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HVAC systems have never received more widespread attention and media coverage than they have this year. As researchers determined that air transmission was a major factor in the spread of COVID-19, HVAC systems quickly became an area of intense discussion. Much of the news coverage from outlets like the New York Times, NPR, CNBC, or USA Today focused on air filtration. HEPA and MERV have become acronyms that people recognize, and UV Light and Plasma Ionization air purifiers have almost become dinner table topics. The need for discussion and debate about these topics is evident. As we look to resume some resemblance of normal life we need to feel safe sharing spaces with other people. Commercial HVAC Systems At the forefront of all of these discussions regarding air purification, is the massively flawed assumption that we must recirculate a large amount of the air from space to save energy. Most commercial HVAC systems only utilize 20% fresh air. That means that 80% of the air you are breathing in a public space has been on this ride before. The underlying principle here, from a thermodynamic perspective, is sound. I just spent a lot of energy (and $) conditioning this air for human comfort and now you want me to just throw it away?! In the name of all things public health, yes, throw it away! Energy Consumption It takes a large amount of energy to cool, dehumidify, and/or heat air so we humans can enjoy our time indoors in comfort Now before you draft your eloquently worded hate mail, let me take a minute to explain why we think you can just throw away perfectly conditioned air and still maintain a high level of energy consciousness. It’s true that it takes a large amount of energy to cool, dehumidify, and/or heat air so we humans can enjoy our time indoors in comfort. However, it is possible to exhaust ALL of the contaminated air from an occupied space and still conserve a large portion of the energy in that air. This can be done by passing the outside air (fresh air) and the exhaust air through separate heat exchangers where the energy can be transferred without the two air streams physically making contact. From a hygiene perspective, this process is ideal. Hospitals and industrial plants have been using one form or another of this technique for decades. The challenge for wider, commercial, adoption has been packaging restrictions of these systems and in a lot of cases the energy consumption of your supposedly energy-saving equipment. Energy Recovery Technology Cue ACT’s award-winning energy recovery technology, the Pump-Assisted Split Loop Energy Recovery Heat Exchanger. This product recently won the AHR Expo 2021 Innovation Award in the highly competitive Green Building category. The magic of the technology relies on the efficiency of the boiling and condensation process. When harnessed properly, one can exchange huge amounts of energy between two air streams just by circulating a particular fluid from one system to the next. A major benefit of allowing the fluid to boil and condense around the loop is that it allows the system to operate passively, using just the forces of good old fashion gravity. As a fluid boil, a portion of the liquid is converted into vapor which naturally wants to rise. Once that vapor gives off its energy it condenses back into a liquid that naturally wants to fall. If you can provide a source of energy input for boiling and a source of energy removal for condensing you can create a naturally circulating loop that requires absolutely zero electrical energy to operate. Two Separated Air Streams Transferring energy between two separated air streams with the least amount of total energy consumption and no cross-contamination In commercial HVAC systems, the warmer air stream can be the source of energy input and the cooler air stream can be the source of energy removal. As the seasons change, the air that is exhausted from a space flips from being warmer than the outside air (in the winter for instance) to be the colder air stream (in the summer). This means that at some point during the year you lose your gravitational advantage so for the other half of the year when you need to transfer energy in the opposite direction of gravity, ACT’s system uses a fractional horsepower pump (hence the pump-assisted part). The end result is a method of transferring large amounts of energy between two separated air streams with the least amount of total energy consumption, and with no cross-contamination. And because the fluid is circulated between the two air streams (either by gravity or by way of a small pump) this technology is highly geometrically flexible and customizable. With this product, HVAC systems can take in 100% fresh, outside air and throw it all away without having to worry about being wasteful. Improving HVAC Systems Most of the focus and efforts around improving HVAC systems have so far been centered too much on how we make old technology deal with new problems. These kinds of approaches are band-aids, at best, and often result is short-sighted solutions that never really advance the industry as a whole. ACT’s new product helps solve the problems of the new normal while moving the HVAC industry closer to that breath of fresh air we could all use right now.
