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The modern technological world is filled with ‘extrusions’. They are all around us, in the form of small and not-so-small cross sections. The function of an extrusion is to form seals between components of complex machinery and keep them functional. And, depending on the ‘type’ used, they can make a big difference to how a machine operates. Some of the most desirable types of extrusion — and especially for use in HVAC systems — are those made from silicone. Silicone, which is a type of rubber, has a robust set of properties. For one, silicone can withstand extreme temperatures, both high and low. Semi-Exterior environments Ranging from -60°C to temperatures exceeding 200°C. (And there are even higher grades that can be manufactured to withstand temperatures well above 200°C.) Ideal for HVAC units that work round the clock to keep large numbers of people in large buildings comfortable in summer and winter conditions. In addition to this, silicone is also one of the more resistant properties to the constant vibrations of working machinery. It can be difficult to locate the source of the problem if a tiny extrusion has dislodged. Vibration-resistant properties make silicone extrusions less likely to disengage or fall out of place, therefore minimizing the need for costly repairs. Finally, silicone is also more durable than most other materials when it comes to exterior or semi-exterior environments, such as that of rain or ultraviolet light. Protecting electrical components Silicone is useful in HVAC systems because it offers enhanced sealing and compression protections As a result of this favorability, there is already a considerable number of different types of silicone extrusions that can be found in a lot of HVAC systems. These include HVAC sealing gaskets, hatch seals and vibration isolation pads. But also silicone sponges, which act as a protective layer of thermal insulation. As well as providing thermal insulation, silicone sponges can double-up as a form of acoustic insulation, with considerable noise reduction and anti-squeal properties. Silicone enclosure gaskets protect electrical components, and environmental seals — as the name suggests — help to keep everything protected from the sometimes harsh elements of the environment outside. Silicone is useful in HVAC systems because it offers enhanced sealing and compression protections over most other materials. Closed cell structure On a material level, silicone has a ‘closed cell structure’, which helps to keep out moisture ingress, along with water and dust. The combination of a closed cell structure, along with sealing and compression benefits, makes silicone ideal for exterior seals and gaskets in and around HVAC systems. The softer grades of Silicone have an excellent memory and low stress relaxation, which in turn helps to prevent common faults with HVAC systems — usually caused by gasket failures made from other materials that soften and compress inaccurately. The low stress relaxation properties require minimal force on behalf of the engineers sealing the enclosures, while the memory-properties of the silicone allow it to conform to awkward shapes and gaps of various widths. Manufacturing HVAC systems proactively with silicone in mind can allow more design flexibility on behalf of the engineers. Inevitable rapid movements General purpose solid silicone or silicone sponge is suitable for many HVAC applications And, as mentioned above, vibration isolation pads work as dampers to protect against the inevitable rapid movements of the systems as they power along. But also to help withstand the vibrations of HVAC units on transport systems, such as buses and trains, which naturally vibrate as they run over imperfections on rail and road tracks. As it happens, general purpose solid silicone or silicone sponge is suitable for many HVAC applications, not just those discussed above. The designs of the extrusions would be different, reflective of their function, but the material would be the same. In some instances, customers may also require a flame retardant silicone — certified to UL94 specifications — in order to meet safety standards in certain situations or environments. Great temperature ranges For all its material advantages, silicone is generally more expensive than the other types of material rubber that are used to manufacture extrusions, such as ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM). And while other materials do of course have stand-out benefits of their own — EPDM for example is more hard-wearing than silicone — silicone is still often the extrusion ‘type’ of choice because of its ability to withstand great temperature ranges. This is very important for heating and air conditioning systems. Because some of the most common factors that cause HVAC systems to break down are as a result of seal and gasket failure, which can come about as a result of an overheating unit. Very cold environment Chances of a unit overheating can be just as likely — in fact perhaps more so — where the system has to operate in a very cold environment. With the threat of climate change etched more than ever into the public discussion, we can predict that there will be a steady increase in the amount that this material is used to make up the HVAC seals. And not just because, as temperatures continue to increase and summers get hotter and more prolonged, there will be an increased demand for them. Effective public relations It is no secret that HVAC systems can be relatively expensive to run It will become a matter of effective public relations for managers, building regulators and transport officers to make sure that the equipment they are using — and making — is ‘green’. By using the right materials that help conserve energy and increase efficiency, this will not only sit right with the general public, it should also be more economical, too. It is no secret that HVAC systems can be relatively expensive to run. Minimizing wastage, and the time spent on call outs and repairs will make a notable difference. Of course there are many other ways to also set about making air conditioning and heating units more efficient. Using seals or gaskets made from silicone is just one small piece of the puzzle. But utilizing them will almost certainly be more beneficial than you might imagine. And anything that is a step in the right direction is a welcome change.
