Contracting Business - February 2024

Page 1

OEMs Continue to Meet Heat Pump Challenge, p. 14




To Sell It, Don’t Sell It

Always act in the best interests of the customer, which starts with not confusing them.



18 Building Controls 20 HomeX Technology Explained 28 Let the Phase-in Begin!

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With our new Tiered Elite Contractor Program, loyalty pays off! The more systems you install, the more rewards you earn. Our three-tiered program features a new online Contractor Toolbox that helps you easily manage your points, view registrations, download warranty certificates, access Fujitsu Quick Links, enroll in sales and marketing programs, and view Primary Distributor. Depending on your status, Fujitsu contractors who install AIRSTAGE H, J, and V-Series products can earn access to a wide variety of top-notch sales support tools, such as… • Priority Listing on Contractor Locator • Consumer Leads, powered by Schedule Engine • Access to Sales Builder Pro App & Ad Builder • Digital Marketing and Direct Mail Tools • Loyalty Reward Dollars

• Access to the Fujitsu Brand Store • Comprehensive In-Person Training • Extended Warranties • VIP Tech Support • and Much More!

With Fujitsu...super fans earn super rewards.


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Progressive Casualty Ins. Co. Coverage provided and serviced by affiliated and third-party insurers.

As a small business owner, you can’t escape your to-do list. That’s why Progressive makes it easy to save with a commercial auto quote, so you can take on all your other to-dos. Get a quote in as little as 6 minutes at

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6 First Word | Terry McIver 30 CB Influencers | Crystal Williams & Sarah Ghirardo 32 Last Word | Dominick Guarino




24 ON THE COVER: With decarbonization, just continue to offer the best solutions. Photo: 248077645 © Liliya Filakhtova |



4 What’s New Online 8 From the Field


10 Product News

24 To Sell Decarbonization, Don’t Sell It

Do no harm and always act in the best interests of the customer, which starts with not confusing them.



14 Manufacturer News 31 Ad Index




20 Improving the HVAC Customer Experience

The HomeX remote diagnostic software is bringing common sense to the HVAC service call by assessing the situation before techs are dispatched.


22 Next Gen BMS to Benefit Commercial Facilities

Opportunity exists when moving beyond industry standard conventions and to unconventional, interoperable BMS technologies.

Connect with us: @contractingbiz


28 Let the Refrigerant Phase-in Begin!

Evaluating next-generation refrigerant alternatives in established and emerging applications.


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The HVACR Conference for Serious Contractors!


JAKE HAVRON Business Strategist, Speaker, & Mentor



Learn from speakers in 50+ available training sessions, including the Manufacturer Leadership Forum and our popular Contractor Forum Live: Legends of HVAC. Discover the latest workforce, operations, leadership, and finance strategies to improve your business. Have Breakfast with Champions and Turn Ideas into Action with Ken Goodrich. Engage with 100+ exhibitors dedicated to the HVACR industry! Network with best-in-class contractors from across the nation while enjoying social events in the adventurous city of Orlando.


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1/18/24 1:10 1:50 PM PM 1/29/24 New DIGITAL CONTENT

Popular Stories in Contracting Business

January Issue Highlights Chicago Awaits AHR EXPO

HomeX Makes Its Move

Commercial Preventive Maintenance

News @ Press Time

Samsung Names New VP

AHRI Releases A2L Building Code Map, Video Series

ACCA Design Classes

Contracting Business Success

4 Requirements of Success


“The way we’ve always done it” won't cut it with inverter systems. To receive HVAC Intelligence and other newsletters, visit:

Visit the EGIA Resource Library

Dispersion is Weakness Good News! Searchable database can be found at

Popular Online Galleries

Our AHR Gallery Day 2

Editor-In-Chief, Terry McIver, Art Director, Julie Whitty Production Manager, Sam Schulenberg Ad Services Manager, Deanna O’Byrne

eNewsletter Update

Digital Editions Now Go Back 12 Years:

Group Editorial Director Buildings & Construction, Mike Eby

Our AHR Gallery Day 3

CEO, Chris Ferrell President, June Griffin COO, Patrick Rains CRO, Reggie Lawrence Chief Digital Officer, Jacquie Niemiec Chief Administrative and Legal Officer, Tracy Kane EVP, Building/Lighting/Technology, Lester Craft

Contracting Business (USPS Permit 010-480, ISSN 0279-4071 print, ISSN 2771-652X online) is published monthly by Endeavor Business Media, LLC, 201 N. Main St., 5th Floor, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538. Periodicals postage paid at Fort Atkinson, WI, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Contracting Business, PO Box 3257, Northbrook, IL 60065-3257. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Publisher reserves the right to reject non-qualified subscriptions. Subscription prices: U.S. ($ 105.00); Canada/Mexico ($ 137.50); All other countries ($ 157.50). All subscriptions are payable in U.S. funds. Send subscription inquiries to Contracting Business, PO Box 3257, Northbrook, IL 60065-3257. Customer service can be reached tollfree at 877-382-9187 or at contractingbusiness@ for magazine subscription assistance or questions. Printed in the USA. Copyright 2024 Endeavor Business Media, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopies, recordings, or any information storage or retrieval system without permission from the publisher. Endeavor Business Media, LLC does not assume and hereby disclaims any liability to any person or company for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions in the material herein, regardless of whether such errors result from negligence, accident, or any other cause whatsoever. The views and opinions in the articles herein are not to be taken as official expressions of the publishers, unless so stated. The publishers do not warrant either expressly or by implication, the factual accuracy of the articles herein, nor do they so warrant any views or opinions by the authors of said articles.


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Now Available

Low-GWP Refrigerants Certification Exam

Study Guide Available in the NATE Online Store


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First Words on 2024 AHR EXPO

N ‘AHR EXPO continues to showcase excellent people and state-of-the-art HVACR products.’


Climate Partners Griffin Service


Pioneer Heating & AC


DiFilippo’s Service Co.


National Comfort Institute

LOUIS HOBAICA Hobaica Services



Stack Heating & Cooling

ow that we’re all rested and looking forward to the 2025 AHR Expo (in Orlando, thank you, AHR), I’ll share some post-show ruminations. Watch for an extended review in our March issue. Our 12-person sales/editorial team from three magazines—CB, CONTRACTOR and HPAC Engineering—arrived in Chicago at various times on Sunday afternoon, and before long were making the rounds at a press tour and a half-dozen brand welcome events. The press tour was sponsored by Armstrong Fluid Technology. It was a tour of the $140 million renovation of landmark Cook County Hospital in Chicago’s West Loop. Steve Spaulding, editorin-chief of CONTRACTOR and Rob McManamy, editor-in-chief of HPAC Engineering, covered the tour. As evening fell, Copeland, Danfoss, JAGA North America, Heatcraft Refrigeration Products, Triangle Tube and US Boiler served to move our team in diverse directions. The Triangle Tube party was held at Siena Tavern in downtown Chicago, and included the broadcast of the NFL playoff game between the Lions and Bucaneers. JAGA North America Climate Systems welcomed 250 guests to the five-story Chicago Starbucks Roastery. The Roastery uses JAGA North America’s ‘Knockonwood Freestanding’ radiators to provide heat via low-H2O technology with super conductive, ultra-fast heat exchanger. US Boiler offered guests a fantastic view of the lights of Chicago from atop the top floor of the Wit Hotel. Hundreds of Danfoss guests rocked the night away at another packed Danfoss welcome event at the House of Blues, Danfoss’s favorite venue for its annual AHR bash. My first stop was Chicago’s Soldier Field, for two events, by Heatcraft Refrigeration Products and Copeland. The Heatcraft party was help in an upper level suite, and was just the right space for the approximate 100 guests on hand. The Chiefs. Bills playoff game provided background, as guests talked and gazed on the now silent playing field, now awaiting a great NFL draft. The Heatcraft team was very welcoming. Kevin Norris greeted arriving guests. while Michael Pennington, Andy Lin, David Bolanos and other HRP managers mingled with guests. A nice surprise for me was getting to see the team from REMCO, the Contracting Business

2012 Commercial Refrigeration Contractor of the Year. REMCO president Jai Hoover shared that the company has grown from 400 employees in 2012 to 800 today, all through organic growth, not acquisitions. The Copeland event was held on the lower level of Sodler Field, in the main indoor fan viewing area, with a huge TV screen and lots of good food. Many guests left at the end of the night with a gift from the annual Copeland raffle. Next, I attended the HVAC Tactical social media awards. Categories include podcasting, mentoring and amazing projects. One of our CB Influencers—Tersh Blissett—and his co-host Joshua Crouch took home the award for Podcasters of the Year. The HVAC Tactical mission is to support the HVAC techs at-large, through podcasts and video that cover projects and best practices to advance the trade. Monday began our three days of visiting a variety of brands, to view new and existing products. Watch for my full report in the March CB. Educational sessions are as important as visiting exhibits. Our reporter Kelly L. Falloon did an admirable job of covering a dozen sessions. Industry leaders discussed heat pumps, artificial intelligence (AI), refrigerants, and technician recruitment during a panel discussion Jan. 23 at the 2024 AHR Expo in Chicago: Ginger Scoggins, president of ASHRAE; Talbot Gee, CEO of HARDI; Steve Yurek, president of AHRI; Dominick Guarino, CEO, National Comfort Institute; Gregg Walker, CEO of ASHB; and moderator Bryan Orr, founder/ president of HVAC School and Kalos Services. The search for new HVACR talent was the topic of a panel discussion between Alison Neuman, North American workforce development program manager at Johnson Controls; Bryan Feilen, senior corporate account manager, Lincoln Tech; Scott Shaw, president and CEO of Lincoln Tech; Jose De La Portilla, senior manager of education and training, Rheem Mfg.; Byran Orr, founder/CEO of HVAC School and Kalos Services; and moderator Dominick Guarino, president and CEO of the National Comfort Institute. Find three of Kelly’s educational session reports on page 9 of this issue, and her other session reports at And please seek out our show galleries. If you attended 2024 AHR EXPO, I hope you found what you wanted. Continued best wishes for a fantastice 2024!


