Category Archives: Product Review

Product Review: Air Duct and Zoning Options From Jackson Systems

This is our second post in a series about ways to get more zones of comfort and lower utility bills from your AC and heating system. Before going further, since a manufacturer is listed here, we’ll repeat our usual “brand neutrality disclaimer”: we chose this topic on our own, and do not get paid by the manufacturer or other parties for writing this article.

In our last post on this topic, we talked about hot and cold spots, and wasted heating and cooling (the problems), and  reviewed Fujitsu Halcyon systems as one solution. Their system is an option if you are ready to replace or install a new AC and heating system.  Today’s post describes the features and benefits of products produced by Jackson Systems, a manufacturer based in Indianapolis Indiana.

The equipment in today’s post differs from the last one, in that a qualified AC and heating contractor can install or retrofit Jackson zoning equipment in an existing AC and heating system or as part of a new installation on most brands of heating and AC equipment. As a practical matter, though, an existing system would need to be in good shape — both the integrity of the ductwork and the indoor and outdoor components — for a retrofit to make sense.

In preparing for today’s post, we talked with the manufacturer by phone. Their representative answered our questions patiently, and also provided the address of their consumer info website. We’ll include some Q & A info from their site (edited and highlighted by us for brevity) and will provide their consumer website address in resources at the end of this article.

Features and Benefits of Zoning Equipment from Jackson Systems

Comfort System™ zone control enables one HVAC unit to have up to 12 separate temperature zones. The zones are controlled by motorized dampers located in the ductwork, and individual thermostats.

Wireless. The installer doesn’t have to run control wiring between the dampers and the control panel. Because the communication system is wireless, a lot of time and labor costs can be saved.

You could benefit from zone control if you have any of the following:

  • Home with two or more stories
  • Large, open areas with vaulted ceilings or lofts
  • Sprawling or ranch-style house
  • Bonus rooms
  • Finished basement
  • Rooms with large areas of glass
  • Areas that require multiple temperatures such as a home theater or gym
  • Home built on a concrete slab
  • Rooms that require less heating and cooling than others — such as guest bedrooms or in-laws quarter.

A licensed contractor should be able to install a the equipment in a half day to full day, depending on the application.

The equipment comes with a 10-year warranty on the panels, and a 5-year warranty on dampers. You will need to ask your local professional — who installs the equipment — if they provide any temperature assurance or labor warranty.  Overall, the quality of the installation is a key factor to your comfort and satisfaction in all matters related to heating and AC.

Additional resources for zoning and choosing an AC and heating contractor

Visit the consumer information website from the manufacturer, Jackson Systems or call them at 888-652-9663

Quick tips from our website on how to choose a good HVAC contractor.

If you’ve had experience with HVAC zones – either had a system installed, or are the installers — please post your comments.

Product Review: Fujitsu Halcyon AC and Heating System

If you have been to our home page, you may have read that we are “brand neutral”.  That’s still true — we don’t accept payment to write about products. Now and then, though, we see an AC or heating product or category we deem to be worth writing about. Our blog today describes ways to get many “zones” of heating or cooling — from one piece of outdoor equipment. I first read about this technology in a monthly HVAC trade journal I subscribe to. After watching it get installed in a house in my neighborhood — that an architect was building for himself — I decided to look into it further.

We’ll focus on technology from manufacturer Fujitsu today. If there is enough interest, I will follow this up with another post on a different brand that lists similar features. For those of you who can’t have a new, more energy-efficient system installed, in the later post, we’ll list some alternative ways to get an additional zone — from your existing ductwork and AC heating equipment.

The problem: hot or cold spots
In the summer, is your upstairs always hotter than your downstairs? Or the reverse in the winter…are you always cold downstairs, no matter how you set the thermostat?  Do you get into thermostat wars with others in your home or office?

Inverter technology features and benefits

  • Fujitsu calls their system the Halcyon Hybrid Flex Inverter (HFI) System
  • More ways to adjust comfort. Allows 2 to 8 indoor units to be connected to one outdoor unit
  • Indoor units vary by size and style. Each unit creates its own “zone” of temperature control, allowing you to heat or cool individual rooms, hallways and open spaces
  • You can set up to 8 different temperatures as needed — no more struggles over thermostat settings. Also, one group control can control all 8 zones
  • Provides both heating and cooling for year round comfort in many climates. A button on the remote control allows you to switch from heating to cooling (or vice versa) automatically

More comfort and low utility bills

  • Don’t pay to heat or cool rooms no one is in – you only have to heat or cool the rooms you are using
  • Inverter technology regulates the compressor speed to optimum energy usage. This produces higher performance with less power consumption
  • HFI has high efficiency ratings — up to 17 SEER on AC —  lower monthly energy consumption and bills.  Heat pumps have similar high efficiency HSPF and EER

One line fits a wide variety of situations

  • Fujitsu’s HFI line comes in a variety of sizes and indoor unit styles —  from 7,000 Btu to 24,000 Btu indoors; and 18,000, 24,000, 36,000 or 48,000 Btu outdoors
  • Long piping lengths- up to 230 feet – increase installation options.
  • Indoor models are available in three types:

Wall Mounted, which mount high on the wall
Slim Duct, which is concealed in the ceiling and has the look of central air
Compact Cassette, which fits into a drop ceiling with just the outer grille showing.

Other features

  • Quiet operation – less likely to wake you up during the night
  • Wall Mounted models include a wireless remote control
  • Slim Duct and Compact Cassettes come with a wired remote control that is mounted to the wall
  • HFI systems provide dehumidification, even when cooling isn’t needed.
  • Additionally, you can set timers: 24-hour timer and sleep timer – for your convenience.

