Window A/C - Expert Commentary

Intelligent HVAC Solutions: Enabling a Safe Return to Work
Intelligent HVAC Solutions: Enabling a Safe Return to Work

Having spent the last few months working from our sofas, dining tables and ironing boards, many of us have become accustomed to the world of remote working. But we’ve now arrived at a point where many businesses are starting to reopen their doors or have plans to do so in the near-future. Employers will be hoping that a return to work will prove productive, reinvigorating the workforce and driving growth. To this end, however, they will need to instill confidence by demonstrating how they can keep employees safe and comfortable. Bringing employees back to work will be complex. For a start, businesses have had to implement a large number of new safety measures in response to COVID-19. However, ensuring safety in the workplace goes beyond adhering to social distancing measures and anti-bacterial cleaning stations. Behind the scenes, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) play a crucial role in facilitating a safe workspace. Whether it’s the systems implemented to limit the spread of the virus, the ongoing servicing of these systems or their wider environmental impact, HVAC solutions and facilities managers (FMs) rest at the heart of a safer return to work. Embracing new strategies for clean air Walking in the building through a new automatic door, most office workers will be greeted with a queue for the lifts and plenty of signage reminding you to sanitise your hands and keep your distance. Some may have their body temperature scanned by a thermal detection camera on entry, which could also count how many people enter to ensure numbers are safe. Others could be met with an anti-virus access point that scans your face using facial recognition rather than a pass, and enforces hand hygiene by dispensing sanitiser before the lifts will open.  Behind the scenes, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) play a crucial role in facilitating a safe workspace All of these measures, however strict, are part of the new normal: ‘contactless’ buildings. Designed to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, facilities managers have plenty of options when it comes to keeping people safe. But not all of them are so apparent when entering a building. Some of the most important measures are those we can’t see. A healthy and safe working environment has always relied on a building’s HVAC infrastructure – temperature control, good air flow, and a reliable level of comfort are top of most office workers’ priority lists. But the pandemic has taken this to a new level of importance. As a critical part of their wider health and safety plan, facilities managers can look to identify strategies to increase clean air levels further. This could include increasing outdoor air circulation to decrease pathogen exposure, with smart air handling units. These will enable managers to bring in more outside air to displace potentially contaminated air, by increasing ventilation and air change rates.  Improving Filtration Methods Improving filtration methods is another possibility, by adding additional filters including high efficiency filters and HEPA filters, to trap more particles and increase the percentage of clean air in a building. Portable HEPA solutions are also an option for those who need more flexibility. In addition to air filtration and circulation, it is also possible to use UV-C lighting to effectively ‘disinfect’ the air or surfaces, using ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) to inactivate viral microorganisms. These can be installed brand new or retrofitted into existing facilities, to reduce costs for FMs and speed up implementation. These innovative uses of HVAC to limit the spread of infection could have a huge impact on the health and safety of occupants in any building – and this is by no means limited to offices. Within healthcare and laboratory facilities, for example, solutions like room pressurisation, air change rates, humidity and temperature controls are all critical to reduce contamination in the air and on surfaces. A healthy and safe working environment has always relied on a building’s HVAC infrastructure Safety is an ongoing process No matter which HVAC solutions a facilities manager chooses, it’s not a case of installing them and then waving goodbye. As with any good health and safety strategy, constant monitoring is crucial to ensure building occupants are well looked-after – and this also ensures you can get the most out of HVAC investments. For some this means keeping a close eye on how your HVAC equipment runs, to ensure that they’re reaching optimum performance and delivering the best ROI. Working with a partner who can provide continuous service and monitoring is critical, so that the pressure is off FMs themselves. Especially now, having remote monitoring capabilities is an added bonus, so that minor issues can be fixed without an engineer having to visit the site.  For those with smart technologies in place, such as smart connected chillers, FMs may rather be reliant on predictive maintenance and monitoring tools, which use AI and automation to predict issues before they arise, and ensure equipment runs reliably and downtime can be minimised. Whether in person or remotely, good quality service and maintenance of HVAC equipment goes a long way – both to get the best return on investment, and to keep buildings as safe and comfortable as possible. Enabling a smarter and more sustainable workplace HVAC has always been critical to keeping employees happy and healthy at work – but for a long time this has had a negative impact on the planet. Inefficient HVAC systems can give a building a much bigger carbon footprint than it would ideally have.  75% of organizations plan to increase their investment in energy efficiency and smart building technologies Last year, our Energy Efficiency Indicator survey found that 75% of organizations plan to increase their investment in energy efficiency and smart building technologies. The opportunity, then, to overhaul HVAC systems in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 is also an opportunity to invest in more efficient, greener HVAC technologies, built for the future. Taking a holistic approach to your HVAC equipment is the best way to do this, to ensure efficiency gains can be made across an entire building or estate, by connecting intelligent systems. Chillers, for example, with efficiency and intelligence built in as standard can reduce energy use and carbon emissions for a building, or collection of buildings, helping FMs meet energy targets and keeping costs low. Choosing the optimal HVAC system Under current circumstances, the decisions made by FMs are pivotal in enabling business continuity and will ultimately impact building occupants’ comfort and safety. It should therefore come as no surprise that businesses are paying close attention to every move FMs make. Choosing the optimal HVAC system for your building and ensuring regular servicing and maintenance will prove cost-effective and energy efficient. Not only this, but smart HVAC technologies go a long way in enabling a safer, productive and more sustainable working environment. By picking the right tools for the job, businesses of every type can position themselves for growth while remaining as safe and secure as possible.

