Today’s HVAC solutions have to do a lot more than just make a room warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Now, HVAC equipment needs to be energy efficient. It needs to be easy and convenient to use. It also needs to be more connected – a system of devices instead of individual devices that can be controlled and managed together.
This was a common theme at this year’s annual AHR Expo, the world’s largest and most respected Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) marketplace.
Co-sponsored by ASHRAE and AHRI, and held concurrently with ASHRAE’s Winter Conference, the AHR Expo brings together the leading equipment manufacturers in the HVACR industry to network, share best practices, discuss exciting new technologies and discuss the latest trends in HVAC equipment and solutions.
The Modern Equipment Manufacturer sat down with multiple participating companies at this year’s Expo to learn more about the evolution in HVAC equipment, the industry’s embrace of the cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) and the exciting announcements coming out during the show. One of the individuals we spoke with was Jerad Adams, the Director of Commercial Product Management at the Friedrich Air Conditioning Co.
Friedrich is a leader in air conditioning solutions and technologies for residential and commercial installations. The company is also a leader in implementing smart technologies and making their equipment increasingly connected.
Here is what Jerad had to say about Friedrich’s exciting and innovative solutions:
Modern Equipment Manufacturer (MEM): Can you tell our readers a little bit about Friedrich and its HVAC products?
Jerad Adams: Friedrich Air Conditioning Co. is a leading US manufacturer of room A/C and other home environment products, designed for both residential and commercial applications. Constructed of the highest quality components, Friedrich products are built to exacting standards and are among the most sophisticated, energy efficient and quietest available.
On the commercial side, Friedrich has built a strong reputation for offering the widest range of HVAC solutions designed for the lodging industry–from top tier, full service hotels to mid-tier and more modest facilities. That includes options ranging from Friedrich’s award-winning in-closet VRP (Variable Refrigerant Packaged) Heat Pump system to its popular Vert-I-Pak and PTAC models.
Friedrich also manufactures Hazardgard, an exceptionally tough, durable and powerful room A/C unit, engineered to perform in some of the world’s most demanding conditions, making it the ultimate choice for international industrial users.
MEM: What exciting news or announcements did the company unveil at the Expo?
Jerad Adams: Friedrich’s top priorities for 2019 include delivering simplified and smarter room-by-room solutions, along with products built to achieve improved indoor air quality, customized comfort and exceptional efficiency.
With that in mind, Friedrich unveiled the greatest breadth and depth of Wi-Fi-enabled room A/C product options available on the market beginning in 2019. That includes updates for the popular Friedrich Kühl line, which will now offer integrated Wi-Fi capabilities. Kühl’s advanced connectivity goes beyond enabling customers to remotely control their units via computers and smart phones. With Friedrich Kühl, users can set schedules, and even group multiple units so that they can be singularly controlled as a form of building management, similar to a larger central system.
There’s no doubt that the popularity of ductless is growing tremendously. To help further increase market adoption, Friedrich launched its re-engineered Floating Air Pro and Floating Air Premier ductless solutions featuring FastPro, which were designed with the HVAC contractor and installer in mind. Friedrich FastPro makes ductless installation and maintenance much simpler, opening up new business opportunities for the trade and decreasing the time needed to install ductless systems and perform maintenance by as much as 50 percent. It also reduces hassles, allowing contractors and installers to offer ongoing service and maintenance plans with confidence.
Finally, when it comes to better indoor air quality, customized comfort and efficiency, Friedrich debuted the larger capacity VRP as the ultimate solution for multi-family and other light-commercial applications. The expanded Friedrich VRP lineup is based on the company’s innovative, award-winning technology that features variable refrigerant flow and a Precision Inverter Compressor designed to deliver exceptional cooling and heating performance capabilities, increased efficiencies and reduced sound. VRP offers the convenience and maintenance advantages of a closet-mounted, single packaged unit, which is easier to install and maintain, along with customizable comfort for occupants–all without the cost or complexity of a large central air system.