Two of the most important features in all heating and AC equipment are a- to get the proper equipment for your climate and structure, and b- to have it professionally installed. For example, heat pumps are often not well suited to be the primary heat source in extremely cold climates. To learn more about these products, contact your local heating and AC service company.  If you don’t have one,  use the tools on our website to pick one. You can also contact the manufacturer Fujistu here .

If you have experience you would like to share, either as an home or building owner or a company who has installed these units, send your comments and we’ll post them.

Product Review: Lennox Solar Assisted Heat Pump Model XPG20

Since its inception, our website has been brand neutral, meaning we do not favor one manufacturer of equipment over another. We focus more on features and benefits that are most likely to affect performance and your overall satisfaction. Above all, we emphasize that central A/C, heating and indoor air quality equipment must be sized and installed by a trained and experienced HVAC technician. Correct load calculations, equipment efficiency, features, quality of the installation and scheduled maintenance will have a bigger impact on your satisfaction than the specific brand of equipment you purchase.

To keep current on the air conditioning and heating industry, we read news groups from technicians, HVAC contractors, trade journals, blogs, manufacturer’s websites and more. Now and then, we see a product or service that grabs our attention. Since I have a background in environmental studies, this solar-assisted heat pump from Lennox got mine. Because the compressor and fan unit sit outside and use electricity, it makes sense to give them a boost from a solar panel.

For full disclosure, located on our city pages or elsewhere on this website, you may see listings/ads for a few locations of Service Experts or independent Lennox equipment dealers. We do not own Lennox stock and received no compensation for writing this review, though.

On to the solar-assisted heat pump. On their website, Lennox described model XPG20 as “The first integrated solar-assisted residential heating and cooling system”. We will start by listing excerpts from the product description on their website and product brochure, plus a few comments from us.

Quiet

  • Quiet Operation Fan grille— uses patent-pending, vortex-suppression technology to reduce sound of airflow exiting the unit, providing a quieter environment outside
  • Fully insulated compressor compartment—uses innovative vibration-isolating mounts to muffle operating sound

Comfort

  • Two-stage scroll compressor— runs at low speed most of the time, which means it’s less expensive to operate and provides more consistent comfort
  • Designed to work with the Humiditrol® whole-home dehumidification system*

Energy Efficiency

  • Power from the single solar panel reduces electricity needs of the outside fan motor.
  • Efficiency ratings of up to 18.20** SEER and 9.70** HSPF—can save you hundreds of dollars a year, compared to a standard heat pump
  • Tested with simulated power from the 205 watt solar module, the system is 20 SEER and 10.7 HSPF
  • ENERGY STAR® qualified—meets or exceeds EPA guidelines for energy efficiency
  • This product qualifies for a tax credit under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.***

Environmentally Responsible

  • The industry’s first solar-assisted central heat pump— uses a combination of solar energy and electricity to reduce home electric usage
  • Chlorine-free R410A refrigerant
  • Each of these units will offset 376 pounds of CO2 annually, which is the equivalent of seven mature trees or carpooling to work one day per week.

Reliability

  • Constructed of heavy-gauge, pre-painted steel and tested in the most extreme environments to ensure maximum durability
  • Lennox® System Operations Monitor— first onboard cooling system diagnostics in the industry—continuously monitors system performance and assures reliable operation and fast troubleshooting
  • 10-Year Limited Warranty on compressor and all remaining covered components, excludes solar panel

Footnotes from Lennox website
*Must be accompanied by either a variable speed air handler or furnace and the ComfortSense® 7000 Series touchscreen thermostat.
**SEER and HSPF are for operation without solar power input.
***Eligible heat pumps and air conditioners must meet the Federal minimum efficiency standards of 16.00 SEER and 13.00 EER for air conditioners or 15.00 SEER, 12.50 EER, and 8.50 HSPF for heat pumps, as set forth by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Not all system combinations apply. Verify actual system efficiency at www.ahridirectory.org and consult your tax expert before claiming energy efficiency tax credits.

AirConditioning-and-Heating.com observations:

  • Power assist means that the system is never dependent on solar energy to cool. Limited sun will not affect the overall capacity to cool, just the amount of grid electricity saved.
  • On page 2 of their PDF brochure, it states that the solar features reduce electricity consumption by 8%.
  • However, using the chart on their PDF brochure, we calculate that the solar assist features adds almost 10% efficiency to the cooling efficiency rating (SEER) and the same on heating performance (HSPF).
  • Perhaps the difference in 8% and 10% is a nationwide vs. regional estimate. The numbers on the PDF chart are for region IV (which includes Texas).  Savings from the solar assist would vary with your location in latitude, shade, roof orientation, and other factors that affect how much full sun the panel is able to receive.
  • When A/C needs are at their peak, the solar assist will be also. This makes a lot of sense. It also aligns well with the goals of power companies, that strive to lower electricity usage at peak loads.  It’s the peak demand and loading that can contribute to brownouts, higher spot fuel prices and other undesirable burdens.
  • For a thorough product brochure PDF with photos and schematics, click here.

Pricing

In case you have never purchased a central A/C and heating system, there is generally not a list price for the equipment alone. Rather, the installation price will be based on requirements to install it at your location. The total price for equipment and installation is quoted by a local dealer.  For a cost comparison organizer, click here.

We welcome comments from homeowners or technicians who have experience owning or installing this heat pump.