As the UK continues to battle through the coronavirus crisis, HVAC business owners and installers can be putting some of their enforced downtime to good use. This period of subdued trading is a rare opportunity to get into better shape for when economic activity picks up. One way of doing this is by sharpening the focus on markets which promise strong growth – and few markets are growing faster than that for heat pumps. The potential here is huge. Some 28,000 heat pumps are currently installed in the UK every year, and before the pandemic this number was rising annually at a rate of 15-30%. That equates to sales doubling every three to five years. New-builds account for the majority of those sales, but 30% are retrofits, and about 30% of those retrofits are in private residences. This means there’s a big opportunity for doing conversions from oil boilers to heat pumps at rural homes not connected to the gas grid. The ‘New Normal’ and Heat Pumps It is only realistic, of course, to expect a lingering dip in HVAC sales of all kinds, including heat pumps, until the post-pandemic world gets back on its feet. But when we do turn the corner into the ‘new normal’, heat pump sales will again climb strongly. One reason for this is consumer demand, the other is government policy. End-users are now increasingly aware of the dangers and disruptions threatened by carbon emissions and climate change – informally known as ‘the Blue Planet Effect’ – and more are being guided by their consciences to make environmentally-responsible heating choices. An Expected Spike In Demand Many end-users are also encouraged by the prospect of receiving payments from the government through the Domestic RHI tariff. When we do turn the corner into the ‘new normal’, heat pump sales will climb strongly If RHI tariffs are the carrot, however, the government is also going to wield a big stick. The Chancellor’s spring statement last year dropped the bombshell that low-carbon heating systems, not fossil-fuel heating, should be installed in all new homes built after 2025. Though this policy might perhaps get slightly delayed and diluted, there can be no doubting that radical change is on the way. With all this in the pipeline, the industry should be preparing now to cope with the increased demand. But there’s some way to go: of the UK’s 120,000 registered gas engineers, merely 600 or so are MCS-registered to install heat pumps. Many more will be needed. MCS Certification Some installers are already recognizing this opportunity. Some 28,000 heat pumps are currently installed in the UK every year, and before the pandemic this number was rising annually at a rate of 15-30% This is evident in the heightened level of interest in the one-day introductory heat pump courses run nationwide by the Viessmann Academy. These courses provide a useful overview of what heat pump installations involve, helping participants decide whether or not they would like to go on to qualify with the MCS quality assurance scheme. This is a crucial decision, because having MCS certification is an obligation when installing equipment eligible for Domestic RHI payments. Some course participants decide to take the next step to MCS certification straight away, others decide to wait a while – but standing still in a fast-moving market can mean getting left behind! F-Gas Certification So what else must HVAC businesses and installers consider about heat pumps, in order to stay ahead of the game? In addition to MCS certification, F-Gas certification is also necessary when split air source heat pumps are installed. This is because the outdoor and indoor units have to be connected on-site with refrigerant pipework. Some installers choose to get F-Gas certified themselves, others sub-contract this part of the job to someone who’s suitably qualified. Of the UK’s 120,000 registered gas engineers, merely 600 or so are MCS-registered to install heat pumps It is possible to sidestep this need, however, when it is appropriate to install a monobloc heat pump – and the widening choice and affordability of monobloc designs is making them appropriate for a wider range of properties. A good example of this is Viessmann’s new Vitocal 100-A, an outdoors unit which has no need for a complementary indoor unit and is also easy to install because most components are integrated in the unit. New, compact and affordable air source heat pumps such as this, offering much-needed space-saving solutions for urban homes, are another reason why the heat pump market will boom. The Challenges Of Heat Pump Installation Though technological advances are making things easier, installing a heat pump isn’t ever going to be quite as straightforward as replacing an old boiler with a new one. Before starting an installation, first