Multinational heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment producer Johnson Controls is launching its Amichi series of chillers and heat pumps for the South African market on October 1.
Johnson Controls building efficiency Africa GM Neil Cameron explains that the series has capacities ranging from 45 kW to 260 kW, making it “perfectly” suited to the local midcapacity segment. “It marries the price benefit of a scroll chiller with the increased control that a direct current (dc) inverter offers for better performance through a wider operating envelope.”
He adds that the YORK Amichi series of air-cooled scroll dc inverter chillers (YMAA model) and heat pumps (YMPA model) are being launched locally and in Europe to meet growing demand in the chiller and heat pump midcapacity segment.
Cameron explains that the increased demand for chillers and heat pumps are twofold. Firstly, heat pumps have the added advantage of energy efficiency and use about a third of the energy consumption of electric heaters. Secondly, the main driver of the midcapacity sector is the type of construction currently favoured by South African developers. “We are seeing fewer high-rise buildings as they are being replaced by smaller campus-style buildings and part-lease buildings, where it would be more feasible to use midcapacity ranges.”
Cameron notes that, while demand for midcapacity products is increasing, there are still challenges in the local market, specifically that the local construction market is suppressed.
“Businesses are moving towards shorter-term leases, with many facilities standing empty. “Companies want to reduce their capital expenditure and, as such, opt for less costly equipment, which might not deliver the same impressive total cost of ownership as the more expensive products. In general, there is economic uncertainty in the local market.”
These factors, while impacting on the HVAC industry as a whole, have not had as adverse an impact on the demand for midcapacity equipment, and Cameron is confident that the new series’ features and capabilities will enable it to perform well in the South African and European markets.
Cameron notes that the series’ high levels of efficiency and performance ensure that it will provide an “excellent fit” as a solution for new builds, technology refreshes and retrofits in manufacturing and commercial facilities.
“This solution competes with increasingly popular HVAC variable refrigerable flow (VRF) solutions. “The VRF solutions have a lower price tag but are more complex to install, whereas the Amichi series adds high performance beyond typical chiller efficiency levels, as well as advanced controls.”
He comments that the YMAA chiller is easier to install because installation does not require a high skills level. Further, the YMAA chiller would be easier to retain as an asset and could be moved to other sites, whereas a VRF system is typically designed for a particular building.
“The YMAA chiller is more universal and geared for general environments, owing to its nonspecific design, compared with a VRF system, which is part of a subsystem of a building. Everything in the VRF system is designed based on the building, which introduces the complexity. In general, the costs of a VRF indoor model and a small water unit would be similar,” notes Cameron.
He also states that the YMAA chiller maintenance costs are lower than those of a VRF model in terms of “change and churn management”, adding that this is as a result of the standardisation in design.
Both products use the latest ecofriendly gas – R410a refrigerant – and the series’ compressors or fans use inverter technology for added efficiency. “This collectively ensures the range meets or exceeds the Ecodesign regulations.”
Cameron says that the YMAA leads the scroll and screw chiller market in part load efficiency and both the YMAA and YMPA models achieve the best sound performance in the market, with no efficiency compromise.
He points out that the series comes standard with integrated Smart Equipment technology that enables the equipment to connect seamlessly to a building control system, where smart-enabled equipment self-identify and interoperate.
“It provides a truly plug- and-play experience, with no need for programming, or commissioning tools. It is also compatible with BACnet, Modbus or N2 communication protocols to allow for effective communication with any type of building management system. Further, an Optiview LT 7" colour touchscreen is fitted on the unit frame, with the additional option of a remote indoor controller accessory.”
The YORK Amichi series comprises nine packaged models of its cooling-only YMAA version and nine packaged models of its reversible heat pump version. Units will be available by order from October 1. They will be held in stock by Johnson Controls with target lead times of between one and three weeks.