Late last summer, the staff of this magazine pondered the HVACR industry's state of preparedness regarding the phaseout of R-22, especially from the manufacturer's perspective. We decided to answer our questions by asking the manufacturers what they were doing (or have completed), and we did so through a survey. We had better than a 44 percent response, which is stunningly high when you consider that these answers went beyond the simple exercise of checking off a box. Someone had to actually ponder over the reply.
Naturally, we didn't ignore the other players — wholesalers, contractors and the EPA. We allowed them to weigh in with their point of view, which we write about in separate articles.
Our manufacturers survey asked three sets of questions and we are sharing responses from some of the best-known names in the industry. In the spirit of fairness, we posed the same questions to everyone and limited the word count for answers to ensure a sense of proportionality for the length of replies.
Q1: What do you feel is the most important challenge/opportunity facing your company considering the changeover from R-22?
Q2: What has been your response to the challenge/opportunity to the changeover from R-22 and how is it different or unique?
Q3: What impact or results will your response have on HARDI wholesalers? What key message do you want to convey to HARDI wholesalers (or your distribution partners) regarding your efforts with the R-22 changeover?
Allied Air Enterprises
A1: The most important item for Allied Air with this transition was ensuring that our customers' needs were met. Changing from R-22 was not a technical challenge but was more of a logistical transition. Making sure we had the right mix of product available to our customers while ensuring that we kept our plants efficiently running was also key.
A2: Allied Air did a lot of early communication with our customers and periodically followed up with them with reminders about the transition deadline. We also clearly communicated, based on customers' buying trends, when the final manufacture dates of the R-22 products would be.
A3: We have worked hard to minimize any negative impact with our distributor partners. They worked with us to make this transition work for their businesses and for ours.
Contact: David Palazzolo, project manager, 803/738-4000, [email protected].
A1: Modern R-410A systems are designed with energy efficiency ratings, which are leaps and bounds ahead of previous R-22 systems.
However, the only way to guarantee these energy savings is to be sure that every aspect of the AC/R system is operating as designed. The biggest challenge is that the system contains ONLY pure, clean refrigerant and the proper refrigeration oil.
With R-410A systems, POE lubricants are the only option.
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Unfortunately, POE lubricants are extremely hydroscopic (they readily absorb water). POE lubricants can be over 100 times more hydroscopic than mineral oil lubricants. This makes it extremely difficult to properly evacuate an AC/R system and remove all moisture.
A2: We as a company are concerned about the sacrificed efficiency of systems that are not properly evacuated.
Moisture left in a system will mix with refrigerants and refrigeration oil to form acids and sludge. These acids corrode metal surfaces in a system and contribute to system failure, while the sludge hinders the system's performance and prohibits it from reaching the manufacturer's energy efficiency rating.
The best way to combat this is to properly and thoroughly evacuate a system. The best way to do this is to “right size” your vacuum pump for the competitive performance you need.
Enter the Appion Tez8 Vacuum Pump and Micron-Dry, Synthetic Vacuum Pump Oil.
The Tez8 is the only vacuum pump designed for use with POE systems and the new Micron-Dry synthetic oil. The Tez8 allows you to change the oil in five seconds, while the pump is running and without affecting your evacuation. This gives the contractor more control over the job and turns one of the most neglected tasks of a technician (changing your pump oil) into one of the easiest.
Along with this easy oil change, the Tez8 also offers field-proven evacuation speeds that surpass those of pumps twice its size.
A3: The world has begun to prioritize our energy needs and pay attention to our energy consumption.
Now, it's time to reprioritize the importance of system evacuation.
Contact: Sean Hawks, product manager, 303/937-1580, [email protected].
Arkema's challenge (as always) is to satisfy all of our customers' refrigerant needs. Specifically, Arkema continues its work to overcome the following challenges through 2010:
Meet our customers' current HCFC-22 supply needs: Phase-out will reduce the total amount of HCFC-22 allowed to be consumed in the US. Arkema has developed plans to meet this challenge of supply. These plans include having available virgin HCFC-22 and a supply of reclaimed R-22 for customers that require this product for servicing of existing units.
Meet the growing HFC needs of our customers: The industry is quickly moving to HFC 410A in air-conditioning and is still using HFC-404A and HFC-134a in many applications. Arkema has invested in U.S. manufacturing for all the HFC products and is the only producer of all the key components being used in the HFC blends. These investments will provide a secure and competitive supply of HFC products through the transition.
Develop the future products and services to meet our customer and stakeholder needs: Arkema has already announced the investment into R1234yf, a low GWP refrigerant for automotive applications. Arkema's new product and service development has been leveraged to develop one of the industry's leading reclaim programs and several new HFC retrofit refrigerants for HCFC-22, including HFC-427A, one of the closest performance matches for R-22 retrofits.
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A2: Arkema's response to the changeover from HCFC-22 has been completely focused on our customer and stakeholder needs. The unique attributes of Arkema's strategy include the following important activities:
Arkema has developed a comprehensive supply plan for HCFC-22 to meet our customers' needs for HCFC-22 through the phase-out.
Arkema is the only company to have invested in all four HFC components used in the HFC-410A and HFC-404A blends.
Arkema has invested in and developed new products and services meeting the anticipated needs of further fluorochemical regulations, including investments in R-1234yf and a new refrigerant (R-22) reclaim service.
A3: Once again, Arkema's efforts are designed to support our customers' needs, which include many HARDI wholesalers. The impact on our customers should be to provide high value products and services to assist them with growing a profitable business through this phase-out.
Arkema's key message to HARDI wholesalers regarding its efforts is centered around three key points:
Arkema is confident in our supply plan for HCFC-22 and will look forward to meeting this challenge in 2010.
Arkema has invested in the new HFC products that will provide a competitive advantage for customers through the phase-out.
Arkema has invested in new products AND services such as R1234yf and the Reclaim program. These investments will provide a long-term competitive AND sustainable advantage for Arkema's customers.