Demand for underfloor air conditioning systems, which are far more flexible and adaptable than ceiling-based systems, has risen as developers and landlords scramble to reconfigure office spaces in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Experts have predicted a 50% reduction in office occupancy, as millions embrace working from home. What is underfloor air conditioning? A zonal underfloor air conditioning system makes use of the raised floor void as a plenum for the distribution of air. Supply and return channels are created under the floor, and zone units serving areas of up to 300m2 are suitably located throughout the office space to generate conditioned air locally to serve the needs of the space. Underfloor air conditioning goes further than displacement systems, offering full function control of the indoor environment Individually controlled fan terminals of either recessed or floor standing configuration are let into the floor over supply plena. These terminals introduce air into the space above in accordance with the dictates of their own on-board temperature sensors and controls system. Users can adjust fan speed and set point temperature individually. Return air grilles are positioned in the floor over return plena. The whole system is controlled by means of the electronic management system controlling the operation of the zone units and the associated fan terminals permitting centralized monitoring and control. Underfloor systems are inherently compartmentalised and offer highly effective solutions in multi-tenant areas and other environmentally challenging applications. Many low-height refurbished spaces suffer from high levels of user complaint due mainly to draft from ceiling mounted outlets positioned too close to the user. The changing work environment At AET Flexible Space, we have seen increased demand, both from existing clients looking to reconfigure their office space, and new clients looking for a flexible air conditioning which can help to future-proof their office. A huge benefit of an underfloor air conditioning system is that they are inherently flexible, and can be changed to suit new room layouts within minutes. Our unique Fantile™ units are installed to sit in-line with the finished floor, and can be easily repositioned at any time without the need for the significant, and costly, building works usually involved in repositioning ceiling-based ductwork. A huge benefit of an underfloor air conditioning system is that they are inherently flexible We are already seeing that COVID-19 has accelerated the trend towards more flexible, future-proofed, and sustainable office space. We have been seeing an increase in demand for our underfloor systems for some time, but the coronavirus lockdown has certainly made more people consider the end-users of this office space, and how they can be best served Workplace wellness is also an increasing concern, and may be a key element for encouraging workers back into the office. The Workplace Wellness Study conducted by Future Workforce found that workplace environment is more important to employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity than most organizations realize. 67% of employees said they are more productive in workplaces that promote a healthy environment. One-third said they lose at least an hour of productivity each day due to office environments that don’t support their daily health. Beyond the inherent flexibility of underfloor air conditioning systems, they also offer high levels of energy efficiency, sustainability, and air quality. As there is no ductwork with an underfloor system, individual zones operate at very low-pressure encouraging energy efficiency. AET’s systems have helped attract LEED and BREEAM and other Green Building points, and can provide up to 30% savings in energy costs and a 29% reduction in C02 emissions when compared to ceiling systems. Cost savings Cost savings are also a key concern for everyone in the post-COVID world, and the flexibility and economy of an underfloor system across the lifetime of a building is increasingly attractive. The British Council for Offices (BCO) indicates that underfloor air conditioning can offer dramatic savings in overall cost, but it requires a co-ordinated team approach to achieve the optimum result. The flexibility and economy of an underfloor system across the lifetime of a building is increasingly attractive In the past the only way to reduce ceiling-based HVAC costs has been to reduce the specification and downsize plant, or reduce flexibility by increasing the size of terminal outlets and reducing numbers. However, these solutions often result in increased complaints of end-users about draughts and noise, which necessitates a costly and environmentally unfriendly re-design. Ceiling-based systems also demand service and maintenance from within the work space, from the simple task of changing filters in fan-coils or cassettes, to more complicated reconfigurations of pipework and ducts to suit a new layout below. Not only do these refits mean significant hidden cost, but they also cause disruption, and have a high risk of damage from condensate leakage. Construction Considerations In order to maximize the benefits of underfloor air conditioning, it must be introduced into the overall design philosophy at an early stage. When incorporated into the overall building design, savings can be made to curtain wall costs, all other height-related savings such as elevator shafts, columns, stairwells, riser shafts, and vertical services such as mains pipe-work and electrical risers. The Swedish National Pension Fund has reported overall cost savings of between 5% and 7% in buildings using underfloor air conditioning. In order to maximize the benefits of underfloor air conditioning, it must be introduced into the overall design Good quality underfloor air conditioning systems are similar in price to conventional good quality fan coil systems, but underfloor systems also reduce the cost of construction and offer tax advantages. The average office building costs in UK are in the region of £1000 to £2000 per square meter. Therefore, a 5% saving in overall cost could range from £50 to £100 per square meter. The average cost of any AC system is in the region of £120 to £200 per square meter, and so an overall saving in construction equates to something in the region of 50% of the AC system. As we move forward into 2021 and beyond, commercial construction is going to require sustainable and cost-effective design. With so many benefits, it is clear why so many in the construction industry are now turning to underfloor air conditioning solutions.