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CxEnergy 2024 Technical Program Announced Billed as the premier event in commissioning, energy management, and building analytics and diagnostics, CxEnergy 2024 show planners announced its technical program in January. The event takes place April 29–May 2, 2024, in San Diego, CA at the Town & Country Resort San Diego. CxEnergy draws hundreds of the nation’s leading commissioning experts, energy management professionals, MEP engineers, HVAC testing professionals, facility managers and building owners. Presentation topics include: • Case studies in commissioning and energy management in buildings and facilities (particularly featuring the owner perspective) • Market sector case studies (e.g. healthcare, education, data centers, etc.) • Decarbonization and Automated Commissioning in Commissioning and Energy Management • Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to Optimize Building Performance • Commissioning and Special Inspections for Smoke Control Systems • MEP Coordination and the Commissioning Process • and additional topics. More than 30 CxEnergy speakers are well-known industry experts across all building science disciplines. The speakers represent companies and organizations including Institute for Market Transformation, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, County of San Diego, Scripps Health, Jensen Hughes, University of Georgia, Sharp Healthcare, Salas O’Brien, McCarthy Building Companies, University of Rochester, Siemens Smart Infrastructure, Lane Community College, Southern Nevada Water Authority, Association of Energy Services Professionals, and more. Visit for program information. CxEnergy offers pre-conference certification workshops and seminars for Certified Commissioning Authority (CxA) and Energy Management Professional (EMP), plus a TAB & Cx seminar. The event also features several networking events that connect commissioning providers, energy managers, MEP engineers, facility managers, control technologists, and HVAC testing professionals with manufacturers and energy services providers. CxEnergy is presented by the AABC Commissioning Group, Associated Air Balance Council and Energy Management Association.

OSHA Raises Fines for Violations

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Labor announced changes to Occupational Safety and Health Administration civil

ID 124618868 © Designer491 |

penalty amounts based on cost-of-living adjustments for 2024. In 2015, Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act to advance the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and to maintain their deterrent effect. Under the Act, agencies are required to publish “catch-up” rules that adjust the level of civil monetary penalties and make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation no later than January 15 of each year. This year, January 15 falls on a federal holiday. Therefore, new OSHA penalty amounts will become effective Jan. 16, 2024. OSHA’s maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations will increase from $15,625 per violation to $16,131 per violation. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $156,259 per violation to $161,323 per violation. Visit the OSHA Penalties page and read the final rule for more information.

Noritz Awards Contractor $10,000

Tyler K. Pugh of All Coast Plumbing & Rooter, Tujunga, CA is the winner of the $10,000 grand prize in Noritz America’s recently concluded Retrofit Rewards sweepstakes promotion for

Tyler Pugh, right, of All Coast Plumbing & Rooter accepts a $10,000 grand prize in Noritz’s Retrofit Rewards promotion from Noritz SoCal Territory manager Dylan Stieler, left. At center are Hirsch Pipe & Supply specialists Robert Espadas and Adolfo Sandoval.


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plumbing and HVAC contractors in the United States and Canada. Pugh received the winning Scratch & Win Card after purchasing a Noritz NRCR Residential Condensing Tankless Water from wholesaler-distributor Hirsch Pipe & Supply at its branch operation in Santa Clarita, CA. Tyler Pugh owns All Coast Plumbing, a Southern California company that does residential and commercial work. Coming from a long line of plumbers, Tyler decided to obtain his license in 2017 before opening his company in the same year. His company principally serves the San Fernando Valley and its surrounding areas. Prior to becoming a licensed plumber, Tyler had over 20 years of experience working as a tankless water heating installer.

While he recommends many Noritz products to his clients, his favorite model is the NRCR111, which coincidentally was the winning product. “The NRCR is a favorite because of the size,” he explained. “I do a lot of remodeling and addition work. If I’m working on a project where the homeowner wants to add a bathroom, I know the Noritz models can handle the additional volume well,” Pugh said. The promotion, which began on June 1, 2023, included select models in the Noritz EZ and NRCR tankless series available at supply houses across the United States. Professional plumbing and HVAC contractors were rewarded with a free Scratch & Win Card and two opportunities to win prizes.

Guidance for Contractors at 2024 AHR EXPO Educational Sessions by Kelly L. Falloon

Contractors and AI at AHR EXPO Artificial intelligence (AI) has been in the news a lot in the past year, and some are wary of this technology. However, for home services contractors, AI can help with the office processes no one likes to do, such as answering after-hours calls, outbound dialing, and helping with overflow. “AI is not to replace staff but to enhance them,” said Joshua Crouch, co-host of Skilled Trade Syndicate’s Service Business Mastery podcast, told 2024 AHR Expo attendees Jan. 22 in Chicago. Crouch and his podcast co-host (and founder) Tersh Blissett have used many AI apps and software and believe AI can help contractors be more productive. Blissett—who owns two Georgiabased HVAC contracting businesses—noted that AI can produce robust reports on service call management, monitor equipment remotely, and analyze data. However, he added, to be aware of what information you are sharing in the AI space. Thoroughly review the vendor’s privacy policy, and examine your company’s cybersecurity systems to ensure you are protected. Blissett said to always review all AI-written content; this is especially true when having AI respond to negative reviews. Both stressed that contractors should start learning about AI and how it can be used in their businesses: it is not a fad and it is not going away. Joshua Crouch and Tersh Blissett were named the HVAC Tactical “Podcasters of the Year” at a special event.

Use IAQ to Lead in Your Market During the COVID-19 pandemic, people became more aware of internal air quality (IAQ) and how it can affect their health. Today, there is still a “heightened awareness” of IAQ’s importance in the health and safety of families and communities, noted Scott Tinder, training and instructional designer at Business Development Resources, before 2024 AHR Expo attendees. “People are actively asking for IAQ, especially post-COVID,” he said. “Today, wholesale distributors have about 100 SKUs of IAQ products.” To become an IAQ leader in your market, you need to be proactive: “In HVAC today, you have to be a pioneer.”

His presentation, “Three Ways You Can Use IAQ Products to Become the Leader in Your Market,” discussed: • Improve company profitability by offering IAQ on every sales and service call, with a goal of selling one IAQ product per day (to start). • Leverage your existing revenue producers (technicians) for these additional sales. • Enhance recruiting and retention by rewarding IAQ success. Tinder added that you must get buy-in from techs; and install IAQ products in their homes so they can see for themselves how the technology works. For consumers, ensure you have an easy process and financing options. “If you don’t, they’ll buy from Amazon, Home Depot, or Lowe’s,” he said.

The Role of Reputation in Home Service When looking at two similar HVAC companies, “the better reputation always wins,” explained Ryan Redding, CEO and founder of Levergy. He and Heather Ripley, CEO and founder of Ripley PR, discussed how contractors can build trust with their customers through reputation through public relations, speaking Jan. 22 to 2024 AHR Expo attendees. “Trust and credibility are not ego things,” Ripley said. “This especially comes into play during a crisis: Don’t ignore the media and tell the truth; otherwise, you’ll lose the trust and loyalty of your customers, negatively impacting your company.” She encourages contractors to have a crisis plan and media policy and make sure all employees are aware of them; media entities should refer to the company spokesperson for any comment. Redding noted about company reputation: • Do not use review gating, where only good reviews appear on review sites; people will be wary of companies with only good reviews. Plus, it’s just wrong. “Encourage customers to leave negative and positive reviews,” he said. • Don’t hire anyone to control your social media program— even if they’re young. Your social media team should be experienced in boosting company reputations. • Ensure your CSRs and techs “anchor” your reputation by constantly repeating your expert service mantra to customers from the first call to the finished service. Then, ask for the review.


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Gas Furnaces

Carrier’s recently redesigned lineup of gas furnaces have begun shipping to consumers with Near Field Communication (NFC)—an innovative addition to support the installation and servicing of its gas furnace portfolio—included. With the tap of a phone, dealers can modify installation settings and pull diagnostic information all without power or cell phone service. NFC functionality has been incorporated into the existing Carrier Service Tech App for dealers and technicians. Features include: built-in verifications for a quality install and fewer callbacks; detailed diagnostic information and troubleshooting tips; ability to save favorite feature for repeat floor plans or multi-unit installations; export report functionality. Following the recent 2023-regulatory changes, Carrier relaunched its entry-tier line with competitive airflows and 18-speeds, maximizing cooling ratings. The mid-tier line-up, in addition to the entry-tier enhancements, now also features a seven-segment display for easier fault code readings.

Additionally, Carrier’s deluxe gas furnace, with the entry and mid-tier enhancements updated, includes updated blower doors and Bluetooth added for improved servicing. residential/en/us

Dr. Chuck’s Corner: Resolve to Take Steps for a Smooth Refrigerant Transition The industry rang in the new year by starting an additional 30% reduction in hydrofluorocarbon Dr. Charles (HFC) production “Chuck” Allgood and consumption is Refrigerants Technology Leader under the U.S. EPA’s for Chemours. American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act. HFC phasedowns have reached the point where members of the industry can no longer be “thinking about” how they will adapt. It’s important to engage in activities that can help ensure your business transitions smoothly—as well as optimizes opportunities from new-generation hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) and emerging A2L refrigerants. Here are five steps contractors should start now and continue throughout the year. 1. Implement a refrigerant management plan. Production and consumption phasedowns mean less and less HFC supply will be available for servicing existing equipment. Consistently following a process of refrigerant recovery, recycling, and reclamation is extremely important for ensuring there is enough refrigerant to meet the needs of your customers and the industry. When servicing equipment or taking it out of use, recover every possible bit of refrigerant, then recycle it for reuse

or send it to a certified reclaimer to be reprocessed and reintroduced into the supply stream. 2. Learn about A2Ls. As the world confronts climate challenges more aggressively than ever, adoption of A2L refrigerants in North and South America is accelerating. Already widely available in Europe and Japan, A2Ls are expected to see broad adoption in the U.S. through 2024, as more states amend building codes and standards. Understanding the ins and outs of A2Ls—including their benefits over legacy refrigerants, differences in how they are used, safety considerations, and what OEMs are adopting them—allows you to properly guide your technicians and customers, while developing a business strategy to introduce A2Ls into your equipment and service offerings. 3. Engage trainers—for you and your technicians. Whether we’re talking about mildly flammable A2Ls or other HFOs or HFCs, staying current and keeping your technicians trained is highly important. Training is a top priority for ensuring safe handling, optimal equipment performance, and quality work that supports the integrity of our industry. In fact, there is the potential for authorities to make it mandatory. Regardless if training is voluntary or mandatory, contractors should call on companies such as Chemours that offer

programs that train “the trainer” and the technicians. 4. Stick with your trusted supplier. The more that HFCs are phased down, the greater the incentive will be for them to enter regions illegally. In addition to thwarting environmental goals, illegal refrigerants typically have poor quality that makes them unsafe and inefficient for use. The best way to protect your crew, customers, and business is to continue to use your trusted supplier and avoid being lured in by “too good to be true” prices. 5. Be prepared to communicate with your customers. When it comes time to have the “repair, retrofit, or replace” conversation with a customer, make sure you’re prepared to do it in a way that enables them to make an informed decision that is best for their home or business. Educate yourself on all the refrigerant options available today, so you can point out advantages of one over another. These should include energy savings, environmental benefits, and performance attributes, plus the cost of new equipment, retrofits, or continual repairs. The AIM Act phasedowns have been structured to support a workable, reasonable transition. Achieving that requires everyone in the industry to do their part. These five steps will support your business, customers, and the planet.


