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HVAC Industry – Year In Review

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Market Overview

When final sales numbers are announced in January, the global HVAC equipment market should be reporting another year of above-average growth. According to a report from Chisult Insight Co., Ltd, the fundamentals now in place for the United States are the best they’ve seen in over 10 years. The research report stated that the residential HVAC market experienced significant potential growth based on the beginnings of a recovering new housing market, overall higher employment, lower gas prices, and higher consumer confidence combining with a better price/mix and lower raw materials costs. The good news also extended to the commercial market with a steady recovery in building construction in 2015.

The Chisult report indicates that underlying trends are now firmly above the electrical equipment and multi industry (EE/MI) sector average and should be sustainable. The potential upside comes from continued release of pent-up demand and better weather compared to a cool summer in 2014. While the buying impact from 13 SEER should reduce reported Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) shipment volume numbers by 8 percent in 2015, 14 SEER is positive which benefits margins and sales. The Chisult report also said the U.S. commercial HVAC market remains a more straightforward call, where about 5 percent growth in 2015/16 is based on an ongoing nonresidential construction recovery (6-7 percent growth) and a stable 4 percent replacement market. Ductless continues to be the new “next big thing” for the industry.   The ductless systems market could come to represent 15 percent of the industry for both residential (approximately 10 percent) and commercial (approximately 5 percent). With energy efficiency driving technology and product R&D, manufacturers were able to realize price increases in 2014, with most companies announcing low- to mid-single-digit price increases for 2015.

The latest stats from the Air Conditioning Heating Refrigeration Institute’s (AHRI) October 2015 report, year-to-date combined shipments of central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps increased 1.1 percent, to 6,097,714 units, up from 6,033,336 units shipped in October 2014. Year-to-date shipments of central air conditioners increased 2.2 percent to 4,082,457 units, up from 3,993,768 units shipped during the same period in 2014. The year-to-date total for heat pump shipments decreased 1.2 percent to 2,015,257 units, down from 2,039,568 units shipped during the same period in 2014.

Technology

The HVAC industry was on the cutting-edge of technological advancements in 2015. Many of the new technologies were focused on making it easier for a home/building owner to manage their energy use with smart thermostats, smart ventilation systems, smart device enabled applications and the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the design and construction of homes and commercial buildings.

The HVAC contracting business also benefitedyou  from technology designed to help contractors provide better customer service with IoT platforms that utilize smart devices and allow sales and service representatives to automate their sales and service processes, making it more convenient and user friendly for customers.

Focus on Energy Efficiency

 As more states adopted new energy efficient building codes in 2015, HVAC contractors had to become more familiar with how to “right fit” an HVAC system for a building that is built to high efficiency or Net Zero Energy standards. In 2015 the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) developed “HVAC System Design for Energy Efficient Homes,” a manual for HVAC contractors to follow as a new industry standard. This standard will provide procedures to design/select HVAC systems and equipment for low-load homes that will achieve satisfactory indoor conditions with lower equipment capacity; i.e., resolving ventilation and moisture requirements/issues with low air volume systems while addressing occupant comfort, health, and safety. These procedures will become more important as lower capacity equipment appears in the marketplace in 2016 and beyond.

In addition, energy efficiency and sustainability have gone beyond being buzzwords in the commercial HVAC sector as well. In 2015, commercial builders, owners and managers put saving energy, money and natural resources at the top of their lists.   Since heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment consumes a substantial portion of energy in commercial buildings—roughly 40% to 60% of total building energy consumption depending on climate and other factors, this trend will become even more important in the design and building of commercial structures.

New Products

High Efficiency HVAC systems – HVAC manufacturers embraced the new regulations introduced in January 2015 and began to deliver high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratings (SEER) HVAC units to their distributors in Spring 2015. With the focus on energy efficiency and using enhanced technology and IoT features, many manufacturers designed and produced HVAC units with SEER ratings way beyond the required 14 SEER. CE carries a full line-up of HVAC units from that offer 13 to 23 SEER ratings and feature Wifi controls, wireless thermostats and variable speed compressors. To find out more about all the high efficiency units available, visit:   http://www.carrierenterprise.com/residential-equipment/air-conditioners

Ductless systems – One of the hottest new products at the 2015 AHR Expo was ductless HVAC systems. With the ductless market predicted to grow to more than $9 billion by 2020, more and more manufacturers and contractors are embracing the ductless system as a viable alternative for providing comfort solutions to residential and business customers. Ductless units introduced in 2015 are much more efficient and attractive and there are a myriad of options for system configurations to meet your customers needs. Systems have been designed to provide high efficiency ratings up to 30.5 SEER (Carrier’s Infinity Series), 80 percent heating capacity at minus 20° F, and smart controls. Systems can be easily installed on the floor, a cassette system in the ceiling or in the wall depending on esthetic needs and space restrictions. And units can be controlled remotely or with a digital thermostat mounted on the wall.

