Last month, we learned about the trend of reflective insulation, but for this challenge, we asked our Mission: HVAC students to consider some of the other trends in the HVAC industry for the regions where they live. Differences in temperature and climate conditions vary across the country, and with them come different challenges for HVAC technicians. Let’s find out what Aaron, Gustavo, and Chris have to say about industry trends in their hometowns: Last month, we learned about the trend of reflective insulation, but for this challenge, we asked our Mission: HVAC students to consider some of the other trends in the HVAC industry for the regions where they live. Differences in temperature and climate conditions vary across the country, and with them come different challenges for HVAC technicians. Let’s find out what Aaron, Gustavo, and Chris have to say about industry trends in their hometowns:
Aaron: Trends in Technology
Currently in HVAC there is a trend that involves technology advancing drastically. Homeowners are now able to use an app on their cell phones to control the temperature of their house while at work or on vacation. This is usually the biggest request we see from customers. With the way technology is today, customers are more likely to replace HVAC systems because of the big advancement in technology. Another reason is for the energy and cost savings with these higher efficiency systems.
I had the opportunity to interview my past professor, Mr. Brian Holton. Mr. Holton worked as a service technician for many years until becoming a service manager. Now he is a professor at Ferris State University. We discussed the big changes and the way he sees the industry heading.
Q1: What trends have you seen in the HVAC industry since you started your career?
A: Technology is evolving rapidly from electro-mechanical or pneumatics now to digital. Also, cell phones have changed how service technicians communicate with customers and accomplish their daily jobs. GPS tracking in vans is another trend seen in the past ten years.
Q2: What types of requests do your customers most often ask for? How does this compare to earlier in your career?
A: The most request seen have been for estimates and pricing of different jobs. A lot of times customers will ask for you to look at another piece of equipment while being on a service call. This has been the same throughout his career because most customers would like to know the price before just going ahead and doing the repair or new install.
Q3: How do these trends affect your business?
A: These trends require a higher skill level for a service technician and for more specialized training along with continuing education. This also brings more opportunities for sales because there is now an offer for higher efficiency equipment and energy savings.
Q4: What trends do you expect to see in the future?
A: Some trends to expect for the future are going to consist of continuing changes in technology that connect different pieces of equipment, higher efficient systems and advancements in energy conservation codes.
Gustavo: Advancements for Good
For this mission, I decided to get the input of one of my old high school friends who has been in this type of business a lot longer than me. My colleague Ivan is working part time at the moment because he is also a full-time student at the University of Houston. Despite his busy schedule, he did not have a problem with my small over-the-phone interview. I have to admit that after conducting this interview, Ivan’s response to my questions got me thinking of just how technologically advanced our HVAC field has become. He made me realize the importance of keeping up with the new technology in this fast- paced field. The success of every HVAC technician is on their ability to keep up with the new technology out there, and I for one will not stay behind!
Q1: What things or products are trending in the HVAC industry?
A: In the past 2 years Ivan has noted a big demand on two specific systems. Those systems are the VRF System and the mini-split systems. Because of Houston being such a diverse city and growing so fast, the need for these energy efficient systems has gone up tremendously! According to Ivan, because of the high demand of multifamily home constructions and small business buildings, these two systems seem to be the perfect fit for such structures. Both systems are energy efficient, have state of the art controls, have less breakdown issues and can provide both heating and cooling options.
Q2: Are there any certain materials for HVAC systems that are in high demand over the alternatives?
A: When it comes to materials, Ivan says that his customers don’t really focus too much on the materials he uses or buys to repair, or replace a system. However, when it comes to repairing systems, Ivan made sure I understood that using cheap materials was not the way to do business. He uses well-known name brand materials and only shops for them at recognized stores.
Q3: Is it more common for customers to have their old HVAC systems repaired or replaced?
A: According to Ivan most of the times if he isn’t installing new systems, he is out repairing the systems and or providing estimates. Most of his customers want their systems repaired several times before they even consider buying new ones. Only when necessary and as a last resort does Ivan suggest to customers they replace their old with a new system. Integrity is a must in this field, Ivan assures.
Q4: What kind of service requests do you get more often?
A: While in this field there are way too many service requests, the top 4 most common service requests that Ivan has seen are as follows:
1. Customers complaining about high electric bills
2. Customers not satisfied with the cooling temperature
3. Units won’t come on or won’t shut off
4. Units leaking fluids
Q5: How have the latest HVAC trends affect your business or job?
A: There are many reasons these new trends are slowly changing the way technicians do business. According to Ivan, the new trends in the HVAC field and its systems are helping out the environment and are less problematic as well as easier to troubleshoot and fix. The new trends have only brought more business to Ivan and seem to be liked by all. Ivan has seen many changes in this field, and according to him, mostly all changes have been beneficial for everyone. At the end of the day, our industry will continue to change for the good and never for the bad. We must accept the fact that the HVAC field will face constant changes and trends as we continue to improve on proving the best Heating and cooling necessities to all customers.
Q6: What trends do you see trending in the near future?
The use of solar powered HVAC systems is what the future holds for us in this field. According to Ivan, some homes are already being powered by the energy received by the solar panels. He thinks many homes will follow this trend soon enough. The use of solar panels in Houston homes is little by little being noticed by many, and will become more popular and affordable method to power an entire HVAC system in all homes and businesses.
Chris: Home Automation
For this mission, I interviewed Bryan Orr of the HVAC School podcast.
Q1: What trends have you seen in the HVAC industry since you started your career?
A: Better test instrumentation and improved evacuation procedures. Bryan talks a lot about proper evacuation procedures- using larger diameter hoses, removing Schrader cores, and isolating the system in order to properly monitor the decay rate. The introduction of valve-core removal tools that can be attached to the system and valved off to create an unrestricted path through which a vacuum can be pulled has greatly reduced the amount of time it takes to pull a vacuum and made it much easier to ensure that you are pulling a good vacuum.
Q2: What requests do your customers most often ask for?
A: Customers may ask about a specific brand of equipment, or Wi-Fi enabled thermostats, or communicating systems, or even solar panels, but Bryan is a technician through-and-through. He makes sure that his customers know that the biggest difference in how long systems last and how well they perform always comes down to one thing: how well the system was installed. A cheaper unit that was installed by a thorough installer that pulled a good vacuum and purged with nitrogen while brazing, for example, will outlast a top-of-the-line system that was installed without following procedures properly.
Q3: What trends do you expect to see in the future?
A: I (Chris) work for a Lennox dealer, so I expected Bryan’s answer to be about solar power or higher efficiency units, but he surprised me and took a totally different route. He seemed to be much more interested in whole-home automation, making the interface between the customer and the unit easier to use and more attractive (and, quite frankly, more useful).