MEM: We’ve increasingly seen a movement towards smarter industrial and commercial equipment. Is this a trend that Friedrich is embracing? How is the company embracing IIoT and advanced sensors to make its equipment smarter?
Jerad Adams: Friedrich is certainly embracing Energy Management Systems (EMS), the Internet of Things (IoT) and connectivity-enabling, “smart systems.” EMS is certainly one of the biggest topics in hotel construction and renovation today, and Friedrich is leading our customers into this adaptation in HVAC capabilities.
Friedrich is aggressively working with our engineers and our product suppliers to make sure our equipment and our thermostats are EMS compatible. BACnet, ZigBee, WiFi and other, proprietary capabilities are being added to many of our products sold in the lodging industry, and we will continue to support our customers’ EMS needs and their individual proprietary requirements.
In the lodging industry, our smart solutions allow easier occupied vs. unoccupied management. Enabling better occupancy detection has reduced the dependency on motion-based sensors, which can fail at night when there is little or no movement. This increases guest comfort and maximizes the energy saving capabilities of the system.
Smart solutions are also reducing electrical consumption. The better the unoccupied management system, the better the overall energy savings. This enables full lighting controls, heating and cooling controls, as well as ventilation control capabilities. Curtailing these electrical requirements greatly reduces the energy consumption in unoccupied rooms, providing considerable utility savings and prolonging the life of the equipment in the room.
The wireless interface experience is generating buzz in the lodging industry. For example, Hilton and Marriott both recently announced their “Connected Room” platforms, the first mobile-centric hotel room initiatives which launched and is already being adapted this year. “Connected Room” allows hotel guests to not only check in to their room through their mobile device, but also for their device to act as their mobile key and provide an interface with all in-room technology – including the HVAC – which we are thrilled to support.
Friedrich is actively working with our engineers and our suppliers to make sure our equipment and our thermostats are fully ready for the “Connected Room” experience at Hilton and throughout the industry as this wave of technology adapts, and it will adapt quickly.
More networking and communication inclusion capabilities are also likely to advance rapidly. Smart solutions are great for the owners and truly helps control operating costs while maintaining guest comfort easily and effectively.
MEM: We’re also increasingly hearing about companies cloud-enabling their devices to harvest important operational data. Is this something that Friedrich is implementing or planning to implement?
Jerad Adams: Integrated Wi-Fi capabilities with the ability to connect to the cloud offers important advantages, especially for energy management. I previously discussed the connectivity of our Kühl line of products, which can be singularly controlled as a system rather than individual units.
That connectivity also is important for utilities. Smart grid connectivity makes it possible for utilities to connect, monitor and control Kühl units on the backend during times of high energy use and strain on the power grid. More utilities are offering smart air conditioning programs that give customers incentives for enrolling, helping consumers save not only energy during times of peak demand, but money as well.
MEM: In the past year or so, we’ve started to get introduced to the concept of “HVAC as a Service” or HVACaaS. Do you see HVACaaS as a legitimate trend and direction for the industry? Does Friedrich have an HVACaaS strategy or plans for an HVACaaS offering in the future?
Jerad Adams: Friedrich always considers the service side of the business, as it is a key component and has a major impact on the bottom line, not only for contractors, but building owners. That’s why Friedrich has made it a priority to develop solutions that help simplify not only installation, but ongoing service and maintenance, making it easier and less of a hassle for HVAC providers to offer service plans and ongoing maintenance programs.
Friedrich FastPro reduces complications by allowing the interior unit’s blower wheel and drain pan module to be removed and re-installed as one component versus having to perform multiple steps. Given that ductless systems can be configured with multiple indoor units, this is a major time-saver that also decreases the chance of mistakes or missed steps. It also helps ensure customer satisfaction.
Another example is Friedrich VRP and Vert-I-Pak units. Because they are fully contained with “in closet” design flexibility, it helps keep upfront installed costs low, and offers simple replacement and maintenance advantages. For hotel and multi-family properties, it also means that if one unit needs repair or maintenance, it will only impact the individual space, not the entire property.