Contact: Craig Thomas, Fluorochemicals Business Manager, Refrigerants, North America, 215/419-7938, [email protected].
A1: Aspen's most important challenge is maintaining a sufficient inventory of R-22 metering devices, both TXVs and floraters, to ensure that our customers have access to them within normal lead times during the phase-out period. Also, we have seen a much higher than normal influx of performance ratings requests in the last few months, since many new outdoor units are hitting the market in preparation for January 2010. We have added staff in order to keep up with this higher-than-normal demand.
A2: Several years ago, Aspen led the other independent coil manufacturers by undergoing and passing stringent ETL pressure testing of all its coils and air handlers in preparation for this transition. As a result of this process, every Aspen coil and air handler is now certified for use with either refrigerant (provided the metering device is correctly matched). We strongly encourage our customers to insist on ETL or UL-approval when selecting R-410A equipment.
A3: Since Aspen coils can be used with either refrigerant, wholesalers can reduce the number of SKUs they need to stock during the challenging transitional period.
Contact: David Piccione, president, 281/441-6500 x108, [email protected].
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A1: I think higher efficiency standards are coming in the future. So we'll have to push the technology beyond where it is today, and look at things such as variable speed compressors, more zoning, better humidity control for tighter homes, and energy recovery ventilators. Those types of things will become more prevalent in the future.
A2: For Carrier this is a little bit of yesterday's news. We've been doing Puron (R-410A) for 14 years. About 80 to 90% of our business in 2009 is already in R-410A. The only real challenge has come in cases where contractors are trying to use components that are already in place, such as linesets that are in a wall and can't be replaced. Or maybe they changed out a coil a year or two ago in an R-22 system and would like to continue using that coil with an R-410A system. Those questions have now pretty well been answered, and we have well-documented procedures in place for dealing with those types of things.
A3: Since Carrier long ago began making the changeover, the changeover should be seamless for distributors. Right now people are retrofitting rather than replacing, and I think that's mostly a legacy of the efficiency change in 2006 that drove equipment prices higher. That increased the cost to replace rather than repair. The other factor is the recession. There are many people who are trying to spend the least amount of money that they can, and even if it means spending more money later, they seem ready to repair rather than replace right now. As we move out of the recession, the repair vs. replace decision will likely tip toward replace, and our distributors will benefit.
Contact: Alex Yovanovich, vice president, Public Relations, Caldwell VanRiper, 317/638-9158, [email protected].
A1: The changeover creates a huge opportunity for us as systems begin converting away from R-22. The challenge for DiversiTech is to help our customers by providing an easy solution for contractors when converting these systems over to the new refrigerants.
A2: Our new Pro-Flush™ line flushing solvent has been very successful in helping contractors with these changeovers. The specially formulated Pro-Flush™ solvent breaks down the molecular bond of the previous refrigeration oil sticking to the internal surfaces of the system and ensures that all traces are flushed out during the cleaning process. Pro-Flush makes the process quick and easy.
The Pro-Flush™ kit has everything in the box to undertake a complete system clean-out, including a 16-ounce container of Pro-Flush™ solvent, a refillable aluminum cylinder with pressure relief valve, a service hose and injector tool with an adapter for up to 1-1/8-inch copper pipe.
The Pro-Flush™ system is easy to use and does not require the use of a pump of any kind. The Pro-Flush™ system uses something that most service techs carry in their vehicle anyway as the propellant to “push” the Pro-Flush™ solvent through the system — nitrogen.
A3: We think this challenge and the Pro-Flush solution will offer HARDI members a great new product to help meet the needs of their customer contractors.
Contact: Kevin Wilkinson, marketing manager, 678-542-3600 x1030, [email protected].
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A1: The HVACR industry must deal, concurrently, with two new EPA regulations, both effective 1/1/2010. For DuPont, dealing with the “equipment rule” is a relatively straight-forward challenge — i.e, to have the right HFC replacement products to the OEMs in the right quantities when they can no longer use R-22. The second rule, the “HCFC phasedown rule,” will reduce the availability of virgin R-22 (i.e. new production and importation) for servicing existing equipment by about 58% beginning 1/1/2010. This reduction creates the potential for an R-22 supply shortfall and price volatility. To mitigate the potential for this shortfall, the HVACR industry must improve service practices, reduce leaks, increase use of reclaim/recycle and begin retrofitting R-22 equipment to available HFC alternatives such as DuPont ISCEON MO99.
A2: DuPont has made significant investments in HFC capacity and logistics capabilities in anticipation of the phase-out of R-22 in new equipment. In addition, we have made significant improvements to our refrigerants reclaim program, available through DuPont wholesale distributors. Contractors should have no problem finding an EPA-approved company to reclaim their recovered R-22. In addition, we have introduced a full line of mineral oil compatible HFC retrofit refrigerants to replace R-22 across a broad range of evaporator temperatures, including low, medium and high temperature applications. These DuPont ISCEON retrofit refrigerants are running effectively in thousands of AC&R systems worldwide. Information is available on these refrigerants at www.isceon.com.
A3: With every challenge comes opportunity. In times of change and uncertainty, HARDI wholesalers have a real opportunity to differentiate themselves and to help educate their customers, namely contractors and equipment owners. These customers will need help understanding these regulations and the impact they are likely to have on their businesses. Contractors and equipment owners will be looking for solutions. In some cases, that solution might be to replace a piece of R-22 equipment with one that's been designed for HFCs. In other cases, the best solution might be to convert existing R-22 equipment to a retrofit refrigerant, like DuPont ISCEON MO99. In either case, with our help, DuPont wholesalers are well equipped to be the solutions supplier to the industry.
Contact: Jim Bachman, national sales & marketing manager, DuPont Fluoroproducts, 302/999-4024, [email protected].
Dynatemp International Inc.
