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The ongoing shortage of HVAC equipment and tools has created a significant challenge for contractors around the country. At the same time, companies are also up against intense environmental conditions, like the extreme winter weather that impacted much of Texas in early 2021. The right strategies can help HVAC businesses navigate this shortage and make the most of the equipment they can order. Due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, raw material and component shortages have disrupted several critical links in the HVAC manufacturing supply chain. Various raw materials The most significant have been shortages of various raw materials, including aluminum, copper and plastic, and a notable lack of semiconductors. The semiconductor shortage has had a particularly broad impact on industries of all types. Right now, any industry that uses power electronics — from automakers to graphic cards manufacturers — is struggling to source enough chips to meet demand. The semiconductor shortage has had a particularly broad impact on industries of all types Many economists and industry observers are unwilling to make predictions about when the shortage will end. However, some have estimated that it could be as late as 2023 before semiconductor production returns to normal. Industries that produce raw materials needed for essential HVAC equipment may face similar recovery timelines. Salvaging working parts Consumer confidence is growing, and demand is returning to more normal levels as the pandemic begins to end. These market conditions could mean a quicker return to business as usual for these essential industries — but HVAC professionals should probably prepare for shortages that last well beyond 2021. There are a few strategies individual companies and contractors can use to outmaneuver these shortages. Temporary replacement components Loaner A/C units and temporary replacement components can bridge the gap when repairs are necessary Offer loaners and temporary repairs - Loaner A/C units and temporary replacement components can bridge the gap when repairs are necessary but customers aren’t interested in waiting for a new part. You may be able to offer loaner components or window units that can help keep customers cool. Salvaging working parts from systems your business replaces can give you a stockpile of functional, used items you can use for temporary repairs. These fixes will not last as long as a new part or complete HVAC system replacement. Still, they can provide a valuable stopgap when options are limited or customers aren't interested in more extensive work. Preparing reverse logistics Communicate with suppliers - Some manufacturers reduced component stockpiles to a minimum before the pandemic and have few spare components as a result. Others continued to buy items and may have parts on hand for contractors who need replacement components immediately. Communicating with your suppliers will let you know if rush orders are a possibility. In some cases, you may not have to worry about long lead times for every part, but only for specific components or products. Communication will also help you better prepare your reverse logistics Many HVAC businesses are also building stockpiles of their own, ordering parts and components well in advance to cover anticipated needs. Knowing which components or products are likely to require long lead times will help you inform your customers and get ready for repairs more effectively. Communication will also help you better prepare your reverse logistics — the processes you use to return unneeded or unwanted parts to suppliers. Good working practices Prioritize safe and sustainable work - Now is the time to make safety even more of a priority than usual. HVAC businesses can struggle in good times if a key employee is injured on the job. Independent contractors likely can’t afford the missed work that an injury may mean. The correct PPE and good working practices will help keep workers safe and encourage them to stay, making it easier for companies to avoid the HVAC skills gap. Safety will be especially important on hazardous job sites, like active construction or demolition areas. Following safety best practices for those locations will help keep you and your team safe. Cleaning condenser coils Teaching people how to safely clean their AC unit could provide similar benefits Let customers know how they can help - Communication with regular customers can also be key. It’s not unusual for someone to wait until their air conditioner has stopped working to schedule maintenance. As a result, issues with HVAC system components will typically not be noticed until they have failed or started to cause problems. It also means customers will miss out on maintenance that could reduce the strain on an HVAC system — like changing filters and cleaning condenser coils. Teaching people how to safely clean their AC unit could provide similar benefits. Encouraging regular maintenance and offering deals on services can keep their systems running for as long as possible without repairing or replacing components. Proactively informing customers about the long lead times needed for new or replacement parts may help you communicate why this upkeep is so important right now. Navigating the shortage Enable customers to upgrade their repairs - Other strategies that encourage customers to invest in replacements rather than repairs can help offset the higher costs of HVAC equipment. Second chance offers and similar deals allow customers to credit the cost of a repair against a replacement unit. These offers mean that even if customers choose to repair rather than replace a system, they can change their minds without losing the money spent on the initial fix. HVAC contractors should be willing to pass along these increases to customers Be willing to shift - Prices for HVAC equipment are likely to remain high during the shortage, and business costs will be higher as a result. HVAC contractors should be willing to pass along these increases to customers. Building in higher expenses for components and essential resources to your pricing will help you navigate the shortage. HVAC equipment shortage Anticipate related equipment and parts shortages - Your business should also be preparing for related problems — like the ongoing shortages of vinyl car wraps or replacement auto parts. Fleet vehicles that need repairs may be out for days or weeks at a time. Maximizing the lifespan of all business equipment with preventive maintenance will help keep the business running in the long term. The HVAC equipment shortage is likely to last well into the future — potentially as late as 2023. Businesses and contractors should prepare for rising costs and long lead times for new components and systems. To adapt to these new market conditions, companies may want to readjust their pricing schedules and change how they communicate with customers and suppliers. Proactive communication that prioritizes transparency will help businesses make the most of supplier relationships and let clients know what they should expect.
