A furnace, an energy recovery ventilator, and the first HVAC system to use a single control to integrate and manage six comfort functions highlight the HVAC Residential Equipment category ofThe News'second annual Dealer Design Awards. Simplicity, short height, and quiet operation helped the Classic Series Super Quiet 80 gas furnace by Rheem Manufacturing Co. (Fort Smith, Ark.) win first place in the contest.

The judges were also impressed with Stirling Technology Inc. (Athens, Ga.), which captured second place with its energy recovery ventilator, the UltimateAir RecoupAerator 200DX. Carrier Corp. (Syracuse, N.Y.) took third place with the Infinity System.

GOLD: The Super Quiet 80 features patented technology designed to reduce sound levels.

Gold Winner

The Super Quiet 80 by Rheem Manufacturing (www.rheemac.com) lives up to its name. According to Rheem marketing communications supervisor Keith Davenport, the product features patented technology that makes the furnace "the industry's quietest in its class." Combine that with a 34-inch height, which allows the upflow model to satisfy most installations that traditionally call for a horizontal furnace, and you have the judge's favorite product.

"Product quietness, as well as its size, is outstanding," one judge said. Another added, "Short height is a big plus in older basement installations. Gas and electric inlet options are a plus, also. Unit is uncluttered and simple in design and layout."

"The furnace takes advantage of patented unique combustion air inlet, solid doors, and top plate to perform at industry-leading sound levels," Davenport said. "It provides comfortable and efficient performance at 80 percent AFUE rating. Input rates range from 50,000 to 150,000 Btu."

As with most great products, easy installation is a key. The Super Quiet 80 provides left or right side gas and electric inlet connections that allow for a quick and simple change, depending on installation. Grab holes in doors aid in easy door removal and replacement. A variety of cooling coils and plenums are designed for usage for the gas furnace.

In addition, a five-year warranty on all parts is complemented with a 20-year heat exchanger warranty.

"The design provides dependable comfort without the sound generated by most upflow/horizontal 80 percent gas furnaces," Davenport said.

SILVER: The UltimateAir RecoupAerator 200DX gives both the contractor and customer options.

Silver Winner

The UltimateAir Recoup-Aerator 200DX by Stirling Technology (www.ultimateair.com) is an energy recovery ventilator designed to bring fresh, filtered air into a home or business while simultaneously exhausting stale air. The temperature and moisture conditions of the air being exhausted are transferred to the fresh air coming into occupied space.

"There is no competitor that can match the performance of the UltimateAir RecoupAerator 200DX," said Stirling Technology marketing administrator Niki Morris. "We are the most efficient energy recovery ventilator when it comes to heat transfer, latent moisture transfer, and power consumption, which gives us an outstanding overall apparent sensible effectiveness."

The contractor judges praised the product. "The installation instructions and the sample ways to install were very good," said one judge. "Seems to be both a very good product and forgiving to changing conditions," said another.

This product also gives the contractor and customer options. The unit can be easily wired to run with existing forced-air systems or it can be installed independent of other air-moving appliances.

Along with product literature, Stirling Technology offers experienced on-call technical assistance, installation materials, and contractor service kits for maintenance calls. The company also offers training seminars all around the United States.

BRONZE: The Infinity System includes the Infinity 18 Air Conditioner-38TDB, Infinity 96 Gas Furnace-58MVP, Infinity Series Fan Coil-FE4A, and Infinity Control-SYSTX.

Bronze Winner

Capturing third place in the HVAC Residential category was the Infinity System from Carrier (www.carrier.com). The system uses a single control to integrate and manage all six comfort functions: temperature, humidity, airflow, ventilation, indoor air quality (IAQ), and zoning.

"This has a lot of good ideas," commented one judge. "I think this is very different from the competition."

"Nothing else will control so many add-ons with one controller," said another judge.

The Infinity System includes the Infinity 18 Air Conditioner-38TDB, Infinity 96 Gas Furnace-58MVP, Infinity Series Fan Coil-FE4A, and Infinity Control-SYSTX.

"As the only HVAC manufacturer that makes all components of a complete HVAC system - controls, furnaces, air conditioners and heat pumps, fans and furnace coils, and ancillary products - Carrier is a unique provider for the optimum comfort solution," said Carrier communications manager Alexis Bevington. "In an industry first, the Infinity zone control simplifies installation of zoned systems, eliminating hot and cold spots within a residence."

The system requires only one wiring diagram to connect all components. The startup is also simplified with the Infinity System. The Infinity Control automatically configures itself to the system and all its components. System-wide diagnostics are provided via the control unit in plain language instead of numerical codes that require a manual to interpret.

If any maintenance issue does arise, Carrier has you covered. An optional Remote Access Kit allows the system to contact dealers when service is required, permit remote troubleshooting, and give homeowners remote control of the system via the Internet or telephone.

Honorable Mention

Receiving honorable mention from the judges were the Ductless Mini Split from Fedders Corp. (www.fedders.com); XC21 Outdoor Unit from Lennox Industries (www.lennox.com); and Acclimate 5T 15+ SEER heat pump from Luxaire (www.luxaire.com).

Publication date: 07/18/2005