A1: Dynatemp International Inc. believes that the biggest challenge to the market is educating everyone, from the suppliers through the wholesaler to the contractor and even to the end user, what exactly is prohibited and what is not. Because of the lag time between the EPA's formalizing of the regulations and the beginning of 2010, there has been a tremendous amount of speculation and misinformation concerning this regulation. Some believe that R-22 cannot be purchased at all, some believe that only reclaimed R-22 can be used for servicing equipment, and some believe that R-410A is the only acceptable replacement. None of these is true. There is such a large base of R-22 equipment in the market that to ban virgin R-22 sales would strangle the market as it exists today. R-22 demand will continue for many years.
However, the EPA regulation does ban the installation of new R-22 pre-charged equipment after Jan. 1, 2010. There is a question as to how the EPA will interpret that ruling as to equipment manufactured and shipped prior to January 1 but not installed until after Jan 1. Until that question has been fully answered, the only available way to charge new equipment is with reclaimed R-22. That is why Dynatemp has gone to significant lengths to establish our own procedures for future reclamation and to stock significant quantities of reclaimed R-22.
A2: Recognizing for some time that this changeover to alternative refrigerants would happen, Dynatemp has endeavored to not only educate our customers regarding the changeover but to carry and promote the sales of these alternatives. Dynatemp was the first supplier to introduce the Isceon 9 series products into the United States. (Isceon is patented and trademarked by DuPont.) Since R-410A has been “branded” as the winner to replace R-22 in new equipment for years, Dynatemp has secured a stable supply chain to continue to satisfy our customers' requirements. Also, Dynatemp has secured supplies of other HFCs and viable alternatives to R-22.
A3: Finally, since Dynatemp has been keenly aware of this transition and has continually been involved with the EPA and with alternatives for the wholesale aftermarket, we have taken the necessary steps to continue to offer into the future the right solutions for tomorrow's market.
Contact: Hal Kivlan, chairman and CFO, 717/249-0157, [email protected].
Emerson Climate Technologies
A1: This transition represents a huge change, perhaps even bigger than the 13 SEER change because we are going from serving predominantly R-22 models to virtually no R-22 models for new production. Managing the transition without having a lot of residual R-22 inventory and devoting the necessary resources for testing and field analysis are the obvious internal challenges. Externally, we need to ensure that our customers are prepared with the right products by providing a comprehensive retrofit road map that addresses all applications, from residential and commercial A/C, to food service, supermarket and transport. This road map needs to be easy to follow and cost effective for the contractor. In addition, with the myriad of alternative gases on the market, there is considerable reliability risk if an approved refrigerant is not used in repair/service situations.
A2: We are completing our road map for service retrofits and we have developed an informational website for contractors and end users. Our Emerson contractor sales group is in the field to help guide service technicians, and our Educational Services business offers training seminars to address issues surrounding the transition.
From a product standpoint, our air-conditioning business has been preparing for the 2010 transition for years by developing the broadest, most efficient R-410A scroll compressor lineup, now from 1.5 to 40 tons. We've worked closely with OEMs on new system development, understanding the regulations and coordinating the significant ramp down to R-22. We are dual rating products for R-22 and 407C where possible, and planning to consolidate the number of mineral oil and POE compressors. Our efforts to consolidate compressor models throughout our business will allow wholesalers and distributors to provide better product availability for customers while also reducing the number of SKUs.
In some cases, we are developing new platforms for the sole purpose of streamlining our service offering and reducing complexity. For example, we recently introduced a new R-22 Copeland Scroll® model for air-conditioning service — the ZRK5 compressor. This post-2010 offering for U.S. aftermarket service applications in residential and light commercial air-conditioning applications is available from 1.5 to 5 horsepower and optimized for both R-22 and R-407C refrigerants. It consolidates the Copeland Scroll unitary service offering from 51 to 12 basic models for easier compressor stocking throughout the channel.
A3: Wholesale distribution will be critical to the success of this transition. Counter people need to be educated on alternate products, refrigerant options and guidelines for proper retrofit. They need to be the source for manufacturers' recommendations. Wholesalers should sponsor retrofit classes and provide reference materials for contractors. They should also encourage contractors to be proactive in learning about retrofit issues, as it could create new revenue streams for contractors and provide more value to home-owners and end-users.
Contact: Bob Labbett, vice president — Marketing, Distribution Services, 937/498-3919, [email protected].
A1: We make sure the pressure sensing equipment we develop can handle the higher pressure required for new refrigerants.
A2: We've all known Jan. 1, 2010, was coming. System manufacturers have been designing systems with the replacement refrigerants and higher SEER ratings to accommodate this and other regulations for years. We designed our instruments to handle the demands ahead of the changeover, while keeping in mind that people will still be working with R-22 and the associated systems for years to come.
A3: We can handle all the major refrigerants and have the ability to accommodate any new refrigerants faster and better than our competition. We expect to keep HARDI members and their customers on the cutting edge of HVACR instrumentation in much the same way we have for the past 20 years.
Contact: Adolfo Wurts, engineering manager, 714/634-1844, [email protected].
Friedrich Air Conditioning Co.
A1: Friedrich Air Conditioning manufactures a broad line of room cooling solutions. With dozens of models scheduled for the R-410A refrigerant conversion, Friedrich's first step was to appoint a skilled engineering project manager.
A2: As the conversion work began, Friedrich's greatest challenge was created by significant supply chain delays. Key component suppliers, who were also undergoing significant redesigns, struggled to meet new specification requirements. Most affected were compressor and high-pressure tubing suppliers. Component availability slowed product development by as much as 12 months.
As a result, Friedrich added engineering staff to support the additional design and test loads. As new components became available, additional testing was needed, which led to more changes and more testing. The company also selectively outsourced several projects to free up additional internal resources.
A3: The bottom line is that Friedrich is ready with a full line of commercial grade R-410A room cooling products, including a completely redesigned top-shelf product that will debut next spring. Production is under way, and Friedrich distributors will be well-supplied in 2010.
Contact: Jane Deming, marketing manager 210/353-8728, [email protected].
