The local residential and light commercial (RLC) segment of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) sector showed 6% year-on-year growth, says batteries, electronics and HVAC equipment provider Johnson Controls GM Neil Cameron.
This is largely driven by South Africa’s rapidly expanding middle class, its growing number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and a buoyant construction segment, he explains, adding that RLC solutions are an ideal fit for homes, home offices or office buildings, with heating and cooling capacities designed to deal with rooms ranging from 9 m2 to 1 000 m2.
“With the electricity crisis easing off, RLC solutions are an increasingly attractive option, owing to their affordability, ease of installation and long-term cost and environmental benefits. This segment is prompting more homeowners and SMEs to invest. RLC units are inexpensive to buy and operate, as well as easy to maintain, fix and move,” outlines Cameron.
The company’s focus remains on reducing operating costs through higher energy efficiency to ensure rapid returns on investment. Higher operating efficiencies are ensured through environment-friendly energy efficient refrigerants, smarter compressor technology and specially designed microchannel condenser coils, he enthuses.
The units – which include a range of options, from high-wall, standalone and wheel-in console units to modular mini rooftop units – are smaller and aesthetically designed. In addition, wireless and integrated controls have improved programmability.
Rather than relying only on a temperature sensor, a ‘follow me’ function is available for users, which Cameron highlights “is not a unique feature, but . . . relatively unknown”.
It was developed because temperatures needed to be more consistent and regulated in environments where they fluctuate, he says, adding that the function delivers optimal temperature control, regardless of the user’s position in a room.
Further, he notes that the remote controls of air-conditioning units have traditionally been used for switching the device on and off, and selecting temperatures and temperature mode. However, as the remote control communicates with the unit, a new feature has been developed, which enables the remote control to also function as a temperature sensor.
When the function is engaged and users have the remote control with them, it will measure the temperature of the user’s location and adjust the temperature accordingly. When the user moves around, the air-conditioning unit will control the temperature of the user’s current area. The feature is also more efficient, as users are not overheating or overcooling a room.
Cameron states that the units are three times more cost efficient than an electric heater. “Modern design also means units use ecofriendly, zero ozone-depleting gases. With units starting as low as R3 000, a return on investment can be realised in a few years. Also, the life span of well-maintained units now extends up to 15 years.”
Johnson Controls offers efficient and reliable HVAC solutions for virtually any building – vintage or new, large or small, office or residence, hospital, hotel or school regardless of geographic location. Also, the company’s solutions include energy efficiency monitoring and control through the company’s building management systems, for RLC equipment.
Further, the company also offers consol units, which have proved to be particularly popular. These units have a modular design, making them quite flexible. This means that air-conditioning installations for vacant properties can be put on hold until tenants have been secured. The units are also being used extensively in the hotel industry, as they are easy to maintain and easily replaceable, with no occupancy loss.
Johnson Controls is a major player in the RLC segment globally, with brands such as York and, more recently, Hitachi. Johnson Controls’ recent acquisition of 60% of Hitachi’s RLC business is a direct reflection of the company’s confidence in the growth of this segment. Technology advances have made these solutions more efficient, sophisticated and green, making them ideal for the cost- and eco-conscious consumer and business owner.
“As home automation continues to grow, so will the RLC market. Serving a significant portion of the RLC market share in South Africa, Johnson Controls is committed to delivering solutions that meet market needs, along with the service and support that make them easy to use and own,” he concludes.