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New Product Rollouts for the 2014 Heating Season

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This fall contractors will see that manufacturers are putting a focused effort on helping consumers not only save money on their energy costs, but also experience higher levels of convenience via innovative home automation technology. Let’s take a closer look at what five different industry leading manufacturers are planning for what is shaping up to be a very exciting heating season.

Rheem 80%+ Gas Furnace Platform Release
In 2013, Rheem certainly captured a good deal of attention with the release of the 90%+ Gas Furnace Platform, which offered efficiencies exceeding 98% AFUE. Other key features included improved electrical efficiencies, a reduction of operating sound by as much as 20% and a unique heat exchanger assembly that provides up to 1 SEER point boost for the entire HVAC system efficiency. So what is Rheem doing this year to build on this considerable accomplishment?

Rheem will be releasing their 80%+ Gas Furnace Platform in the fall, which offers more than 20 new features. The company is dedicated to building on the breakthroughs and success they achieved in 2013. They have undertaken a great deal of market research designed to improve their product, listened closely to market research and have kept all the features that people loved in the 90%+ Gas Furnace Platform.

Integrated into the 80%+ Gas Furnace Platform is EcoNet, which is the first integrated control for a home’s heating, cooling, and water heating system. Through EcoNet, homeowners are able to control their air and water systems effortlessly through a wall-mounted control panel or remotely via a free mobile app. No doubt, 2014 looks to be another innovative year for Rheem, with the introduction of their feature packed 80%+ Gas Furnace Platform.

Trane XL 824 Thermostat Home Automation System
Trane’s XL 824 Thermostat, which was released throughout the United States earlier this year, is definitely one of the newer products that will be having an effect on the market this fall. The XL 824 Thermostat is a versatile home automation system that homeowners can connect through any internet enabled device. Homeowners are now able to control and operate any forced air heating and air conditioning unit and save on their heating and cooling bills.

This expandable WiFi solution is compatible with Nexia Home Intelligence and features an intuitive touchscreen. Additionally, homeowners can add any number of over 200 different ZWave devices so that small appliances, light switches, garage door openers, WiFi cameras, and more can be connected through the thermostat.

Karl Mutschnik, portfolio manager for residential heating and air conditioning at Trane noted, “Feedback on the XL 824 has been great and sales have been wonderful. Customers are connecting the thermostat up to the Nexia Home Intelligence and everything is working just as we designed.”

Trane has also kept user experience for contractors firmly in mind, such as the fact that when the XL 824 powers up for the first time, it opens to an easy to navigate installation wizard that makes setup a breeze.

In late 2014, Trane will be releasing a special contractor portal that will enable data to be shared when homeowners grant their permission. Ultimately, the contractor portal will provide a better experience for everyone. For example, if a system goes down, the problem can be figured out more quickly and efficiently.

The XL 824 Thermostat unit connects right out of the box, and there is no charge for remote access. Those looking for a comprehensive home
intelligence system will like the diversity and ease of use that the Trane XL 824 provides.

Jackson Systems
Offers More Controls Done Right Jackson Systems’ motto is “Controls Done Right.” With a focus on ease of installation and creating contractor-friendly products, the company has a history of providing innovative products for both the commercial and residential markets.

The newest Jackson System controllers can be used to replace thermostats. The controllers still function as a “sensor on the wall,” but they can handle more stages of heating and cooling. Providing users with more control is what these devices are all about, as they allow for more control than the standard 7-day thermostat. The end result is greater energy efficiency and the ability for devices to communicate fluidly with one another.

Tom Jackson, CEO of Jackson Systems, stated, “From a contractor’s perspective, this is a standalone controller. While it can be tied to another system, it doesn’t have to be. It also provides a lot of options on the commercial control side of things. Overall, its features make it perfect for light commercial work.”

Those looking for a higher level of control will find these new products to be worth a long look.

Honeywell Offers a Game-Changing Thermostat
This fall, Honeywell will be offering consumers the innovative WiFi Lyric Thermostat. Among its many innovative features, this new thermostat
uses the location technology of smartphones to automatically shift into energy saving mode as soon as homeowners leave the home. Next, the Lyric Thermostat cleverly senses when you are a few miles away and starts preparing your home, so that it is comfortable and to your liking when you arrive; this unique feature has been coined “geofencing.”

Brad Paine, director of product marketing for the Lyric Platform, feels that geofencing is going to be a real energy game changer, “No two days are the same, so running your thermostat on a learned or programmed schedule simply doesn’t work for everyone…Depending on where you live and the size of your home, we estimate you could save as much as $220 a year in energy costs by incorporating the Lyric Thermostat.”

There are other features that help the Lyric Thermostat distinguish itself. For example, the Fine Tune function automatically incorporates
such factors as indoor and outdoor temperatures, indoor humidity, and weather into its algorithm. The end result is that homeowners receive the most comfortable temperature possible.

Paine added, “No other do-it-yourself WiFi thermostat on the market today does that. And with Smart Cues, the Lyric Thermostat is able to provide updates to your heating/cooling system.”

Honeywell is providing the industry with an excellent example of where WiFi thermostat, home automation technology, and algorithms are taking us. In the future, we can expect to see such innovations become more widespread if not ubiquitous resulting, in considerable energy and cost savings.

NORDYNE Ramps Up Efficiency
The newest gas/electric unit, the R8HE from NORDYNE, is 95% heating efficient, which is a striking number as the next most efficient gas pack available stands at 81.5% AFUE.

Philip Windam, vice president of sales at NORDYNE, said, “Imagine the energy savings a homeowner will experience when they go from the 80% range to 95% AFUE. There is no competition at this efficiency. The R8HE is the most heating-efficient packaged gas/electric available and will help homeowners save hundreds of dollars on utility bills every year.”

Windam also noted that the reaction to the R8HE has been phenomenal and that people are quite excited about the product, noting, “When you can launch a product that is unique in how it operates and in the benefits it provides-and not a me too product-it creates industry excitement.”

Fall 2014 is certainly shaping up to be very interesting for the HVAC industry. Bold and innovative products can be seen everywhere and consumers stand to benefit in a multitude of ways. Manufacturers are providing consumers with products that will both make their lives easier and save them money at the same time.

Marisa Alexander

Posted In: ACCA Now, Technology

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