A landmark UN scientific study has once again highlighted the short window available to prevent irreversible climate change. Businesses are coming under pressure to dramatically accelerate their net-zero carbon initiatives. This comes at a time where market dynamism is returning across a range of key sectors following a downturn triggered by the pandemic. Businesses are also being pressured by stakeholders to recover revenues lost during the pandemic and to start rebuilding commercial activity. Typical supermarket products With refrigeration sitting at the heart of some of the biggest industries across the globe, including food commerce, healthcare, manufacturing and technology, decisions on refrigerant technology tap into the heart of the debate around environmental credibility, consumer expectations and economic recovery. So how can businesses balance the need to adopt more environmentally-preferable refrigerants with the urgent need to boost revenues? The technology factors into many of the most important facets of modern society Often when you think of refrigeration, you instantly think of cold storage and supermarket refrigeration. Without refrigerants, we wouldn’t be able to extend the life of many typical supermarket products or have the convenience of home storage. However, that isn’t the only role refrigeration play in our daily lives. In fact, the technology factors into many of the most important facets of modern society. The healthcare sectors, for example, would struggle to reduce the spread of infection without the use of modern air-conditioning, while the pharmaceutical industry requires refrigeration to store life-saving medications. Preserving human life On top of this, the digital revolution would not be possible. Without coolants, the data centers run by companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google would overheat, resulting in system failures and service outages. And finally, with temperatures rising across the planet because of global warming, and heatwave events becoming more common, refrigeration is increasingly important to preserving human life. Without refrigerants, recent extreme weather events would have been even more devastating. However, although refrigeration has been a solution for many human challenges, finding a refrigerant that is both safe and environmentally preferable is a challenge. In fact, before recent breakthroughs, many of the chemicals used as refrigerants, such as ammonia, sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide and methyl chloride, were poisonous, corrosive and even explosive. Non-Flammable alternative CFCs were found to be extremely harmful to the ozone layer and were therefore phased out In the 1930s, a compound called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) was commercially introduced as a non-toxic, non-flammable alternative to established refrigerants and was in widespread use for a variety of applications by the mid-20th Century. However, CFCs were found to be extremely harmful to the ozone layer and were therefore phased out in favor of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The story wouldn’t end there, however, as HFCs were found to be potent greenhouse gases with high global warming potential (GWP). EU regulators therefore demanded their phase-out from 2016. By 2024, HFCs must be phased out so industries have been scrambling to find alternative low-global-warming-potential solutions. Unique chemical bonds The answer came in the form of hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs), developed by renowned chemist, Rajiv Singh. HFOs are known for their unique chemical bonds, which allow them to break down in just a few days, so they don’t linger in the atmosphere if released and therefore don’t meaningfully contribute to global warming. Since launching its Solstice line of HFO refrigerants in 2012, Honeywell has averted the production of more than 200 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to emissions from more than 42 million cars, more than all passenger cars in Germany. Honeywell has averted the production of more than 200 million metric tons of greenhouse gases The automotive industry was one of the first sectors to recognize the strengths of HFOs. During the past 10 years, nearly 75 million cars made in Europe have been fitted with HFO-based air conditioning systems. Supermarkets have also been reaping the benefits; more than 30,000 grocery stores currently use Honeywell’s non-flammable HFO refrigerant, Solstice N40, reducing their energy consumption by 10% and their global warming potential by a factor of three. Residential heat-Pumps HFOs are on the brink of being adopted for domestic use as well. New Honeywell HFO solutions are ideal for residential heat-pumps which enable the elimination of fossil fuel burning in our homes, for heating and for hot water generation. HFOs superior performance deliver ‘best-in-class’ energy efficiency, hence enabling heat pumps to generate more renewable energy from the waste heat vs. alternative solutions. As enablers for energy efficient solutions and systems, HFOs also offer unique opportunities for future developments such as domestic air conditioning, cooling of electronic vehicle batteries and the fast growth of data center cooling. The ‘Green Deal’ is EU flag ship regulation on climate and economy recovery. Overall, buildings are responsible for about 40% of the EU’s total energy consumption, and for 36% of its greenhouse gas emissions from energy. Greenhouse gas emissions These new regulations and the corporation sustainability goals create a range of new opportunities To make it specific, heating and cooling, in the EU is responsible for 80% of energy consumed in residential buildings. Rapid adoption of Heat pumps and improved energy efficient solutions; are key contributors for Europe to reach the ‘Green Deal’ goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 and the recently adopted accelerated ‘fit for 55’ goal to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Adopting Low Global warning refrigerant, safe & energy efficient cooling solutions and replacing fossil fuel burners with heat pump systems to generate heat; are also key contributors to corporations’ sustainability goals (ESG). These new regulations and the corporation sustainability goals create a range of new opportunities for HFO solutions. As the popularity of HFOs grows, they’ll have a major role in mitigating climate change and enabling a carbon neutral economy. Pharmaceutical supply chains Happily, what’s good for the environment is also good for the economy. HFO production is already creating thousands of long-lasting jobs. The global pandemic stopped many people from enjoying a range of everyday pleasures such as visits to sporting events, restaurants and cinemas; activities at venues that are often reliant on some form of air conditioning and refrigeration, a sharp reminder of the role played by modern refrigerants. The technology continues to develop and evolve ensuring that a range of activities can continue to happen. From protecting the food and pharmaceutical supply chains to ensuring the continued operation of modern communication technology, next generation refrigerants will support some of the most important parts of the modern economy and a better environment.
