Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Missing the Forest Through the "Dry-Shipped" Trees

Yesterday HARDI filed comments with the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) on their proposed guidance for certifying newly-produced R-22 residential condensing units. DOE proposed two paths that would essentially pave the way for the installation of mis-matched condensing units, and it was this apparent reversal in decades of precedent that is the point; a point that I fear most in our industry may be missing. While the recent reintroduction of "dry-shipped" R-22 condensing units (due to the way EPA's 2010 HCFC Phaseout Regulations were written which I still consider a loophole) is the talk of the HVAC community right now, DOE's proposed certification procedures for these units is the real story. If unchanged, DOE's guidance is essentially signaling knowing consent that these condensing units will be installed with unmatched indoor coils. This is drastically different than DOE's matched system certifications for any other newly-produced split system based on the assumption that both the indoor and outdoor equipment will be installed at the same time. Instead DOE is proposing a blatant gaming of the test procedure system far detached from reality.

While our industry has invested resources to promote, support, and advocate the value of properly matched system installations, this one DOE ruling could undermine all of it with one bureacratic swoop. Either our industry is based on matched, split-system cooling or it isn't. Either our industry delivers the performance listed on hang tags or it doesn't. This isn't a refrigerant issue, this is a glimpse into our future. Either we support and defend our current matched system certification process or we abandon it because there is no way we can have it both ways for long. R-22, R-410a, or whatever the next refrigerant coursing through our split systems is isn't the point. Ensuring those split systems are properly matched and running as advertised is, which is why HARDI cannot support DOE's proposed endorsement of improper installations.

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