A1: Education was the refrigeration industry's challenge when R-12 and R-502 were phased out years ago. Contractors who took advantage of the education learned how change properly managed can grow their business and those unwilling to change will be left behind. For the past several years, it has been the HVAC industry's challenge to provide education on the phase-out of R-22 and to teach contractors how to grow their business and to embrace change. Fujitsu has been providing this education for several years now.
A2: 2010 marks the fourth anniversary that Fujitsu as leaders in innovation, will celebrate a 100 percent R-410A lineup of mini-split air-conditioners and heat pumps. Fujitsu is proud to offer products that are at the top of the efficiency range and feature environmentally friendly refrigerant. Going all R-410A early has given us the chance to be a solid source of education.
A3: Fujitsu understands the importance of moving forward with technological advancements and has always been in the forefront of improvements. As one of the first companies to phase out R-22 refrigerant, Fujitsu products offer wholesalers the ability to offer their customers the best products available. We also have published refrigeration guidelines for the conversion of the R-22 equipment from several generations ago.
Contact: Erin Mezle, director of marketing, 973/287-1645, [email protected].
A1: Golden Refrigerant's focus is to be a service company supporting the HVAC/R distribution industry. Our future is linked to how successful we are in providing value with our services to our core customer, the distributor, and to what extent the distribution industry embraces our offerings. Our biggest challenge is standing out in noise created by all of the new entrants into our industry. This has created a “gold rush” effect to get a portion of the recovered R-22. Our greatest opportunity is that most of the other cylinder programs being offered will not be sustainable after R-22 is no longer the dominant recovered refrigerant.
A2: First, Golden Refrigerant has developed what we believe is the best cylinder exchange program in the industry. The program we offer only to wholesalers is sustainable as the mix of refrigerants being returned changes from primarily R-22 to the alternatives. Our program is also easy to use and implement, requiring almost no additional burdens on counter personnel. The wholesaler controls the pricing and rebate parameters to suit his needs. Secondly, we have invested heavily in equipment required to run this program, including additional reclamation capacity, computerized tracking programs, a new DOT testing facility and refrigerant separation technology.
A3: Golden Refrigerant only succeeds if our HARDI wholesale partners succeed, unlike some of the new players in this industry who are using proceeds generated from their sales to both fund lobbying efforts to ban disposable cylinders (against HARDI member efforts) and to sell directly down market.
Contact: Carl Grolle, president, 734/793-1400 x5, [email protected] refrigerant.com.
A1: Basically, the challenge represented by the phase-in of R-410A refrigerant is viewed in the same context as the transition to 13 SEER efficiency minimums several years ago. When the HVAC industry adjusts to new regulations, standards and technologies, we will respond in a manner that best satisfies our customers. As an HVAC manufacturer, our goal is to manufacture high-quality, high-value products that adhere to changing demands within the HVAC industry.
A2: We have fully embraced the transition to R-410A refrigerant. We designed a new condenser coil configuration in conjunction with the transition to the chlorine-free refrigerant, R-410A. Our SmartCoil™ condenser coil uses 5mm rifled copper tubing and an aluminum fin construction. Several patents are pending with the development and production of this coil. We believe that this combination provides an optimum thermal heat transfer, given the higher R-410A operating pressure levels. To date, we have manufactured more than 700,000 SmartCoil™ condensing units. We converted the Amana brand condensing units to R-410A, and the Goodman brand product line includes both R-22 and R-410A units. We will provide the dealer with the option of the refrigerant of choice without mandating or removing an option that might create a lost sale.
A3: We will supply our distribution partners with the products that they request. Some have migrated to R-410A products faster than others, but we seek to never become a detriment to a potential sale from a customer of our distributors. Currently, we offer both R-22 and R-410A refrigerant products. Soon, we will manufacture R-410A products exclusively as mandated by the federal government.
With regard to the SmartCoil condenser coil, our distributors will have a product that is specifically designed for the performance characteristics of R-410A refrigerant. We believe that this will provide our distributors with a competitive advantage in their local market areas.
Contact: Gary Clark, senior vice president marketing, Goodman Global, [email protected].
Heat Controller Inc.
A1: Heat Controller began developing a plan for transitioning to R-410A more than two years ago, but even our preparation did not diminish the impact of the changeover. The most important challenge has been managing all the simultaneous product transitions precipitated by the industrywide mandate. This has been far and away the broadest product transition in the history of the company, given the fact that we manufacture equipment ranging from room air-conditioners to commercial packaged A/C. While this presented an opportunity in terms of introducing new products with, in many cases, new features, it also presents the challenge of dealing with R-22 inventory that may not be saleable.
A2: Adding to the design complexity was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the need to address higher SEER ratings so that customers' installations can qualify for tax credits.
In addition to managing inventory of product itself, our support material required a complete rework — new documents included IOMs, service manuals, parts lists, price sheets, catalogs and other product literature. Product changes also necessitated updates to the Heat Controller Website. As our distributors and dealers increasingly turn to our website for information, keeping up-to-date material posted was a crucial step in our process.
One of the other challenges we faced was the amount of bad information in the field about the transition and about the refrigerants themselves, despite the many articles in industry trade publications and details shared via webinars and technical seminars. In particular, we frequently were asked about compatibility between R-22 and R-410A; for instance, are lubricants compatible so that an existing coil can be coupled with a condenser charged with the environmentally friendly refrigerant? As a result, part of our response to the transition was dissemination of information.
Perhaps the most important management component for the changeover was addressing our own systems. Because of the broad range of products involved in the transition, we streamlined our product development process, while bringing more resources to bear on the challenge in order to ensure that our customers were well-served during the transition period.
A3: We want to reassure our HARDI wholesalers and other distribution partners that our product offering is complete with appropriate match-ups and accessories. We also encourage them to make the changeover in their own businesses as quickly and completely as possible. To prolong the switch to R-410A increases the risk of carrying obsolete inventory.
LeeAnne Perkins, national advertising manager, 517/780-3214, [email protected].