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With up to 98 percent AFUE heating performance, the Goodman® brand GMVM97 gas furnace provides exceptional energy efficiencies in a feature-rich package integrated with awardwinning ComfortBridgeTM communicating technology to make contractors’ lives simpler. Accessing ComfortBridge via the CoolCloud phone/tablet app, HVAC contractors can connect for quick, accurate configuration, diagnostics and service. Providing efficient, precise comfort, the modulating, variable-speed ECM gas furnace employs a stout, heavy-duty aluminized-steel tubular heat exchanger— formed using wrinkle-bend technology—and a resilient, stainless-steel secondary heat exchanger. With lower NOx emission, Goodman’s GMVM97 is available from 60,000-120,000 BTU/h. Features include a self-calibrating modulating gas valve; auto-configuration; and self-diagnostic control board with constant-memory fault-code history output. Convenient multi-position installation; easy-to-install top/side venting; left/right connection for gas/electrical service; and an airtight solid bottom or side return with easy-cut tables for effortless removal in bottom air-inlet applications. Backed by a Lifetime Heat Exchanger Limited Warranty and more. The Daikin DM97MC variable-speed, modulating gas furnace typically runs at the lowest possible speed, precisely maintaining steady temperatures and delivering optimal heating performance with quiet air circulation. Built for resilience, the DM97MC features a uniquely designed, heavyduty, tubular stainless-steel primary heat exchanger for both outstanding durability and heat transfer. It’s secondary stainless steel heat exchanger adds increased efficiency. Self-calibrating modulation gas valve auto-configures for each installation. With up to 98 percent AFUE performance, DM97MCs feature a convenient multi-position installation design; easy-to-install top venting with optional side venting; left/right connection for gas/electrical service; airtight solid bottom or side return with easy-cut tabs for effortless removal in bottom air-inlet applications; self-diagnostic control board with constant memory fault code history; durable Silicon Nitride igniter; plus, available auto-comfort and enhanced dehumidification modes. The DM97MC variable-speed, modulating gas furnace is compatible with the Daikin ONE+ smart thermostat and other Daikin communicating equipment for easier commissioning/ servicing.

The Rheem® Endeavor™ Line Classic® Series R951V Ultra Low NOx Gas Furnace offers a reliable way to keep homeowners comfortable. It is designed for lasting energy-efficient comfort that saves users money while delivering peace of mind. This 95% AFUE, ENERGY STAR® certified gas furnace is close to perfect when it comes to efficiently converting gas to heat. The Ultra Low NOx operation lowers the homeowner’s carbon footprint by minimizing greenhouse gases while offering energy costs savings, up to $85 annually, and potentially even more with available rebates. The furnace’s variable speed motor technology ensures a steady stream of just-right heated airflow to maintain comfort levels while providing superior humidity control. The insulated cabinet and truly variable speed airflow technology—guarantee quiet operation. Features such as the PlusOne® Ignition System allow for reliability and longevity while the PlusOne Water Management System is a Rheem-exclusive patented sensor that shuts off the furnace if a blocked drain is detected. rheem. com/endeavor/

Commercial Hydronics

Hydrovar Nexus™ is Xylem’s new integrated motor and variable speed drive solution that features market leading efficiency, built-in intelligence and embedded IoT connectivity. When paired with Xylem’s wide range of pumps, this technology extends the lifecycle of the asset while reducing the total cost of ownership. The built-in pump application intelligence combined with the intuitive color interface makes this the easiest drive to commission, program and operate, enabling virtually any configuration of pumps. Hydrovar Nexus™ uses sustainable permanent magnet assisted synchronous reluctance motor technology to deliver IE5 Ultra Premium efficiency in compact and lightweight design with ratings up to 30HP (22kW). Late in 2023 U.S. Boiler Company introduced the Ambient electric boiler for residential customers looking to modernize and electrify their hydronic heating systems. The single-phase Ambient electric boiler is an ultra-compact, wall-hung boiler designed and supported by industry-leading hydronic experts. The boiler is available in three capacities: 16, 20 and 24 kW, or 54,600, 68,200, and 82,000 BTUh, respectively. Supply water temperatures between 90°F and 180°F can be provided, using field-proven electric elements. Built for long-term consumer reliability, the boiler’s ASME Section IV stamped heat exchanger is assembled and welded FEBRUARY 2024 | CONTRACTING BUSINESS | 11

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in the US. The cabinet is constructed of robust coated galvanized steel, and the system automatically cycles element usage. The boiler features a proven control that provides dual setpoint operation, load management control, operation monitoring, with fault and dry-fire protection. Bell & Gossett, a Xylem brand, is bringing innovation to hydronic system solutions with the debut of its hydrovar X-enabled line of smart, connected products designed to improve the sustainability of commercial buildings and reduce complexity in the design process. The pump plus smart motor combinations are launching with Bell & Gossett’s e-1510 end-suction pump, e-80 vertical in-line pump and TECHNOFORCE™ e-HV packaged booster system at AHR Expo 2024, representing another important step forward in Bell & Gossett’s commitment to Building Better Futures. As the industry’s first and only system with a modular design that enables independent replacement of motor or drive, the hydrovar X-enabled products all feature a common interface and drive platform for easy commissioning and installation, along with additional features and benefits including: • Integrated motor-drive combo featuring quick connect components reduces the complexities, time and resources associated with selecting pumps, motors and drives separately. • Built-in application software allows for virtually any configuration of pumps for maximum serviceability and ease of use. • The highest efficiency IE5 ultra-premium motors that provide a powerful and compact footprint, saving valuable space within mechanical rooms. • Sustainability-forward, market-leading motor technology that doesn’t use rare earth metals. Under typical operating conditions, the e-1510X Smart Pump delivers annual reductions of up to 380 metric tons of CO2 emissions. The e-1510X and e-80X Smart Pumps, and e-HVX/e-HVXR boosters kick off the new line, with more hydrovar X-enabled products scheduled for future release. buildingbetter The EVAPCO PHW-induced draft parallel hybrid fluid collar is designed to maximize heat rejection, allowing for a reduction of connected horsepower. The CTI-certified PHW is designed as a compliment to EVAPCO’s ESW4, the company’s largest and most energy-efficient single-cell evaporative cooler. The PHW

offers high-tonnage capacity and layout flexibility for industrial plants, data centers, and large HVAC applications, especially where requirements call for the fewest units, connections, and fans. Two box sizes are offered: 12 ft. x 24 ft. and 14 ft. x 26 ft. Fan motor sizes are 30 hp to 100 hp., with two 7.5 hp pump motors per cell. Superior Boiler recently manufactured its 20,000th registered National Board boiler. The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors was established in 1919 to “formulate uniform qualification and examination requirements for boiler inspectors to be used by all states.” Its goal was to regulate safety and quality standards used for boilers and pressure vessels and to standardize them across state lines. “This is a major milestone in our company’s more than 100year history,” said Superior’s President & CEO Doug Wright. “It’s a testament to the exceptional team members who have worked at Superior Boiler since the company was founded in 1917. The same principles exist today as then of delivering boilers with the highest-quality craftsmanship and providing exceptional customer service and support.” On December 6, 2022, Superior Boiler issued National Board #20,000 to a Wichita steam boiler. At more than 13 feet tall, 25 feet long and 8 feet wide, the unit is large enough to fit the National Board #1 boiler inside its furnace The 2-pass wetback boiler features a 2,000-horsepower capacity and a design pressure of 200 psi steam. Sold by Mechanical Sales, one of Superior’s representatives, it will be delivered to a Midwest soybean processing facility. The customer will use the equipment to create process steam as it creates domestic, renewable energy for the biodiesel industry. The National Board #20,000 Wichita boiler will be paired with a twin boiler, a 3,300-gallon spray deaerator and a blowdown separator to complete the customer’s boiler room.


Greenheck’s XG-AFL Series of architectural high-capacity linear slot diffusers are designed for ceiling and sidewall installation in variable volume or constant volume air distribution systems. Available in single-section lengths up to 96 inches with one or


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and Europe that will demonstrate the efficiency results and ease of application and installation.


two slots, versatile XG-AFL Series diffusers can be specified in various frame types and eight border configurations to complement any interior. Combination frames are also available for applications that require two different frame types on a single linear. XG-AFL Series diffusers can be curved to produce a flat, concave, or convex face ceiling unit. Straight or combination pattern controllers are easily adjustable, allowing airflow to be directed horizontally or vertically. A universal plenum designed to work with any of the AFL frames makes duct connection easy allowing for quick installation.

Airzone Control, a provider of HVAC solutions for zoning, automation, and smart control, exhibited its expanded Easyzone product line at 2024 AHR Expo. This all-in-one zoning solution for concealed Inverter/VRF HVAC units is now compatible with the top seven leading manufacturers in the North American market, including Samsung, Daikin, Mitsubishi, LG, Toshiba, Fujitsu, and Hitachi. Airzone says zoning is a powerful tool for engineers, contractors and owners in delivering decarbonization benefits to building designers, contractors and owners, while offering practical solutions that can help mitigate ASHRAE 15. Easyzone is Airzone’s uniquely effective plug-and-play zoning solution. Easyzone by Airzone eliminates the need for bypass dampers, resulting in optimal energy savings. At AHR, the Airzone team will be showcasing projects from across the US

Fieldpiece Instruments has introduced three valve core removal tools (VCRTs) designed to improve system charging, recovery and evacuation tasks. VCRTs remove the valve core from service valves in air conditioning, heat pump, and refrigeration systems to replace defective cores and provide an unobstructed flow of refrigerant for faster servicing. The Fieldpiece VCRTs represent a significant leap forward in valve core removal technology, overcoming the limitations of existing tools. One of the game-changing features within the Fieldpiece VCRT lineup includes an integrated sight glass that allows technicians to verify at a glance that the valve core is captured prior to removing it and confirm when refrigerant is flowing. Fieldpiece eliminated the frustration that techs face when it takes multiple tries, and lost refrigerant, before the valve core is captured with current competitive products. The Fieldpiece VCRT capture tip also includes an interior gasket that the valve core pin presses into to secure it for removal. No more fishing around for lost valve cores—a solid grip guarantees that the job is done right the first time, every time. Another Fieldpiece exclusive feature is a comfort spinner, a free-spinning, rubberized cap that makes removing and inserting the valve core, while under pressure, easier and more comfortable. Like the sight glass, this comfort spinner is available on the VC1G and VC2G models. All three VCRT models, including the ultra-compact VC1, include a magnet in the cap to keep the removed valve core on hand during service. All VCRT models are equipped with a 1/4-in. service port fitting that can be swapped in the field with an optional 5/16” service port fitting for mini-split systems, conveniently reducing the number of tools to carry. Replacement capture rod assemblies also streamline the maintenance process. Techs can say goodbye to deep-buried O-rings, as these simple replacement kits reduce downtime and expedite the repair process. The premium VC2G tool features a dual ball valve design that protects attached vacuum gauges and pressure probes and adds versatility for connecting hose lines and isolating system service ports. “Our VCRTs offer benefits that current VCRTs on the market do not have,” notes Jeb Ball, vice president of sales and marketing at Fieldpiece Instruments. “We collaborate with techs to understand the pain points and develop solutions that enhance their jobs. The VCRT line expands our arsenal of tools built for efficiency, versatility and durability, and underscores our commitment to innovations that allow technicians to work faster with more reliable results.” The new line of A2L compatible VCRT’s is being showcased at AHR Expo, January 22-24, in Fieldpiece Booth #S9334. Wholesalers are purchasing inventory now and product will be available to techs in April. To learn more about the benefits of Fieldpiece VCRTs, visit valve-core-removal-tools. All product claims are made by the manufacturers. FEBRUARY 2024 | CONTRACTING BUSINESS | 13