For designers, installers and operators of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, energy efficiency is rightly the number one selection criteria. This applies particularly to fan motors. However, while EC fans - the popular solution that integrates a fan, motor and speed control – are regarded as something of a de-facto guarantee for efficiency, that is not always the case. When evaluating the efficiency of your fan, motor and speed control combination it is vital to consider the ‘wire to air’ efficiency. Therefore, the total effect of both electrical and mechanical performance must be taken into account. Some EC fans have the motor mounted inside the fan wheel which disrupts the air flow. The result is decreased aerodynamic efficiency, and that impacts the overall efficiency of the fan unit. In contrast, a fan ‘package’ that comprises a high efficiency motor operating in combination with a variable frequency drive (VFD) that matches the motor speed with the required load could offer superior overall efficiency. Part-load efficiency is crucial In most cases, EC fans are fitted with brushless DC motors, known also as permanent magnet (PM) motors. When operating at full speed they can offer efficiency better than the IE4 standard. That sounds good until you consider that their motor efficiency can drop rapidly at part loads. In fact, they might not even deliver IE3 efficiency at speeds below 60 percent. This part-load efficiency is crucial since the majority of HVAC installations operate at less than 80 percent speed for 99 percent of the time. A more cost-effective, and energy-efficient, alternative can be to reduce the dimensions of the mechanical components such as air handling units (AHUs), ducting and auxiliary equipment to match the most common operating conditions. This approach must make provision to over-speed the fan motors to handle the 1 percent peak requirement, accepting that for this brief period there will be slightly lower efficiency and increased audible noise. EC fans cannot be over-speeded. Yet with VFDs it could, for example, be possible to over-speed a motor by up to 15 percent of its nominal speed. ABB EC Titanium™ motors are a highly efficient integrated motor drive solution for HVAC applications Power factor makes an important difference Harmonic currents are an additional energy efficiency consideration as they lower the total true power factor (PF) of the network by increasing the total line current. This extra current is not active current, but reactive current that results in higher system losses. Harmonics can result in added infrastructure costs due to the need to over-size equipment such as transformers, cables and fuses. Electricity bills might be increased while some utilities also impose penalties on their commercial customers with a low power factor. When evaluating the efficiency of your fan, motor and speed control combination it is vital to consider the ‘wire to air’ efficiency A traditional EC motor might have a power factor of around 0.78, drawing some 25 to 40 percent more current from the network than its actual load. That is why many EC fan systems require the installation of costly, centralized harmonic mitigation equipment. Instead, a fan package approach enables the use of a state-of-the-art VFD with active front end (AFE) technology that eliminates harmonics at source. The benefit is a power factor of 1, so that the motor draws only the current it actually needs. What happens when motors need replacing? There is also a sustainability issue regarding the ease of servicing and replacement of the fan motors. Should an EC fan fail it is not serviceable and the complete unit will need replacing, with implications for both costs and the lead time to get a suitable replacement. With a separate drive, motor and fan set up based on standard equipment, if the VFD fails it can be replaced the same day, with no need to go inside the AHU. If the motor fails it can also be replaced the same day.
Manufacturers continue to make improvements in heat-pump technology, including higher efficiencies, contractor-friendly designs, and innovative extras like two-stage compressors that allow them to run at lower speeds and cut down energy use and homeowners’ bills. Below is a sampling of six of the latest products to hit the heat pump market. Nortek Global HVAC introduced the W-Series of air conditioning and heat pump equipment for residential and light commercial applications, completing its redesign of Gibson®, NuTone®, and Frigidaire® branded 1.5- to 5-ton, single-phase air conditioning units and heat pumps. The redesign offers contractors a ‘good-better-best’ strategy (the premium F-Series, the mid-range E-Series, and the economically-priced W-Series) to accommodate varying consumer price ranges. Coil-Protecting wire guard The W-Series heat pump is available in 14- and 16-SEER models. Standard features include Copeland scroll compressors and a liquid line filter-drier for field installation in an accessible position to facilitate easy periodic change-outs. It also has a coil-protecting wire guard that adds cabinet structural integrity and holds a plastic mesh in place to safeguard against hail and accidental contact damage, plus an anti-corrosive polymer drain pan with more drainage holes to eliminate potential standing water. On the unit’s exterior cabinet, above the refrigerant access port, is a weather-proof QR code called ‘Charge Me’ that can be scanned to access Nortek’s charge assist tool. “The new W-series of heat pumps recently introduced by Gibson, Frigidaire, and NuTone features a high-tech way to charge,” said Dave Garvin, product manager, Nortek Global HVAC. Variable Speed Heat Pump Rheem’s next generation Prestige® heat pump harnesses the power of the new EcoNet Smart Thermostat “The proprietary website helps account for subcooling, fixed orifices, thermostatic expansion valves, ambient temperature at time of charging, lineset length, and other variables that can trip up contractors when charging any heat pump