Inverter Maintenance For Aircon Engineers
Inverter Maintenance For Aircon Engineers

Inverter driven air conditioning is more energy efficient, cheaper to operate and more profitable to install than its non-inverter driven equivalent. Here Neil Ballinger, head of EMEA at automation parts supplier EU Automation, explains how HVAC engineers can maintain the inverters in their customer’s aircon units. Do you remember cross country at school? It was exhausting; miles of seemingly pointless jogging and sprinting and, if the teacher was not looking, walking. If you were unlucky enough to be born before modern safeguarding measures were introduced, it probably also meant getting lost in the nearest woods.Why isn’t every installation an inverter driven unit, instead of the traditional single stage or dual stage models? My PE teacher, who seemed particularly vicious at the time, but in retrospect just knew about sports science than most, used to make us do something called fartlek as well. This meant long distance runs, incorporating elements of speed training by mixing up sprints with jogs and walks. The worst bit was starting to run again after a walk. That is exactly how the motor in your customer’s air conditioner feel if the units you fit are not inverter controlled. The motor has to act just like a runner doing fartlek — it sprints continuously, operating at full speed until the thermostat tells it the room is cool, then it stops. When the room gets warm, it starts again, powers immediately up to full speed and repeats the process indefinitely. Just like a teenage cross-country runner, it is the starting and stopping that is the tough bit. Furthermore, the unit probably doesn’t have to run at full speed to keep the room at the correct temperature, if the motor were inverter controlled it would speed up and slow down as the temperature fluctuates. Why isn’t all aircon inverter driven? We all know that inverter driven aircon is better than its non-inverter driven cousins. It can provide heating as well as cooling and the lifetime cost of use is less for the customer — because their energy bills stay low. The cost of installation is also higher because it is a more complex job, so it works out better for the contractor. It’s a win-win. The research firm Technavio even lists it as one of the key technologies driving growth in the HVAC market in its annual reports every year. So, the only question is, why isn’t every installation an inverter driven unit, instead of the traditional single stage or dual stage models?When contractors contact EU Automation to buy automation parts, for the units they maintain, they have given us another reason: maintenance Cost is a factor, but when contractors contact EU Automation to buy replacement motors and inverters, and other automation parts, for the units they maintain, they have given us another reason: maintenance. As HVAC engineers, we are not necessarily specialists in power electronics, and this makes inverter maintenance daunting. Microcontrollers and IGBTs (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors) are not beyond us by any means, but they can be intimidating. Personally, I would back an electrical or heating engineer over an electronics specialist in a problem-solving contest all day long; but that doesn’t solve the problem at hand. Furthermore, while we are experts in air conditioning brands, and know our Daikins and Grees from our Mitsubishis and Fujitsus, we don’t necessarily have contacts at the inverter manufacturers. Amtech, Danfoss, Vacon and Yaskawa are all names we know, but the local dealer for any of them is probably not in your phone book. This is especially true if the unit you need is from a first-generation inverter driven aircon unit and well over a decade old. While we are experts in air conditioning brands, and know our Daikins and Grees from our Mitsubishis and Fujitsus, we don’t necessarily have contacts at the inverter manufacturers Maintenance techniques While inverter maintenance can be daunting, it isn’t difficult. The tools you will need most often are nothing more than a rag and a spanner, while the more esoteric kit is stuff you