New Products Focus on Comfort and Control


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Every customer has had a “Goldilocks Moment” in their home. The house feels like Fargo in December, so they get up to adjust the thermostat and sit back down. Problem is, 12 minutes later the temperature resembles Miami in August. They adjust the thermostat again, but the house goes back to Calgary in January. Frustrated, They get up again — and finally make the air temperature just right.

Those erratic, up-and-down days may be coming to an end.

Home ownership in the 21st century is all about control. The more control homeowners have over the creature comforts of their house — and those pesky home energy bills — the happier they will be. As a result, the manufacturers and professionals who thrive in the 21st century will be those who best adapt to the increasing demands of tech-savvy homeowners — rather than asking homeowners to adapt to their outdated homes.

The coming year in the home climate industry will be all about enhancing homeowner control. Putting people in power over how they live is at the forefront of most manufacturers’ minds. The HVAC industry is catching up to other high-tech industries, in terms of user interaction, ease of use, and small-scale control over operations.

Whether it’s controlling the temperature of every room in the home from a single device, reducing energy bills by 5 percent with better efficiency, or simply not struggling to hear a TV show over a roaring air conditioner, HVAC manufacturers are working to give homeowners as much control as possible over every aspect of their climate control set-up.

So what’s on the horizon? What’s in store for consumers? Here is a sampling of upcoming products that will make Spring 2014 the coolest home cooling season yet:

AC SYSTEMS

FRIGIDAIRE R8HE GAS PACK
Nordyne is set to launch the HVAC market’s first-ever 95 percent efficient gas/electric packaged unit. Nordyne says the R8HE gas pack offers 95 percent AFUE two-stage heating and 14 SEER single-stage cooling with an EMC blower. The gas/electrical system also maximizes heat transfer with advanced scroll compressors and an all-aluminum indoor and outdoor coil.

According to Nordyne, the new unit also offers better durability and reliability. This product is available on a limited basis (courtesy of a soft launch), with full production set to ramp up by Spring 2014. It will be available in the Broan, Frigidaire, Maytag, NuTone, Tappan, and Westinghouse brands.

MITSUBISHI’S MR. SLIM
Mitsubishi’s new cooling system reportedly offers improved temperature control, flexibility in installation, energy efficiency, and silence in operation. The Mr. Slim line features three components: indoor air-handling unit, outdoor condensing unit, and remote controller. Consumers will find refrigerant lines running through the wall or ceiling connect the units.

Why do it this way? Actually, the set-up allows for easier installation and maintenance — it’s largely just a few clicks and a basic push to operate. The company says it also uses up less space in the home, allowing the homeowner to maximize the remaining space for other needs, while discreetly hanging the indoor unit high on a wall or elsewhere where it won’t dominate the room.

Ductless cooling, which can be installed new or retro-fitted into a home cooling set-up, allows users to customize the cooling setting of each room in their homes (letting them increase or decrease the temperature in each room when they enter and exit). Of course, customizing the temperature by room allows homeowners to cut down on energy bills. For example, they can opt not to cool a rarely used guest room and save on electricity — an option not featured on many standard air conditioning packages. It also exceeds sustainability standards and qualifi es for many state and local energy efficiency-related tax credits.

Mitsubishi says Mr. Slim’s modern components and three-part filtration system also create improved air quality in the home. The quiet units can be mounted on a wall, ceiling, floor, or pretty much anywhere else that is desired in order to provide the homeowner with the most aesthetically pleasing set-up.

THERMOSTATS

ECONET CONTROL CENTER
Rheem is further advancing its EcoNet Control Center for the home. This technology lets the homeowner manage heating, cooling, and water systems. Rheem says these systems combine for 65 percent of the energy used in the average American home, so getting better control of them will, by definition, maximize energy efficiency. Via EcoNet, a homeowner’s heating, cooling, and water heating products can communicate with each other on a shared network.

The EcoNet allows for enhanced customization and increased speed and accuracy in repairs. EcoNet’s compatibility will reportedly expand in the coming year to more products and services. It will be able to interface with other home systems such as utility energy management and home automation.

Rheem says EcoNet is being designed as a forward compatible system to allow for future usability — once systems are eventually upgraded by the homeowner. It’s also designed to offer remote connectivity. EcoNet-related apps are also set to roll out for platforms of many kinds throughout 2014.

MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC REDLINK WIRELESS CONTROLLERS
Mitsubishi has expanded its offerings of RedLINK wireless controllers to the home climate control market. The RedLINK was previously available only as a light commercial offering, but this controller now allows for expanded zoning and temperature control capabilities on Mitsubishi’s residential M-Series line of split-ductless and ducted heating and cooling systems. This product was first introduced in 2011, but continues to expand in its offerings and will continue branching out in 2014.

By communicating through radio frequency instead of infrared waves, the RedLINK gets rid of the need for electricity and lets the user carry the controller into a different room. The system is compatible with the Honeywell RedLINK Internet Gateway or any smartphone or other smart device. The controllers are also compatible with the Portable Central Controller accessory that was originally introduced with RedLINK P-Series models.

Mitsubishi also points out the central controller wirelessly connects and operates up to 16 RedLINK controllers throughout the user’s home. One portable controller lets the user control the temperature of any RedLINK-operated system. It’s compatible with many Mitsubishi Electric systems.

ACCESSORIES

CALEFFI 130 BALANCING VALVE
Caleffi North America will expand its balancing valve lineup in 2014 with the 130 series. Caleffi says better balancing valves help allow for more optimal heating or chilling in all parts of an HVAC product. This differential pressure-type valve will be suitable for hydronic cooling, heating, and plumbing. It will be fitted with a guide bearing to minimize vibration and an erosion proof stainless shutter nozzle. The screw threads will be isolated from fluids so as to avoid stem seizure. More highly graduated flow adjustment will also be built into the unit.

MAYTAG M1200 PSH4BE HEAT PUMP
Nordyne has converted its 14/15-SEER Maytag heat pump to include all-aluminum microchannel outdoor condensing coils. Nordyne says this first-of-its-kind product has microchannel coils, which help create a condensing unit that weighs up to 7 percent less than one with traditional coils. Nordyne says units with micro-channel coils use up to 42 percent less refrigerant than other systems and are more durable than ones built with copper coils. Heat transfer with micro-channel coils is also improved, improving efficiency and further reducing unit size. Having hit the market just this past fall, Nordyne says the item is being well received. It will be available in the Broan, Frigidaire, Maytag, NuTone, Tappan, and Westinghouse brands.

Michael McNulty
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Posted In: ACCA Now, Residential Buildings

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