A1: The single biggest issue is education. We have invested a lot of resources in educating wholesalers and contractors regarding the HCFC R-22 phaseout and HCFC R-22 retrofit alternatives. We have done some good work educating the contractor base and end-user base, and our wholesalers have been a major part of this effort. However, there is still a lot of work to do, as bad information is still being disseminated.
If properly informed, folks can make the right choice on refrigerants and equipment. Unfortunately, too many rumors and myths are still being passed around in the market.
A2: Our focus on educating the user base on the phase-out has been unique. Honeywell has been a resource for updates on the phase-out process and the impact it will have on the end user. We have created brochures, conducted webinars, spoken at industry events and met face to face with wholesalers and contractors to keep everyone up to speed on the latest news regarding the EPA's HCFC phase-out.
We have also invested resources in developing R-22 alternatives for the air-conditioning and refrigeration markets. Our investment continues as we manage through ozone-depletion potential (ODP) regulations and potential future global-warming-potential (GWP) regulations.
With an understanding of the situation and the alternatives, a contractor or end user can make an informed decision regarding a path forward. We try to help with this process whenever and however we can.
A3: Stay informed. Inform your customers. Be a resource on the regulation and its impact and the choices that are available in the market.
Contact: Chris LaPietra, marketing manager, 973/455-2842, [email protected].
A1: The most important challenge facing refrigerant producers such as ICOR is educating the masses on the proper use of alternative refrigerants. The current surplus of R-22 has weakened the market price and caused many to become complacent with their long-term refrigerant strategies.
A2: ICOR introduced one of the first R-22 direct replacements in 2001, and today our two primary R-22 replacements, NU-22B® (Medium/High temp) and ONE SHOT®-C (Medium/Low temp), are being successfully used in a variety of ACR system applications throughout the world. We have conducted hundreds of educational workshops, and our alternative refrigerant training is now available online at www.icorinternational.com/training. Since January, over 5,000 individuals have visited our training site, and we expect that number to grow substantially over the next year as more companies gravitate to R-22 alternative refrigerants.
A3: HARDI wholesalers who stock and distribute ICOR products find great value in our superior service and complete quality assurance. Our sales, marketing, educational and technical support efforts regarding the R-22 phase-out have reduced the amount of time and energy the distributor needs to invest in selling our products and servicing their customers who are using ICOR products. ICOR International's company motto is “Making Your Life Easier.” Everything we do as a company begins by asking the simple question, “How can we make our distributors' and product users' lives a little easier?”
Gordon L. McKinney, vice president/COO, 317/222-7153, [email protected].
International Comfort Products
A1: Our most important challenge WAS to help our distribution partners teach their dealer/contractor customers how to sell, install and service R-410A equipment. We had to convince dealers and contractors to start the transition well in advance of the 2010 deadline AND show them how to do it. We started training dealers several years ago. In 2005, our annual Victory Tour took R-410A technical training to thousands of dealers in dozens of cities from coast to coast across the United States and Canada. We also took R-410A sales and technical classes to distributor locations across North America and provided distributors with support tools to help them run their own schools. Our customers' response has been excellent. They have shifted their product mix steadily in the direction of R-410A and should be ready to complete the transition in January.
A2: To help our customers manage their inventories and warranty parts through the transition, we are making available several different accessory kits that allow them to convert selected models of R-22 coils to R-410A refrigerant. Other factory parts allow selected models of R-410A coils to be converted to R-22 refrigerant.
A3: Our distribution partners and their customers will be ready to complete a smooth transition to R-410A refrigerant in January. We have the full complement of R-410A-based products you need for both residential and commercial applications. Our accessory coil conversion kits will simplify your inventory management and warranty parts through the changeover.
Contact: J.T. Holtschlag, general manager, 931/359-3511, [email protected].
Johnson Controls Inc.
A1: As with most major changes, we feel that communication has been, and will continue to be, the most important part of this change. This challenge is apparent in three major areas. The first area is training. Unless we as a manufacturer, in partnership with our distributors, can train the industry's technicians how to properly install and service R-410A products, we're all in for a tough transition. This applies to all three of our brands: York, Coleman and Luxaire.
Although early adopters have proven that R-410A systems can be very reliable, if late adopters do not follow accepted guidelines, there will be issues. The second area surrounding communication is transition; specifically, when contractors will stop using R-22. All manufacturers throughout the channel are struggling to understand when this final change will happen. The last communication area is understanding how all the government policies will be interpreted. Although everyone knows the date, determining the details has certainly been a challenge.
A2: From the beginning, we have believed that training needs to be the most important part of our response to the refrigerant changeover. For years, we've used a distributed training model: We train our distributors' service managers, and they train our dealer/contractor partners who install and service York, Coleman and Luxaire products. This has been very effective and continues to be so with regard to R-410A.
In an effort to support our customers more effectively, we have looked to technology. We have an R-410A overview course available through our Proficien-TECH online training program. We also cover a lot of R-410A details within the “Air Conditioning Systems” program and within the Air Conditioning video content provided on the ProficienTECH site.
Target students are service technicians who may not have had significant exposure to R-410A systems. As there are many important differences between R-410A and R-22 systems, we were compelled to describe them in an easy-to-understand format. We recognize that the best training includes a mix of teaching and hands-on experience. While ProficienTECH provides exercises that illustrate component location and video that allows visualization of equipment operation, there is no substitute for hands-on experience. Our online training, coupled with distributor service managers, is a perfect match to prepare technicians for the changeover from R-22 to R-410A.
A3: We will continue to support our distributors with one of the most dynamic training programs available in the industry. Our goal is to provide training for every technician who installs or services a Johnson Controls-built R-410A product — whether it's a York, Coleman or Luxaire-branded product. Through traditional training as well as our new online training, we feel that all channel partners should have training at their fingertips.
Contact: Andy Armstrong, director of marketing, Unitary Products Division, 414/524-4842, [email protected].