probably carry anyway, a laptop, vacuum and a Fluke meter. Before you start, remember that while we tend to refer to an inverter as an inverter, the manufacturers themselves, and many of the sources of information online, often refer to them as VSDs (Variable Speed Drives), VFDs (Variable Frequency Drives) or just plain old drives. As a result, when you are searching online for a video to explain something, it’s worth using all three of those terms, alongside the inverter manufacturer’s name and the problem to make sure you get the right result.While inverter maintenance can be daunting, it isn’t difficult When you do move on to maintenance, step one is simple; make sure that the unit is free of dust. This is as easy as vacuuming the heatsink with an ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) vacuum cleaner when you perform routine maintenance or investigate a problem. While you are checking for build up of dust and daily grime, check the filters. They will probably have to be replaced during annual maintenance, but high use might mean they need to be replaced more often. The control panel itself should be well ventilated and free of dust as well, if it isn’t it can overheat, which is the number one cause of inverter damage and the most common reason contractors contact us for replacement units. Before you put your vacuum and duster away, you should make sure that the inverter unit’s location is clean and as sheltered from the elements as possible. Because it’s normally situated on a roof, it’s not going to be perfect, but the units are designed to take a limited battering. That doesn’t mean it’s okay for them to be covered in leaves, surrounded by rubbish or immediately beneath the guttering outlet though! Before you put your vacuum and duster away, you should make sure that the inverter unit’s location is clean and as sheltered from the elements as possible Get out the spanner Once you’ve finished these steps, you are done with dusting for now, it’s time to get out your screwdriver and your spanner. Step one is to make sure the fans on the inverter are operating normally, without noise and with nothing blocking their rotation. The fan keeps the internal components running effectively, just as it does on PC, and if its function is impaired the capacitors will overheat and the inverter will fail.When you install or maintain an inverter on an air conditioning system, it is a sensible precaution to back up the drive parameters to your laptop The next job is to grab your spanner and make sure the power terminals are on tight. Loose connections cause arcing, overheating and even melting of components and are easily checked during any kind of maintenance and repair. While we are still in the realms of the work your apprentice can do with their eyes closed, you should also make sure that the inverter’s removable LCD control pad is stored sensibly and not continually attached to the drive. If it remains attached, there is a chance the display will stay on permanently, which means that when you need it to diagnose a problem, it will probably already be burnt out. Break out the laptop When you install or maintain an inverter on an air conditioning system, it is a sensible precaution to back up the drive parameters to your laptop. It takes minutes and is normally done by using the removable LCD control. In fact, it’s often as simple as selecting ‘PARs’ and then ‘BACKUP’ from the menu. If you struggle, there are lots of videos on YouTube, like this one, which explain the process for each drive. As a result, if the inverter ever does need replacing, you can whip out your backed up parameters and order a new or refurbished one easily, before reloading the parameters to the replacement and getting up and running in no time. Your customers will think you are a power electronics genius, as well as a HVAC expert, and they will be loyal for life; especially of you save them on a hot day! If you follow these simple measures, you will find that the inverters in your customer’s air conditioning units last much longer and no motors will have to run the equivalent of a cross country, thanks to a lack of inverter control.

