• Will These Products Change Your HVACR Business?

    Aug. 3, 2021
    Now and in the near future, several technological advancements are taking HVACR systems to the next level.

    Writer Karen Lopez has provided a look at eight technology trends that are related to HVACR contracting. Some of these, such as cryocoolers, geothermal and smart technologies, are mature and expanding. Others are gaining advocates.

    The increasing demand for energy-efficient and cost-saving solutions in the HVACR segment has made players in the field develop innovative ideas and implement them.

    Cryocoolers, solar thermal collectors, responsive window panels, smart HVACR technologies, and the rest mentioned above are some of the trends you need to keep watch of to satisfy potential customer demands in the near future. See what you think and provide a comment below if you wish to offer your opinion. 

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    The HVACR domain has been progressing fast over the past few years. In fact, its market value was estimated to be USD 57.8 billion in 2020 and is anticipated to hit USD 82.5 billion by 2026.

    If you study the market, there has been a growing demand for energy-efficient solutions in this segment. And the advancement in technology has played a crucial role in satisfying the ever-increasing demand. 

    In the future, several such advancements are expected that will take HVACR systems to the next level.

    Let’s dig into the eight upcoming trends that will change the HVACR domain for good:

    Cryocoolers

    Cryocoolers are small refrigerators designed to reach cryogenic temperatures. It can offer refrigeration in the temperature range of 10 K to 120 K. 

    Typically, cryocoolers use a cryogenic fluid to work. It also uses moving parts to cycle the fluid around a thermodynamic cycle. Unlike large refrigeration plants, they don’t use Claude/Collins cycles.

    Depending on how your product is going to be used by end-users, cryocoolers need to satisfy specific requirements. 

    Here are the requirements to consider: 

    It has to be less in weight and small in volume.

    It needs to cool down fast and operate without vibrating.

    It needs more MTBM (Mean time between maintenance), MTBF (Mean time between failure), and MTTF (Mean time to failure).

    The advancement in technology in the past 10 to 20 years has resulted in the development of numerous practical cryocooler designs. They are popularly used as they are eco-friendly, energy-saving, and highly efficient.

    Solar Thermal Collectors

    A solar thermal collector collects heat by absorbing sunlight directly. The collector then converts sunlight energy into a more functional form of energy. 

    The energy-saving and high-efficiency solar thermal collectors already have a lot of applications in this day and age. If you look at commercial buildings and offices with central air-conditioning systems, you will find that they also use solar-assisted cooling.

    Another example of its application is in swimming pools. Flat plate solar thermal collectors are used for heating the pools and reducing pool heating energy.

    It can also store heat in the warmer days for use in winter and can be utilized for heating hot water for showers at home.

    Improvement in solar thermal technologies and collector equipment is going to open doors for those involved in the market in the coming years. It is expected that the solar thermal collector market will hit $41.97 billion by 2025.

    Responsive Window Panels

    Buildings usually require a tremendous amount of energy to be cooled. But what if buildings could be cooled with zero energy?

    Doris Sung, an architect from the University Of Southern California School Of Architecture, has been working for many years with thermobimetals to reduce the release of fossil fuel while heating and cooling buildings.

    The Invert shading system invented by Sung can cool buildings with zero energy. The Invert is designed from thermobimetals material that changes shape when heated.

    The Invert self-shading windows appear like ordinary decorative shutters at first. However, its metal pieces curl and flip over when the sunlight hits the window. It changes the amount of light and heat that can enter a space.

    Thermobimetals are made up of two alloys laminated together. Since the two metals expand at different rates, when the sheet is heated or cooled, it curls in different directions. 

    The responsive window panels are expected to change the HVACR domain for good.

    Smart HVAC Technologies

    The shift towards smart technologies has been a turning point for the HVACR industry. The invention of smart technologies, such as automated maintenance systems, makes it possible for managers to control HVACR tech from one centralized point. 

    Be it heat exchangers, ventilators, refrigerators, or thermostats, HVAC operators can manage the whole cooling system through one centralized point.

    If you look at the statistics, 60% of total energy is consumed in commercial buildings in the HVAC operation alone. Implementing smart technology can save energy up to 30%. 

    What’s more, integrating several smart technologies into HVAC equipment can enhance the development of the HVAC industry.

    Watch out for this trend. Its demand in the market is increasing.

    Geothermal HVAC

    Geothermal HVAC is a sustainable HVAC method. It implements underground pipes to control temperature. 