Ductless systems have become very popular for customers who have older homes or buildings that were not built with space for a ductwork system. Many historical homes or commercial buildings that don’t have adequate attic space for a central air conditioning system can benefit from the installation of a ductless system, which can increase the comfort level and long-term value of the building. CE carries a wide variety of ductless systems to meet every need. To find the right ductless system for residential or commercial applications, visit: http://www.carrierenterprise.com/residential-equipment/air-conditioners

Smart Thermostats – One of the most important products in the HVAC industry in 2015 was the smart thermostat. There was a wide variety of new offerings in this space and homeowners began to embrace this technology as a way to better manage their energy use to save money and have control.

  • Connected smart thermostats – The term “connected” refers to WiFi-enabled smart thermostats that allow users to control temperature settings remotely from a smartphone or computer.
  • Learning thermostats – The newest type of thermostat on the market are “learning” smart thermostats. These thermostats claim to learn daily habits and automatically schedule temperature levels accordingly. In addition, these models often come equipped with features such as sensors that monitor motion, light and humidity. All learning models on the market are also WiFi-enabled.

CE has a variety of smart thermostats to choose from. To find the right product for your next installation visit: http://www.carrierenterprise.com/thermostats-zoning/thermostats

Smart Ventilation Systems – Smart ventilation systems garnered a lot of interest in 2015 and are revolutionizing the way an HVAC system provides the right amount of airflow to ensure maximum comfort in a home. Smart Ventilation systems communicate with the thermostat to manage the temperature and airflow in particular rooms throughout the home. These systems manage the flow of air room by room through the automatic control of the vents and allow a resident to turn the volume of airflow up or down in a particular room or area of a home based on a variety of factors. For a complete line of smart ventilation systems visit: http://www.carrierenterprise.com/indoor-air-quality/ventilators

Smart Home Network Hubs – With the myriad of devices in the home and the need to connect them all for ease of use and management, the smart home/building network hub has become the brain of the smart home system. These hubs have become an integral part of the design of Net Zero energy homes and commercial buildings. To find a network hub for your next project visit: http://www.carrierenterprise.com/thermostats-controls-zoning/building-automation

Integrated Building Automation – One of the largest sectors of growth in commercial HVAC use has been in commercial buildings, where building occupants demand a comfortable, healthy environment. With the emphasis on energy reduction and saving money on operating costs, 2015 was a big growth year for the installation of Building Automation Systems (BAS).

Advanced BAS technology integrates individual building systems and controls into a single automated platform. The result is improved comfort for building occupants and reduced energy consumption for the organization. To find the best BAS for your project visit: http://www.carrierenterprise.com/thermostats-controls-zoning/building-automation

The team at CE looks forward to bringing you the best products, techniques, news and information to help you make 2016 a success. Have a wonderful rest of 2015 and a safe, healthy and Happy New Year!

 

HVAC & Energy Efficiency Trends

For the last several years, energy efficiency has been on everyone’s radar as the need to conserve energy and money has become more important for both businesses and residents. Since a home’s heating and air conditioning system is the biggest user of energy (more than half, according to the U.S. Department of Energy), the HVAC industry has been on the cutting-edge of developing new technology and equipment to meet the demands of both the government and the end user.

New 2015 Energy Efficiency Standards

In January 2015, new residential central air conditioning systems and heat pumps had to meet tougher standards, depending on where the home is located.

Homeowners in the North will adhere to the old minimum of 13 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). Homeowners in the warmer Southern states saw the minimum rating increased from 13 SEER to 14 SEER. Additionally, in five Southwest states (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and New Mexico), central air conditioning will require an EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) of 11.7 or 12.2, depending on the size of the unit, along with a 14 SEER rating.

The most significant change regarding the new regulations involves all split-system heat pumps. All regions will move from 13 SEER and 7.7 HSPF, Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, to the new national heat pump efficiency minimum of 14 SEER and 8.2 HSPF.

The majority of U.S. manufacturers already offer 14 SEER heat pump systems, and many manufacturers may update current 14 SEER designs to meet product demands for 2015 inventory stocking. The remaining inventory of 13 SEER equipment can be installed until the set deadline: July 1, 2016.

