DALLAS - "It's not the heat, it's the humidity" is a common complaint that can be heard almost anywhere. But it can make or break a business when it comes to the world of retail. The positive impact attained by great products, superior customer service, and competitive pricing in a retail store can often be compromised by excessive humidity.

A recent independent study has shown that humidity and temperature levels affect a customer's mood. [Andrew Parsons, "The Association Between Daily Weather and Daily Shopping Patterns," Australasian Marketing Journal 9, no. 2 (2001)]. The study concluded that when customers are comfortable, their mood tends to improve. This is important because individuals in good moods tend to emphasize positive points and downplay negative aspects of their shopping experience. According to the study, the customer's mood directly affects the inclination to buy, the amount of time spent in the store, and willingness to return.

Maintaining comfortable humidity levels in a retail store can be challenging. Some air conditioning and heating dehumidification equipment uses temperature levels to control humidity removal. This is great when the weather is very hot outside and the store needs continuous air conditioning. The equipment is always running, and acceptable humidity levels can be maintained.

However, this type of equipment usually does not perform well when there is high humidity and a mild temperature. Customers in the store might feel cold and clammy because the equipment is providing too much air conditioning in an attempt to remove humidity. The reverse situation occurs when the equipment maintains a comfortable temperature but allows humidity levels to rise to uncomfortable levels. In this situation, shoppers may not feel hot or cold, but rather like they are sitting in a sauna or walking through a tropical rainforest.

Controlling Heat And Humidity

So how does a retailer adequately control a store's humidity level and still maintain a comfortable temperature? The answer is simple: use a dehumidification system that can control both factors independently. This helps guarantee that both elements needed to keep a store comfortable will remain within the desired range, and that neither factor will take precedence over the other.

According to Lennox Industries, the Lennox L Series® rooftop units, featuring the Humiditrol® dehumidification system, independently control both humidity and temperature, helping to keep the store comfortable all year long. The equipment uses the Integrated Modular Controller to monitor both factors and then determines which mode to operate in to obtain a high level of comfort in the area.

When the system senses that humidity levels are too high but temperature is satisfactory, it will operate in the Humiditrol dehumidification mode until the environment becomes comfortable again. The process uses a highly efficient hot gas reheat system that harnesses the heat and energy generated from the unit's refrigerant system to reheat the air after it has been cooled and moisture has been removed.

In larger units with multiple compressors, the L Series unit can also operate with full dehumidification and lower levels of air conditioning. This is great on days when the temperature outdoors is mild and the humidity is high. This unique capability of the L Series is designed to help prevent customers from feeling cold and clammy on pleasant days.

According to the company, the L Series unit with the Humiditrol system can outperform competitive rooftop products by providing up to 800 percent more dehumidification.

(This claim pertains to Lennox L Series unit with the Humiditrol dehumidification system operating at 65 degrees F, the company said. According to Lennox, the L Series unit is able to remove 1.44 gallons of water an hour, compared to only 0.18 gallons per hour for competing rooftop units.)

When the temperature is too high and the store needs a large amount of air conditioning, the L Series unit will operate in normal air conditioning mode, eliminating the need to utilize the capabilities of the Humiditrol dehumidification system. It is important to note that in this scenario the system still provides maximum dehumidification, removing moisture while providing cooling.

For more information, call 800-453-6669 or visit www.lennox.com.

Publication date: 08/09/2004