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Four HVAC OEMs Meet Heat Pump Challenge America—keeping families warm during the coldest months and saving them money.” Heating and cooling buildings, homes, offices, schools, hospitals, military bases, and other critical facilities contribute to more than 35% of all U.S. energy consumption, driving carbon emissions that fuel climate change, jeopardize public health, and pollute local ecosystems. Heat pumps efficiently provides comfortable temperatures for heating and cooling homes and businesses in all climates, especially when homes are well insulated, and can also provide more efficient water heating. Unlike heaters that run on natural gas or heating oil, heat pump technology uses only electricity to extract heat from the air to heat and cool buildings and, when compared to gas boilers, heat pumps reduce on-site greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50%. Bosch, Daikin, Midea, and Johnson Controls will join previously announced partners Lennox International, Carrier, Trane Technologies and Rheem in the next phase of the Challenge, which is expected to involve the installation and monitoring of more than 23 prototypes in various cold-climate locations throughout the U.S. and Canada over the next year. With eight manufacturing partners successfully passing the laboratory testing stage in the Challenge, DOE is now turning to the nearly 30 state, utility, and other partners that were part of the original Challenge commitments to encourage the adoption of CCHPs. DOE will continue to work with partners to develop programs, incentives, education and outreach campaigns that help consumers better understand the benefits of these new designs.

142701990 © Christian Delbert |

WASHINGTON, D.C. Jan. 12, 2024—The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced that four additional heat pump manufacturers successfully produced heat pump prototypes as part of the Residential Cold Climate Heat Pump Technology Challenge, a DOE initiative to accelerate the deployment of heat pump technologies by supporting innovation and manufacturing. Launched in 2021, this initiative brings together public and private sector stakeholders to address technical challenges and market barriers to adopting next-generation cold-climate heat pumps—a key clean energy technology that can potentially save households $500 a year or more on their utility bills while also slashing harmful carbon emissions. The Challenge specifies that prototypes deliver 100% heating capacity without the use of auxiliary heat and with significantly higher efficiencies at 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Through the Challenge, DOE is working together with industry to accelerate widespread commercialization of efficient cold-climate electric heat pumps, which can provide clean heating and cooling for millions of American families and help meet President Biden’s goal of 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035 and a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. “Deploying next-generation technologies like heat pumps is critical to the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to ensure that Americans have access to more affordable clean heating and cooling options—no matter where they live,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “By supporting industry advancements, DOE’s Cold-Climate Heat Pump Challenge is helping get cost-effective clean energy technology into homes across


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Carrier Acquires Viessmann Carrier Global Corporation announced on January 2 that it had completed its acquisition of Viessmann Climate Solutions from the Viessmann Group. Thomas Heim, who previously led Viessmann Climate Solutions, will lead Carrier RLC HVAC in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which includes Viessmann Climate Solutions and Carrier’s RLC business in the region, including Riello.

HCA Releases Energy Management Specs at CES Show Home Connectivity Alliance (HCA) announced the release of its HCA Energy Management Specification 1.0 at CES 2024 in Las Vegas, Nev., Jan. 9-12, 2024. HCA is an organization dedicated to the development and promotion of secure interoperability and energy savings across long-life appliances, HVAC systems and TVs within the connected home ecosystem. “HCA Energy Management is based on the principle that appliance manufacturers—like those involved in the Home Connectivity Alliance—are in the best position to determine the energy management potential of connected appliances,” said Yoon Ho Choi, Home Connectivity Alliance President. In 2023, Home Connectivity Alliance announced the HCA Interface Specification 1.0, establishing an industry standard for Cloud-to-Cloud (C2C) interoperability across long-life appliances, HVAC systems and TVs within the connected home ecosystem, and setting the stage for HCA Energy Management. With HCA Energy Management, key data from appliances that consume the most energy—including how much power they use and how to optimize it—become more accessible. HCA members can offer energy usage insights that empower consumers to leverage HCA technology, resulting in energy efficiency and cost savings. At the show, HCA, Trane, American Standard and other OEM alliance members announced the release of its HCA Energy Management Specification 1.0, which enables energy-efficient solutions within the connected home, resulting in real-world energy and cost savings for the consumer. The specification will be available for public viewing on the HCA website and open sourced to HCA members. Learn about HCA membership at www.homeconnectivityalliance. org/membership. LG, Midea Group, Resideo and Samsung are also members of the OEM alliance. “At Trane and American Standard, our digital and engineering teams are identifying equipment from HCA member companies and implementing the 1.0 standards in our integration with these products. Building out these capabilities will allow our customers to choose where and how they interact with our products and lay the foundation for whole-home energy management in the future,” said Erin Joy, vice president of digital for Trane Technologies Residential HVAC and Supply.

Appointments NIBCO Inc. announced the promotion of Allen Stanley to vice president, fittings manufacturing and distribution, and Rudy Smith to vice president, valve manufacturing. Stanley Smith Stanley and Smith will report to Ashley Martin, president and COO, NIBCO. “Allen and Rudy have long careers with NIBCO and the knowledge and expertise that they both bring to these roles will be valuable for the success of our organization,” said Martin. “Join me in congratulating them on their welldeserved promotions.” Stanley oversees the Stuarts Draft, Virginia manufacturing operations and the Demand Planning department, along with his current responsibilities for the U.S. distribution centers, world headquarters logistics, and all plastic manufacturing facilities. Stanley began his career in 1997 at NIBCO as administrative manager at the Atlanta Distribution Center. He held a variety of roles of increasing responsibility including operations manager at the Elkhart Distribution Center, manager, distribution and transportation, and most recently, director, plastic fittings manufacturing and distribution. Rudy Smith will have responsibility for NIBCO’s Blytheville, Arkansas, facility, along with the company’s Nacogdoches, Texas, McAllen, Texas, and Reynosa, Mexico facilities. Smith began his career at NIBCO in 1996 in logistics at NIBCO’s world headquarters. Two years later, he was promoted and transferred as operations manager of NIBCO’s Nacogdoches facility. He held various roles from production superintendent, plant superintendent, plant manager, and most recently, senior plant manager at Reynosa, prior to his new role.

Joy told Contracting Business there will be “a seamless integration, centered on usability when a customer is utilizing their appliance in their home,” Joy said. “It will help consumers understand how they are using and consuming home energy.” As an example, Joy said an app will display Joy additional information by way of interoperability features. It will transmit additional energy information between the appliances if the consumer chooses to allow for that information to transmit from one appliance to another. “Each manufacturer will introduce the integration in certain appliances in which they will locate the specification, and it will be compliant across that manufacturer’s appliance product lines,” Joy said.


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Report: HVAC & Water Heater Manufacturing Generated $211 billion, 704,000 Jobs in 2021 Arlington, Va. Jan. 2, 2024—The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) released the results of a 2021 economic analysis conducted on its behalf by the research firm Inforum. Using detailed census data, researchers concluded that HVACR and water heater manufacturers made significant contributions to the nationwide economy, directly and indirectly supporting 704,400 U.S. jobs, with a total economic output of $211.3 billion. These figures demonstrate that, despite the economic challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the industry maintained its status as a strong job creator. Direct employment increased by more than 10,000 jobs between 2017 and 2021, growing from 125,900 to 137,300, reversing a trend that began during the Great Recession of 2008-2009. This number excludes jobs created by other segments of the supply chain such as materials, energy, or shipping. The report found that manufacturers are, “especially important to states where activity is concentrated.” Texas accounted for the most direct and total output, generating $6.2 billion and $17.8 billion respectively. Other states with sizable output included Missouri, Georgia, and Ohio. California mainly benefited from total output, with the industry generating $8.3 billion in the state through manufacturing jobs, supplier jobs, and spending from industry wages. This report presents an economic analysis of the domestic heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, commercial refrigeration (HVACR) equipment and water heater manufacturing industry. The study provides information on recent trends within the industry, along with its contributions to the U.S. economy in 2021. The scope was defined using relevant shares of economic data to analyze manufacturing activity of: • Fans and Air Purification Equipment • Heating Equipment • AC and Refrigeration Equipment • Water Heaters.

This report measures three types of economic activity associated with HVACR equipment and water heater manufacturers: 1. Direct Impacts—Activity generated within the focus industry. In this case, the manufacturing of HVACR equipment and water heaters serves as the direct impact. 2. Indirect Impacts—Activity generated in other industries due to purchases (materials, energy, and services) by the focus industry through their supply chains. An Economic Analysis of the U.S. HVACR Equipment and Water Heater Manufacturing Industry 3. Induced Impacts—Activity generated by spending linked to income earned from direct and indirect production. When indirect and induced impacts are included, the industry supported 456.6 thousand jobs and generated $144.4 billion in economic output in 2021.

Pre- and Post-Pandemic


The report authors describe how sales of HVACR equipment and water heaters grew moderately in 2018 and 2019. A mild contraction in 2020 highlighted the resilience of the industry during a period of pandemic-related turmoil and uncertainty. Sales rebounded in 2021 as normal conditions resumed. As defined in this study, sales grew by an average annual rate of 3.4% between 2017 and 2021. Following an extended period of job reductions, the industry began adding jobs following the Great Recession of 2008-2009. This trend continued in recent years, with employment increasing by more than ten thousand between 2017 and 2021; total jobs in the industry increased from 125.9 thousand to 137.3 thousand over this span.

