Cats and Air Conditioning
Cats and Air Conditioning
Cats and Air Conditioning
Future Trends for HVAC Industry
By Betty Stephens
HVAC technology is constantly changing due to new discoveries and influences outside the industry. As recently as this century, central, indoor climate control was available to only a privileged few. Today, even central air-conditioning in homes is common in the U.S. Improvements occurred through a number of factors such as technical, market changes, energy and environmental concerns, and political decisions. Changes continue to occur and they benefit of our customers and are our part of our future.
The environment has possibly had more influence on HVAC technology than has energy. The environment will continue to impact the industry into the foreseeable future.
Policies regarding climate change have also directly impacted our industry. As we design and operate more energy-efficient equipment and systems, we use less energy, energy that, in many cases, comes from burning CO2-producing fossil fuels.
The environment will continue to impact the industry. The industry has proven that it can respond in a timely way. As new environmentally friendly products are developed, those products are also more energy efficient. Adopting new technologies and supporting research will help our industry meet the challenges of the future.
While smart, Wi-Fi-connected thermostats promise significantly increased energy efficiency, the real draw for homeowners seems to be how easy the interfaces are to operate. Take the Nest Learning thermostat, for example. It is programmed by the user to remember his preferred temperature settings. If the user prefers the thermostat to kick in a faster, warmer temperature, on cold, wintery mornings, the Nest thermostat will store that information and adjust the temperature accordingly. The thermostat also monitors temperature with humidity and activity sensors, and it can determine regional climate by the user punching in their zip code
Wireless-controlled thermostats present HVAC data in a language that contemporary consumers understand. Homeowners are accustomed to easily digestible, visual representations of information and data. The reporting tools that smart systems include take the mystery and obscurity out of an industry that has been thriving on overall complacency from its customers.
DEVap Air Conditioning
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed the DEVap (desiccant-enhanced evaporative air conditioner) in 2011 and estimates that it reduces air conditioning energy usage by 40-90 percent. So far, DEVap is found primarily in commercial buildings, and the technology is so new that it’s difficult to find for residential use. But, given how promising the innovation seems, and how cost-effective it has already proven to be, and is anticipated great gains in the future.
Zero Energy Buildings
Zero-energy buildings that produce energy instead of just using large quantities will gain traction with companies that target eco-friendly employees and consumers. Many businesses are already headed in this direction with geothermal heating and cooling, solar-powered systems, and white roofing. If HVAC manufacturers can work to design structures that are both energy efficient and comfortable for their residents, we’re sure to see some fresh companies take on the challenge.
Variable Refrigerant Flow Systems
A popular trend in Eastern markets, variable refrigerant flow (VRF) is the future of the HVAC industry. Though US market have yet to reach the demand experienced abroad, VRF systems are establishing their place as in-demand items for housing and commercial cooling needs. Simple and elegant in design, VRF systems connect an outside condensing unit to several fan coil units throughout the building. Each coil and evaporator in the system can be controlled individually to reduce waste from over-allocated resources. The shift will stimulate job growth and overall economic development throughout the HVAC sector that will continue well into the coming years.
Current industry trends indicate a future growth rate of nearly 28% nationwide. This trend is predicted to continue until 2018, a total period of researching and studying 10-year industry trends beginning in 2008. Studies have revealed that once the results of that research and those studies are complete, there will be nearly 395,000 individuals who make their living in the HVAC industry, and choose to make this their lifelong career Choice. The rate of change in our industry will be exponential. Some changes will be caused by improvements in technology whereas others will be the result of influences outside our immediate control. As engineers, we have an obligation to be proactive in encouraging changes that are of benefit to the society we serve. This in turn will have direct benefit to our industry and to each of us individually.
Building Management Systems and air-conditioning controls systems will develop to become:
• Intelligent self-learning systems that measure the performance characteristics for the building and its systems for different ambient and occupancy conditions and using thermal modelling technology are able to operate the buildings systems to provide the require conditions whilst minimizing energy consumption and plant wear and tear.
• Self-checking systems that are able to eliminate the fly by wire problems that many systems suffer from, which the head end computer is thinking one thing is happening however in the field the actuality is very different.
• Self-diagnosing systems that are able to determine fault conditions analyses the cause and report or even rectify the condition, systems that are able to recognize fault situations that are resulting in excess energy consumption or unacceptable equipment wear and report.