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AHR Expo 2020 Day One Review: Smart Technologies Are Pushing HVAC To New Levels
AHR Expo 2020 Day One Review: Smart Technologies Are Pushing HVAC To New Levels

Technologies such as machine learning and the internet of things (IoT) are taking their place alongside more traditional products at AHR Expo in Orlando this week. Performance of the industry’s historic product mix continues to improve from the standpoint of efficiency and sustainability, and elements of the industry’s “digitization” are making it even better. The “smart building” has finally arrived in earnest. “Our world is changing,” said Jenny Stentz, Area Vice President, Building Solutions, North America, for Johnson Controls. “Our customers are talking about it everywhere we go. They are demanding more control over the environment they occupy, and that is driving change.” Collaborating With Customers For Efficient Solutions  In the case of Johnson Controls, the changes are being implemented in the context of a collaborative relationship with customers; in effect, they are working Changes are being implemented in the context of a collaborative relationship with customerstogether with customers in the co-development of solutions that deploy the latest technologies. The massive amount of data available from today’s systems, when analyzed using new artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools, yields opportunities for more efficient systems for customers. Johnson Controls offered a panel discussion on “Changing Customer Demands” to kick off the AHR Expo. The deployment of “digital assets” alongside JCI’s product mix can have a practical impact on energy usage, saving in the range of 20 to 40% of the costs of operating a system, says the company. “Together, they drive the outcomes our customers are looking for,” said George Oliver, Johnson Controls’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Oliver added: “We try to put the customer at the center of all that we do. We try to understand the questions and be ahead of the curve.” Pushing The Digital Message JCI is continuing to invest to improve its product mix — in the range of $650 to $700 million in the last year. Investments include development of a state-of-the-art facility in Norman, Okla. There is also a training center, and the company continues to invest in the Navigator platform. “We have truly focused on being a products company, which really focuses our investment,” said Mike Ellis, Executive Vice President, Chief Customer and Digital Officer, Johnson Controls. “It all depends on our ability to leverage what is right in front of us.” JCI positions itself as a “pure-play” buildings company that is IoT-aware. There were other companies pushing a digital message on the first day of AHR Expo, too. For example, Delta showcased a comprehensive suite of building automation technologies built around the theme “Smarter Buildings, Smarter Cities.” Their booth showcased the ability to improve operating efficiency and reduce energy usage by combining various Delta products, including building automation solutions from Delta Controls Inc. and LOYTEC. Panasonic highlighted new technologies, including a system that suppresses pollutants and odors using nano-sized electrostatic atomized water particles. Delta’s O3 Sensor Hub combines multiple temperature and occupancy inputs with audio and detection accuracy enhanced by machine learning to provide more precise temperature reading and better control of other systems. Digital-era Machine Learning  Armstrong Fluid Technology highlighted Active Performance Management based on digital-era machine learning. The system optimizes the operation of equipment and makes recommendations about how operators can make the equipment work even better. The system operates on three levels. First, the Design Envelope intelligent devices (such as pumps and booster systems) send alerts and warnings about operation. Second, a systems optimization level considers data from a number of devices together; third, all the data is brought up into the cloud. The suite of solutions ensures that equipment runs at optimal condition. It prevents performance drift; furthermore, from population learning, the system improves the performance of a building over time. The system continues to learn by analyzing data from the population of assets connected to the cloud, including the large installed base of Design Envelope products. Exciting New Product Innovations Panasonic is highlighting the ClimaPure XE wall-mounted heat pump for cold climates. The ductless system features “nanoeX,” a built-in air and surface purification There were many companies pushing a digital message on the first day of AHR Expotechnology that reduces pollutants and odors. Nano-sized electrostatic atomized water particles are rich in hydroxyl (OH) radicals, which are effective at suppressing pollutants and odors. Friedrich highlighted the VRP Variable Refrigerant Packaged Heat Pumps, which provide VRF performance with single package simplicity. The “VRF in a box” solves more design problems than complex systems like VRF and 4-pipe systems. The product offers best-in-class cooling performance, super-efficient heating, true humidity control, and conditioned fresh air to help building owners achieve ASHRAE 62.1 compliance for commercial buildings and 62.2 compliance for residential buildings. Bradford White is showing the AeroTherm Series Heat Pump Water Heater that provides hot water more efficiently using technology to transfer heat from the air into the tank. The yearly energy savings is around $304 versus an electric tank. The pump can quickly pay for itself. Read our review of Day Two of the show here.