A1: The biggest challenge we faced was with our CITY MULTI® VRFZ systems for commercial applications. The commercial segment of the industry was not as quick to make the leap to R-410A, so we faced many training challenges and a few acceptance issues. Still, we felt that transitioning to R410 ahead of the mandate made sense because the increased performance and environmental benefits far outweighed the issues. Residentially, we embraced R-410A as an opportunity to increase performance while keeping our equipment physically compact, which is a key benefit of our ductless model design. Smaller equipment means managing costs while minimizing the impact on the environment since fewer raw materials, such as copper, are required.
A2: At Mitsubishi Electric, we faced that challenge back in 2006 when the efficiency standards for residential systems moved up to 13 SEER. For us, it was a logical progression to go from our older R-22 models to an entirely new R-410A lineup with many “industry first” features like inverter-driven compressors across the line, special “catechin” filters, better heating performance with some HSPF levels approaching 10.0, and much better SEER ratings, well above the 13.0 SEER minimum.
A3: Many of our distributors (and even some competitors) were very impressed with our almost seamless changeover of our entire product line to R-410A. We implemented a well-designed plan of moving all the old R-22 models quickly out of inventory and bringing in the R-410A right behind the departing R-22 units to keep every distributor's inventory levels at prime position to take advantage of the new higher efficiency marketplace. 2006 proved to be a banner year for us because we had everything our customers were asking for in a timely manner. They appreciated that we could increase our products' performance but keep them physically compact, which benefits operating efficiency.
Contact: Barbara Renaud, marketing communications manager, 678/376-2868, [email protected].
A1: At Modine, we planned for the changeover to R-410A in advance, so our most important challenge/opportunity involved bundling our R-410A designs with new technologies and features to elevate our product platforms. This required additional time and engineering resources to make our launches a success.
A2: The changeover to R-410A has gone very well. Our customers have been asking for R-410A, so the new designs have been a welcome addition to our product lines. In addition, our new platforms include expanded models and options that have gone over well.
A3: We have already discontinued our R-22 products. HARDI wholesalers will have to make sure that they have the latest information, catalogs and specifications on the new R-410A products and get this information out to their customers now as they plan for projects and installations into 2010.
Contact: Ray Schaffart, marketing communications manager, 262/636-1504, [email protected].
A1: For several years now, we've had systems available in two refrigerants. It will significantly streamline our manufacturing, inventory and distribution process to have only one refrigerant. At NORDYNE, we are embracing the change as positive progress for the industry and the environment.
A2: Our response was proactive. We phased out our R-22 products in all premium brands such as Maytag and Frigidaire more than a year ago. We clearly communicated our phase-out timeline for entry-level products to distribution and set a last-order date of early September 2009. We did learn from past changes that managing indoor products (air handlers and coils) through a transition was harder for us and our distributors. As a result, we've offered our distributors a “flex coil” that can be easily field-adapted to match with either R-22 or R-410A and minimize inventory issues.
A3: We genuinely appreciate the support and cooperation we've received from our distribution partners throughout this process. They have made the transition very smooth. Perhaps we learned from the 13-SEER changeover, or this was just naturally an easier transition to make, but we're very pleased with how it has gone so far.
Contact: Kari Palutis, communications manager, 636/561-7583, [email protected].
A1: Both Samsung and Quietside units have been sold using R-410A since 2006, when we changed refrigerant in response to the 13 SEER rule introduction. We are looking forward to being able to provide an option for customers who have been previously using R-22 products that will now be unavailable.
A2: By changing refrigerant types four years before the deadline, we have been able to educate contractors and distributors on the new R-410A refrigerant. Also, all Samsung and Quietside Mini Splits feature a 5/16-inch Schrader connection for the manifold gauge set. This prevents a contractor who may not be familiar with the equipment from using the wrong gauge set, saving time and possible damage to his tools.
A3: Education is the answer; the refrigerant in the equipment is a tool or component. When we have the opportunity to familiarize the contractor and distributor with this “tool or component,” they will see it has advantages over R-22 and lose the apprehension about using it.
Contact: John Miles, vice president, sales & engineering, 562/699-6066 x229, [email protected].
A1: Putting people first is the most important aspect of this change. The changeover will evolve over the next five years. We need to get information into the hands of decision makers so they can make good decisions. However, as we approach the deadline, making sure that the people making the decisions about their climate control needs have the right information will trump all other needs. This industry tends to trade information as a commodity and there are very good websites such as www.AHRINET.org that have balanced and up to date information available for system owners, contractors, distributors and producers. Although R-22 is now readily available, it may in two to three years become harder to find. System owners will need to understand this as they make investments and schedule repairs
A2: We have developed new technology to assist with every aspect of retrofit, from recovery to flushing (ReNew) and new environmentally safe refrigerants (407a&c packaged under EcoFluor) that have been proven to perform well and will last long into the future. As system owners invest in retrofitting R-22 equipment to new refrigerants, we in advance of this demand have invested in the infrastructure needed to support wholesalers in their efforts to support their contractors. Even with the R-22 mandate, system owners are not necessarily required to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Perfectly functional systems can continue operating until the end of their natural lifespan with replacement gases (such as 407 A&C). Many system owners fear that systems that are in good working order and not yet fully depreciated will result in significant and unexpected capital investments in new systems, when that is not the case at all. We need to make sure the system owners know they have options to consider before purchasing a new system
We have 16 years experience in the refrigerant retrofit industry and are bringing all of our experience to the market for this very important event. The impact of R-22 production means that, for those systems that are converting over to a replacement gas, a significant cost aspect is the flush materials. Our proprietary systems for reclaiming and recycling refrigerant gas have been modified to reclaim Flush solvents and the oils removed from the old operating systems. This creates more utility from the existing materials and lowers the overall cost of using our ReNew Flush system by limiting the amount of virgin solvents required to clean these systems.
A3: Our distributors know that they can rely on us to provide solutions that are both practical and profitable with the highest level of integrity and quality.
Contact: Ted Atwood, founder/owner, Polar Technology, 888/834-0233, [email protected].
