Ninety years ago, who would have thought we would have furnaces so quiet that you could barely hear them running? Or cooling systems so efficient that energy bills cost less than the monthly latte bill? To borrow from a famous slogan, the heating and cooling industry has come a long way, baby.
Heating and cooling systems manufacturer NORDYNE celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. And like our industry, the company has progressed and changed with the times. Here are the top nine things about the last 90 years, according to NORDYNE.
1. The death of coalIn 1919, coal- and wood-burning furnaces caused so much air pollution that some people joked candles were needed during the day just to see. St. Louis was then known as the dirtiest city in the Mississippi Valley because of its excessive use of coal, and evergreen growers refused to sell trees to the city. That’s how the International Oil Heating Company got its start – providing oil burners for residential heating products as a cleaner solution to the city’s pollution problem. St. Louisians were ecstatic with the new product, and the company started selling oil burners and coal conversion kits nationwide. International Oil Heating Company later became NORDYNE.
2. The birth of manufactured housingNecessity is the mother of invention, and that was the case with the first heating and cooling for manufactured housing. Until 1933, no one had thought of heating manufactured housing, or trailer homes as they were then called. All it took was one man to simply ask for an oil heater, and an entire industry was born. International Oil Heating Co. developed the first heater for use in trailers, and then in 1954, the first central air conditioner for mobile home use. The following year, the company introduced the first sealed combustion furnace for mobile homes.
3. Improved testing standardsAs manufacturers became more adept at simulating real-world environments, equipment quality only improved. NORDYNE led this trend in the 1960s with the first wind tunnel machine to produce conditions up to 100 MPH. They used this tunnel for testing and analyzing pilot and main burners.
4. The computer ageIt’s hard to remember how business got done without cell phones, personal computers and e-mail. In 1989, NORDYNE launched e-commerce with its innovative NORDYNE Online-Remote-Access (NORA) system. Suddenly, distributors could order products electronically and experienced a radical change in the way they did business.
5. More efficient manufacturing processesHenry Ford may have invented the moving assembly line, but HVAC manufacturers streamlined the assembly process. Demand Flow Technology (DFT) is a quality-control process in the manufacturing plants that reduces inventory investment, decreases customer turnaround time and assures that every point of the manufacturing process has a quality checkpoint to reduce overall potential for product failures. NORDYNE became the first HVAC manufacturer to be DFT-certified in 1998.
6. Extensive warrantiesNothing says confidence in manufacturing like a lengthy factory warranty. In 2000, NORDYNE implemented an 8-year warranty and Quality Pledge. Today, NORDYNE offers a 10-year (or greater) limited warranty and Quality Pledge on its Maytag, Frigidaire, NuTone, Tappan and Westinghouse products, still the industry’s best.
7. Longer igniter lifeNot so long ago, standard furnace igniters had a so-so life expectancy. Then, in 2002, NORDYNE introduced SmartLite® technology to the industry. SmartLite extended igniter life by allowing the furnace to self-adjust its startup time during the first few operations by learning the start-up characteristic of the furnace.
8. 13 SEERWho can forget the dread over the DOE mandate to 13-SEER minimums? While the rest of the industry was overhauling equipment lines to make 13-SEER the new entry-level product, NORDYNE was beating the minimum by 10. In 2006, NORDYNE introduced the most energy-efficient air conditioner in the market: the 23-SEER iQ Drive®. The iQ Drive utilizes rotary-inverter technology for ultra efficiency and extremely quiet operation, and won the prestigious Product of the Year Award at the 2008 AHR Expo. Later that year, it was also re-rated at an even higher 24.5 SEER.
9. World gone greenRecently we’ve seen an explosion of green marketing. From long-lasting light bulbs to gas-sipping cars to paper from responsibly managed forests, everyone is talking about their carbon footprint - or at least trying to figure out what a carbon footprint is. In 2008, NORDYNE launched ecoLogic, a green seal to help consumers and dealers identify products that have very green characteristics, such as extreme efficiency and air quality properties. NORDYNE’s ecoLogic products include the 24.5-SEER iQ Drive air conditioner and the 97+% AFUE iQ Drive fully modulating furnace.
With ecoLogic, NORDYNE comes full circle - from the company that started business in 1919 to clean up the St. Louis air to being an environmentally responsible efficiency leader in today’s industry.