it is necessary to assess whether a heat pump is suitable for the property. This means checking that the property is well-enough insulated; checking the existing system’s radiators, which may need supplementing or replacing with bigger radiators or underfloor heating because of the lower flow temperatures of a heat pump system; and calculating the required size of the heat pump according to the building’s heat loss (and not including hot water demand). This period of subdued trading is a rare opportunity to get into better shape for when economic activity picks up At the installation stage itself, much of the work will be familiar to boiler installers, though weather compensating controls are obligatory for all MCS-approved work and as part of building regulations Part L. It’s also important to note that planning permission requires minimum distances between the heat pump’s outdoor unit, the plot’s borders, and neighboring properties. If this seems complicated, it doesn’t have to be: some heat pump manufacturers provide a calculator to simplify the task. Now Is The Time To Be Proactive Just as installers need a little time to assess whether a property should switch from a boiler to a heat pump, end-users also need a little thinking time, to consider adopting a technology new to them. By being proactive, HVAC businesses and installers can reap what they sow When customers get in touch because their existing boiler has broken down, the pressure for a quick fix can rule this out. But right now, when many of us have time on our hands, there’s the chance to inform customers of alternative heating solutions before their boiler needs replacing. Taking such pre-emptive action, by emailing information or mailing leaflets to customers, does require a little effort, but at least now there’s the time to do it. We are heading into a new era which will see boiler sales decline while heat pump sales rise. By making preparations for these profound changes, and by being proactive, HVAC businesses and installers can reap what they sow.
A new cloud-based solution enables HVAC professionals to access VRF systems remotely to diagnose service issues and lessen the time and costs of providing service. CoolAutomation’s Remote HVAC Service Solution enables HVAC service providers to remotely troubleshoot issues by analyzing real-time and historic data trends and analysis. They receive automatic error and anomaly notifications in their office or on their mobile phones. “The remote service solution provides the tools that HVAC service providers need to offer remote services to their existing clients while attracting new customers who understand the value of remote service for their business,” says Roy Muchtar, VP of Products at CoolAutomation. variable refrigerant flow On site, a CoolAutomation CloudBox connects directly to the VRF and links to the cloud via routers and the Internet. The box shares data on the operation of the VRF to the cloud, where a subscription service enables it to be analyzed to determine any problems. The service solution can connect to any major VRF (variable refrigerant flow) system, including Mitsubishi, Daikin, LG, Samsung, et. al.; and can connect to VRF units from multiple manufacturers in case a customer has installed more than one. The cloud solution begins monitoring information from the VRF at the time of installation If a service provider is migrating from one brand to another, the cloud solution can operate with both if there is a period of overlapping systems. The experience is the same regardless of the VRF brand. The cloud solution begins monitoring information from the VRF at the time of installation, providing a benchmark of how the equipment operates when it is first commissioned. Over time, the technology collects and stores additional data on how it continues to function. remote service solution The service provider receives an email or an alert on their smart phone if something is wrong or if a component is operating outside a defined parameter. The remote service solution also shortens the cycle of service and support. In case service is needed, the provider can diagnose the problem remotely before he or she visits the site; in some cases, remote service can solve the problem. If any anomaly surfaces, the service provider has access to the entire history of system operation to show them what has changed and when. If a site visit is needed, the technician can arrive on site knowing what the problem is and with a plan (and required materials) to solve it quickly. There is no need, for example, for one site visit to diagnose a problem and then a second visit to fix it. cloud-based approach Knowing ahead the complexity of a problem helps service providers decide which technicians (e.g., what