Remember those big, gold thermostats that used to dominate the landscape? They had simple dials, usually spanning 50°-80°F, and rarely blended in naturally with any surface.

You can still find some of these today. In fact, my recent adventures in house hunting showcased plenty of these antiquated models, and ardent supporters of these “classic” thermostats still exist. However, nowadays, thermostats have transformed into art forms with intelligent capabilities and intuitive features that may be initiated or adjusted without any physical contact.

The transformation of the modern-day thermostat is one of the more visual evolutions in HVAC, but nearly all facets of this industry boast improved efficiencies, features, and designs when compared to the previous generation’s equipment.

As The NEWS’ products and education editor, I publish our weekly What’s New column, which focuses on recently released HVAC equipment and components. Following this column is a great way to stay abreast of some of the latest products in the industry. We showcase nearly a dozen products each week in both the print magazine and on our website. And, while we strive to include every product that hits the market, it’s nearly impossible to track the hundreds of new products that hit the HVAC market each week.

Enter the Dealer Design Awards (DDA).

Every July, The NEWS highlights the absolute best HVAC equipment available through the DDA contest. What sets this contest apart is that the winners are chosen by a panel of independent HVACR contractors based on their interactions with the equipment. Gold, silver, and bronze DDA honors are awarded in 13 categories ranging from ventilation products to commercial controls and everything between.

The judging process examines ease of installation and use, maintenance, application/repair, reliability, and competitive difference.

Studies have proven that customers love reviews and are more inclined to purchase products with positive reviews from their peers. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Dimensional Research, 90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions.

As a contractor, you should definitely consider a DDA award-winning product as these products have not only proven themselves in the marketplace but they’ve gained ringing endorsements from your hard-working contractor peers.

DDA honors are truly great accomplishments worthy of proud display. If you were at the 2017 AHR Expo in Las Vegas, you may have noticed several manufacturers touting DDA trophies at their booths.

Is your product worthy of the highest praise? The DDA submission process is now open and will remain so until April 10th. Any product released between Jan. 1, 2016, and April 30, 2017, is eligible for the competition.

As a contractor, perhaps you’d be interested in joining our judging panel? This offers you a first look at some of the newest offerings from manufacturers and the opportunity to share your opinions on a number of products released in the last year. If you’re interested, all you need to do is email or call me at the address/number next to my name at the top of this page.

For any other information you may want on the DDAs, simply visit