brand.” The Rheem® Prestige® Series EcoNet®-Enabled Variable Speed Heat Pump features a contractor-friendly design, which means expanded valve space and triple service access, for fast and easy install and repairs. Corner-service access allows optimal access to internal components, while individual louver panels speed coil cleaning and cabinet reassembly. Plus, Rheem’s next generation Prestige® heat pump harnesses the power of the new EcoNet Smart Thermostat, which provides control, monitoring, and one-touch alert capability. Proper installation and reduced time “Rheem’s Prestige Heat Pump powered by our EcoNet Smart Thermostat keeps contractors in control,” said Ryan Teschner, product manager for Rheem Mfg. “From real-time alerts and system notifications to a charge mode capability, which allows for proper installation and reduced time on the job, Rheem’s heat pump increases job site efficiencies and reduces labor costs for contractors.” The hybrid electric Voltex® from A. O. Smith has an energy factor (efficiency based on the amount of hot water produced per unit of fuel consumed over a typical day) of 2.3, and is Energy Star® qualified. “Heat pump water heaters use electricity to pull heat from the surrounding air rather than generating their own heat,” said Brandon Stepanek, national field marketing manager at A. O. Smith. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions Carrier’s Hybrid Heat systems automatically switch between electric and gas heating “This means that they can be a logical choice for dedicated green home builders interested in enhancing energy efficiency. Because a heat pump water heater uses energy efficiently, it can save customers up to 10 percent on energy bills, which adds up to thousands of dollars over the life of the water heater,” he continued. “The significant reduction in electricity use also has a direct effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Carrier’s Performance™ Series heat pumps offer a range of efficiencies that start at 14 SEER and reach 17.5 SEER and up to 9.5 HSPF. Combining a gas furnace, an electric heat pump, and a compatible thermostat, Carrier’s Hybrid Heat systems automatically switch between electric and gas heating to optimize the efficiency of each fuel source, helping defend homeowners against utility cost fluctuations. They have Energy Star designation. Carrier indoor furnace “Our microtube coil technology saves space and provides lasting comfort with its corrosion-resistant construction,” the company stated. “In addition, some models include innovative extras, like a two-speed compressor for added benefits like higher efficiency and even, consistent comfort. When installed with a custom-matched Carrier indoor furnace or fan coil and a Côr® Wi-Fi® thermostat, our two-stage heat pumps can operate on low stage up to 80 percent of the time to keep airflow and temperatures even and consistent while adding humidity control during cooling operation.” Heating operation is rated down to minus 5˚F outdoor temperature Fujitsu General America Inc. recently debuted the RGLX Series, three medium-static pressure ducted indoor units for the single-zone Halcyon mini split line. They have sufficient static pressure to heat or cool a whole house. Heating operation is rated down to minus 5˚F outdoor temperature. The 12,000-, 18,000-, and 24,000-Btuh models are Energy Star qualified. V-Shaped heat exchanger Units are available in seven sizes ranging from 12,000 to 48,000 Btuh, with efficiency ratings up to 21.3 SEER. The evaporators are slim enough to fit most ceiling spaces, making them ideal for hidden installations, while the condensing units can be installed below a window or in a narrow space. The new models can be installed in applications that require static pressure up to 0.80 inches of water column and offer maximum piping lengths of up to 246 feet. A built-in drain pump with 33.5 feet of vertical lift comes standard. “The combination of the V-shaped heat exchanger, air stabilizer, and the energy-efficient DC fan motor results in high efficiency and quiet operation,” Fujitsu wrote in the product specs. Customized indoor comfort The Goodman GSZC18 Heat Pump features the next-generation Copeland Scroll™ two-stage compressor coupled with Goodman’s ComfortBridge® communicating technology to deliver up to 19 SEER and 10 HSPF performance. ComfortBridge ‘off-the-wall’ technology gives contractors more installation options and intelligent controls. It works with any thermostat, including single-stage ones. ComfortBridge constantly gathers data, making automatic adjustments for peak performance ComfortBridge constantly gathers data, making automatic adjustments for peak performance, using the minimum energy needed for consistent, customized indoor comfort. A companion CoolCloud™ app connects technicians wirelessly via Bluetooth to ComfortBridge. Advanced ComfortAlert™ Diagnostics constantly monitor the system, reducing failures and pinpointing trouble spots. “Our 18-SEER heat pumps provide high-efficiency, energy-saving indoor comfort with the ease of installation as compared to less sophisticated products,” said Cory Gottfredson, senior product manager, Outdoor Split Systems for Goodman. Compressor crankcase heater “We have incorporated ComfortBridge technology to optimize installation while allowing homeowners to use any thermostat. This truly enhances both operation and installation, freeing contractors from hassles and leaving money in the hands of homeowners where it belongs.” The scroll compressor inside the GSZC18 is designed with fewer moving parts, and the high-efficiency, two-speed electronically commutated condenser fan motor with advanced fan design provides quiet airflow. Other features include SmartShift® technology with short-cycle protection, a bi-flow liquid-line filter-drier, suction line accumulator, high- and low-pressure switches, coil and ambient temperature sensors, a transformer, compressor crankcase heater, high-capacity muffler, and a color-coded terminal strip for non-communicating set-up.
