Almost a year to date, on June 24, 2014, owners of a ranch style home in Jackson, Mich. decided they were ready to try out something new to face the summer heat: central air conditioning with inverter technology. With the help of Aspen One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning it only took one week to get the job done.
Aspen One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning was founded in 1981 in Jackson. The company specializes in designing, engineering, and installing comfort systems for residential projects. So Gary Schultz, co-owner of Aspen One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, did not hesitate when he decided to take on this retrofit project.
The home was already outfitted with a boiler for the hydronic baseboard heat, which the owners wanted to continue using. It was decided that the Unico System for air conditioning system was the best fit for this particular installation.
“The Unico System is a great choice for challenging projects such as tight spaces, or retrofits that require preserving the original architectural features,” said Scott Intagliata, marketing director at Unico. "Our flexible small-duct tubing can weave in spaces above ceilings and below floorboards, which turned out to be very helpful in this project.”
After choosing the Unico System, the customer then did some research on Unico’s website and learned about the new inverter system, the iSeries.
“We installed it for him, and it was the first iSeries to be installed in Michigan,” Schultz said.
The iSeries is an inverter-based product line that features three separate but complementary products: the Unico System air handler and flexible ducting, outdoor heat pumps, and indoor mini-splits. The line was introduced in 2014.
“A number of contractors were immediately interested in the iSeries,” Intagliata said. “They liked the fact that for the first time one outdoor unit can power both ducted and ductless indoor units. It offers more flexibility in solving design or construction challenges. It also features a high SEER rating for better energy efficiency.”
After performing a load calculation on the 1,500-square-foot house, it was determined that a 2.5 ton system would be sufficient to cool the home. Schultz installed a M2430BL1-EA2 blower and M2430CL1-A heat pump coil, and paired them to an IS30G080 outdoor inverter unit. The system utilized square plenum, and 15 outlets were installed throughout the home.
“The installation was really pretty straight forward,” Schultz noted. “He had some particular requests. He wanted to be able to cool in the lower level, and we were able to satisfy his request. We take precautions when we’re running ductwork through closets and utility rooms. We install PVC pipe around the ductwork so it doesn’t get crushed over time. We know how people throw things in closets, so we take extra precaution with our installations to avoid future damage.”
Although the home didn’t have ductwork, not much additional construction was needed to accommodate the new tubing. Small-diameter, circular pipe was used inside the closet space to run duct between floors, keeping the duct concealed and out of sight. The white outlets easily blended into the white ceiling, which kept the system practically hidden from view.
The Unico System blower features an Electronically Commutated (EC) motor that only uses as much power as needed to maintain the correct airflow. The coil is a heat pump, and in this case was primarily used for cooling.
“A challenge was just the newness of the product. We have been installing the traditional Unico System for the last 25 years. However, this was the first iSeries we installed,” Schultz explained. “Once we understood the new technology and how it functions, it was easier to work through some of the bugs. The inverter technology is new, very quiet and very efficient.”
The outdoor inverter heat pump unit is efficient and modulates the amount of power used based off of the load calling from the thermostat. The unit will not use more power than necessary while it’s running, which helps save money. Additionally, the unit does not go through “on/off” cycles where HVAC units typically use the most power. Instead, the unit goes into “standby” mode, which uses 1 watt of power. Because the unit does not turn off, it reaches the indoor target temperature faster than traditional systems.
The homeowners now have a completely air conditioned home. Schultz’s word of advice to contractors looking to install inverter systems is to read and follow installation instructions.
“It’s funny, since the iSeries installation, two of my service technicians along with myself have become iSeries Unico-certified through the one-day class Unico offers contractors,” Schultz noted. “We should have done the training first and then the installation, but sometimes in our industry it doesn’t work like that. The class was very informative, and I recommend taking the class before attempting your first installation.”