    Geothermal heat pumps are an environmentally friendly solution used to warm and cool houses. Though they weren’t as popular as other energy and cost-saving solutions before, things are going to change.

    As per the US Department of Energy, approximately 50,000 geothermal heat pumps are installed across the country yearly. As a retailer, you need to be prepared to leverage if the HVAC industry number increases.

    Thermally-Driven Air Conditioning

    Thermally driven air conditioning is an alternative to typical HVAC systems that use solar energy to drive the cooling effect.

    Since thermally driven air conditioning cuts down the need to rely on energy from the mains grid as the primary method of powering the system, it can be used in remote locations.
    But it does not mean it is not popular in areas where the mains power is easy to get to. However, you want to decrease your expenses on energy or reduce your carbon footprint.
    While people have been using thermally driven air conditioning technology for some good years, developments in the area have improved the processes. As a result, now it is considered an extremely cost-efficient way to reduce energy consumption, carbon footprints and to help battle climate change in business.
    The best part is, you can distribute it to businesses of all sizes as people are becoming more and more eco-conscious. 
    From the ASHRAE Journal Newsletter, September 2020: Solar-assisted air-conditioning (AC) is found in four main configurations, and they all work somewhat differently:
    - Absorption chillers
    - Adsorption chillers
    - Desiccant-enhanced AC;
    - Photovoltaic (PV) powered vapor compression AC.

    The first three require heat input to either regenerate absorption refrigerant pairs, desorb vapor from an adsorbent or drive water from a desiccant, so solar thermal systems can be used to provide the required heat in these configurations. Both absorption and adsorption chillers provide sensible and latent cooling, while desiccant systems provide latent cooling only. Liquid and solid desiccant systems are also the simplest solar-assisted AC, since the desiccant removes moisture from the air and then is regenerated from the solar heat.
    For vapor compression AC, which also provides both sensible and latent cooling, only solar electric systems are suitable to provide a solar assist. Adding solar heat to a refrigerant in a vapor compression cycle can only assist a heat pump in heating mode. Adding heat to the refrigerant does not work in air-conditioning mode.

    Predictive Maintenance

    HVAC equipment is critical for operating all facilities. If the HVAC equipment fails, it can cause significant disruptions in the operation of a building.

    While scheduled maintenance checks are often carried out as part of an HVAC service program, they don’t necessarily spot the problems that can cause machine failure.

    On the other hand, IoT-based predictive maintenance can control the operating conditions of equipment and direct the tasks that need to be done to maintain the machines at optimum levels. 

    This tech makes it possible to monitor machines regularly and foresee potential problems before they result in severe equipment damage. Through predictive maintenance, businesses can lower overall maintenance costs as well as ownership costs. 

     It is estimated that businesses can save 30% to 40% of maintenance costs if they can avoid unscheduled downtime. No wonder more and more businesses are implementing it.

    It is estimated that the global predictive maintenance market size will hit USD 12.3 billion by 2025. Contractors who are trying to help your customers stay comfy and efficient in their home and office buildings should keep a watch on this trend.   

    Integration of Lighting and HVAC Systems

    SSL (Solid-state lighting) products like commercial LED lighting are popularly used in design today. For example, LEDs are widely used in new construction as well as significant renovation tasks, as it reduces energy costs and maintenance costs.

    Some building energy standards are being written to require that HVAC systems be integrated with lighting motion sensors, to reduce conditioning to unoccupied spaces

    But it is not only the lighting specifications that have changed over the years. The lighting control technology has evolved as well. Distributed controllers and gateways are permitting lighting and HVAC techs to communicate without the complication, cost, incompatibility, and physical restrictions of the past designs. 

    Now, it is possible to operate both systems with the same sensor. Besides, even smaller control zones are possible with smarter devices, leading to an increase in energy and cost savings.

    As organizations of all sizes and kinds continue to search for ways to do more with less, HVACR contractors can jump in to fill the gap.

    Caveat: integration of HVAC and lighting can be tricky, and requires HVAC and lighting zones to be in sync. Lighting and HVAC technicians should work together when designing an integrated lighting/HVAC system. Cryocoolers, solar thermal collectors, responsive window panels, smart HVACR technologies, and the other technologies mentioned above are some of the trends you need to keep watch on should your customers ask about them in the near future.

    Karen Lopez is a freelance content writer at Marketing Digest. She has interests in home decor and remodeling, and loves contributing insightful articles about the latest renovation trends in residential and commercial spaces. In her free time, she enjoys listening to Jazz music and watching Netflix.