The Built In America television show is taking viewers deep inside one of the nation’s massive, new industrial facilities to witness how a $417 million investment in United States manufacturing is creating Goodman brand air conditioners and furnaces, along with up to 7,000 jobs. Within the doors of the world’s largest tilt wall building at the Texas Technology Park, the Built In America documentary, led by host John McCalmont, demonstrates the manufacturing magic of morphing hefty 15,000-pound coils of steel, aluminum and copper into Goodman brand heating and air conditioning units. Roving the sprawling 4 million-plus square-foot facility, McCalmont – in tow with Goodman Vice President of Manufacturing Joseph Campbell – follows the entire Goodman production process from stamping, brazing, assembly, painting, testing and more testing. McCalmont even chips in to help assemble several products. revolutionize heating and air conditioning industry The technological prowess showcased at the Texas Technology Park demonstrates how far Harold V. Goodman’s dream has come since he created his namesake company 43 years ago. Back then, Goodman said he wanted to “revolutionize the heating and air conditioning industry,” but even he might have found the scope of manufacturing capabilities at Texas Technology Park beyond his imagination. Built In America television celebrates cutting-edge companies that manufacture and assemble products in the United States. Goodman designs, engineers and assembles all of its indoor comfort products in the United States. According to Built In America, the series focuses on the history, job creation, education, business model, pride in workmanship and positive community impact of top companies and their hometowns. The show airs on The Fox Business Network (FBN) as sponsored segments to over 230 million viewers internationally.
A dealer-driven enhancement developed by Goodman Manufacturing Company has earned a 2018 Dealer Design Award for making outdoor condensing unit installation and service more convenient and faster. After hearing feedback from its heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) dealers, Goodman redesigned the liquid line service valves on outdoor condensers to angle outward – a simple but ingenious improvement on traditional service port design. By angling the service port outward and providing room to maneuver with tools, HVAC contractors have found it easier and faster to connect pressure gauge hoses. That enhancement earned Goodman a 2018 ACHR Dealer Design Award.The national award program was established to honor excellence in HVACR product design. Winners showcase the most innovative products that can be conveniently installed, maintained and serviced. easy to install and easy to service Making Goodman brand condensing units easy to sell, easy to install and easy to service is part of our brand DNA" Additionally, a second dealer-driven design improvement was made to elevate the contactor on all single-phase condensing units, allowing for easier connection of incoming electrical line. Previously, contractors had to make this connection in a space with a snug fit. “Our HVAC dealers spoke, and we took action,” explains Mark Hagan, Director of Product Marketing for Goodman. “Making Goodman brand condensing units easy to sell, easy to install and easy to service is part of our brand DNA, so dealer feedback was instrumental in evolving our design for the contactor and service port.” single-phase condensing units The positive response from dealers for the angled service valves encouraged Goodman to implement the enhancement across all its outdoor condensing units. Elevated contactors are now found on all Goodman brand single-phase condensing units. Goodman designed and tested the modifications at its research and testing facilities at its technology campus in Waller, Texas, just outside Houston. All Goodman brand heating and cooling systems are designed, engineered and assembled in the United States. “We continue to drive towards dealer-focused enhancements that make Goodman products easier to sell, install and service,” Hagan says. “These plans for improvement span all aspects of the product, from system design to label application. Stay tuned to learn about more product improvements moving through the pipeline.”