According to current estimates, total jobs increased by more than ten thousand between 2017 and 2021, increasing from 125.9 thousand to 137.3 thousand. Recent growth reflects a continuation of trends dating back to 2010 when the industry was still recovering from the Great Recession. Total employment growth accelerated for three consecutive years, including 3.7% growth in 2020, before moderating in 2021. While each industry segment recorded gains between 2017 and 2021, the bulk of the growth (+9.1 thousand jobs) was observed in the ‘AC and Refrigeration Equipment’ category. Additionally, this component recorded the quickest average growth over the period (+2.5%)

Industry sales


The overall industry recorded moderate growth in both 2018 and 2019, before contracting 0.7% in 2020. This mild dip demonstrated resilience during a period of significant uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the supply side, many businesses experienced restrictions on operations. Demand, meanwhile, was relatively strong despite substantial job losses; those with disposable income increasingly opted to invest in their homes. Sales rebounded with 7.6% growth in 2021 as normal conditions began to return. Of the four segments analyzed, “AC and Refrigeration Equipment” account for the vast majority of activity in 2021, comprising 73.2% of total sales. This was followed by “Heating Equipment” (10.9%), “Fans and Air Purification Equipment” (9.9%), and “Water Heaters” (6.0%). Looking at broader trends, all four industry segments reported positive average annual sales growth between 2017 and 2021. The most rapid increase was observed in the “Water Heaters” segment (+6.3%). Growing second fastest was “Heating Equipment” (+5.2%), followed by “Fans and Air Purification Equipment” (+3.1%), and “AC and Refrigeration Equipment” (+2.9%).



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Building Controls

The ABB Cylon FBXi Series is a freely programmable range of BACnet® Controllers with native BACnet/IP communications support. The controllers are BTL listed BACnet Building Controller (B-BC) and are ideally suited for a wide range of applications for intelligent control of HVAC equipment, and electrical systems including lighting control and metering applications. The FBXi Series controllers support multi-protocol communications simultaneously including BACnet/IP, BACnet MS/TP, Modbus® TCP and Modbus RTU.

Belimo offers a complete range of sensors, monitors, and meters that provide superior reliability and seamless integration with major Building Automation Systems. Their unique uniform design is easy to install and maintain with various mounting accessories that expedite device setup, saving time, money, and labor. Belimo room sensors are designed for top performance. They accurately measure temperature, humidity, dew point and CO2 in a surface-mounted streamlined design with or without an ePaper touch display. The sensors are maintenance-free and provide long-term reliability for a safe and comfortable room environment. Integrated with Near Field Communication (NFC), the room sensors can be quickly and easily set up or adjusted using the Belimo Assistant App and a smartphone. The App allows easy data access, field adjustability, commissioning, and troubleshooting even without power. Belimo room sensors without display are easily viewed through the innovative and convenient Belimo Room Display App, which turns your smartphone into a remote display. The App’s intuitive graphical interface illustrates the current room values enabling setpoints to be adjusted. A 2024 AHR Expo Innovation Awards winner, the HyperStat Split enables contractors to upgrade RTUs with advanced rooftop control with unprecedented ease. Using only two existing wires from the RTU to the thermostat, HyperStat Split

provides dual enthalpy economizer, demand-control ventilation, and VFD control. An onboard PIR occupancy sensor enhances energy savings with auto away. With eight onboard sensors for temperature, humidity, light, sound, CO2, VOCs, occupancy, and particulate matter, the HyperStat Split saves energy with advanced sequences, all without added installation complexity or cost. The ABIES Technologies TIM/B Series products: wired and WiFi thermostat, humidistats, and temperature/humidity/ CO2 controllers are Touch, Color LCD, full configurable, Modbus or BACnet open protocol networked. They are suitable for various types of HVAC system of on/off, modulating and/ or floating controls with both temperature, relative humidity (%RH) and/or CO2 displaying. The Accutrol AVR Room Temperature and Airflow Tracking Control System provides the next evolution in airflow tracking control technology for critical environment spaces. The AVR is the first product that builds room temperature control and high accuracy airflow tracking control directly into the airflow control valve. The OptiFlex DHCP router from Automated Logic is a powerful and versatile device that can help you to improve the performance and reliability of your building automation


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networks. It routes BACnet messages between the WebCTRL building automation system, and a variety of network topologies of IP and serial controllers, and it can also act as a DHCP server for OptiFlex controllers. Benefits and Features: 1. Dual Independent Network Interface Cards for redundancy and load balancing 2. Ability to route between IPv4, IPv6, ARCNET, and MSTP networks 3. Manage and route to IP and serial networks simultaneously 4. Auto-generate and distribute IP addresses to OptiFlex controllers 5. Reduces complexity by reducing to a single IP address from customer to many OptiFlex IP addresses 6. BACnet Secure Connect ready C.H.C. System Co Ltd. offers an Odor CO2 dual sensor controller. Users can easily visualize and monitor indoor air quality. Moreover, by controlling ventilation equipment with this device, users can achieve energysaving and reduce electricity costs in the result. Odor sensor and NDIR high-accuracy sensor adopted; with correction and calibration functions; control equipment by multiple settings and choices, such as relays and Modbus. Users can maintain a high-air-quality environment by automatically moving uncomfortable odors and CO2 . Easy installation and low maintenance costs. Reduce electricity cost by controlling ventilation at adequate levels.

Sources report the LX Line from Computrols represents the most powerful, flexible and rugged Computrols controllers produced. Many of the LX features were designed to make installation fast and simple. Installation features include: all

4-in-1 universal points, a two-piece design that separates wire terminations from electronics, large and rugged screw terminals, easy-to-use rotary address dials for RS-485 communication, easy configuration using the Computrols App. As with all of the products that Computrols manufactures, the LX is made in the USA and carries a true lifetime warranty. The LX Series includes four models with different point capacities: the 8-LX, 16-LX, 32-LX, and 64-LX. The Danfoss Alsmart is a new generation programmable controller portfolio for the HVAC market. It consists of the basic controller, extension modules, displays, programming tools and applications. Features include plug and play sensor to cloud integration. It meets the highest security standard in the global HVAC PLC market.

The platform has five ports for integration with field devices such as valves, sensors, energy meters and compressors, and allows for cloud and/or BMS systems integration over BACnet, MQTT, HTTPS SNMP, Modbus, following the newest IT Security standards IEC62443-4-2. This integration capability allows buildings to have networks of multiple chiller or different HVAC units in a building like Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems (DOAS), chillers, heat pumps and water pump stations. The software’s modular IO concept is unique for an HVAC PLC with the patented side-by-side connector, you can add additional input and output models so that you will always have optimal and future flexibility for your application needs, up to >1000 IO points. With easy AI cloud integration, fleet management and over the air software update capability, use of module-based design & simulation to dramatically reduce development cycles, Alsmart is changing the future of HVAC management. All product claims are made by the manufacturers. FEBRUARY 2024 | CONTRACTING BUSINESS | 19

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Improving the HVAC Service Experience ‘Everything we do, and every problem we approach is with the contractor and their customers in mind.’ — Guillaume Payen

Multiple aspects of a home’s HVAC system can be viewed by the home office professional. Images courtesy of HomeX


n parts 1 and 2 of this series, we shared news about the origins and expansion of HomeX—a remote diagnostics company that’s been making noise in the HVAC and plumbing service world—and the corresponding HomeX mission to acquire HVAC service businesses. This month we’re speaking with Guillaume Payen, president of the HomeX technology business, to learn some of the specifics on how the HomeX technology serves customers and service teams. Success in business is all about answers. Customers want answers to service issues and business owners want answers to questions surrounding efficient customer service, reduced callbacks and reduction in unnecessary truck rolls. The HomeX team is providing answers as each day it evaluates “the way we’ve always done it.”

As an engineer with a Master’s degree in aerospace engineering, Payen worked in the aviation industry for 12 years in roles spanning from engineering, customer support and sales for Bombardier, based initially in Montreal and then in Paris. He returned to his native Canada in July of 2019 to join HomeX, where he initially applied his engineering and sales skills as the Head of Business Development focused on the growth of Schedule Engine, which HomeX later sold to ServiceTitan. Since that time, Payen has been concentrating his efforts and expertise on HomeX’s remote diagnostic solutions, to create diagnostic solutions which benefit both service companies and customers in the home.

“My time at HomeX has allowed me to gain an understanding of how difficult and competitive the home services industry really is, but also how amazing and selfless the people in the trades truly are, I consider them real superheroes. I feel very grateful to be able to speak to contractors on a daily basis and have the opportunity to understand their pain points and what they go through day after day,” Payen said. “It has reinforced the fact that, as a technology company that is building solutions for the trades, we really must provide them with software tools that can make their lives easier, but also help them grow their businesses and be more efficient along the way.” Payen’s strengths are in leadership, fostering a positive and collaborative company culture, and always assessing problems and solutions from the customer’s perspective. He applies these principles daily to create an environment where his team thrives and the HomeX technology business grows. The HomeX visual assistance software is the heartbeat of the HomeX remote diagnostic solutions. It’s not an IoT product or sensor-dependent hardware. It is a software solution purpose-built for use in home services. It allows for a person on-site, whether it is a resident or a technician, to get quickly and easily connected to someone in the office at the contractor over web-based two-way video, meaning there is no need to download another app on your phone. By using the Home visual assistance software, contractors can deliver an improved customer experience, enhance operational efficiency and make better use of resources. “That means everything we do, and every problem we approach is with the contractor and their customers in mind. We’re building the experience, the features, the capabilities to address key pain points that contractors face on a daily basis as they try to grow their top and bottom lines, and give customers the experience they expect.” The team also knows how helpful this streamlined approach can be to attracting and retaining the best technicians in today’s labor-constrained environment.

Telemedicine for HVAC Payen likened the remote diagnostic method to telemedicine. “Teledoc took off and became a commodity.


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We enable the same sort of experience but for home maintenance. The HomeX solution allows for a very efficient collaboration between someone on site—a resident or a technician, and someone in the office, such as a customer service representative, service manager, dispatcher, sales consultant or senior technician,” Payen said. “That allows the person in the office to guide the person on site using different tools such as a laser pointer, to capture relevant screenshots of the equipment, mark-up those screenshots, and capture accurate and relevant equipment information using our proprietary label understanding technology to better diagnose the issue upfront, to make sure the contractor can make a more educated decision on the best path to resolution. “If you’re able to remotely have eyes on the equipment, the environment and the symptoms being experienced, there is a high probability that you can immediately understand the potential root cause of an issue, which will help determine which parts to order, which tools to bring and which technician to dispatch, ensuring the right calls are being made proactively and allowing issues to be solved in one visit a lot more often,” Payen explained.

or equipment info. This solution will help contractors make better decisions on the most appropriate next steps to resolve the issue even before engaging in a potential video session. This solution is already integrated with ServiceTitan and will be launching for general availability by the end of this quarter. “The idea is to deliver the benefits of a Gen AI type experience but tailored for home services contractors so that residents can engage in a natural and conversational chat experience that would ask them the right questions about their problem. The questions would be tailored based on the equipment and the symptoms they’re experiencing. At the end of that Check-In session, a summary of the information is created and shared with both the resident and the contractor.”

