ESSEN, Germany — Mini-split air conditioning may never have such a large impact on the U.S. comfort cooling industry as they have had in Europe. But a look at what makers of such equipment were talking about at the most recent International Trade Fair for Refrigerating and Air Conditioning (IKK) here can give some idea of a/c trends.

Manufacturers were stressing that the latest products are among the quietest ever made. And for the time being, R-407C still is preferred over R-410A.

Long-time refrigerant R-22 now is barely making a blip on the mini-split screen.

The refrigerant issue is in a state of flux. Manufacturers initially preferred R-407C because it was easier to modify previous technology for that new refrigerant. But at least one refrigerant producer predicted use of R-407C would level off in Europe in 2005, at which time R-410A would become the air conditioning refrigerant of choice.

He said one reason will be manufacturers completing redesigns of air conditioners that will work with R-410A.

Along with refrigerant preference, companies discussed the quietness of their mini-splits.

An example of the quiet talk came from Mitsubishi Electric, which proclaimed that the newest models in the RV Series run at 26 to 29 dB, billed as “the quietest operation in the industry.” The company claims “sound has been decreased by more than 50%.”

It was done in part, the company said, by modifying the positioning of the heat exchanger to make airflow smoother, while an increase in fan diameter produces larger airflow volume at lower fan speeds.

The company Electra noted that its Inverter model is now being made available worldwide. The unit features an inverted compressor to optimize temperature control.

A unit from UKT employed three ventilation speeds for quieter runs.

And Tadiran promoted its split system for both commercial and residential applications. The units have room control units that are designed to determine the quality of airflow supplied to each room, all controlled by personal remote control units through opening and closing of the damper’s louvers.

Sidebar: Checking in on 'Herr Murphy's Law'

ESSEN, Germany — Call this a cautionary tale. The moral is: If you are going to do business overseas, make sure any text that you want translated into a foreign language is translated properly.

At the International Trade Fair for Refrigerating and Air Conditioning (IKK) here, any one piece of booth literature will often be available in German, English, Italian, and French versions.

At the booth of one European company, the German headline on a flyer proclaimed, “Qualität ist uns Verpflichtung.” A check of a German-English dictionary showed that last word had three possible meanings in English: “Obligation,” “Commitment,” or “Liability.”

The first two would work well in translation, as in “Quality is our Obligation” or “Quality is our Commitment.” The third choice — “Quality is our Liability” — doesn’t do it.

Guess which one this company choose for the English translation?

Call it Herr Murphy’s Law: When you have three choices and only one is wrong, you will choose the wrong one — unless you are very, very sure of the translation.