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September 2023

2J Supply Newsletter

2J September Newsletter - Latest Industry News: New HVAC/R Insights Await You!

Stay at the forefront of HVAC/R innovation with our latest newsletter! Dive into crucial insights about navigating low-GWP refrigerants and optimizing HVAC systems for efficiency and savings. Discover the future of HVAC/R technology and stay connected with industry updates.


Navigating Low-GWP Refrigerants: Insights for HVAC/R Contractors

As the world's focus on climate change intensifies, the pursuit of environmentally friendly refrigerants gains momentum. While hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have zero ozone depletion potential, they significantly contribute to global warming. In response to mounting regulatory challenges and the imperative of environmental responsibility, the demand for refrigerants with low global warming potential (GWP) is on the rise. Thermal Control Magazine's recent editorial webinar extensively explored this pressing issue.

The Search for Ideal Characteristics

An optimal refrigerant should possess a combination of attributes: low GWP, non-toxicity, non-flammability, and zero ozone depletion potential. Despite having zero ozone depletion potential, HFCs, the present generation of refrigerants, still carry a considerable GWP when released into the atmosphere. Consequently, international efforts are underway to develop the next generation of low-GWP refrigerants.

Global Warming Potential (GWP) Dynamics

The call for low-GWP refrigerants stems from the escalating GWP associated with existing options. Each refrigerant carries a distinct GWP number, with a GWP of 150 or less being deemed crucial for minimizing environmental impact. Notably, HFO refrigerants, characterized by low GWP and zero ozone depletion potential, offer a more environmentally conscious alternative to conventional options.

Exploring Hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs)

Hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs), unsaturated HFCs, possess a higher GWP compared to other alternatives. Yet, their shorter atmospheric lifespan contributes to a reduced environmental footprint. HFOs are gaining attention for their potential in achieving a lower GWP.

CO2 and Ammonia Considerations

CO2 stands out as a transcritical refrigerant with distinct advantages, including its availability and environmentally friendly attributes. However, efficiency challenges persist. On the other hand, ammonia and hydrocarbons offer low GWP and ozone depletion potential but come with safety concerns and flammability issues. HFO refrigerants strike a balance between low GWP and safety, making them a promising choice.

Embracing Change in the Industry

As the refrigeration market grows due to increased air conditioning use, the transition to low-GWP refrigerants becomes evident. The banning of harmful refrigerants highlights the industry's shift toward sustainable solutions. The development of mildly flammable and energy-efficient "A" category refrigerants is vital to mitigate environmental impacts and reduce emissions.

Challenges and Growth Ahead

Selecting the right refrigerant for specific applications remains a challenge for the industry. A global perspective is essential to craft customer-centric products and develop sustainable solutions. The transition to low-GWP refrigerants demands equipment adaptations, safety considerations, and increased energy consumption. While these alternatives are available, their testing and adoption will require time. Addressing the environmental crisis and curbing emissions is imperative for a sustainable future.

Optimizing HVAC Systems: A Guide for Improved Efficiency and Cost Savings

As we start planning for the heating season, it's an opportune moment to address the HVAC needs of your clients' homes. In this article, we delve into best practices that can transform HVAC systems into efficient powerhouses, tackling energy bills, inefficiency concerns, and temperature-related issues. With advancements in building automation systems and digital tools at your disposal, you have a unique chance to harness technology for superior system performance and savings.

Leveraging Digital Advancements

Building automation systems have taken a leap forward, offering real-time data collection and transmission. Energy Monitoring Control Systems (EMCS) and Fault Detection Diagnostics (FDD) software now bring together information from equipment controls, boilers, chillers, and variable speed drives, providing centralized awareness and control. This wealth of data allows facility managers to optimize HVAC energy usage and efficiency.

The Power of Diagnosis

Gaining insight into your HVAC system's performance is the first step towards efficiency. Utilize EMCS and FDD to gather informed measurements, revealing electrical usage patterns and demand peaks. For those relying on a single utility meter point, consider sub-metering HVAC systems to capture precise data points and receive alerts for component malfunctions. This thorough understanding empowers you to identify optimization opportunities and execute energy-saving interventions.

Moreover, track the system's overall performance, analyzing for anomalies and deviations. Benchmark energy usage against previous years and comparable buildings to establish an operational baseline. Changes in occupancy and schedules can cause system set-points to drift, resulting in increased energy consumption. This diagnostic process forms the foundation for developing realistic strategies to save energy.

