At a time when our domestic HVAC manufacturers are trying to set a future minimum efficiencies for air-conditioning units at 14-SEER, it’s always interesting to see what international companies are able to achieve.
So at a press conference put on by Midea at this year’s AHR Expo in Las Vegas, I was shocked to see it had a new ductless split system it touted as reaching almost 40-SEER. Though not familiar to the U.S. market, Midea says it is “the world’s leading manufacturer of air conditioners and home appliances,” mostly window units. And since Midea has just built a new research center in Kentucky, the company appears to be one to watch in the future.
Another less-familiar product line at the show, the Chinese manufacturer GREE, caught my eye with a slim wall-mounted indoor unit that serves as a large picture frame (it comes with an attractive picture that can be replaced with one of the homeowner’s choosing). Of course, the problem with applying the wall-mounted units (that are so familiar worldwide) in the U.S. is they are unfamiliar here and most people find it difficult to blend them into their decor. Therefore, this slim picture-frame design (4 1/3 in. thick) is a good idea. Another feature of this product is that heated air is discharged downward and chilled air is directed out of the top of the frame. GREE claims part of the heating cycle destroys any bacteria on the indoor coil.
A type of product that might not be thought of as being in the HVAC contractor’s equipment line but really should be is bathroom fans. Does your company carry them? Why should they be considered part of the HVAC equipment line? The answer is they are an integral part of the “V” in our business — ventilation.
Understand that although most people think of bathroom fans as only being there to remove odors and to provide a little distracting noise, a good portion of the indoor cooling load is created by water used in the bathrooms. So vent fans, when properly applied, serve the important function of removing moisture from the structure. This is why they should become a part of the HVAC contractor’s (and your) total commitment to indoor comfort.
Of course, there are several companies that provide fine lines of bathroom fans, but the one I visited at the show in Las Vegas was Delta. What I liked about Delta’s offering is it uses DC motors that are whisper quiet and the units work automatically for as long as the bathroom humidity remains high. Yes, some models also come with lights and most come in sizes that are virtual drop-in replacements for the existing noisy fans. What about the distracting noise? Because Delta had a better idea, one model comes with stereo speakers that play music from your smartphone.
Another product I saw at the expo and which may not be commonly thought of as HVAC equipment is the “Helios” line of commercial lay-in grilles being introduced by Titus. This AHR Innovation Award-winning product uses power generated from indoor lighting to open and close a thermostat-driven damper in order to maintain perfect comfort in any room where it is applied.