Products New On The Scene
This year, for the first time, Carrier exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show. There, the manufacturer introduced Côr—its touch-screen, smart thermostat named after the Latin word for heart and intended to serve as the heart of a home’s energy management system. Thanks to Côr’s Wi-Fi connectivity, for example, homeowners can use their smart phones, tablets, and PCs to monitor and control temperatures from afar.
“Today, people want to interface with the products in their homes, which is really changing the game,” says Matthew Pine, Carrier’s vice president of marketing. “More and more consumers are not going to their physical thermostats to make adjustments, but are using their smart devices—even when they’re inside the home.”
Currently available only through Carrier’s distribution network, Côr works with all home comfort systems and carries a five-year limited warranty. In addition to automatically updating its software to keep pace with technology improvements, the thermostat gives homeowners free access to detailed reports on their system’s operations and energy usage so they can make adjustments accordingly.
“The report also offers a community comparison so you can see how your house ranks vis-à-vis other owners who have installed the thermostat, such as whether the home is gaining or losing heat,” Pine adds. “We’ve documented that the average consumer saves about 20 percent by using the Côr thermostat, indicating a payback of one to two years.”
Interest In Geothermal Is Growing
In recent months, Carrier also introduced a new line of geothermal units as part of a joint venture with Bosch.
“Interest in geothermal systems continues to grow,” says Tim Litton, director of marketing communications for WaterFurnace. Although a geothermal system may cost more initially, it qualifies for a federal tax credit and can result in monthly utility savings. “Because the system has no outdoor equipment exposed to the elements, nor any type of combustion, a geothermal heat pump lasts much longer than other HVAC technologies.”
One of WaterFurnace’s newest offerings is the 5 Series 504211 hydronic geothermal heat pump, which features vapor injection technology that keeps excess heat within the system. That translates into increased heating capacity and greater operating efficiency. The heat pump is recommended for high-temperature applications, including radiant floor heat, snow melting, and pool or spa heating.
To control its geothermal heat pump systems, WaterFurnace is also introducing Symphony. Homeowners can use the Wi-Fi-enabled platform to remotely adjust temperatures, reset schedules, and activate vacation modes. Symphony also enables homeowners to review their energy usage for the preceding 12 months by providing details such as heating time, cooling time, and fan use.
Listening and Learning
Not just homeowners’ needs, but also contractors’ preferences influenced the new line of York residential package units that began appearing last month.
“About 80 percent of the time, the homeowner buys what the contractor recommends, so we really focused on finding out what contractors liked—and didn’t like—about our York products and our competition,” says Bryan Rocky, director of residential product management for Johnson Controls. “We did formal, facilitated focus groups with about 500 contractors representing the top 25 markets for residential package products, plus informal discussions with more than 2,000 other contractors,” he adds.
Several key messages emerged: Contractors asked for units that are easy to install, easy to service, and reliable. Based on the contractors’ input, Johnson Controls completely redesigned and reengineered its York residential package units to be smaller and of higher quality, offer more precise temperature control, and include more standardized parts.
“Our goal is to be the industry leader in quality, as measured by the fewest number of warranty claims for any reason,” Rocky explains. In fact, on the gas side of the units, the heat exchangers carry lifetime warranties.
“Although the new units have a couple of new components, people in the field will already understand and know how to troubleshoot most of the controls, valves, blowers, and motors because they’re the same things we use in our other residential products,” notes Rocky.
The first entry in the new York line, a 2- to 5-ton product designed to meet new minimum efficiency standards, is a 14SEER air conditioning/gas heat package unit. In the future, the company plans to roll out 16 SEER units, followed by 18 SEER units with advanced defrost controls and inverter drive compressors.
The newest unitary split systems from Daikin already feature the latter component. John Schwartz, marketing and communications manager for Daikin North America, reports, “We’ve started building residential split systems with an inverter compressor—just like what’s used in our ductless products—that is much quieter and much more efficient.”
Only the Daikin brand of unitary systems features the inverter compressor; the company’s other two brands, Goodman and Amana, do not. When it comes to furnaces, however, all three brands recently began offering a product that is 97 percent efficient. Daikin just started construction on a new business campus near Houston, where it will consolidate manufacturing of all its U.S. residential products.
Turning to the commercial side, Schwartz says, “We’ve had a complete changeover from the Goodman brand. Our entire rooftop product line is now known as Daikin.” And more than the name has changed—the company’s VRV IV product is the first variable refrigerant product being built in the United States. The heat pump version made its debut last year, followed by the heat recovery version in January.
In view of new DOE standards for commercial refrigeration, Danfoss has extended its line of thermostatic expansion valves to include one that delivers low superheat in low- and medium-temperature refrigeration ranges. The new TU with F-charge TXV has a stainless steel valve body for durable construction and bi-metal connections, which speed installation by eliminating the need to wet wrap.
Two Danfoss compressors designed for commercial refrigeration and food retail applications are now qualified for use with alternative refrigerants, including R407A and R407F, that have a lower carbon footprint than more prevalent refrigerants—which the EPA may soon recommend phasing out of use. Both the Danfoss Maneurop reciprocating compressors MTZ and scroll compressors MLZ can be used for walk-in coolers and cold rooms.
Two other new products manufactured by Danfoss captured the attention of judges for the 2015 AHR Expo Innovation Awards. First, the company’s Turbocor VTT (Variable Twin Turbo) Series of compressors for air conditioning, which use magnetic bearings, won the top award in the Green Building category. These compressors increase the efficiency of large-capacity commercial air conditioning and chiller systems.
In addition, Danfoss ETS Colibri electronic expansion valves received an Honorable Mention in the Cooling category of the Innovation Awards. This new commercial component was designed for precise liquid injection into evaporators for air conditioning, heat pumps, and refrigeration.
With fewer parts for less complexity, the compact valve fits easily almost anywhere into the system. From the contractor’s standpoint, it offers the advantages of bi-metal connectors for faster installation and a sight glass with a moisture indicator to make problems easier to diagnose. ETS Colibri valves are compatible with a variety of refrigerants.
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