• Systems with seamless remote access, diagnosis and control functionality.
• Systems with the flexibility to take advantage of wireless technology and the onboard intelligence that is already starting to be installed in items of central plant
New Thermostat Law – Pro and Con
By Betty Stephens
Burglar and fire alarm technology has evolved towards an integrated system model, whereby a consumer can use a burglar or fire alarm panel to adjust not only an alarm but also thermostats, lighting, locks, and window treatments. The thermostat component of this new technology has caused problems for burglar and fire alarm professionals in Texas because of the state’s current air conditioning and refrigeration licensing requirements.
The bill allows a licensed burglar or fire alarm professional to sell, design, or offer to sell or design integrated alarm products without obtaining an air conditioning and refrigeration contractor license, as long as the sale, design, or offer to sell or design does not include air conditioning and refrigeration installation work.
House Bill 2294, authored by State Rep. John Kuempel, Republican of Seguin, states that a person licensed or registered under the Occupations Code is not required to obtain an air conditioning and refrigeration contractor license to perform the very limited work of the installation, repair, replacement or modification of a thermostat or other temperature control devices.
The bill was supported by several large home security companies, including AT&T, ADT, and Comverge. This bill goes into effect September 1, once it is signed by the governor. Though ACCA Texas and others fought the legislation, it passed in both the House and Senate in late May and is currently awaiting Gov. Rick Perry’s signature.
The Problem as the HVAC Industry Sees It
The thermostat component of this new law created a challenge for various companies and professionals in Texas because of the state’s current air conditioning and refrigeration licensing requirements. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation has up to now required that anyone who installs or offers to install a thermostat must obtain an air conditioning and refrigeration contractor license.
The problem, defined by industry leaders, is that most of these alarm system installers don’t have the appropriate training or knowledge to properly install or replace a thermostat. They further state that this can lead to system inefficiency, HVAC equipment failure, and even fire hazards. There have been instances of fire damage in homes.
Dangerous to Customers
The biggest problem with the Texas legislation, Todd McAlister, executive director for ACCA Texas said, is that it puts consumers at risk. “This is bad for homeowners and this is not good for anybody,” he said. McAlister added that, should anything go wrong with the HVAC system because of the thermostat installation, an installer who is not HVAC certified may not notice right away, and if they do, they would be required to call in an HVAC technician to take care of it, anyway. “You would think that logic would win over, and if a telecom company wants to be in this industry, then they should go get an HVAC license so there’s at least some credibility in what they’re doing,” he said. “There are a number of companies that install thermostats that coordinate with the home security system package,” he said. “The alarm industry is sort of moving from putting in home alarms and building alarms to services that would encroach on energy use of the home.”
Thermostat installations have required a license in Texas since 1983. HVAC Contractor License Requirements are as follows:
• Licensing exam
• Annual criminal background check
• Annual continuing education
• Liability insurance
• Registered or certified technicians who also pass background check before entering a customer’s home.
HB 2294 reverses long-standing and sensible protections:
1. It allows ANYONE to replace a thermostat without a license and without a criminal background check.
2. An unlicensed fire alarm company improperly installed its home automation
thermostat in Longview, TX in April, 2013 causing a fire.
3. Installation of a third party thermostat renders the HVAC system manufacture’s
warranty voidable, even for future system failure.
4. Any work performed by an unlicensed contractor or technician also voids the
AT&T Pro the Law Responds
This bill was filed at the request of AT & T when they did not succeed in being exempted from SB 407.
Rossanna Salazar, spokesperson for AT&T Texas, said her company’s alarm system installers are more than capable of properly installing thermostats as part of AT&T’s new Digital Life wireless home management security system.
“Our authorized digital life technicians are licensed as Texas alarm system installers and must pass a state of Texas background check as a condition of receiving their license,” she said. Salazar said opponents of the legislation “have made many claims that have confused the policy debate,” especially when it comes to the manufacturer’s warranty on HVAC equipment.
The issue of licensing has nothing to do with the warranty issue. Just because a home owner or anyone installs a new thermostat does not mean that they will lose or even jeopardize the full warranty on their system. If there is something wrong with the indoor air handler or the outside compressor, it will still be under warranty.”
Salazar added that some manufacturers will not cover damage caused by a third-party component, including an after-market thermostat, regardless of who installed it. “If a person’s air conditioning system is under warranty, he or she should check to be sure that any new thermostat is compatible with that system,” she said.
