SAN ANTONIO—The air that we breathe is essential to life—and maintaining the quality of that air indoors is just another way that operators can provide their guests a pleasant experience. Indeed, according to the Global Wellness Summit, better air quality is among the top eight wellness trends for 2018, meaning that hotels that want to satisfy guests need to think about the hotel environments in which the guests will stay.
And the companies that hotels turn to are certainly aware of that. “Better indoor air quality has many benefits, from removing irritants and allergens, to helping address odors and improving musty air,” explained Barry Bookout, director of sales, lodging and specialty markets with Friedrich Air Conditioning Co. “As more people realize how important a good night’s sleep is, addressing how to improve indoor air quality has become a major factor for delivering great guest comfort.”
But that comfort doesn’t just mean the room should be at just the right temperature—though that’s important, too. “Indoor air quality is so much more than just heating and cooling air,” he added. “Hoteliers need to address how to bring fresh outdoor air into a room, and properly filter and condition it—plus control humidity levels—all while paying attention to energy costs.”
Friedrich has recently introduced two products that it says can allow operators to do just that—the FreshAire PTAC and VRP (Variable Refrigerant Packaged) Heat Pump system. “Based on inverter compressor technology, we’re now able to offer the lodging industry simple solutions that hit all those priorities,” Bookout said.
Friedrich FreshAire PTAC is the first-ever to combine an energy-efficient inverter compressor with the ability to bring in conditioned make-up air (MUA), according to Bookout. The FreshAire PTAC meets the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 62.1-2013 standards, which require bringing in a specific amount of outdoor air and providing MERV 8 filtration—something that previously could only be achieved with larger, more complex and expensive systems in hotels.
The unit is the only PTAC to incorporate that filter for outdoor air, greatly reducing allergens and other air impurities brought into the space, according to the company.
“Friedrich realized that hotel and commercial property owners need compact, easy-to-install and maintain, high-performing solutions that meet rigorous standards for indoor air quality without the need for large, complex systems,” Bookout said. “That led us to introduce the award-winning, closet-mounted VRP line based on inverter technology, which delivers all those benefits, plus is extremely efficient and quiet. Friedrich always has been a leader in the PTAC market, and the technology behind VRP inspired us to introduce the FreshAire PTAC earlier this year, based on the same innovations with the ultimate goal to give hoteliers a wide range of options to improve indoor air quality.”
Friedrich also introduced a new dehumidification option for its VRP line. By utilizing a hot-gas reheat circuit, the new dehumidification option borrows energy that is wasted in a typical air conditioning cycle, and uses it to reheat the return air so the unit can continue to dehumidify longer.
“Dehumidification is important anywhere where there are ventilation issues, but it is especially challenging for property owners in areas like the Southeast and East Coast areas,” said Bookout. “Too much moisture in the air can quickly lead to mold, musty furnishings and other issues that cause serious maintenance issues. Plus, when it comes to great guest comfort, dehumidification is just as important as precise temperature control. After all, moist cool air is just as uncomfortable as moist warm air, so dehumidification is an essential factor in ensuring happy guests.”
Bookout noted that the company has installed the VRP in a variety of properties, both large and small. “Introduced just this year, the Friedrich FreshAire PTAC also has generated an enormous amount of interest from customers,” he added. “So far, customers love the fact that they can address indoor air quality issues with an easy- to-install, simple-to-maintain solution that truly lets guests customize the comfort of their rooms, quietly and efficiently.
When it comes to these types of products, hotel owners and operators are looking for simple, all-in-one solutions. “They want solutions that can help lower costs, perform long-term and increase guest comfort,” he said. “For many years, that used to involve big, complex systems, but not anymore… With a wide variety of form and function offerings, manufacturers like Friedrich are giving owners the flexibility they need with efficient, effective solutions designed to outperform.”
Bookout said there are many questions that hotel owners should ask when they are looking at replacing or upgrading their air conditioning products. “When it comes to air conditioning, the questions need to go far beyond whether a system will heat and cool effectively and how much it costs,” he said. “Owners need to ask: How efficient is it to operate? Will it improve indoor air quality? Will it address issues such as humidity? Is it simple to install and maintain? Can it precisely adjust to the needs of individual guests to deliver better comfort? Is it quiet and easy to operate? Does the manufacturer stand behind the products, and how easy is it to get customer service support?”
By addressing these concerns, hoteliers will be in good shape. HB