level of expertise) to send to the site. The cloud-based approach can also maximize productivity of a service company’s most experienced technicians. A knowledgeable technician can address multiple customer issues in less time, diagnose the problems remotely, and then dispatch less experienced technicians as necessary, knowing exactly what they need to do. The model of sending a technician on site to address every service call, from small to big, will be challenging" In short, the remote service solution is another tool in a provider’s toolbox, helping them improve service, lower costs, and benefit their own bottom lines. There are also benefits for any companies seeking to provide “HVAC as a service” – less cost and more dollars go to the bottom line from any monthly subscription payments. remote service capabilities During the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits of remote service have become even more obvious as a way to minimize customer visits. In fact, in general, end customers increasingly are coming to expect remote service capabilities from providers. “HVAC technical service organizations and HVAC contractors will have to make some transition in the way technical service is being provided because of the pandemic,” says Muchtar. “The model of sending a technician on site to address every service call, from small to big, will be challenging in an environment of ever-changing travel restrictions.” The remote service solution also avoids having to set up an appointment to access a system if the building is vacant (because of coronavirus). Also, any anomalies in system operation are less likely to be noticed if the building is empty, so remote monitoring is even more valuable. From the end customer’s perspective, it is likely a service provider can solve any situation before the customer is even aware there is a problem. The time needed for problem resolution is shorter, and lifespan of the system is longer because small problems are addressed before they cause larger problems. In addition to service issues, the information stored in the cloud provides voluminous data that can be analyzed to yield insights on how the system has been used, the performance of various elements, etc. interpreting larger trends The CloudBox, also used for home automation, is already in use in more than 90 countries A rules engine can aid with analyzing multiple factors to interpret larger trends. Rules can be customized to provide alerts based on specific parameters and/or anomalies, and customers can share a library of rules generated by other users. Alerts may include operational analytics (e.g., if the room temperature goes below 60 for 30 minutes), manufacturer alerts (if something is wrong with the VRF), and maintenance alerts (e.g., filter needs to be changed). The new technology, launched in late June, has been beta testing worldwide for several months, including in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and Germany. The CloudBox, also used for home automation, is already in use in more than 90 countries. targeting facility managers Use of the technology will soon be expanded beyond VRFs to connect with chillers and other more traditional HVAC systems; however, additional integration is needed to operate with various brands of chillers, each with a different interface. In addition to the remote service solution, CoolAutomation also offers a control application (for end users). Later this year, the company will be introducing an application targeting facility managers that addresses issues such as scheduling and energy consumption
The Eurovent Product Groups ‘Air Conditioners’ (PG-AC) and ‘Liquid Chilling Packages and Heat Pumps’ (PG-LCP-HP) elected new Chairmen and Vice Chairmen, with a clear scope and timeline of activities. Mr. Henk Kranenberg was separately elected Chairman of both Products Groups. He is joined by Vice Chairman, Mr. Stefano Vit (De'Longhi Group) in the Air Conditioners Group and Vice Chairman, Mr. Mariano Covolo (Mitsubishi Electric Hydronics & IT Cooling Systems S.p.A.) in the Chillers Group. PG-AC and PG-LCP-HP Product Groups PG-AC and PG-LCP-HP met in quick succession, on 9 and 10 June, 2020 respectively, with a focus on defining the scope and timeline of future activities in light of important European and international developments in the area of legislation and standardization. Both Product Groups elected Mr. Henk Kranenberg, Eurovent Vice-President and Senior Manager at Daikin Environment Research Center, as Chairman. Eurovent Product Groups ‘Air Conditioners’ (PG-AC elected Mr. Stefano Vit, Patents and Technical Compliance Leader at De’Longhi Group as Vice Chairman, whereas PG-LCP-HP elected Mr. Mariano Covolo, Technology & Engineering Management Manager at Mitsubishi