The first major cooperative effort to educate the industry via an online format attracted an estimated audience of nearly 1,000 people. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), the Heating, Airconditioning, & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI), andThe NEWSteamed up to sponsor the 13 SEER Webinar Series, a series of four training events that provided information on various aspects of the industry's transition to the 13 SEER energy standard for residential air conditioning and heat pump products.

A Webinar is an online seminar with presentations that allow for audience participation while everyone is signed into a Web site location from the convenience of their own computer screen. In the case of this 13 SEER Webinar Series, the presenters communicated valuable information while the audience participants viewed slide presentations, listened to audio via their own computer, and had the ability to send questions to the presenters in real time.

The educational sessions were held on Nov. 7, Nov. 14, Dec. 9, and Dec. 14. ACCA, HARDI, and The NEWS developed the educational content based upon input received throughout the year from various sources. The four Webinars included 13 SEER information on the residential replacement market, new home construction, new selling approaches, and a final expert review of the most frequently asked questions from the first three Webinar sessions.

The 13 SEER transition has become perhaps the single biggest concern the HVAC industry has faced in the past two decades. Though the industry has been gearing up for the change for more than two years, many have seemingly been caught off-guard as evidenced by some of the questions during the Webinars.

One of the unique features of the Webinar events was the interactivity between the session presenters and the audience tuned in from around North America. The audience sent questions which a moderator relayed to the respective presenters and as many were answered as was practical during each of the hour-long Webinars.

The questions revealed several areas of major concern for contractors during this time of change including: the importance of coil and condenser matching, the proper use of metering devices with older coils, latent and sensible load ratios, and warranty concerns for mismatched systems.

As might be expected, manufacturer speakers answered such questions with as much generic application as they could, though a few biases sometimes surfaced. Every product manufacturer has very specific recommendations (and some have requirements) for system matches within their own product lines.

In the end, all speakers recommended that contractors always contact the distributor or manufacturer for a particular product in order to find the specific information required to make good judgments, especially with regard to evaporator coil matches.

Publication date: 12/26/2005