A1: Projected shortages of R-22 are a key factor in the future of our industry, with significant shortages affecting the market within the next five years. At RemTec International, this presents an opportunity for us to provide a service to the industry by reclaiming the used R-22 and bringing it back to AHRI-700 standards for re-use. Our main focus during this industry change is to be a hassle-free solution for the industry and to assist in making this a smooth transition to a more environmentally friendly refrigerant.
Through target marketing and education, we continue to broadcast our message of recover, reclaim, re-use. Recovering the used refrigerant and turning it in to the local wholesale distributor for reclamation is the only way to ensure that future supplies of R-22 are available for service work.
A2: By introducing a new Buy Back and Recovery program, specific to the wholesaler, RemTec is working directly through the distribution market to encourage the contractor to bring in used R-22 with a simple cylinder exchange. The no-hassle exchange, and no charge for mixed refrigerants is a unique benefit to our wholesale partners and is designed to eliminate any potential negative chargeback to the contractor for mixed refrigerants, and to encourage them to do the right thing, not only for the environment but to ensure future supplies of R-22.
A3: HARDI wholesalers who have partnered with RemTec can guarantee the highest yield of reclaimed R-22. Since we utilize fractional distillation to bring the R-22 back to AHRI-700 standards, we are not depleting existing or future virgin R-22 supplies in our reclamation process. This along with our on-site AHRI-700 lab allows us to reclaim R-22 as low as 90 percent purity. At RemTec, we understand the need for ease and simplicity, so our “no hassle” program provides our partners with a convenient and environmentally responsible way to dispose of their unwanted used refrigerants. Our mission remains to reduce the environmental impact that Halons, CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs have on our atmosphere.
Contact: Patti Ellingson, director of wholesale distribution, 252/364-1098, [email protected].
Rheem & Ruud
A1: At Rheem, we feel that the switch to R-410A gives us a great opportunity to further promote our role as a leading sustainable company. While we continue to introduce high-efficiency and alternative energy products, such as our geothermal heat pump, using R-410A helps further position Rheem as one of the more eco-conscious companies in the industry.
A2: With a focus on education, Rheem has put several programs and practices in place to support its contractor customers throughout the R-410A changeover.
Rheem has developed some excellent communication tools to help educate, inform and engage its dealers regarding the transition from R-22 to R-410A. One such tool is the Rheem Communications Network (RCN), an e-newsletter used to deliver important Rheem news directly to Rheem distributor and contractor customers. This system has helped to deliver important information on the transition, including final order dates for R-22 products and the introduction of new R-410A products.
Over the past few years, the Rheem Heating & Cooling training department, called The Training Network, has continued to develop and deliver high quality and timely technical training programs. Rheem has also implemented an online training module, Total Access Training (www.thetrainingnetwork.com), which is available online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Technicians no longer have to wait for a traditional training event. They can simply participate in a virtual class at any time that is convenient. The Training Network has trained thousands of technicians on R-410A over the past few years. While this training has focused on the technical aspects, it has also provided key message points for contractors to use when discussing the refrigerant with homeowners.
A3: We have been planning for this transition since 1999. We have a complete offering of R-410A products and the right training and education to ensure a smooth transition for our distributors and contractors.
Contact: Ed Raniszeski, corporate director of marketing communications, 770/351-3000, [email protected].
A1: The most important challenge for us is making sure we have the right tools available for the new refrigerants and equipment.
A2: In our 60 years of business, we have always tried to keep pace with changes in the HVACR industry. We have increased the pressure ranges of gauges, hoses and recovery machines as new refrigerants were developed while paying close attention to material compatibility with new refrigerants and oils. We have developed leak-detection options for new refrigerants and created service tools to address new equipment access fittings and installation requirements. As a result, we have an extensive line of products ready to support the changeover.
A3: YELLOW JACKET customers can rest assured that we are prepared to help them meet the needs of the R-22 changeover through our broad range of service tools and unmatched customer service.
Contact: Mary Jo Gentry, marketing communications manager, 952/943-1300, [email protected].
A1: The most important challenge/opportunity facing our company, considering the changeover from R-22, is the unknown with respect to pricing and availability of R-22. As a reclaimer and alternative refrigerant (R421A) producer, we believe either pricing or availability of R-22 will drive the market into unknown areas. Our hope is that R-22 will remain high in price, which will drive the need for reclamation and the need for alternative refrigerants like our R-22 replacement R421A. Our products are sold under the name “Choice Refrigerants” by wholesalers only.
A2: Our response to the challenge/opportunity facing our company is that it forced us several years ago, at the customer's request, to develop an alternative refrigerant that was both easy to use and had the same pressures as R-22, unlike R-410A, which has much higher pressures and requires a whole new unit for operation. This makes our product unique in the market and has satisfied the customer's request.
A3: The impact or results for HARDI wholesalers is that they will now have available to them both a reclamation program for lower cost reclamation of R-22 and an alternative refrigerant (R421A) to sell to their customers who are interested in a “green approach” to replacing R-22. Should the market force R-22 to continue to rise in price or a shortage develop that will drive the need for recovery and reclamation, RMS stands ready to support the HARDI membership. Our message is clear to HARDI members, RMS of Georgia will remain close to the market in providing an effective, economical product that their customers need. Our support has been unwavering. We will continue to be in support of HARDI and its approach to the future of our industry.
Contact: Lee Ponder, president and owner, 800/347-5872, [email protected].
Sporlan Division - Parker Hannifin
A1: The Environmental Protection Agency's R-22 phase-out schedule specifies that R-22 produced after Dec. 31, 2009, not be used in new equipment. Furthermore, the EPA issued a proposed ruling earlier this year that pre-charged components such as condensing units, line sets and thermostatic expansion valves (TEVs) manufactured after Dec. 31, 2009, could not contain virgin R-22, even if they were only to be used for service. Final ruling on this matter is still pending.
This policy differs from the 1996 ban on CFC production. When this ban went into effect, existing supplies of virgin CFCs could be used for new equipment and components manufactured during and after 1996. Economics were allowed to dictate where and how long CFCs would be used.