ServiceTitan Option HomeX remote diagnostics software is fully integrated with ServiceTitan, which allows for video sessions to be launched directly from a job in ServiceTitan, and once the video call has ended, for all the information captured during the interaction to be automatically synced into the notes section of the applicable job in ServiceTitan. It’s easy and seamless for those ServiceTitan users to use the HomeX software as they basically never have to leave ServiceTitan to do so. However, a contractor does not need to have ServiceTitan to use the HomeX software and can benefit from the tool on a standalone basis. Payen said that when residents quickly engage with a contractor remotely over video, they immediately have the sense that they’re being heard, and the service is immediate. “They feel like somebody’s actually listening to their problem, and it’s very likely going to stop their search for another contractor because they have the confidence that you are on top of their issue and will be able to get it resolved efficiently,” he continued. The contractor on the other end of the HomeX video session can immediately start their diagnosis and go as deep as they would like to. It can stop at the simple gathering of relevant information by a CSR, to involving a service manager to go more in depth in the diagnosis, or even include a sales consultant should there be an opportunity to sell a new unit to the customer. Additional benefits that come to mind include a reduced need for a second opinion, and the ability to establish instant trust and credibility with a new customer. The next new exciting development Payen shared is the upcoming launch of a new product called “Check In”. It is an AI-powered chatbot experience, which leverages Generative AI, computer vision and HomeX’s proprietary knowledge graph to allow residents to provide more information about their issue in a natural and conversational way. Check-in knows when to ask for text, images

The HomeX discussion between the contractor’s office and technician or customer includes helpful photo enhancements drawn by the office assistant.

Another exciting HomeX product already released in Beta is called “Copilot,” an AI-powered tool focused on enabling contractor personnel such as CSRs, service managers and dispatchers to have access to accurate, trustworthy and reliable equipment information at their fingertips. “The information could be used by somebody in the office, or by a field technician, and based on the model number of a piece of equipment, Copilot will provide relevant information such as user manuals, warranty information, parts information and more. In addition, the user is able to enter a query which Copilot will understand and answer in the context of the equipment providing a trustworthy answer.” Payen said that answers to queries also include links to applicable pages in the manual along with any potential warnings in order to provide the highest level of transparency and trust with the answers being generated. “We want to be certain that whatever information is provided to the user is accurate because there’s no room for error in home services. As such, you get a direct answer to your query, plus access to the applicable supporting documentation. It’s another tool we offer to contractors to help them be more efficient as they try to diagnose and/or troubleshoot an issue with a customer,” Payen said. FEBRUARY 2024 | CONTRACTING BUSINESS | 21

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Kawisara Kaewprasert / iStock / Getty Images Plus


Opportunity exists when moving beyond industry standard conventions and to unconventional, interoperable BMS technologies.


ounder of Nexus Labs, James Dice, PE, CEM, CMVP, recently penned a white paper titled “The Untapped 87%: Simplifying Controls Technology for Small Buildings.” In it, the author explains that a 20,500 square-foot building was retrofitted with a BMS (building management system) by the United States Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest Laboratory in 2010. Within the first two years, this led to a 22 percent energy savings, and a “dramatic decline” in occupant comfort complaints. In addition to energy savings and improved occupant experience, a BMS can also significantly lower overall building operational and maintenance costs. In the case of HVAC equipment, most buildings are operated in a highly inefficient run-to-failure mode whereby support personnel are only made aware of equipment problems via complaints from occupants. This results in the need for a 24/7 rapid response capability and typically requires multiple site visits to determine the cause of the complaints and then to fix the underlying problem. A remotely monitored building with a BMS changes this dynamic. Through automation and notification, smaller facility management teams are enabled to more efficiently manage large portfolios of buildings. Mr. Dice’s paper goes on to explain that buildings smaller than 50,000 square feet represent 94 percent of commercial buildings in the US, 44 percent of electricity use, and 44 percent of total energy use. However, only 13 percent of commercial buildings under 50,000 square feet are equipped with a BMS.


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Kawisara Kaewprasert / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Why? Economics prevents broad deployment. Building management systems are too complex and too costly for the average building owner, often to the tune of $5 or even $10 per square foot. Moreover, most BMSs require expensive annual service plans. As a result, there’s great opportunity to reduce energy consumption, increase indoor comfort, improve air quality, and lower building maintenance costs by moving beyond industry standard conventions and to unconventional, interoperable BMS technologies. In addition to developing new heat pumps to replace R-410A product offerings, Fujitsu General America has recently been busy creating one such alternative to the conventional BMS: AIRSTAGE Cloud, which provides BMS as a Service (SaaS). The highly versatile AIRSTAGE Cloud platform provides effective and efficient monitoring, management, and maintenance of Fujitsu VRF and Mini Split systems along with the ability to control and monitor any thermostatically controlled HVAC system, regardless of the manufacturer. By deploying highly automated SaaS based software services on a modern cloudedge computing architecture based on Amazon Web Services (AWS), AIRSTAGE Cloud provides the power of a traditional BMS without the prohibitive cost. The new plug-and-play platform automatically communicates with most deployed equipment. This solution makes it economically possible for all buildings to decrease energy consumption, increase health and comfort while decreasing building operational expenses. It automates all the costly installation, configuration, and operational building management functions. Fujitsu is not trying to make every device needed in the market. Instead, we’re focusing on enabling a world where the enduser can pick and choose the best equipment for their needs and have that equipment automatically recognized, commissioned and put into operation. Beyond that, the platform automatically coordinates the behavior of the equipment. The introduction of AIRSTAGE Cloud is a strong, deliberate movement away from the traditional, siloed behavior of BMS controls manufacturers. Take indoor air quality as just one example. Fujitsu does not manufacture any IAQ-specific components, aside from fresh air collars as an accessory to indoor units. With that said, AIRSTAGE Cloud offers nearly endless opportunities to seamlessly integrate and control IAQ components within a building. The Schneider 8650 room controller was the first IAQ solution to operate on AIRSTAGE Cloud. With an 8650 installed at a site, AIRSTAGE Cloud can monitor IAQ and IAC parameters via wireless battery-operated sensors. This provides monitoring and response to IAQ issues via alerting operators and even automatically coordinating equipment behavior to deal with problems. Again, it provides monitoring and control of any thermostatically controlled device. This includes more than 60 percent of all heating/air conditioning systems, including Carrier, Rheem, and York equipment, among many others. Essentially, all unitary equipment found throughout North America can now be controlled through one platform without the need for a conventional BMS. AIRSTAGE Cloud now includes two new apps, Site Manager and Refrigerant Cycle Monitor (RCM). Site Manager allows users of

an account to monitor and control a complete portfolio of sites, from one site to thousands. Account access can be assigned to any number of users. For example, the property owner and business staff can be added as administrative users, facilities support personnel and HVAC professionals can be added as technician users, and tenants can be added as occupant users. In addition, a user’s access can be further customized by a sophisticated permissioning system. RCM is a specialized diagnostic tool used to monitor and diagnose issues with AIRSTAGE VRF systems. It is predominantly used during installation and commissioning of VRF systems. It greatly reduces service times, labor, and repeat visits, saving all stakeholders time and money. By decreasing the cost of BMS equipment, installation, and operation to a fraction of traditional systems, Fujitsu is essentially bringing all the benefits of BMS to the masses. HVAC contractors, building operators and facility managers can finally deploy a cost effective BMS for any size project. The 87 percent of commercial space under 50,000 square feet in the United States finally has a BMS solution. Matt Taylor’s 35-year engineering career has been primarily focused on the design of high-speed data communication equipment and software systems, spanning from the early days of Ethernet on through to today’s modern internet.


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1st Rule of Decarbonization is, Don’t Speak About Decarbonization Do no harm and always act in the best interests of the customer, which starts with NOT confusing them.


ore than ever, homeowners are tuned into station W.I.F.M., as in, “What’s in it for me?” Therefore, avoid using any confusing jargon or introducing any potential political land mines as you meet them. When it comes to “green” the client’s favorite flavor is almost overwhelmingly money, namely theirs. “Electrification” is really what we’re talking about when it comes to residential homeowners. Don’t say that word either! HVAC (another word no homeowner has a clue about what it means) is really all about comfort. If they wanted to cut utility bills to $0 they could just turn it “off”. Why don’t they do it and save all that moola? One word: C.O.M.F.O.R.T. Buying comfort systems is already a grudge purchase. Nobody really “wants” to buy one. We’re in the business, and I’ll bet either we and/or our staff don’t all own the latest, greatest systems available. Government mandates can possibly make it more “grudgey” because nobody likes to be told what to do. Electrification for HVAC all boils down to installing heat pumps someway, somehow. For any markets that are not already HPs, that makes a complex sale more complex. A confused mind always says “No”,

so we can run the risk of more objections than usual. Homeowners may need to think about it more, do more research and get more opinions. It’s also a basic pocketbook issue because whether heat pumps or hybrid or dual-fuel systems, they’ll likely cost more upfront, are more complex to maintain, and don’t last as long because they run year-round instead of seasonally. Yeah, yeah, “tax credits”, but that’s just more complexity for the average homeowner. Decarbonization isn’t really new, it’s just the latest shiny object in a new wrapper. The whole home approach has been around for decades, focusing on “Reduce Before You Produce” by optimizing all the sub-systems that make up the total home comfort system. Even the best, most efficient system, fossil fuel or electrified, is only as good as the installation itself. Bottom line – do no harm and always act in the best interests of the customer, which starts with NOT confusing them. Tom Casey is Chief Quality Officer at Griffin Service, Ponte Vedra, Fla. He was inducted into the Contracting Business Hall of Fame in 2022.


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Boomers Booming, Industry Growing


he war years were well behind us, and by 1950, heating, air conditioning and commercial refrigeration had become established as important cogs in the wheel of commerce. And that included some of what at the time were out-of-the-ordinary applications. In these early years of the post-war “baby boom”, American life prospered, in ways reflected by expanding industries and communities. On the cover of the July 1950 issue are a group of bowlers who were participating in the 1950 American Bowling Congress tournament, held in Columbus, Ohio. Indoor temperatures were making it dif-

ficult for the kegelers to kegel, so Frigidaire brought in 14 five-ton packaged air conditioners. Each unit was installed in a 18-in. pit behind the bowlers, and all electrical and plumbing connections were grouped at the base of each unit. Temporary rubber drain pipes were used to connect the units to the water main and drain pipes. Strike!

Early “Mission Critical” The “automatic electronic computer”—also known as a mechanical brain — was developed at UCLA, where 35 tons of packaged air conditioning was installed to keep the first generation of computers cool and operating without fail. Other equipment at the Institute of Numerical Analysis

included more than a dozen electrical computing and card punching machines. Cooling for all of this was provided by seven five-hp GE air conditioning units. The photo below shows one of the units used to cool the “brain machine” lab. Many brands today incorrectly think it doesn’t pay to advertise, but that wasn’t the case in the 1950s and for 50 years forward. Honeywell was among the leading advertisers, with monthly ads for the fantastic and functional Honeywell thermostats taking lots of space. Notice the familiar keywords: “sell” “install” and “reduce call backs.” Products change over the decades, but key principles remain. Larkin is now part of Heatcraft Refrigeration Products. In its early years it promoted a comprehensive line of air conditioning units, heat exchangers, coils for residential air conditioning, water-saving cooling towers and more. BOHN promoted its dedication to engineering quality into each of its PTAC units.”Versatility and compactness in a slim 81/2” width are featured in all BOHN-AIRE Models.” With a new name, Commercial Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Magazine was dedicated to helping contractor-dealers grow their air conditioning businesses. In 1950, the staff ran a threepart “Sales Symposium for Cooling Contractors.” An article by publisher Irving B. Hexter focused on positive actions. Here’s an excerpt: Give Your Salesmen Something to Sell: “If a manufacturer has a weak line, throw it out and replace it by another line. It isn’t always true that the line with the longest discount is the best line, because sometimes the lines with shorter discounts will sell more readily.