Over the last year, we’ve become all too familiar with the risk posed by a deadly airborne virus, but, as we move out of lockdown, there are other airborne hazards we urgently need to fight. However, while advice and guidance are abundant in the use of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in combating the spread of COVID-19, there has been very little said of the risk of using HVAC systems after a prolonged period of inactivity. As those familiar with HVAC systems know, air conditioning and ventilation systems are designed to be used regularly, if not constantly. Enclosed and moist environments As systems convey air and/or cool it, systems build up moisture and, having been inactive for many months, if not for a whole year, these humid, enclosed, and moist environments will have become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and fungus. Mould or mildew can grow in air ducts, filters, or vents as well as in drip pans and coils Mould or mildew can grow in air ducts, filters, or vents as well as in drip pans and coils. It spreads through the production of microscopic spores which float through the air and deposit on surfaces. In the right environments, these spores can form mold colonies, where they can then produce more spores that can be spread further. Worse, these spores can survive and linger in an atmosphere for long periods, and some molds can be deadly. Exposure to mold Now imagine that a contaminated HVAC system, which has been inactive for weeks, months, or even a whole year, is switched back on: Immediately, a current of air carries the spores through the ducting before projecting them out across every inhabited space, ready for workers, shoppers or visitors who are venturing out after lockdown to touch, inhale, eat or drink. As well as smelling musty and unpleasant, mold exposure can cause cold or allergy-like symptoms such as a stuffy nose, cough, or sore throat as well as headaches, nausea, skin and respiratory diseases. It can also be particularly dangerous to people who are immunocompromised or who have conditions such as asthma. Routine maintenance It sounds disgusting, but the risk is very much real. Unfortunately, there has been very little advice or guidance from the UK government to make property managers or users aware of this issue and so many will have neglected to protect themselves and their workers or visitors. Mould has always been able to grow inside HVAC systems, and this is why owners are obliged to have them regularly serviced. But unless that routine maintenance has gone ahead as planned throughout the lockdowns, and unless their systems have been inspected and disinfected again before opening, COVID-19 will be just one of many airborne health hazards people will face this summer. No clear warnings Government guidance encourages the use of various HVAC systems as part of its COVID-secure strategies Of course, the UK is not the only country to have imposed lockdown restrictions, and, over in America, their health authority, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published warnings around this. But, here in the UK, there have been no such messages: Government guidance encourages the use of various HVAC systems as part of its COVID-secure strategies, but it makes no clear warnings about the particular risk of using these after a period of prolonged inactivity. Mitigated risks I suspect that while larger workplaces with dedicated property managers and close connections to professionals such as ourselves will be more likely to have mitigated these risks, countless other organizations will not: I’m particularly concerned about small offices, hotels, restaurants, pubs, holiday cottages, and shops which may have systems unchecked for years and which would have had their hands full with other problems that were more pressing than maintaining an HVAC systems no-one is using. Cleaning and disinfecting HVAC Enhanced cleaning in other respects could also have made matters worse; if, for example, a carpet was shampooed at the start of lockdown and the HVAC system was turned off, a property manager will have inadvertently created the perfect environment for mold to thrive. Fortunately, HVAC systems can be disinfected and cleaned to make them safe again, but with so little awareness, many system owners will not be taking these steps. Action against mold However, while there may not be specific guidance in relation to the risk of mold in HVAC systems after lockdown, there are still laws in place which oblige property managers to take action. These include the Health & Safety at Work Act, The Workplace Health, Safety & Welfare Regulations, Occupiers Liability Act, and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. As a result, employers or property managers may be liable for illness or harm which may occur from the use of contaminated systems. As we approach the end of the lockdown restrictions, I would urge all HVAC engineers, property managers, and property maintenance professionals to immediately reach out to clients and warn them of this danger, because the last thing we need is another health crisis.
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.”
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