Electric Hydronics & IT Cooling Systems S.p.A. as Vice Chairman. The Product Groups will focus on the upcoming revisions of important pieces of EU legislation in the HVACR sector, including the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Regulations for air conditioners (206/2012 and 626/2011), chillers (2016/2281), and space heaters (811/2013 and 813/2013), as well as the F-Gas Regulation (517/2014). Developments in standardization and testing The Product Groups will also follow developments in the area of standardization and testing The Product Groups will also follow developments in the area of standardization and testing, including EN14511, EN14825, the BAM testing method, VRF testing method, polyvalent heat pump testing method, EN378, and IEC EN 60335-2-40, and other important topics, including flammable refrigerants and the circular economy. Mr. Henk Kranenberg, newly elected Chairman of both Product Groups stated, “The European Green Deal is of great relevance for the HVACR industry, and sustainable heating and cooling have a major role to play in decarbonising the economy.” Developing sound European policies and standards Henk adds, “The reactivated Eurovent PG-AC and PG-LCP-HP will accompany the development of sound European policies and standards in support of the EU’s climate-neutrality vision. I urge all our industry colleagues to join us in this important work.” The next meetings are scheduled for 22 September, 2020 (PG-AC) and 23 September, 2020 (PG-LCP-HP).
Oxygen8, a new HVAC equipment design and manufacturing company, launched a line of fully electric Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems (DOAS) to meet the needs of modern building design and to address current human health and climate change challenges. Clean tech entrepreneur, James Dean (Founder of dPoint/CORE), and HVAC engineer, Matthew Doherty (formerly with Swegon), have teamed up to create intelligent HVAC solutions to improve health, comfort, and energy efficiency for offices, senior care facilities, classrooms, and other commercial buildings across North America. Nova Series Indoor DOAS Oxygen8 systems use membrane based energy recovery technology and integrate Daikin's VRV heating and cooling systems to provide 100% fresh, filtered air to indoor environments at ideal temperature and humidity levels. The low-profile design integrates into compact spaces and allows for ceiling, wall or floor mounted installation, providing 400-3500cfm of outside air directly indoors, preventing recirculation of air and cross-contamination of airborne viruses and bacteria. "Our cities and workplaces are changing and it's time that HVAC solutions followed suit." explains Oxygen8 CEO James Dean. "Throughout North America, cities are moving toward net-zero energy and low carbon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The current COVID-19 crisis has identified a need to implement better ways to ventilate buildings and keep people healthy, safe and comfortable. Building owners and developers are looking to maximize their usable space and eliminate bulky rooftop HVAC equipment and ductwork. It was these challenges that inspired us to develop the next generation of ventilation products." Relative healthy humidity levels Breathe Healthy with High IAQ: Low energy fans, fixed plate enthalpy exchangers and high-MERV filters deliver 100% fresh, outdoor air to designated building zones, eliminating crossover and recirculation of contaminants while keeping relative humidity at healthy levels. Innovative Design: Compact (16", 20", 24" or 30" deep), decentralized design allows for seamless ceiling or wall installation, ensuring maximum usable floor or roof space, while ECM fans and double-wall construction make for a quiet operation. Energy Efficient: 100% electric HVAC system with energy recovery makes for a more energy-efficient system and small carbon footprint. Smart Solutions: Technology connects HVAC systems to smart devices for easy monitoring and maintenance, with real-time filter alerts, demand-controlled ventilation, and remote diagnosis. Climate, Controlled: Connectivity with world HVAC equipment from Daikin allows cutting edge, fully integrated ERV and VRV systems that control temperature and humidity levels for unparalleled comfort and health. Easy Installation & Maintenance: Pre-installed coils, electronic expansion valves, and controls, plus easy-to-access filters and an ERV core with no moving parts ensures systems are easy to install and maintain. Improving IAQ of buildings Oxygen8 Solutions Inc. is an HVAC company producing technology that improves the IAQ of buildings throughout North America. The firm's engineering and manufacturing operations are based in Toronto, with sales and marketing based in Vancouver.