Unveiling the Causes

Having established your HVAC system's efficiency level, the next step is pinpointing reasons for sub-optimal energy performance. Causes may vary, but careful examination is key. While some causes can be identified through EMCS and FDD, others may require expert input. Common culprits of HVAC inefficiency include:

  • Inconsistent Equipment Maintenance: Neglecting routine maintenance, even for advanced systems, can cause up to a 15% efficiency loss. Regular checks and component replacements are vital.
  • Subpar Control Strategies: Poorly programmed control systems, based on inadequate trend analysis, contribute to inefficiency. Address these issues with assistance from a Controls Contractor.
  • Aging Equipment: As equipment nears its lifespan end, efficiency declines and routine maintenance may not suffice. Energy consumption and operational costs rise.
  • Inadequate Insulation and Leaks: Escaping air through ductwork, windows, and doors places additional strain on HVAC systems. Identification and sealing of leaks are crucial.

Implementing Solutions

A range of actions can optimize HVAC systems, from basic steps like air filter replacements and duct cleaning to full system recommissioning or equipment replacement. Solutions should align with your customer’s home needs and areas requiring improvement.

Third-party energy audits help verify equipment performance and energy parameters. Adopt a comprehensive maintenance routine tailored to your HVAC system and adaptable to changing needs. For systems nearing their 15 to 20-year lifespan, evaluate replacements while involving experts for thorough reviews. These decisions, integrated into capital planning, ensure long-term reliability and cost consistency.

The financial benefits of diagnosing, identifying causes, and implementing solutions are immense. Taking action today sets the course for improved profitability and occupant satisfaction. By maximizing efficiency, you contribute to a sustainable and prosperous future for your clients' homes.

HVAC Training and Education

HVAC/R Troubleshooting: A Comprehensive Guide for Contractors

The process of troubleshooting HVAC/R systems and equipment can often be a daunting task, and teaching technicians to master this skill can be equally challenging. Each technician learns and processes information differently, making it difficult to impart the exact same troubleshooting method that seasoned technicians or instructors use effortlessly.

While troubleshooting is a unique journey for every technician, there are fundamental concepts that apply universally. These concepts serve as the bedrock for developing proficiency in troubleshooting.

Logical Thinking: The Starting Point

At the heart of troubleshooting proficiency lies logical thinking. Inductive logic, which draws conclusions from observations and experiences, aligns seamlessly with the troubleshooting process and technicians' learning capabilities. This approach takes specific observations and experiences, extrapolating broader generalizations that are considered probable, while acknowledging that certainty isn't always guaranteed.

In contrast, novice technicians might lean towards deductive logic, leading to part replacement rather than true diagnosis. Deductive reasoning, based on logical certainty from given statements, is ill-suited for HVAC/R troubleshooting due to the multitude of variables in these systems.

Foundations of Inductive Thinking

Fostering inductive thinking in HVAC/R technicians is vital for effective troubleshooting. This can be achieved by building a foundation of logical thought processes. Here are five proven steps to learn and enhance HVAC/R troubleshooting skills:

Observation: Setting the Tone

Observation serves as the initial approach to a problem, pushing technicians from being mere parts changers to becoming adept troubleshooters. This step involves searching for obvious signs that aid diagnosis. It also includes gathering data on the system's history. Has the issue arisen recently or has the equipment been exhibiting irregular performance? Conversations with building occupants provide crucial insights. Starting with thermostat settings and system operation can offer valuable clues.

Logical Thinking: Progressing Analytically

Using data gleaned from observation, technicians should logically assess the issue. Inductive logic combines observation data with the technician's experience to determine probable causes. Whether it's an air conditioning or heating issue, mentally reviewing processes and cycles helps pinpoint potential problems.

Establishing a Pattern: Consistency is Key

To avoid critical oversights, technicians should adopt a consistent troubleshooting pattern. Repetition reinforces effective practices. Deviating from the established pattern increases the risk of missing crucial steps. Following the same pattern ensures a streamlined process and minimizes errors.

Seeking Help: A Sign of Strength

Asking for assistance should never be seen as a weakness; it's a sign of strength. No one possesses all-encompassing knowledge. Seeking help from various sources, including residents, maintenance staff, manufacturers, distributors, and online resources, is a proactive way to broaden expertise.

Practice: The Path to Proficiency

Practice is the cornerstone of troubleshooting proficiency. Even with years of experience, not every system type or problem may have been encountered. In an ever-evolving field, constant learning is essential. Regular practice, adapting to changes in equipment and diagnostic tools, maintains and refines troubleshooting skills.

Incorporating these five steps into your approach will transform troubleshooting into a mastery. Building logical thinking, pattern consistency, and a willingness to seek guidance are crucial facets. Remember, troubleshooting is a skill that thrives on continuous practice and refinement.

Enhancing HVAC/R Control Efficiency 

Motor controls play a crucial role in the optimal functioning of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) systems. These controls are essential for the automatic or manual initiation and cessation of HVAC/R motors, ensuring seamless operation and energy efficiency.

Thermostat-based Manual Control

The cornerstone of manual motor control in HVAC/R systems is the thermostat, as highlighted by High Performance HVAC. Specifically, the thermostat employs the Fan – Off – Auto switch to regulate the blower motor. When set to the "on" position, this switch activates the blower motor, resulting in continuous air circulation. Users can then adjust the thermostat fan switch to either the "off" or "automatic" positions to halt the blower motor.

Automated HVAC Motor Control

When the thermostat fan switch is positioned in the "automatic" mode, the blower fan operates automatically based on the temperature settings specified in the thermostat. This integration of control and temperature regulation is particularly prevalent in residential HVAC/R systems, where the thermostat serves as the primary system controller.

Heating Motor Control in Residential HVAC/R

In cases where the air conditioning and heating thermostat's Fan – Off – Auto switch is set to "automatic," control of the blower fan shifts from the thermostat to a control board or relays within the HVAC/R equipment. For gas furnaces, when a heat call is initiated, the thermostat closes certain contacts, completing a circuit. This action activates a draft motor, triggered by a relay or control board switch.

The ensuing sequence of events, many of which are safety-related, leads to the ignition of a flame in the heat exchanger if conditions are deemed safe. High Performance HVAC underlines the presence of two distinct controls for initiating the blower motor, contingent on the system's age and type.

Control Boards: Modern Efficiency

Modern HVAC/R systems often incorporate control boards, with a common feature being a time delay mechanism. After confirming the safety of the system and detecting a flame, the control board permits the flame to burn in the heat exchanger. A built-in solid-state clock initiates a countdown, closing a switch after the designated time elapses. This switch then activates the heating blower motor, a delay that serves to ensure efficient heating of the heat exchanger before circulating air throughout the system. In contrast, older systems utilize a temperature switch within the heat exchanger to control the heating blower motor.

Optimizing Air Conditioning Motor Controls

In residential air conditioning setups, there is the need to regulate three motors: the compressor, condenser fan motor, and blower fan motor. For air conditioning systems operating in automatic mode, the thermostat remains the central control mechanism, initiating and halting processes.

Typically, the compressor and condenser fan motor engage when the compressor contactor receives power. While some systems incorporate compressor time delays to prevent rapid cycling, modern digital thermostats often integrate this feature, rendering additional delay controls unnecessary.

Maintaining Efficiency: Loss of Power Considerations

In cases of sudden main power loss followed by restoration, time delays serve a protective function. The time delay prevents immediate energization of the compressor contactor, averting potential compressor damage. As the air conditioning and heating thermostat energizes during air conditioning mode, the compressor contactor engages, activating the compressor and condenser fan motor. Simultaneously, the blower fan circulates air through separate circuits within both the thermostat and the equipment.

Upon thermostat satisfaction, the compressor contactor de-energizes, halting the compressor. However, the blower fan continues to operate, dissipating the remaining cool air within the duct system. This delay, present in either the thermostat or the air conditioning unit's control board, contributes to system efficiency.

Navigating Complexities: Commercial HVAC/R Motor Controls

Contrasting with residential setups, commercial HVAC/R motor controls are notably intricate. High Performance HVAC highlights the integration of these controls into automated or energy management systems. A prominent player in commercial HVAC/R motor control is the Hand-Off-Auto (HOA) switch, conveniently situated near the motor. HVAC technicians can use this switch to cut power to the motor for maintenance.

HOA switches frequently feature built-in overloads, which safeguard motor circuits from overamperage. These overloads can be replaced if a motor with a different amperage rating is installed. Some HOA switches incorporate solid-state overloads that monitor motor performance for various issues, protecting the motor circuit from potential failures stemming from excessive amperage draw, voltage spikes, phase loss, or inductance.

Incorporating insights from this article, it's evident that efficient motor controls form the backbone of HVAC/R systems. Whether in residential or commercial settings, manual and automated control mechanisms, such as thermostats, control boards, and advanced switches, ensure optimal system operation and energy conservation.