had little control over the manufactured duct system, which was included in the home's original design and fabrication.

The good news for Mong's team was that the new unit was equipped with an indoor motor and blower system that is designed to achieve a nominal 400 cfm per ton, up to a maximum of 0.8 inches of static pressure, to eliminate air distribution problems caused by high static and pushing air through a smaller-sized duct system over long runs.

The heat pump was lifted and placed up against the home, leaving no gaps. The technicians fastened both 14-inch ducts to the unit's supply and return connections. The two round, 14-inch duct collars, which were included with the unit, were crimped around the edge, making it easier to install duct onto the collar.

After the new thermostat was installed inside the house and electrical connections were made on the outside, the unit was ready for operation.

Homeowner Wilfred Ross admires his new heat pump. Rheem, Germaire Group, and Jerry Mong helped Ross by installing the RQMJ 12-SEER package unit.

Happy Ending

Mong said the installation was an opportunity to help someone in need and an opportunity to see how the new package unit installed and operated. He said Central Florida A/C installs approximately 85 to 100 packaged units per year. He was impressed with the new unit's operational characteristics.

"The unit is extremely quiet with very little fan noise," said Mong. "The installation of the actual unit - once you subtract ductwork - was quick and easy. The four service panels provided our technicians with easy access to all internal components.

"The wiring connections were easily accessed and have ample room to maneuver. The design of the unit provides a durable steel cabinet that protects the coils, while allowing the unit to be installed with a flush fit against the home, which looks great."

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Publication date: 06/28/2004