It's no secret that 13-SEER unitary products will take up to 40 percent more space than the lower-efficiency unitary products that may make up the bulk of what you are selling today. As we've been saying for a few months now, it's time to take an honest evaluation of the amount of space you as a contractor have for equipment storage and figure out how much space you will need to find.

At this point, it may be in your best interest to look for a space-organizing consultant to hire in order to help you make quick, short-term progress. At least, you need to dedicate one person on your staff to make an assessment of your current space and anticipated operations needs.

That person will need to determine:

  • How much total square footage you currently use for storage.

  • How much square footage you actually use for storing outdoor units and matching indoor coils. Figure out how much space is taken up by smaller, lower efficiency stock; add 40 percent to that figure. If your business size remains the same, that is how much space you will need to find to take care of your new stock.

  • Planning for new indoor coils is as essential as planning for larger outdoor units.


    The next thing you and this person will need to do, is to take a complete inventory of all the HVAC equipment in storage, including refrigerant, oil, cleansers, parts, components, tools, ladders, safety gear, raw materials, forming equipment, and of course, condensing units, evaporators, furnaces, etc. You can also go through your office equipment at this time.

    Now it's time for honesty. Sit down with your most trusted employees and figure out what you really need and what you no longer use.

    Let's clean house. Sell or donate those items that you no longer need, throw out the stuff that nobody wants. Make sure you use appropriate disposal services for potentially hazardous materials.

    What percentage of space have you freed up?


    Now you need to look at what you have and visualize what you could do with it. There are a few different techniques to do this.

  • Software. Some programs, like Descartes' DC Optimizerâ„¢ (, offer a simulation tool that may help you "explore what-if scenarios of warehouse layouts and slotting before committing to big changes and the associated big-ticket costs," the company says. (Note: This is not an endorsement of DC Optimizer per se.)

  • Magnets. Set up a magnetic board that is proportionally the size of your warehouse space, and use proportionately sized magnets to "play" with the floor layout. The benefit is that you can change things around. The drawback to this is that it may not give you an accurate idea of the height you have to work with, and you may lose a great plan before you can record it.

  • Paper and pencil. A little bit of old-fashioned drafting may be all you need to get started reorganizing your space. The drawback is that it's potentially time-consuming. The benefit is that every floor plan is saved.

    Look at all the latest organizing aids available for your warehouse space. Take into consideration:

  • How tall your walls are.

  • What kinds of shelving could help you do this.

  • The materials that could be safely stored higher up.

  • What you would need to safely retrieve those materials.

    Another idea is to store seasonal materials, like heating season supplies, in an area off the main warehouse, like in an attic or another under-utilized space. We will discuss this in greater detail later on.

    Finally, don't forget to ask all employees for input. You could hold an employee contest for the best space-saving ideas. The person who wins just might be a great employee to put on your reorganizing team.

    For more information, click on the Emerson Climate Technologies logo above.