Safeguarding HVAC Systems: The Power of Surge Protection Solutions

Safeguarding HVAC Systems wth the Power of Surge Protection Solutions

As the complexity and sensitivity of energy-efficient HVAC systems increase, it’s comforting to know that a simple device is available to protect them against damaging power surges. Technological advancements like variable speed compressors and sophisticated electronics add a new dimension to the performance of HVAC systems but can make them more sensitive to fluctuating power sources.  A power surge can destroy HVAC system components, leading to a premature failure and often a complete system replacement. As new challenges arise, companies like RectorSeal are providing innovative solutions. This article explores how surge protection is critical in safeguarding expensive HVAC systems.

Understanding the Evolution: From Hard Start Kits to Surge Protection

Power surge protection for HVAC systems has always been a concern.  Initially, the HVAC industry focused on protecting the reliability of units, particularly single-stage compressors, using hard start kits. These kits helped to minimize amp draw during compressor startups to reduce excessive heat and premature failure due to power surges. As the complexity of the HVAC system increased in tandem with the system’s energy-efficient performance, the industry needed a more comprehensive solution to help protect variable-speed compressors along with the system’s intricate electronics. Surge protectors emerged as a critical part of best-practice HVAC installation and maintenance; they went beyond traditional hard start kits, offering a holistic approach to shielding units from potential electrical disturbances, thus avoiding premature failure of HVAC units due to electrical surges.

The Dynamics of Surge Protection: An Expert Discussion

To generate a better understanding of surge protectors and their role in HVAC performance, a recent episode of "The Accelerated HVAC Success Program" provided expert advice. Ben Middleton, National Sales Training Manager for Goodman and Amana Brands, hosted an insightful discussion with RectorSeal representatives Jeff Underwood, SVP for Sales and Marketing, and Fred Kreusch, Head of Surge Protection Product and Sales. Both provided valuable information regarding the transformative journey of surge protection in the HVAC industry. Tune in to the interview here. Jeff provided historical context, emphasizing the industry's shift from hard start kits to surge protection. He highlighted the initial focus on protecting compressors from excessive amp draw and explained how surge protectors have become indispensable in the era of variable-speed compressors and electronic components. Fred delved into the technical aspects of surge protection, emphasizing the use of Metal Oxide Varistors (MOVs) as the core technology. MOVs, capable of reacting in a millionth of a second, redirect surge energy away from the equipment to the ground, providing an effective defense against electrical disturbances.

The Need for Surge Protection: External and Internal Threats

As the conversation unfolded, the experts outlined the dual nature of surge protection —shielding HVAC systems from external and internal threats. External threats, such as proximity lightning strikes and utility grid switching, pose significant risks to HVAC condensing units outside of homes. Surge protectors act as a crucial line of defense, diverting harmful energy away as they protect the HVAC system. Internally, motors used in an HVAC system frequently run on and off, creating inrush currents that can contribute to added wear and tear on electronic components. Surge protectors, with their swift reaction times, can mitigate the impact of internal electrical concerns, helping to prolong the life of critical HVAC components.

Choosing the Right Surge Protector: Quality Matters

While surge protectors share a standard technology —Metal Oxide Variants (MOV) —the experts emphasized the importance of unit quality. A well-potted surge protector, with no gaps in its protective casing, ensures quick engagement of MOVs, which is crucial for effective surge mitigation.

Implementation Strategies: Whole-Home Surge Protection and Warranty Considerations

The RectorSeal representatives also touched upon the implementation of surge protection strategies. Whole-home surge protectors, installed at circuit breaker panels, offer comprehensive defense for home appliances. However, for HVAC systems, the experts stressed the need for specific surge protectors at the point of use, such as the disconnect box for condenser units. Limited Warranty considerations were also addressed, highlighting the dual limited warranties offered by surge protection products. A limited warranty covering workmanship and materials and a connected equipment warranty are like homeowners' insurance programs. HVAC systems are often one of the most significant home expenses, designed to last for decades of use.  Surge protections help ensure that the HVAC systems operate as designed without fear of electrical disruptions that can lead to equipment failure.

The New Norm Surge protection has become vital in the HVAC industry's arsenal against potential electrical threats. Surge protection is deemed the new norm, whether a single-stage unit with a hard start kit or a highly energy-efficient system with variable-speed compressors and electronic control boards. HVAC contractors are encouraged to view surge protection as an integral part of every installation, akin to the widespread adoption of hard start kits in the past. As the HVAC landscape continues to evolve, surge protection is a testament to the industry's commitment to innovation and resilience, helping to solve a problem that can ruin any HVAC system.

Since 1937, RectorSeal has offered products that have built a steadily growing and loyal following among contractors due to differentiated and proven product performance. Further, the company is often the first to tackle and solve challenges professional trade contractors face. In 2015, RectorSeal became part of CSW Industrials, Inc. (Nasdaq: CSWI), and it now plays a leading role in CSWI's Contractor Solutions segment.

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