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“When your salesman goes into a hotel, there are 13 things he can sell a hotel in the refrigeration line. But does he know it? Have you trained him to find out for himself what he can sell a hotel? “Supposing he’s called into an ice cream plant. There are 11 things he can sell in an ice cream plant. Let him find out what they are, and then let him keep suggesting this to his prospect, because somewhere along this line he might find a soft spot.” Moving forward to 1961, our Service Clinics got their start in these early years. And the technology is so much like today, only with a different look. An article on the volt-amp-ohm tester, “your serviceman’s best friend”, displayed four different ways to use it. Before the advent of the AHR Trend Report, association executives shared predictions for the year to come. To accompany the “Review and Forecast” survey shown earlier, five association leaders shared their views on the coming 1962 business year. These should sound familiar. Nice to see their comments are free of any mention of environmental panic and government interference. Walter McCarty, president, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association: “Qualified refrigeration and airconditioning

contractors would continue taking a larger share of the available business away from other contractors not primarily in this business. This trend started on the west coast and is not taking hold in the Midwest. Two reasons: some of these other contractors have not found our business profitable and many customers are returning to the qualified refrigeration and air conditioning contractor because By the 1960s, the magazine’s name was again changed, to The Refrigeration & Airconditioning Business, to reflect the expansion of residential and commercial air conditioning in the USA.

of dissatisfaction with the type of jobs they got from contractors not principally in this field.” Ray K. Serfass, president, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI): “Housing starts will be up modestly from about 1,300,000 to 1,375,000. Commercial construction is rising even now, and will continue to do so. Industrial construction is rising. All manufacture of durable goods is expected to rise.” E. Peter Sorensen, president, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Wholesalers. “Most wholesalers experienced a business slump in the first six months of 1961 due primarily to inclement weather and the general slowdown in the national economy. Last August our association started a monthly study of sales trends for our members. These reports have indicated a general rise in sale over the same period of 1960. With an improved economy and better weather conditions, sales should continue to grow next year.” Donald D. Denny, president, National Commercial Refrigeration Sales Association: “Business looks good and dollar profit also should be good although profit percentage may be down. Today’s picture is more volume and smaller margins. Competition is keen. Our business will be up because more and more of the smaller food market chains and voluntary groups are realizing that they can buy from a good distributor at less than they can buy direct.” Charles W. Lockhart, president, Air Moving and Conditioning Association: “Most of the manufacturers comprising our membership anticipate an increase in business for 1962. Profit increases are difficult to predict, but generally should be higher.” Next: “the modern supermarket” brings increased products and opportunities for installing and servicing contractors, and HVAC continues to grow.


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Let the Refrigerant Phase-in Begin! Evaluating next-generation refrigerant alternatives in established and emerging applications By Jeff Lichty, Copeland


espite years of speculation and uncertainty, the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants has officially arrived in the United States. For food retailers, it’s no longer a question of “if” it will happen, but rather when they will need to act. It also means they will soon be deciding which alternative refrigerants will become the foundations of their future refrigeration strategies. Unlike the previous generation of commercial refrigeration equipment, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will solve most retailers’ requirements. Proven eco-friendly refrigerants CO2 (or R-744) and R-290 (aka propane)—as well as emerging A2L options—are among the most likely successors capable of meeting needed global warming potential (GWP) reductions. Although the entire industry is going through this refrigerant transition together, each retailer will experience their own unique journey. Equipment and architecture decisions should not be taken lightly, as they can impact your operations for the next 10–20 years. It is critically important to align refrigerant choices with your company’s long-term operational and sustainability goals.

Regulatory and sustainability drivers Retailers in California were among the first to make the transition in the U.S., largely in response to HFC phasedown mandates set forth by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The passing of the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act in 2020 laid the groundwork for an HFC phasedown on the federal level, following the guidance of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol—an international treaty ratified by more than 150 member countries. Under the authorization of the AIM Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed the next phase of HFCreduction rulemaking, which sets the stage for the emergence of lower-flammability A2L refrigerants and increased charges of R-290 (subject to use conditions). Finalized in 2023, the EPA’s Technology Transition Rule established sector-based GWP limits and HFC refrigerant restrictions that will drive the use of lowerGWP alternatives, such as A2Ls.

This rule follows the guidance of the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 60335-2-89, 2nd edition product safety and ASHRAE 15 equipment design standards, which include provisions for the safe use of A2L refrigerants in self-contained, factory-charged units and remote, field-charged refrigeration equipment. UL 60335-2-89, 2nd edition also includes guidance for increased charge limits of R-290 in self-contained refrigeration units and commercial ice machines. The EPA recently introduced new listings and use conditions for lower-flammability A2L refrigerants in commercial refrigeration under its proposed Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Rule 26. Combined, the EPA’s Technology Transitions Rule and SNAP Rule 26 proposal are key efforts in establishing a new era of lower-GWP refrigerant technologies. At the same time, environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives are prompting many companies to pledge operational sustainability targets over the coming years and decades. Because refrigerants are a potentially significant contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—both directly from leaks into the atmosphere and indirectly from their impact on energy-efficient performance—selecting a next-generation alternative is among the most important sustainability decisions a company can make.

CO2 growth in North America CO2 refrigeration technologies have been adopted successfully throughout the world for nearly two decades. With a GWP of 1 and zero ozone depletion potential (ODP), CO2 is a sustainable alternative that is poised to play a key role in the U.S. refrigerant transition. Copeland has been developing CO2 system technologies for more than a decade, including compression, controls and components integrated to deliver seamless performance and help simplify CO2 refrigeration applications. CO2 systems and components are designed to manage its inherent high pressures, while R-744’s unique thermophysical characteristics present new opportunities to leverage reclaimed heat for hot water, indoor heating and other repurposing strategies.

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Large, centralized CO2 systems For large retail outlets, CO2 transcritical booster (TCB) systems provide a centralized, all-CO2 strategy for both medium- (MT) and low-temperature (LT) loads. Although early CO2 TCB systems proved to perform well in cooler climates, modern CO2 TCB systems utilize new design approaches to optimize system performance in warm weather conditions as well. When considering a new CO2 TCB installation, food retailers should factor in utility costs—including electricity and water—and select a design optimization strategy that delivers the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) in their region. Considering that monthly electricity rates are often driven by peak consumption periods, retailers with installations in high-cost kW/hr regions should do everything possible to minimize high peak usage scenarios.

The expanding potential of R-290 Over the past decade, the natural refrigerant R-290 has emerged as a viable low-GWP (GWP = 3) alternative, especially in smaller, selfcontained refrigeration units that don’t require large refrigeration loads. Today, most retailers are familiar with R-290’s widespread use in spot merchandising applications, such as reach-in display cases, beverage coolers, ice machines and ice cream freezers— which don’t require large refrigeration loads. Although R-290 offers proven sustainability and performance benefits, its A3 “higher flammability” classification must be taken into consideration. To mitigate R-290 safety risks and address safety concerns, the governing bodies that regulate the safe use of refrigerants in the U.S. have long established a 150 grams (5.3 ounces or 0.33 pound) maximum charge limit. The revised UL 60335-2-89, 2nd edition standard approved higher charge limits that potentially could expand the size of R-290 cases, raising the charge limits on commercial self-contained, plug-in displays based on whether they have an open or closed design: • 500 grams for open appliances (without doors) • 300 grams for appliances with doors or drawers. It’s important to note that currently in-progress SNAP 26 proposals—as well as model and building code updates—must first be approved before the industry can implement these higher R-290 charges. For now, retailers should be aware that the potential for larger-capacity, self-contained, R-290 units is on the horizon. Copeland is qualifying its R-290 compression lines to enable these larger charges and help OEMs to initiate their new equipment design cycles. Our variable speed Copeland™ scroll compressors deliver twice the capacity and higher speeds, enabling up to 7 HP systems with the anticipated charge limit increases.

Preparing for the emergence of A2Ls A2L refrigerants have long been recognized as potentially viable alternatives to high-GWP HFCs. A2Ls are composed of multiple chemical components—including those with high hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) content—resulting in a wide range of GWP ratings, including those below 300 and 150 GWP regulatory thresholds. Achieving these low-GWP levels results in a degree of flammability, warranting the A2L “lower flammability” classification, which will require the use of proper safety management and risk mitigation strategies. Leak detection sensors, proper ventilation

and safety shut-off valves may be required in some remote systems with larger A2L refrigerant charges. Not only is Copeland qualifying our compression lines for use with A2Ls with high HFO content, but we are also developing advanced leak detection sensors and controls technologies to help retailers ensure A2L safety, preserve their refrigerant investments, and maximize system performance. Select A2L-qualified compressor models are available for sale today, while samples of all compressors within the A2L qualification process (and their performance data) are available on request. Our new Copeland variable frequency drives, EVM and EVH series, have also been qualified for use in systems with flammable A2L and A3 refrigerants, per relevant component safety standards for commercial refrigeration. A2L refrigerants fill a much-needed niche within the refrigerant landscape. With charge limits exceeding those proposed for R-290, A2Ls also deliver approximately 20 percent more compressor capacity than R-290. Thus, A2Ls offer a potentially higher-capacity alternative in self-contained applications and a lower-GWP solution for higher-charge distributed and/or remote system applications, such as outdoor condensing units (OCUs) or mini-racks used in smaller-format outlets. These unique characteristics could also provide lower applied costs than CO2 in comparable applications. A2L adoption in U.S. commercial refrigeration is still in its early stages, as regulatory approvals and safety standards and building codes are currently being finalized and/or adopted. Regardless of which A2L applications may become more commonplace, A2Ls will give retailers another high-performance, low-GWP option for their next-generation refrigeration portfolios.

