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EXECUTIVE ROUNDTABLE: RESIDENTIAL COOLING Driven by efficiency, comfort and affordability, there are a multitude of residential cooling options for your customers.

Todd Nolte Carrier

Bryan Davenport Oxbox

Steve Scarbrough Mitsubishi Electric Trane

Quan Nguyen Lennox Residential

Chris Day Rheem

Randy Roberts Rheem

BY PETE GRASSO

W

e’re living in an entirely new landscape, with safety of the utmost importance. As an essential service, HVACR contractors play a vital role in the well-being and comfort of everyone. As temperatures heat up, during a time when many are staying in their homes, you will need to assure your customers that you’re taking proper precautions to protect their safety during cooling season. I recently spoke with a handful of manufacturer executives to get their thoughts on the residential cooling market and what challenges that lie ahead. This Executive Roundtable panel included Todd Nolte, senior director of product and brand marketing at Carrier; Bryan Davenport, general manager of Oxbox; Steve Scarbrough, vice president of residential business for Mitsubishi Electric Trane (METUS); Quan Nguyen, vice president and general manager for Lennox Residential; and Randy Roberts, vice president of sales and marketing and Chris Day, vice president of product strategy and engineering at Rheem.

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HVACR BUSINESS APRIL 2020

“Not only is it an efficiency increase of about 10 percent across the board, it’s also a chance in the key metrics” — Chris Day

How has residential cooling category evolved? Davenport: It certainly has changed with regards to efficiency and refrigerant, and over the past, really, 10 years. Certainly, as efficiencies creep up and the thoughts about comfort change, we see many consumers are opting for more affordable solutions. And that’s why we introduced Oxbox in February of 2019, to make sure we’re providing customers who are looking for affordable HVACR solutions that they can get from a brand that they know and trust. Day: It continues to evolve quite a bit with multi-stage and variable speed products, and much more of a system approach. New technologies are being used quite a bit more, and communicating systems are becoming more and more popular.

It’s definitely ideal, where the indoor unit and the outdoor unit are talking and communicating with each other, for not only maximum efficiency, but homeowner comfort. We see that continually growing. Nguyen: What we’re seeing with the residential cooling category is equipment just getting smarter and more efficient and delivering greater air. And it’s broader than just cooling … customers are more conscientious about the quality of the air in their homes. Our goal, within all of our products, is to deliver perfect air. We’re seeing a lot of innovation in the cooling category. Greater capabilities on control over humidity is one example. And all this is contributing to the growth of the smart home technology sector. Nolte: Two things immediately come to mind. The first is the introduction of

the ductless and ducted hybrid combination, which consists of a ducted indoor unit paired with a ductless outdoor unit. We have a proprietary kit for this combination that allows the homeowner to use a conventional 24V thermostat to operate the system, while also accommodating variable speed operation. The second is digital connectivity. A number of digital features recently introduced in HVAC equipment provide homeowners with enhanced features and benefits. Scarbrough: Residential cooling has become much more focused on energy-efficiency and personalized comfort in recent years. It’s no longer enough for cooling units to be durable and high performing, but they must offer smart comfort that matches how homeowners use each zone in their home. They should also operate in a way that has a positive, lasting impact on the environment and homeowners’ pockets. Across the board, we’ve seen a shift in the types of products that are developed to meet consumer demand and environmental need.

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