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Amana 2011 PTAC Units Roundup

Please visit http://ptacairconditioner.org/ for more PTAC buying advice and information.

Amana 2011 PTAC Roundup

In an era of stiff competition and global penny pinching, reputation still matters. The Amana name has great recognition, and their product line in PTAC for 2011 brings some great innovation to the table. The question is whether they can leverage brand loyalty, a solid product line and technical advances to overcome price sensitivity. Heres the shake-out. Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners Amana has two lines, the PTC and PTH. Both come in 9,000 to 14,000 BTU/hr cooling capacity. The efficiency ratings range from a low of 9.6 up to 12 mostly limited by the size of the units. One of the selling points is the standard footprint for all these sizes, but the form factor reduces the possibilities for gaining a higher EER. Since all PTACs have this trade-off, as long as electricity prices remain reasonable, the lower EERs arent a concern. The model names (PTC or PTH) refer to whether units are designed primarily for cooling (PTC) or as a heat pump (PTH). The cooling models have the option of adding a heating function with electric or hydronic methods. Electric heaters are built into the units and run off the same power supply as the AC functions. These options combine other heating methods into the unit instead of switching refrigerant cycles like the heat pump versions do. Pricing Amana PTAC units at retail range from the mid-$500 up to $800. This doesnt include new construction costs for the wall penetration or costs to wire up the units. All require at least 220V. This is primarily because they include an electric heater for dual use, but even models with single AC functions use the higher power supply. When swapping out older, less efficient units, the installation costs less. PTC153 (14,000BTU) PTC123 (11,500 BTU) PTC093 (8,700 BTU) PTC073 (7,600 BTU) $650.00 $618.00 $590.00 $560.00 (PTH version $725.00) (PTH version $690.00) (PTH 093 9,000BTU, $654.00) (PTH version $623.00)

All Amana PTACs come with a full one year warranty (f.o.b. Fayetteville, TN --in the US) and a five year warranty on the evaporator coil, condenser coil, compressor or connecting tubing, which proves to be defective due to workmanship or materials or non-repairable refrigerant leaks(s). There is a limited five year warranty on other components. This makes the price a bit more attractive. Technical Advances Through the wall, unitary systems are especially attractive to motels and businesses. The former appreciate the ability to give guests individualized temperature control. Hospitals and other single-occupancy room facilities (nursing homes) also find PTACs attractive. In all these applications, shutting units down (or reducing load) when rooms are not in use is also an advantage. Amana addresses these needs with their DigiSmart system. DigiSmart is a remote monitoring and control system first introduced by Amana in 2006. Since then, its been used in more than 45,000 rooms with upwards of 120,000 wireless connections. The reason there are far more wireless devices than units is because of multiple users. An in-room remote comes with each unit and several locations elsewhere in the building may also have access in fact, any computer that can use wireless technology could be a controller if desired. The remote thermostat is also wireless (battery operated). The DigiSmart system has two main applications, both of which are touted as cost saving by Amana. The first is remote (wireless) temperature control from a central unit. With this, whole buildings can be set and limit heating or cooling, based on outside weather conditions. Monitoring is from a central location. The second (and more important) feature is the ability to sense room occupancy so that units can be set back when the room isnt in use. Amana claims up to 35% reduction in costs over units without this level of control 5. For businesses, this represents a huge savings, more than making up for any price differential between Amana and competitors without similar features. The DigiSmart technology also tracks faults in units and alerts for simple problems, like a filter change, all the way to possible failure of components. This monitoring is designed to prevent small issues from growing into expensive repairs. The downside, if there is one, happens when things arent going quite right. Do you call your HVAC installer or your computer technician? HVAC companies are always a little nervous when hybrid technology moves into their traditional turf, so while the advantages of discrete control are huge, theres also a trade-off when problems arise.

PTAC for Residential Because of the low initial cost for single, or a few rooms, PTAC has some interest in the residential market. Costs to run central air can be prohibitive, while split systems start out higher than PTAC. Theres also an issue with window units taking away from the look homeowners desire. One of the advantages Amana pushes is ease of installation with their Digismart PTAC units. The quoted, 10-minute installation seems too optimistic, but homeowners who are becoming more aware of energy costs will be attracted to the cost saving opportunities. This is especially so when someone doesnt occupy a room for a large part of the day. It makes sense to turn on your house over the Internet from work, and the DigiSmart system is adapted to do just that. Because PTACs are unitary systems, they share the trait of window units they can be added to a room without the ducting that whole-house systems require and dont need a separate, outside unit like split systems do. The ability to act as heat pumps distinguishes them from window units. The dual functionality is attractive in the U.S. where most of the country cycles through both summer and winter HVAC needs. The only disadvantages compared with window units would be the need to add a higher voltage electrical service, create a wall opening, and greater initial cost. Overall Amana (owned by Whirlpool Corp.) is a strong brand. Name recognition and customer loyalty are high. The products are assembled in the U.S. and serviced by most local HVAC specialists. Recent price increases have lost some sales for the company, and there is a great deal of competition. Foreign competition from Samsung and LG Electronics is very much an issue. These two dominate the world markets and continue to gain sales in the U.S. with lower prices than Amana. In spite of these factors, look for Amana to retain their share by adopting those technologies that attract businesses and homeowners with real savings while sticking with an excellent product line and great warranties. In the hospitality industry, where Amana already has a foothold, past experiences with their products help keep the brand going, even when sheer cost considerations would otherwise erode market share.

Amana 2011 PTAC Units Roundup

Please visit http://ptacairconditioner.org/ for more PTAC buying advice and information.