Part of being a High-Performance HVAC contractor is testing, diagnosing, and repairing poorly performing HVAC systems. Have you considered everything that goes into HVAC system performance?

A lot in this phrase must come together to make a system work like it’s supposed to, and it can be overwhelming if you forget the basics.

Let’s take a simplified look at HVAC System Performance. I hope it helps you remember how special what you do is. Applying these ideas will help your customers better understand what separates you from your competitors.

David Richardson provides a simplified look at HVAC System Performance
David Richardson, NCI

How Would You Describe HVAC System Performance?

How would you explain HVAC System Performance in one sentence? I believe you can summarize it as the finished results of your knowledge, craftsmanship, skills, and attention to detail. It’s what makes your installations work better than others. Making statements in a simplified manner such as this goes a long way toward helping customers understand what you are all about.

Some in our industry assume that if you size and install equipment properly and then connect it to properly designed and tight ducts, you’ve done your job. Can it be this simple? The rubber meets the road when you verify your design. HVAC system performance testing gives you the ability to verify that your designs work.

For decades, NCI (National Comfort Institute) studies have shown that when you take measurements on installed systems, the typical results across the United States show that the system operates at only 57% of the equipment’s laboratory-rated efficiency. This concept is unknown to many in the HVAC industry and especially to the average homeowner.

Once NCI-trained contractors make system repairs, the results often show an immense improvement in system performance. Many contractors report achieving nearly 90% of the equipment’s laboratory-rated capacity or better after completing system repairs. It’s almost impossible to get this level of improvement by only changing out equipment.

Simplified system performance relies on verification

The distinction between the equipment and the system is essential to recognize and one we often miss. Let’s break the concept into two parts to simplify HVAC system performance: the HVAC system and performance.

Defining the HVAC System: A Simplified Approach

An innocent assumption many in our industry make is that the HVAC equipment is the HVAC system. This belief creates the misconception that all HVAC contractors have the specialized skills needed to install an HVAC system correctly. The same assumption also leads to the belief that efficiency and comfort result from the equipment and have little to do with the installed system.

Industry marketing has conditioned us to focus on equipment instead of other design and field conditions that make up the true HVAC system.

This mentality is bolstered by the fact that anyone can use efficiency values such as SEER, AFUE, and other equipment-related ratings to define the efficiency of the installed system. Through this simplified lens, everyone in our industry ends up looking like they all offer the same product. That leaves a homeowner to decide between companies with the lowest price or the nicest salesperson.

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