Sticking With the Method We Have

Mike Murphy’s Dec. 3 column on SEER [“Murphy’s Law: SEER Testing Needs an Overhaul”] is probably on point, but I think misses the bigger point.

Efficiency testing of HVAC equipment is not an intellectual exercise to tell you how much energy a system is going to use. It is a comparison exercise to be used as part of the system evaluation.

As such, it is very relevant as long as the test methodology reasonably resembles the operating conditions and all the systems are tested the same way. Regardless of the method used, the comparison between systems is then relevant. Two systems rated 10 and 14 SEER respectively will yield the same efficiency difference regardless of how you calculate it or what correction factors apply if the 10 and 14 are calculated the same way.

Changing the test procedure may be an intellectually correct exercise, but it will invalidate all the prior testing and therefore all comparisons.

This is a little like the rating system ARI [Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute] uses for chillers. For years we compared chiller performance by comparing water pressure drops and full-load power input (in kW/ton). Then someone decided that kW/ton at full load didn’t give the right answer, and a measurement called IPLV [integrated part load value] was born, which was, in essence, an average rating across four load points. Then we got APLV [application part load value] because IPLV wasn’t relevant at non-ARI conditions.

You know what we really got? Confusion. The customers who look at these numbers for decision-making guidance don’t always understand them, and this made it worse. A 0.5 kW/ton chiller still uses less energy than a 0.6 kW/ton chiller, and unless their part-load curves are radically different (which is rare) it will at all load points.

Even if we spend a lot of industry time and money redoing the SEER rating system, at the end of the day, 14 SEER is better than 10, and our customers understand it.

Brad Bolino
Division President
John J. Kirlin LLC,
Mechanical Services Division
Rockville, Md.

Earn Trust With Their Appearance

While I agree completely with John R. Hall’s column “Let’s Not Judge Our HVAC Kids On Appearance,” [Oct. 8, 2007] which clearly stated that we shouldn’t make a big stink about the way these young people were dressed, I also believe that, as HVACR contractors, we should not really encourage our employees to dress like gangstas.

I work for my brother-in-law, in a small four-man shop in South Dakota. Three of the four of us wear goatees, and I have a shaved head. We’ve had employees with tattoos, and obviously the tattoos didn’t affect their ability to install and service equipment.

However, I would make a point to say that we try to be the sharpest-looking technicians in town. We want our customers to feel that they have been serviced by a professional, clean-cut, well-mannered, and well-spoken individual that is knowledgeable and capable.

Before getting into HVACR almost two years ago, I managed retail tire stores for about eight years. I have a great deal of professional sales and management training, and applicable experience as well.

And in a business where the norm is to assume that as a customer you’re about to be taken for a ride, my experience is that customers are less likely to place their trust in an individual that looks like a former convict or a biker. I realize that we cannot judge each other on appearance. And I do not personally subscribe to doing so. But, as business people, we must assume that our customers will do just that, and act accordingly.

By at least making an effort to meet the standard that our customers expect for personal appearance, we get a lot of mileage towards their trust, and therefore their purchasing dollars and repeat business.

Otis Bogue
Thompson Mechanical
Watertown, S.D.

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Publication date:01/28/2008