Split and mini-split systems stand out for their smaller size and greater flexibility; however, they do not compete with the central systems, they complement them to cover different needs.
According to an article published on the www.californiaenergyefficiency.com portal, the global demand for HVAC equipment is expected to increase by five percent annually until 2012, which would imply an increase of $ 70 billion dollars. To the above we must add that during the last thirty years air conditioning systems are practically an obligation in homes and offices, proof of this is that buildings built with air conditioning systems have gone from a timid 25% in 1976 to an overwhelming 95% in 2007.
by: Alejandra García Vélez
The refrigeration and air conditioning industry has become part of every element of everyday life; for example, going to buy meat in a supermarket is only possible thanks to the refrigeration process that allows its transport to the premises. Also, today you can find in any building air conditioning equipment, both central and mini-split systems; precisely the latter represent an interesting market that continues to grow, as explained by Salo Ponchner, general director of the company Multifrio and Rafael Rojo, sales manager for Mexico of Lennox.
Perspectives in America
Central America is a region heavily influenced by events in the United States; that is why it is not surprising that there is a high number of American investors and tourists in that area, as well as a large number of remittances sent from the northern country. In addition, several Central American countries signed CAFTA, a free trade agreement with the United States, which presents positive future prospects for that area of the continent.
What is expressed in the previous paragraph suggests that 2009 will bring with it an increase in international investment and a reactivation of the economy in Central America. Salo Ponchner, CEO of one of the main distribution companies in that area, said in this regard that "we believe that in 2008 sales will not increase significantly compared to 2007, but in 2009 we can expect a significant rebound."
However, the executive also indicated that, thanks to the flexibility, economy and ease of installation of mini-split systems, an increase in sales of almost 30% has been reported; especially there has been an increase in office buildings and luxury condominiums, particularly located in hot areas or near the coasts.
For his part, Rafael Rojo offered a more general perspective, "the market for these teams has continued with considerable growth during the last years. This is mainly because there are more options in terms of product offerings and prices; as well as versatility in the installation of the same. However, it has been a bit of a difficult year because of the overall state of the economy, although I think you can continue with growth."
Improved pollution and competitiveness
One of the most important factors for the industry to continue to have sustained growth is constant innovation and adaptability to new market requirements. Therefore, it is not surprising that split and mini-split systems are already developing greener alternatives.
For example, in split duct systems electrical efficiency has increased dramatically because, first of all, the U.S. government increased the minimum efficiency from SEER 10 to SEER 13 for residential systems. However, some brands are already producing SEER 20 equipment, according to Salo Ponchner.
On the other hand, in the world of mini-splits there are brands that already offer up to SEER 17 or higher. On the other hand, there are multi-compressor systems and systems with inverter type compressors, which are very efficient especially at partial loads. Its main advantage is that the equipment is "adjusted" to the real consumption of the spaces, preventing the waste of electrical energy.
Another aspect that is gaining importance is the use of alternative ecological refrigerants such as R410a and R407c, as explained by Rafael Rojo "the biggest change is the implementation of R410A, a fact that will take place in 2010. I think it's going to be interesting, within the whole global approach to environmental conservation, to see how much this change will take especially in Latin America."
But, despite the technical advances in the matter, the two officials agree that the most important aspect is to make suppliers and customers aware of the importance of opting for more efficient and ecological systems, in addition to other measures that complement and allow to make the most of the properties of this equipment.
"A very important aspect is the maintenance of equipment, the recovery of refrigerants, the education of consumers; as well as carrying out a correct installation to avoid future leaks, which cause problems to the client and the environment, "said Salo.
Rojo also highlighted the value of training; "as part of our strategy we are trying to make the end customer more aware of the benefits of using high-efficiency equipment through trainings, seminars and work tools"; these initiatives include programmes that calculate estimated energy savings. Well, although the initial cost of a high-efficiency equipment is higher, when taking into account the average energy costs in Latin America, the time in which this additional investment is recovered is reasonably short in most cases.
HVAC professionals are aware of the need to introduce to the market equipment that through lower energy consumption and the use of environmentally friendly substances contribute to the care of the planet, however, the most important thing is to educate consumers so that they know how to select the best equipment, those that can give them greater benefits in the long term, even if the cost is higher.