Friedrich Air Conditioning Launches A Dedicated Customer Service Phone Line For Its Spanish-Speaking Customers
Friedrich Air Conditioning Launches A Dedicated Customer Service Phone Line For Its Spanish-Speaking Customers

Friedrich Air Conditioning Co., a U.S.-based manufacturer of heating, cooling and other room air conditioning products, launches a Spanish-speaking technical and customer service line, making it among the first in the industry to offer a dedicated service specifically for Spanish-speaking customers. The Spanish-speaking line is available by calling Friedrich’s main customer service line, and selecting option 9. It will operate Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CT, the same hours and days as Friedrich’s other customer service phone line. Personalized Customer Service Friedrich’s focus is to continually improve the service experience for our partners and customers" “The goal is to help ensure all of our installers, contractors, and customers get the assistance and support they need, quickly and easily,” said Sean Olds, Friedrich Chief Operations Officer. “Friedrich’s focus is to continually improve the service experience for our partners and customers, and this is a big part of that commitment.” The launch of a Spanish-speaking technical and customer service line is another example of Friedrich’s dedication to personalized customer service. State-Of-The-Art Onsite Lab Rather than using an automated or third-party resource that is typical for today’s industry, all Friedrich’s Technical Assistance employee experts are located at the company’s San Antonio headquarters and have years of experience in the field and fielding calls and inquiries from customers. Friedrich’s customer service team also has a close connection to the company’s product and engineering managers and state-of-the-art onsite lab. That makes Friedrich one of the only air conditioning companies to make such a strong commitment–not only to onsite testing, quality control and product innovation–but to customer support.

Friedrich Air Conditioning To Showcase Its QuietMaster Technology At National Hardware Show 2019
Friedrich Air Conditioning To Showcase Its QuietMaster Technology At National Hardware Show 2019

For homeowners and property owners, the quieter the better when it comes to heating and cooling solutions. That’s why just in time for the start of hot weather season, Friedrich Air Conditioning Co. is unveiling its ‘QuietMaster’ technology, designed to operate up to 45 percent more quietly as compared to competitive room air conditioning units. Optimizing Comfort And Convenience QuietMaster is now available with Friedrich’s complete lines of popular window and through-the-wall room air conditioners, including Kühl, WallMaster, Chill, and Uni-Fit. Friedrich room air conditioning products with QuietMaster technology will be showcased at the National Hardware Show held May 7-9 in Las Vegas this year (booth # 4317). Friedrich’s top priority is to optimize comfort and convenience when it comes to all-season air conditioning solutions" “Friedrich’s top priority is to optimize comfort and convenience when it comes to all-season air conditioning solutions,” said TJ Wheeler, Friedrich Vice President of Marketing and Product Management. “With QuietMaster technology, our entire line-up of room A/C products give homeowners a wide variety of exceptional choices to efficiently maximize performance–all while delivering more peace and quiet than ever before.” Ongoing Testing And Product Innovation Friedrich’s QuietMaster technology starts with the company’s design process and continues through the selection of components and materials, with ongoing testing and product innovation conducted at Friedrich’s own state-of-the-art engineering lab. QuietMaster reduces operating noise through exacting manufacturing standards that include using dense, sound-blocking insulation, a quiet rotary compressor, steel inner walls, a completely-enclosed commercial grade fan motor, insulated air plenum (to prevent noise intrusion), motor mounting techniques that eliminate extra vibration and a blower wheel housing made from solid steel. “The extra attention we give to every detail allows us to achieve serious sound reduction,” said Wheeler. “In test after test, our lab results demonstrate that QuietMaster technology contributes to Friedrich units being among the quietest available on the market.”

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