Since the EPA has not indicated that they will deviate from their proposed ruling, manufacturers of pre-charged components containing R-22 are switching to alternative refrigerants and/or developing alternative solutions. The situation with TEVs that contain R-22 is particularly difficult as it requires a careful reformulation of the thermostatic charge to allow it to function in the same manner. Unless the EPA makes an 11th hour change to their ruling, all pre-charged components sold after Dec. 31, 2009, must not contain R-22.
A2: To a large extent, our response to the phaseout of R-22 has been similar to the ban on CFC production in 1996. The time period prior to the CFC production ban witnessed the arrival of alternative HCFC and HFC refrigerant blends, and POE and PAG oils.
The new refrigerants and oils required us to test our materials of construction for compatibility. They also required us to develop new rating charts, adjust inventories, develop new technical literature, and in some cases such as our acid test kit, develop new products. We were continually adding and removing refrigerants from our P-T cards and wall charts during this time period.
The alternative HCFC and HFC refrigerant blends also presented the industry with the concept of temperature glide and the requirement to charge systems by liquid. How to properly measure subcooling and superheat with refrigerant blends had to be explained.
The phaseout of R-22 brought on additional alternative HFC refrigerants to the marketplace. Perhaps the most significant of these is R-410A. R-410A required new product development for products such as TEVs, solenoid valves and pressure regulating valves due to its high pressures.
A3: HARDI wholesalers must be cognizant of how the transition to the new refrigerants will affect their inventories. Looking at past sales to anticipate future sales will prove to be less effective than in the past.
Demand for our new R-410A TEVs, solenoid valves and pressure regulating valves has already materialized at the wholesaler. Demand for electronic flow controls and controllers continues to grow as refrigeration technicians learn of their benefits.
With the assistance of our field personnel, HARDI wholesalers must position themselves with the proper inventory of products and the knowledge to support them.
Contact: Andy Schoen, senior application engineer, 636/239-1111, [email protected]
A1: The changeover from R-22 has created opportunities to develop new products and enhance existing products. R-410A products have created some challenges because pressures are different than R-22. We continue to look for opportunities for additional products that work with new refrigerants, or to make improvements to existing products.
A2: Ever since the first day R-410A arrived in the market, we've been testing and developing products that are compatible with this refrigerant. Take for example our new portable recovery machine introduced in 2009 — the RG6000. Our primary development of the product and testing was done on R-410A refrigerant because we felt it represented a worst-case scenario. Our value proposition is the quality and dependability our products offer. We believe we back that value up with the dedication we make in product development to extensive application testing to ensure the product functions the way we intended.
A3: When choosing products to stock and offer, ask about the refrigerant compatibility of the product and what type of testing was done on the various refrigerants in the industry today.
Contact: Tim Wagaman, senior product manager, A/C Products, 507/455-7322, [email protected].
A1: The refrigerant changeover has caused its fair share of challenges for TEMP-AIR Inc.'s line of TOPAZ Portable Air Conditioners. The main challenge has been the time required for engineering and research & design to reconfigure these units for R-410A. The time it takes for ETL approval is another factor.
A2: The higher-pressure refrigerant requires the use of different components in our TOPAZ equipment, specifically a new compressor. At this time, there isn't much depth in R-410A- compatible products available from our component vendors, forcing us to get more creative with our design in order to get the performance that we demand out of our equipment.
With the additional design requirements, we're taking advantage of this opportunity to rethink, redesign, update and improve our line of portable air conditioners. Some of the changes include reducing the footprint of the cabinetry, resulting in easier maneuverability for the end user, and adding easy access to electrical service components, snap-in plenum accessories for easy removal and alignment, and recessed cord storage.
Obviously, there will be challenges for wholesalers as they carry duplicate parts to service both R-22 and R-410A equipment, but they shouldn't be afraid of R-410A. Even though we're changing, our designs are based on proven concepts. The specifications for our new units will be slightly different from their R-22 counterparts, but they will have the same durability and reliability built in.
A3: We must do our part to ensure a greener world for future generations. All change is difficult, but the long-term benefits will far outweigh the cost.
Contact: Jim Kumbier, product manager, 920/261-3981, [email protected].
A1: I think the most important thing we can do with the changeover is to ensure that our dealers explain to customers that as of January 2010, we'll no longer be able to manufacture R-22 products; but that doesn't mean they can't sell or distribute them. It's important for customers to understand that there are lots of systems with R-22 in existence, and there will be R-22 refrigerant available on either a virgin or reclaimed basis for a while. Customers need to know that R-22 supply will decrease over time, and the cost for reclaimed refrigerant will likely increase. At some point in the future, all residential air-conditioners will be replaced by R-410A systems.
A2: Trane has always believed in providing its dealers with the best information and training available, so they can assist homeowners in meeting their comfort needs, and being able to present them with the products that best satisfy those needs. For consumers who are making part of their purchasing decisions based on environmental impact, Trane has a consumer brochure that discusses the differences between the two refrigerants. To ensure that our dealers have the latest facts and updates, Trane offers both online and various instructor-lead R-410A classes.
A3: We want to make sure our distribution partners understand that Trane has not actively promoted one refrigerant over another or created dealer advertising materials that do so. Our focus is, and will continue to be, ensuring that our distributors, dealers and their customers know that Trane is committed to quality, durability and reliability. We're in this together as partners, and it's important that we're all trusted partners in meeting the home comfort needs of families during these challenging economic times. Our promise to our distributors and dealers is to provide them with the competitive edge in terms of technology and dependability so they're able to provide customers with a renewed sense of security and peace of mind when it comes to their homes and families. Our distribution partners and dealers concur with our positioning as the industry leader.
Joe Dachowicz, director of product management, Residential Solutions, 903/581-3200, [email protected].
Tom Pericˊ, the editor of HVACR Distribution Business and editorial assistant Francesca A. Dellelci, conducted this survey. Contact Tom at 856/874-0049 or [email protected].