Mechanical engineering includes a massive number of related disciplines under its umbrella.
With the end of summer, it seems like the concerns about air conditioning have gone away. But, with 2023 on the horizon, there are a lot of changes happening in the HVAC industry.
In this article, we will discuss the four major changes in HVAC systems that you need to be aware of for residential and commercial systems.
Currently, the US Department of Energy (DOE) requires that all air conditioning systems installed on or after January 1, 2023, meet the new SEER2 standards for energy consumption. For HVAC systems in California, your new system needs to have a 15 SEER versus the previous 14 SEER.
Even if you have ordered an older system and will have it delivered after December 31, 2022, you can’t install it because it no longer meets the new requirements. However, this doesn’t mean that older systems cannot be repaired or maintained, just that any replacement system has to meet the new SEER2 requirements.
If you’re in a location where cooling off your home or business is more of a concern than heating it, a high SEER number is essential when planning your next HVAC purchase.
Additional equipment such as two-stage or variable-stage compressors, smart thermostat systems, and zone cooling systems should be looked at, as these could increase your system efficiency and reduce the system costs.
New heat pumps also need to meet the new DOE requirements. At this time, the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) requirement for heat pumps is 8.2. At the end of 2022, new heat pumps must have a minimum HSPF of 8.8.
There is no requirement for the replacement of older systems, but systems that do not meet the minimum cannot be sold.
This is the minimum requirement and if your HVAC plans require more heating than cooling, higher efficiencies of HSPF are probably more important than the SEER rating of your system. But like all things, you have to balance out a higher HSPF with the cost-over-time for the system.
Current air conditioning systems use a coolant system called R-410a, an HFC-based coolant that replaced the older R-22 coolant systems. At the end of 2022, no new R-410a cooling systems can be installed.
While parts and supplies for the systems can be manufactured and installed, newer systems must use R-454b coolant. This newer coolant cannot be retrofitted into older systems, and while non-toxic, it is mildly flammable in comparison to R-410a.
If your circumstances require an R-410a air conditioning system to be installed, it should be ordered and installed prior to January 1, 2023.
With the phase-out of R-410a coolant-based air conditioning systems, the new replacement is with R-454b coolant-based systems. This means that older systems will have to be replaced, as they cannot be retrofitted to use R-454b coolant.
This is a definite factor to consider, as the steady replacement of older systems might require you to wait longer for a good replacement system.
In addition, R-454b is slightly flammable, which requires additional safety measures during installation and maintenance. This is not a major difficulty, but there may be some applications that getting an R-410a system prior to December 31, 2022, is your best option.
Most of the changes happening in air conditioning and HVAC systems in 2023 are incremental, not major. But, these changes are coming and it’s time to consider what your options are. If you have a newer system installed, regular maintenance and upkeep will help keep this system running for as long as possible. But, if your system is older, it might be time to plan for a newer HVAC system with equipment that exceeds the new requirements.
It might be time to future-proof your air conditioning system and the best time to make your plans for the future is now. Peterson Mechanical has over a century’s experience in dealing with the specific needs of Sonoma County businesses. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, before the end of the year and things change.