“Whole” Building Science Has Become the Norm

As more states adopt new energy efficient building codes, HVAC contractors will need to become more familiar with how to “right fit” an HVAC system for a building that has been built to high efficiency or Net Zero Energy standards. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America have recently developed “HVAC System Design for Energy Efficient Homes,” a manual for HVAC contractors to follow as a new industry standard.

This standard will provide procedures to design/select HVAC systems and equipment for low-load homes that will achieve satisfactory indoor conditions with lower equipment capacity; i.e., resolving ventilation and moisture requirements/issues with low air volume systems while addressing occupant comfort, health, and safety. These procedures will apply as lower capacity equipment appears in the marketplace.

nest thermostatSmart Homes

Homes are getting smarter, with various devices talking to each other and the homeowners.

Household appliances, the HVAC system, lighting, window blinds and thermostats, among other devices, can be controlled through a smart phone and provide updates on status.

Smart thermostats are a big part of the Internet of Things home revolution. As more homeowners and building professionals come to understand the value of a smart thermostat, the market is expected to soar in the U.S. and Europe.

A smart thermostat is more than a programmable thermostat. With a traditional thermostat, one can turn the heating or cooling up or down, and with programmable versions, one can set the temperature to change depending on the time of day.

What makes smart thermostats so unique – smart– is that they learn and adjust the temperature based on the owners’ habits and the characteristics of the house. Not only will the devices come to know when the temperature should be raised or decreased, but they also learn how long the house takes to heat up or cool down. This means they can begin to adjust the temperature in just the right amount of time so homeowners can feel the change when they should – not 15 minutes later.

Ductless HVAC Systems

article_1426278594879_en_normalOnce seen as a solution for home additions and bonus rooms, now ductless systems, also known as mini split, are available to provide whole-home solutions with outdoor systems that can handle up to 8 indoor units. An array of indoor air handler options, such as ceiling cassettes and wall-mounted units, give homeowners and contractors the flexibility to ensure that convenience and aesthetics are achieved. New technology addresses some of the shortcomings of heat pumps, such as a loss of heating capacity in sub-freezing weather. New units on the market offer high levels of heating capacity in temperatures as low as 5 below zero Fahrenheit. Mini splits will be a more popular option in northern climates with less need for expensive back up heating.

Ductless systems are being utilized as the primary source of heating and cooling in both residential and commercial applications. Some of the many benefits of mini split systems are:

  • Individual zones; heat and cool specific spaces when desired.
  • Cheaper to install and maintain.
  • Higher SEER ratings (up to 30.5 SEER with Carrier’s Infinity Series)
  • Flexible installation options, including wall, ceiling and floor mounted indoor unit styles.
  • Minimal energy loss; air does not travel through ductwork.
  • Can also be used for garages and extensions where there is no ductwork
  • Perfect for older buildings that cannot accommodate ductwork
  • Quiet operation.
  • Heating capabilities down to a temperature of -15° F.

variable speedVariable Speed HVAC Systems

Variable speed compressor technology brings to the HVAC industry whole new levels of efficiency, comfort, reliability and versatility. This technology is highly efficient and will reduce HVAC energy costs, while improving system comfort and reliability for homeowners.  In order to enable the early adoption of variable speed compressor technology into the U.S. HVAC market, U.S. OEMs began introducing new, ducted systems with variable speed compressors as early as 2006 and more have followed since. Within the next few years, it is expected that all of the major OEMs will be offering high efficiency ducted variable speed systems in the U.S.

Variable speed systems work by connecting a motor control drive to the compressor and then connecting the line input power from the utility to the drive. The drive uses frequency modulation to adjust power output of the compressor motor, enabling it to speed up or slow down according to the heating or cooling load in the home. This ability to modulate compressor capacity enables many of the advantages of variable speed technology, including improved efficiency and comfort.

The ability to adjust power output to the compressor, rather than the merely on-off functionality provided by traditional systems, allows homeowners to achieve significant cost savings over the course of a year. In some cases these savings amount to 40% of the overall annual energy costs.

As you look toward your business plans for 2016 and beyond, make sure that you are staying abreast of all the exciting technology that is making the HVAC industry a leader in the energy efficiency landscape. Carrier Enterprise will continue to make you aware of these trends through sharing information with you on our website, at tradeshows and conferences, and with in-store demonstrations and webinars on the latest energy efficiency products and trends. Look to Carrier Enterprise as your HVAC Energy Efficiency technology partner. We’ll make sure you have all the latest news and information to keep your business in the know!