Some proponents of the bill think this law will help Texas modernize its licensing system to the benefit of consumers, giving them the advantages of smart home technology.
Now that Smart home technology has evolved several companies offer products that allow a consumer to use one panel and wireless technology to adjust a range of functions, like their burglar and fire alarms, thermostats, lighting, locks, and electrical outlet.
By Betty Stephens of Quest Media
Home Advisor was formerly known as Service Magic. Service Magic a 13-year-old company with $205 million in annual revenue officially relaunched as HomeAdvisor. Home Advisors connects service professionals with consumers seeking help with home improvement and repair projects. They help home owners find trusted home improvement contractors.
Home Advisor is the one of the most powerful lead generation tools around. Home Advisors offers customers with expertise and resources from the Home Advisor’s industry-leading service marketing department. Over 80,000 contractors count on Home Advisor. Since 1998, Home Advisor has been helping home improvement professionals generate new business by delivering highly targeted, real-time leads. Home Advisor maximizes marketing efforts by giving businesses total control of their customer experience.
They advertise that over 25 million home owners use their services. They offer homeowners the following features:
1. Free to use – never have to pay a membership fee.
2. Service pros pass a criminal and background check.
3. They can offer over 2 million ratings and reviews from home owners.
4. They have 24/7 emergency home owner support.
How Does It Work?
Steps: The customer tells about their project.
1. The customer selects a category for their repair or project.
2. The customer is then matched to the right pro for the job.
3. The customer receives four pre-screened pro reviews.
4. The customer selects a service pro.
5. Home Advisors sends the customer information to the service pro.
6. The service pro contacts the customer.
Link to their Web site: http://www.homeadvisor.com/how-it-works/
Their Web site is very informative and customer friendly. Its Suite of Tools allows you to review their Cost Guide, Resource Center, and Home 911 feature.
The Cost Guide feature allows you to review typical costs for project under these categories: Home Spaces, Home Features, Home Professional, and Home Solutions.
The Resource Center provides a list of articles and advice on projects.
The Home 911 section provides you with a Download Feature for your iPhone that allows you instant access to their service pros…
Cons: There have been complaints that customers have received calls from more than FOUR contractors. Some contractors just showed up at homeowner’s door without even calling, and some contractors were overly aggressive.
Note: Remember not all contractors give free estimate on things like repairs. Replacements and remodel projects, yes. But if you are expecting a technician to spend time diagnosing a problem, you will be expected to pay for his knowledge, expertise and time. Technicians don’t usually work on commission, salesman do. Keep that in mind.
EPA Regulations on R-22 / SEER Ratings
By Betty Stephens of Quest Media
The EPA has begun phasing out the production of R-22 and has banned the production of HVAC equipment that uses R-22 in compliance with Title VI of the Clean Air Act. The refrigerant that replaces R-22 is R-410A. R-410A is an HFC refrigerant blend with common trade names such as GENETRON AZ-20®, SUVA 410A®, Forane® 410A, and Puron®.
R-22 will be manufactured on a limited basis after this year and after 2020 will not be manufactured after… The EPA suggests that contractors to recycle and rescue as much R-22 to be used to continue to service existing units…
R-410A requires more pressure to cool, so therefore it requires new compressor and piping. Both the outside and inside unit must be replaced and current piping would need to be flushed with a special chemical.
The use of R-410A, as opposed to R-22, does not affect the HVAC unit’s energy efficiency. The energy efficiency is determined by a system’s SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). As of 2006, the minimum SEER rating allowed to be manufactured in the U.S. is a 13 which is 30% more efficient than a 10 rating. To receive the ENERGY STAR, a system must have a minimum 14 SEER rating. Currently, you can find a residential split-system with a SEER rating of 20 or more, but at a substantial cost over the standard SEER 13 units.
Systems with R-22 may find as the manufacturing of the product is reduced, the supply becoming difficult to find. “Also the price of R-22 is rising. Although the continued use of existing appliances with R-22 is not banned nor is the EPA mandating all R-22 equipment be converted, that is a factor that a homeowner should take into consideration when faced with repairing or replacing their system. More factors to take into consideration are the cost, energy efficiency, reliability, and performance. The life span of the outside condensing unit is usually around 15 years and the furnace around 20 years.
To learn more click the following link for EPA’s phase out of R-22 and R142b: