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Air Conditioning and Heating blog by Melo Air Inc. In addition to HVAC industry news, we'll post cooling and heating related information we come across during our daily routines. 

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New Minimum Efficiency Should Be The End For Reciprocating Compressors

Posted by AC Contractor on April 21, 2014 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

As we head into 2015 and the new minimum energy efficiency standards for HVAC, we are likely to see a style of compressor that has been long used become obsolete. Because the compressor consumes the majority of energy the entire system consumes, it was one of the easiest targets for increasing efficiency. Compressor technology has been increasing at rapid speeds and there are now several types of compressors on the market that we may see in our next HVAC system. We'll take a look at the different types of compressors you will find in your heat pump or air conditioner condensing unit.


The least efficient compressor is the reciprocating compressor. While these compressors are already nearly phased out, they are still used in some 13 SEER condensing units. Once the new energy standards hit, very few if any models will utilize this type. A reciprocating compressors motion would be similar to that of rods on the wheels of trains. A piston is pumped into a shaft, compressing air. 


The next most efficient compressor is a scroll compressor. Many contractors became fond of them quickly and preferred them over the dated reciprocating variety. Not only have they been found to be considerably more energy efficient, but they are also more reliable because there are much less moving parts. A scroll compressor has a pieces inside that looks like an actual scrolls. When they spin the air becomes compressed, you can view the motion here.


Scroll compressors can only take us so far concerning SEER. In fact, 16 SEER is about as high as standard scroll compressors can take us. Many of the systems we currently have in the 16 to 20 SEER range utilize a 2 stage scroll compressor. The difference between these and the standard scrolls are they can operate in a high or low stage depending on the demand for cooling or heating. If there is need for cooling or heat is not excessive, the system will run in low stage. Most two stage compressors run in low stage more than 3/4 of the time. Low stage is the equivalent of 70% of the total capacity. The ability to "ramp down" saves big.


Since 2 stage compressors were so effective at reducing energy costs, engineers figured the process could be further refined and utilize more than just two stages. This is where inverter compressors come into play. They can operate at a very low capacity compared to the total. Some will operate as low as 20% capacity. The systems are more intelligent and will realize if the current output will keep up with the demand. If it can not, the system will slowly ramp up the capacity needed to heat or cool the location. These types of compressors allow standard split systems to reach well over 20 SEER.


We're not quite sure where the technology may take us from here. We speculate there may be more incorporation of solar panels to assist. If you have question about your HVAC system's compressor or have more questions on the type you should buy in the future, contact Tampa's Melo Air today.

How The New 14 SEER Minimum Efficiency Will Be Enforced

Posted by AC Contractor on April 17, 2014 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

We're less than 8 months away from manufacturers no longer being allowed to manufacture 13 SEER HVAC equipment, and there still seems to be plenty of confusion regarding the subject. Currently, it looks as if manufacturers are required to make 14 SEER and higher equipment starting on January 1, 2015. While this aspect of the new energy code would be straight forward with packaged equipment, it is difficult to tell what this really means for split systems. Most manufacturers' baseline condenser whether it is a heat pump or air conditioner can be matched with an EEM motor whether it is variable speed or X-13 to achieve a 14 SEER rating. It is not yet understood whether or not these combinations will be allowed under the new law. As of right now, it appears as if manufacturers are preparing for the reality they will no longer be manufacturing their 13 SEER models. Enforcement could become difficult if they were continue to distribute these condensers because of the available compatible matchups that would not achieve 14 SEER. Contractors and/or homeowners may be tempted to purchase equipment that does not meet the new energy code and not pull a permit when doing the installation.


Although manufacturers will no longer be able to produce 13 SEER equipment as of January 1, 2015, there will be a grace period of 18 months where contractors may legally install 13 SEER equipment that has already been manufactured. In other words, we may see 13 SEER installations all the way through June 30 of 2016. We don't expect many 13 SEER installations once we are in 2015. Towards the end of this calendar year, many distributors and manufacturers expect bulk orders from builders, property managers, apartment complexes, etc., that would exhaust all inventory. Some fear they will not be able to keep up with the demand towards the end of 2014. While a few pieces here and there may survive 2014, they will not last long in 2015. It is not inventory distributors would be excited about holding and would attempt to liquidate it immediately. We would be surprised if there were any 13 SEER installations beyond June 30 of 2015 let alone 2016.


If you have more questions about how the new energy code impacts your current system or the one you were planning on buying, contact Tampa's air conditioning and heating experts at Melo Air for more information.

April: One Of The Busiest Months For Tampa Air Conditioning

Posted by AC Contractor on April 14, 2014 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (0)

We know we're not the only air conditioning company in Tampa has is having a terrific sales month. That is because April is one of the busiest months of the year for an add-on replacement HVAC contractor. This is the time of year that temperatures begin to heat up and this year is no different. April is the first month of the year where the average high is over 80 degrees. We have now strung a number of eight degree plus days together in a row, it seems like there is no turning back. The next time we will see the monthly high averages back in the seventies won't be until November. While the monthly low average is a brisk 63 degrees, it will gradually warm as the month progresses. By May, the low temperature average will be 70 and that will keep air conditioners running all day long. 


April tends to be one of the busiest months for Tampa air conditioning because it is often the first month of the year where people use cooling. Although this winter was more cold than normal, we have had very pleasant temperatures the past couple months with little need for cooling or heating. When temperatures are moderate, it is hard to justify the costs of heating and cooling so many will go without during the months of February and March. If system has not been running nor has there been maintenance performed in the offseason, there is no telling what the problem may be. It could be anything from a leak to a corroded capacitor to dirty coils. About ten percent of these service calls end up resulting in a unit replacement. Sales during the month of April are so significant, they can easily be 60-100% greater than sales in March. While we appreciate the surge in business, we also like to see our customers get the most out of the HVAC equipment. There is no reason you should be without cooling the first time you need it of the year.


At Melo Air, we recommend having a semi annual maintenance inspection which will help your system get ready for the cooling months. During these service, we will lubricate, tighten and adjust as well as monitor pressures and other ratings to ensure your system is performing in peak condition. We will also be able to identify parts that may be prone to failure and replace them before they fail. If you have any problems with your air conditioning system as this cooling season starts, contact us immediately. We have service vehicles in your neighborhood.

Save Money On Heating And Cooling Expenses With Zoning

Posted by AC Contractor on April 10, 2014 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

When you enter your home and flip the light switch in the foyer, do all the lights in your home turn on? Unless your electrician crossed some wires that is quite unlikely to happen. It would seem like such a silly concept as well. Why should your garage light turn on when you're just in the kitchen eating a snack? It would also make little sense to be using a vanity light in your bathroom while you are reading a book in the study. Although this seems extremely silly, in addition to a waste of energy, this is exactly what is happening when a standard central HVAC system turns on. If you decide to work out in the bonus room and need the area a few degrees cooler, you will also be cooling your master bedroom for no particular reason.


Zone systems change all of this and reduce an incredible waste of energy. Not only will you not heat and cool rooms you are not actively using, but you can be far more comfortable in each and every room of the house. This is because, some rooms have different demands than others. With a standard air conditioning system, all of the rooms of the house are cooled depending on the temperature of a single room. This room is where the thermostat is located. Regardless of whether the room is a kitchen, exercise area, office with computers running or any other situation that could increase or decrease the need for heating and cooling, they would all be at the will of the single thermostat.


Zone systems allow for thermostats to be placed throughout the home and the temperature in their rooms would be controlled independently of each other. Acquiring a zone HVAC system can be done in one of two ways. The most common way would utilize the existing duct system and would require adding dampers that would open and close depending on the demand. With a fair amount of ease, a 2, 3 or 4 zone system can be added to the home. The second way to have a zone system installed is to use multi-head mini splits. Some manufacturers offer up to 8 zones in a single system. A third and increasingly popular way to have a zone system installed is via a hybrid of a traditional ducted system and a mini split. We often see this with additions to existing homes but also on new home construction. Ductless systems can save on installation costs because there is little air distribution materials that are used.


If you are interested in adding zoning capability to your home or business' HVAC system, call Tampa's heating and cooling experts at Melo Air. We offer free consultations and will provide you with the best options for comfort and affordability.

HVAC Residential Replacement Sales Return To Pre-Recession Levels

Posted by AC Contractor on April 7, 2014 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Increasingly over the past several years, people have been wondering whether or not the Great Recession has finally passed. Earlier we reported that it appears that the recession is over based on unitary shipments from HVAC manufacturers. That data may not have told the entire story, however, because a substantial amount of the equipment manufactured could have been used in new construction applications. While all sales are positive and point towards economic growth, it may not paint the most accurate picture on the health of the economy. The new construction purchases would have been fueled by investors and not from every day homeowners. The good news is that we now have evidence that homeowners are spending the money to replace their systems.


 

At a recent meeting sponsored by Goodman Manufacturing, it was reported that residential replacement sales have returned to pre-recession levels. In 2013, the industry shipped more than 4,000,000 systems for the residential replacement market. It was the first time sales had eclipsed the 4 million mark since 2005. This is particularly notable because in 2009 and 2010 we had the benefit of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act which provided a $1500 tax credit for high efficiency air conditioner and heat pump installations. Some had feared that the incentive was too rich and would cause many systems to be replaced prematurely. That is, the investment made so much sense that people were replacing equipment that could have probably run a few more years. Although the tax credit was extended through 2013, the credit amount of reduced to $300 or just 20% of what it had been. There was hardly any motivation to replace systems that didn’t need it. It is positive to see that instead of a “bottle-neck” like effect after the rebate ended that sales actually increased.

 


While this isn’t a clear cut case that the recession is over, it does provide some useful data. The study could be improved by including the types of systems that people purchase. Air conditioning has become a necessity for just about all of us in the Tampa Bay area. Many people will cut other luxuries before they do their heating and cooling. We would be curious what the percentages of minimum and high efficiency sales are. If higher efficiency sales increased, we could make some assumptions that the economy and the average family in general are more financially healthy.

 


Our opinion at Melo Air is that the economy is steadily improving. We have an optimistic outlook on this year that the air conditioning industry will continue to perform and increase in sales.

 

The Number One Thing To Check On Your AC System Before Tampa Summer Hits

Posted by AC Contractor on April 3, 2014 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Although there are many still not using their air conditioners, the first week of April has brought with it some heat and most of us are sensing that summer is just around the corner. April is typically one of the top three busiest months of the year for us. It is generally the time where people will turn their equipment on to cool for the first time of the season. One way to avoid having a demand service call in April from the first time turning it on for the year is to have routine maintenance performed during the winter. Those that do can rest easy knowing their air conditioner is ready to handle the Tampa heat. During these trips an HVAC system will likely be recharged, lubricated bearings, belts adjusted, coils cleaned, blower motors cleared from debris etc. In addition to maintenance, the equipment is inspected for wear and tear and corrosion on contactors. Often times inexpensive parts can be replaced that would avoid a stressful failure in the middle of the summer. We know that not everyone had the opportunity to have maintenance done on their system but there is one item they can't miss.


The bare minimum you can do for your HVAC system's maintenance before the Tampa summer arrives is to replace your filters. These can be purchased for just a couple dollars at your local hardware store and will last 60 days on average. As long as there are no allergies or illnesses in the house, the inexpensive throwaway filters work just fine. In the summer months, it can't hurt to change them every 30 days because the system will be running the majority of the time. They will easily pay for themselves with the reduced energy costs. Dirty filters suffocate your system, making it work much harder than it needs to. Think about it. All the while your system is running, air is being sucked through the return system to the air handler. Along with the common household dust, pet hair, pests, aerosols and other materials will become stuck to the filter making it more difficult for air to pass through. Dirty filters will cause your system to consumer considerably more energy because it will take it much longer to cool spaces. 


If you're still not sure what type of filters you should be using for your system or the maintenance required, contact the heating and cooling experts at Melo Air today. Our trained technicians will be able to assist in determining the best type of filter for your needs.


The Most Versatile Air Conditioning Systems In Florida

Posted by AC Contractor on March 31, 2014 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Many people around the Tampa, Florida area are discovering a new, versatile air conditioner that can be used to cool spaces that could not handle a typical HVAC system. What makes them even more attractive is that they don't cost a lot to install and are very efficient. This new type of air conditioner is called a mini split. Like traditional systems, they have a both a condensing and evaporative unit but do not require ductwork. 


Not using ductwork makes an air conditioner very versatile. This allows them to be used in spaces that were otherwise not designed for heating or cooling. This can be a garage, sunroom, attic, sheds and much more. 


The fact that mini splits are small in size allows them to be versatile. Although they can be used in whole houses (more on that below) they are typically used in small spaces. These small spaces are often large enough to create more demand than the existing system can handle. There would also most likely be issues with airflow as well from running another duct line that was not part of the original design.


Mini splits can be used in single or multi zone applications. A single condensing unit can handle a number of air handlers (pictured).


Air handlers would come in various sizes depending on the demand for each room. As you can see, there are also a number of designs to further allow for a versatile installation. There are units that mount in the ceiling, suspended ceiling and on the wall. 


Mini splits also save a substantial amount of energy in a number of ways. First is that the majority of them use inverter technology. A quick description of the technology is that it only uses the minimal amount of energy to meet the demand of the thermostat. It will slowly ramp up the RPM's if the current setting can not keep up. Another way they save is that there is no ductwork. A substantial amount of air and thus efficiency is lost through leaking ducts. The final and possibly most significant way to save by using a mini split is the zoning feature. Although you may only be using one room of a house, with a traditional central air conditioner, you will have to cool the entire home. A mini split allows you to only cool the rooms or areas that you are using, thus saving substantially.


If you are interested in hearing more about how a mini split air conditioner can benefit you, contact Tampa's HVAC experts at Melo Air today.


In Like A Lamb And Out Like A Lamb This March For Tampa HVAC

Posted by AC Contractor on March 27, 2014 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

As far as the Tampa HVAC market was concerned this January, it was in like a lamb and out like lamb. While it had a chance to go out like a lion with an 80 degree plus day the 21st-22nd, a cold front came through the final week and ruined all chances. We experienced a temporary spike which leveled off but we took it because of laborsome installs that were needing to be completed. The little amount of heat combined with the humidity on the second to final weekend was enough to push our sales over the previous month. 


March is not typically known for an incredible amount of HVAC activity but there is typically some noticeable increase in business. This year many contractors and distributors were flat compared to the previous month. Weather is the typical culprit and should probably take the majority of the blame for lackluster sales in March. To date, only 1 day had recorded temperatures that exceeded 80 degrees. Even though 2 of the last 4 days are forecasted at 80 degrees, the averages for the month of March have been below normal.


April is truly the month when it starts to get busy for air conditioning companies. At Melo Air, we believe the demand for air conditioning in Tampa will be strong to start off the month. Each day of the first week has temperatures forecasted well into the 80's. If there is even a slight amount of humidity to go along with the heat, many people will be using their air conditioners. Many of these HVAC systems will also be turned on for the first time of the season. Many homeowners will be disappointed to find out that it is not functioning. This initial call for cooling puts quite a bit of stress on Tampa's HVAC market. Now would be the time to get in any last minute air conditioning maintenance services before costs begin to soar. Tampa is just about to enter its long season of cooling that will last some 9 months or 2800 hours or system usage.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of An Air Conditioner Or Heat Pump In Tampa?

Posted by AC Contractor on March 24, 2014 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

We often get asked, “how long will my air conditioner last?” It is a great question and people want to know because a home’s HVAC systems is one of the most expensive features in that home. We understand that when you replace an air conditioner or heat pump, you want a lot of time to go past until that is needed again. The truth is that air conditioners and heat pumps could just about last forever. We could continue to replace old and worn out parts that would keep equipment going for decades but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good idea to replace. In this article we will discuss some of the factors that can determine the life of your HVAC system.


 

Because air conditioners have to work very hard in Tampa due to nearly 2800 cooling hours a year, systems here do not last as long as other parts of the country. In Tampa, people will typically replace their system around the ten year mark. Any time beyond ten years can be considered a bonus. Because most manufacturers have a ten year warranty on their parts, it rarely makes sense to replace before it has expired. Once they do expire, replacement should be considered at every repair. Because the demand for cooling is so high, older parts will fail more regularly and service and part costs can become a burden.


 

Another reason why people in Tampa will typically replace their air conditioner or heat pump around the ten year mark is because the technology has advanced to where they operate on much less energy and save substantially on utility bills. For instance, if your current system is an 8 SEER and you upgrade to a 16 SEER, your heating and cooling costs would be cut in half. For most in Tampa, heating and cooling account for half of their energy usage. Upgrading from an 8 to 16 SEER would instantly cut an energy bill by at least 25% but could be much higher if 2 stage compressors are used. When you can save over a thousand dollars a year on electric bills, replacement should be considered.


 

While there are some unforeseeable situations similar to the current situation of R22 refrigerant being made illegal that will cause premature obsoleting of HVAC equipment but for the most parts when it comes to making your HVAC system last, it isn’t rocket science. Like with many other possessions, its life can be extended by a little care and maintenance. Research has shown that most compressor failures that happen under warranty occur on systems that have had no maintenance. Many manufacturers are now starting to require the homeowner to own a maintenance agreement in order to warranty parts. If you have more questions on how to prolong the life of you air conditioner, contact Tampa’s Melo Air for more information.

 

Days Are Numbered For Non Variable Speed Air Handlers

Posted by AC Contractor on March 20, 2014 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)

When we are talking about high efficiency systems to homeowners, every so often the question is asked, "Why do I need to have a variable speed air handler with a 2 stage condenser?" The question is most likely the result of research that has brought them to the conclusion that there was something bad or negative about variable speed air handlers. They might have heard that they are noisy or that they are unreliable because they have more parts albeit more sophisticated parts. Instead of attempting to convince them on the numerous "pros" of having variable air flow, we start first with answering the question.


Variable speed air handlers are required when the compressor has the capability of changing speeds. The indoor motor need to adjust to the demands of the outdoor unit to ensure the proper airflow. You wouldn't want a blower motor running at high speed when your compressor is in low speed. It would defeat the purpose. Once that is explained, we finish with the benefits which are big ones....comfort and energy savings. Variable speed air handlers remove humidity more efficiently than standard air handlers and save on cooling costs because they can not only run at lower speeds but remove humidity so thermostats can be set slightly higher.


Although they have only become slightly more common, they will be the only motor available in a few short years. Consider that next year in 2015 the efficiency standards are increased again. Although this is a slight increase from the 13 SEER minimum that was made law in 2006, it reduces the current amount of system match ups that had a standard blower motor by nearly 50%. Manufacturers have been quick to make some adjustments recently to add more qualifying products to their lineup.


In addition to non ECM blower motors, single stage compressors are nearing extinction as well. As with the standard evaporator motors, many manufacturers will be left with a single model of single stage condensers that will comply with the new energy law. Once more nudge in the standards and the single stage compressor products will likely be extinct.


Because inverter compressors are becoming more common in the United States, the SEER ratings on some systems can reach well over 20 SEER. Because the products are available and they make financial and environmental sense, we would expect the DOE to move somewhat quickly with another increase in minimum efficiency. If you have any questions about how this may affect your home's air conditioning and heating system, contact the experts at Melo Air


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