Make the most informed refrigerant decisions As retailers plan their refrigerant transitions, many are looking for guidance on how to phase out their high-GWP HFC infrastructures while phasing in lower-GWP, more sustainable replacement refrigerant strategies. Copeland has the application expertise, product portfolios and value-added services to help retailers make successful and cost-effective refrigerant transitions. We recently completed two extensive research projects designed to help retailers evaluate which refrigerants and infrastructures align closest with their operational and sustainability goals. Our Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) study can help you to compare various low-GWP refrigerant architectures to determine which strategies deliver the most optimal short- and long-term cost savings and GWP reductions for your operation. For those retailers exploring CO2 TCB systems for new store installations, our “CO2 Climate Study” can provide guidance on selecting a design optimization strategy that can help you to maximize energy efficiencies and deliver the lowest TCO per your unique climate zone and utility considerations. Regardless of where your company is on its refrigerant transition, Copeland is ready to help you evaluate emerging refrigerant solutions and take the next steps on your journey. To learn more about Copeland’s low-GWP, alternative refrigerant-based solutions and application expertise, please visit the emerging refrigerants section of our website. Jeff Lichty is director of product management at Copeland.


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‘Branding Party of One, Your Table is Ready’

W Crystal Williams Crystal Williams is founder and strategist for Lemon Seed Marketing, a fullservice marketing team based in Diboll, TX. She is a board member of Women in HVACR and a presenter at industry events. Find Lemon Seed Marketing at

hen you make reservations at the upscale restaurant, you order the ideal food with the perfect flavors, and everything is topnotch. But, if a tiny detail was left off, the experience is no longer excellent but just mediocre. This is the life of a brand. Whether you sell vacation homes, shoes, new training software, or a home service, branding is felt in all aspects of the experience with your company. We must focus on our customer experience to enhance our brand image. Branding is traditionally thought of as an icon or a logo, and while this is true, it’s only a piece of the experience, not the entire experience. We must see the bigger picture of our brand’s customer experience to see an authentic winning culture. The first interaction with your company matters when homeowners look to decide on their contractors. We must consider how a client might contact you and how that happens with all the available technology. Is your website friendly and easy to navigate, or is it too busy and clunky with chat options, “book now” options, get financing now options, etc? Or, is it nice, clean, and easy to contact you how the client wishes to reach out? Are your social media channels filled out with your contact information so you are easily reachable? If they love your contact, is there a link in your captions to allow them to schedule quickly? Does your customer service team answer the phone with confidence and empathy?

We want to WIN the ring! Like a spider web, we have them in our “web” of greatness once they call us. All these things are a potential customer’s first impression of your company. They are the brand. This leads down a rabbit hole because, technically, their first impression of your brand was through advertising. If your billboard looks old, faded, and tattered, your company must be withered and worn in the eyes of potential clients. If you have a boring radio ad or generic truck wrap, you aren’t memorable, nor will their experience with your brand. We must strive to be different, but with “different” comes investment. It’s hard to dare to be different when you can barely make payroll. You must invest in your brand and your company’s future. Whether we like it or not, our community has already decided what type of company we are before they do business with us. Their interaction with your company at community events, doing charitable work, and your visible presence already invokes emotions. This is how mascots help win the relationship game with potential new customers; it’s a differentiator and memorable for your community. You need to make yourself unforgettable and relatable. That’s the secret sauce on any plate of advertising. Eat it up, guys. It’s the recipe for brand success and brand longevity. Get brave, get risky, and GROW your business.

AI-Powered Marketing: Efficiency & Automation

Sarah Ghirardo Sarah Ghirardo is a dynamic force in the trades industry, currently serving as the Senior Content Manager for Pro Products at ServiceTitan. She has become a trailblazer not only in the realm of marketing in the trades but also in empowering women within the trades through LadyTitans. Find LadyTitans at


n the rapidly evolving realm of marketing in the trades, the strategic integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) emerges as the basis that sets innovative businesses apart from the rest. Harnessing AI in marketing not only supercharges automation but also significantly enhances operational efficiency. Marketing is equal to operations; the whole ship has to sail together. We are always in a landscape where adaptability is key, and marketing departments that hesitate to embrace AI are at risk of being unable to match the agility and effectiveness of their AI-empowered counterparts.

Streamlining Operations with AIDriven Automation The transformative impact of AI begins with the seamless automation of routine operations. All

tasks take time and time is money that can hit the bottom line, ask yourself what are the repetitive tasks that can be automated. What are the tasks that we are currently doing where we can leverage AI? Marketing teams are often inundated with repetitive tasks, from data analysis to campaign optimization, creation, and lead management. AI steps in as the silent orchestrator, automating these tasks with precision and speed. This not only eliminates the drudgery associated with manual work but also empowers marketing professionals to redirect their focus towards more strategic initiatives and work towards the goals of the business to always become more automated and efficient at scale. Remember, AI will build the outline for you, the human element is still needed to edit, validate, and craft the output.


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Precision in Targeting Through AI-Enhanced Personalization

Leveraging AI for Dynamic Content Creation Across the Customer Journey

AI is a game-changer when it comes to crafting highly personalized marketing campaigns tailored to the unique preferences of your audience. By leveraging vast amounts of data and behavioral insights, AI algorithms can discern patterns and predict individual preferences. This allows for the creation of targeted messaging that resonates with the audience, leading to increased engagement and higher conversion rates.

Integrating AI into content creation transforms the customer journey into a dynamic and responsive experience. From personalizing content to addressing objections and predicting engagement, AI becomes a strategic partner in nurturing the “yes” of conversion and adeptly rehashing objections, propelling businesses towards sustained growth.

Agile Decision-Making with Real-Time AI Insights

As AI continues to evolve, its integration becomes synonymous with future-proofing marketing strategies. The adaptability and scalability inherent in AI-driven solutions position businesses for sustained success in the ever-changing landscape of marketing and advertising. Marketing departments slow to adopt AI may find themselves struggling to keep pace, potentially compromising their competitive standing in the long run. AI in marketing for the trades is not just a tactical choice but a strategic imperative. Businesses that harness the power of AI position themselves for increased automation, operational efficiency, and adaptability. The future belongs to those who seamlessly integrate AI into their operations and reach new heights.

In the dynamic and ever-shifting macroeconomic environment, timely, data-driven decision-making is not just an advantage; it’s a necessity. AI facilitates real-time data analysis, providing marketing teams with actionable insights for agile decisionmaking. Businesses incorporating AI can adapt swiftly to market trends, shifts in consumer behavior, and emerging opportunities. This agility positions them to seize opportunities and navigate challenges, gaining a competitive edge over competitors still reliant on slower, manual processes.

Future-Proofing Marketing Strategies

AD INDEX SALES CONTACTS South & West: Senior Manager, Business Development Randy Jeter 512/263-7280 Cell: 512/426-9145; Fax: 913/514-6628 East Coast: Senior Manager, Business Development Brian Sack Cell: 732/629-1949; Account Manager Midwest Bill Boyadjis 973-829-0648 • Classifieds/inside sales: Media Account Executive Steve Suarez Cell: 816-588-7372 Office: 941-259-0867



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A New Era of Collaboration

R ‘We must learn to work together towards our shared goals.’

ecently I reflected on my nearly 40 years in this industry and the changes and cycles we’ve undergone. Interestingly, while technology advances and becomes more sophisticated, we continue to go through repeating cycles. Take heat pumps for example. They were all the rage in the 1970s and 80s, not just in southern climates but in the north as well. We soon discovered many customers weren’t happy with heat pump systems blowing colder air and wanted their gas-fired furnaces back. Today, 50 years later, there is a resurgence of interest in heat pumps, primarily due to the decarbonization and electrification movement. The equipment itself is significantly better, more efficient, and can provide warmer comfort, even at low outdoor temperatures. These newer heat pumps, however, present us with new challenges, particularly in existing homes where many don’t play well with old air distribution systems—especially those designed for gas furnaces. These issues, coupled with contractor and consumer fear about grid reliability, means we must be able to offer more climate resilient solutions to gain consumer trust. Other technological challenges ahead include adoption and service of the new A2L refrigerants, the new M1 equipment standards, inverter technologies, compatibility with smart home technologies, and so much more.

Back to Working Together In the late 1980s and early 1990s I recall a much stronger environment of collaboration within our industry—particularly among contractors. Organizations like ACCA were helping to build this with more experienced contractors sharing knowledge with less seasoned ones just starting out in business. Doc Rusk, for example, was among the emerging industry leaders who shared everything about his company with anyone who would listen. We had many great thought leaders like Wallace Lee, Tom Mutz, Ron Smith, Tom McCart, Jackie Rainwater, and Buck St. Cyr—just to name a few, freely sharing their wisdom. I encourage you to go into the Contracting Business magazine archives and read their articles—I think you’ll find them still very relevant today. While there are some great up-and-comers impacting our industry today, it feels like until recently we’ve had a drought of sincere and open sharing. Organizations like ACCA are working on rebuilding more sharing and collaboration—especially at the local level, but we still have much work to do.

A New Movement With the advent of social media channels and HVAC professionals starting podcasts and streaming on Facebook, YouTube, and even Instagram and TikTok, we are seeing a resurgence of collaboration that is helping the HVAC community to get stronger both globally and locally. These may be the very channels we need to bring back the spirit of collaboration and sharing our industry urgently needs to face the challenges ahead. At NCI’s High-Performance HVAC™ Summit last year we talked about a new era of collaboration emerging among contractors, HVAC equipment and test instrument manufacturers, software companies, educational organizations, and other professionals—all interested in a common goal: To raise the bar for our industry and provide consumers with better performing indoor comfort systems. This excitement and new energy were palpable last April, and have continued to build. We felt it again at AHR this January with many products on the show floor aimed at improving performance. We felt it in many of the educational seminars. NCI presented five sessions related to this movement, and we also participated in two panel discussions. We will provide links to the slide decks as well as video of the two panels—look for these soon at We also held our first High-Performance HVAC Hangout reception at AHR with more than 120 industry professionals. We plan to grow this event significantly at AHR 2025. Stay tuned! The HVACR Symposium hosted by HVACR School. took place in early February, but recordings will be available online at Of course, we hope to see you at NCI’s High-Performance HVAC™ Summit (, this September in Asheville, NC. You will get a chance to be part of the same movement Summit has been fostering for the past 20+ years! To get this industry ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead we must learn to work together towards our shared goals. To quote a common cliché, a rising tide does indeed raise all boats! Dominick Guarino is President & CEO of National Comfort Institute CEO of National Comfort Institute (NCI) (, the nation’s premier High-Performance training, certification, and membership organization. NCI is focused on improving consumer safety, comfort, health, and saving energy, and helping contractors grow and become more profitable. His e-mail is


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Check out our heating products!

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At less than


wide, the Daikin FIT makes indoor spaces comfortable and outdoor spaces feel spacious.


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1.5-5 Ton Up to 17.5 SEER2 | Up to 8.5 HSPF2 | Up to 97% AFUE

AVAILABLE FOR AIR CONDITIONER, HEAT PUMP, AND DUAL FUEL APPLICATIONS! ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Before purchasing this appliance, read important information about its estimated annual energy consumption, yearly operating cost, or energy efficiency rating that is available from your retailer.

For more info visit

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