Taco Comfort Solutions donated $25,000 to Tunnel to Towers Foundation during an event held on June 15 at Wales Darby’s Islandia, N.Y. facility. Taco teamed up with their New York manufacturer’s rep, Wales Darby, to run a contractor promotion in the Long Island area supporting Tunnel to Towers. Taco donated proceeds from Taco heating circulators Read more
Taco Comfort Solutions
Taco Comfort Solutions donated $25,000 to Tunnel to Towers Foundation during an event held on June 15 at Wales Darby’s Islandia, N.Y. facility.
Taco teamed up with their New York manufacturer’s rep, Wales Darby, to run a contractor promotion in the Long Island area supporting Tunnel to Towers. Taco donated proceeds from Taco heating circulators sold during a four-month period to Tunnel to Towers.
Tunnel to Towers Foundation supports families of fallen and severely injured military and first responders by providing mortgage-free homes.
Mechanical Hub continues its conversation regarding heat pumps and heat pump technology. Electrification and carbon reduction is core to the emergence of heat pump technology. We recently spoke with Mark Chaffee, VP Governmental Affairs and Commercial & Industrial Product Management, Taco Comfort Solutions. MH: What are some of the driving forces behind heat pump technology? Chaffee: The Read more
Mechanical Hub continues its conversation regarding heat pumps and heat pump technology. Electrification and carbon reduction is core to the emergence of heat pump technology. We recently spoke with Mark Chaffee, VP Governmental Affairs and Commercial & Industrial Product Management, Taco Comfort Solutions.
MH: What are some of the driving forces behind heat pump technology?
Chaffee: The key, driving factor is a desire for CO2 reduction by using less fossil fuel. The world’s leading cultures and political forces have chosen to pursue beneficial electrification as a key component to achieve reduction goals. So, how is it that we can most quickly, substantively reduce our dependence on fossil fuels—a key contributor to carbon emissions? Heat pump technology is the HVAC industry’s best foot forward in achieving this today.
The effort to accomplish decarbonization is broken into two primary camps: a.) at the grid (source) level, and b.) equipment (local).
At the grid level, our 50 states are all at different places in implementing this. And, for the technology that’s involved residentially, and commercially, the ability of heat pumps to deliver COP’s (coefficient of performance) of 3, 4 and 5—meaning operational efficiencies of 300, 400 and 500 percent, or more— can’t be ignored. In comparison, fossil fuel burning equipment can achieve efficiencies of maybe 92 to 98 percent at best.
The goal: clean, efficient grid energy in combination with the highest efficiency HVAC solutions possible. Then install some solar panels on your house or commercial building (distributed green energy) for another win. Heat pumps measure up effectively as viable equipment solutions to keep people comfortable year-round.
MH: What are the benefits of heat pump technology?
Chaffee: At Taco Comfort Solutions, we believe that the best, no-compromise product offering comes from air-to-water systems; we want to be sure they have a seat at the table. They offer extreme energy efficiency, and the finest heating and cooling solutions with the greatest options and flexibility for delivery of that comfort—such as low-temperature radiant heat and towel warmers, etc. And: cooling, too. Hydronic technology is the undisputed king of comfort for humans.
With so many other heat pump technologies (for instance, mini splits, VRF or split system HVAC equipment), refrigerants are the means of thermal exchange across all facets of the distribution network. Refrigerant lines may pierce roofs, and course their way through attics and walls from condensing units to air handlers or terminal units. We prefer the much improved means of using water as the primary source of distribution; it’s safer, less expensive and more efficient. We know water to be the cleanest and most efficient medium of thermal exchange. Simply, more BTUs can be transported by water than by refrigerant compounds or by forced air.
We aren’t comparing heat pumps with boilers here. For generating high temperature water, there’s nothing better than a sturdy boiler. On the other hand, we are comparing air-to-water heat pumps with forced air systems and traditional ground-sourced geothermal systems, the latter of which can also consistently provide efficient, decarbonized comfort, though with substantial up-front costs to accomplish geoexchange.
Air-to-water heat pumps are a viable solution and can deliver no-compromise, year-round comfort without wells, deep and grouted boreholes, trenches, or underwater heat exchangers.
Heat pumps offer extreme efficiency, with heating and colling for year-round comfort. Some of them, like ours, also provide super-efficient heating of domestic water—all from a single appliance-like device.
MH: Do you see demand for Heat pumps more on the residential side than commercial? What’s the ratio?
Chaffee: We’ve all seen the explosive growth of mini-splits in the US residential market. To a large extent, homeowners have accepted and appreciate them. In the commercial sector, VRF technology has also seen broad acceptance, but there’s a tougher battle for dominance of the market—including the hydronic technology that we at Taco have invested in heavily.
Air-to-water systems represent a small percentage of both markets—residential and commercial—though with great potential for growth. After all, their superior comfort and technology offerings is matched with the ability to decarbonize. They can also handle the domestic hot water loads as part of a singular system.
Consider, too, that a lot of refrigerant compounds have come and gone in the last couple of decades. As increased regulatory and environmental efforts removed more from the market, the long-term viability of distributed refrigerant-based systems comes into question. Why rip out and replace an existing system just because refrigerant laws change? Hydronics has always been able to adapt and upgrade to environmental, regulatory or technology changes.
I hope we see a great deal more demand for water-based systems in both the commercial and residential markets to help meet the demands for a low carbon society.
A ratio? Right now, the growth trend is affecting both markets equally, though overall—the residential market has seen faster growth initially.
MH: Can the grid support a HP transition?
Chaffee: Probably not, in its current state. But that won’t stop anyone from trying to achieve 100 percent clean energy. But, there’s a lot of work to be done to improve grid conditions before this can accomplished.
MH: Is a different skill set required for installation?
For the most part—no. Most trade professionals in the market today have everything they need—from expertise on tap, skills and tools—to accomplish proper installation of heat pumps. Those who already have a refrigerant license have a step up. Though, what little refrigerant there is within our System M is fully sealed at the factory in the outdoor unit, so no refrigerant license is needed to install the unit.
There are two types of heat pumps as defined by refrigerant technology:
- Monobloc—all refrigerant and the compressor are within the exterior unit, factory-sealed; refrigerant-to-water is the medium for thermal exchange. Only water moves to and from the exterior unit to the home or business for space conditioning.
- Split—these systems move refrigerant from the outside condensing unit to the inside of a structure in the process of air-to-refrigerant, or refrigerant-to-air thermal exchange.
MH: Life expectancy compared to boilers?
Chaffee: Nothing lasts like a boiler. Though many improvements have been made to boilers through the years, chiefly to enhance efficiency, their ability— by design—to heat water and transport it out for distribution, and then back again, is unsurpassed. In round numbers, a boiler’s lifespan is about 30 years.
Now, consider the rate new HVAC technology introductions over the past decade or so. In that same 30 years, a lot of new technology will emerge to supplant any appliance on the market today, and some will see the influence of refrigerant compounds that will be legislated-out, making them obsolete. It’s become broadly accepted that if an appliance lasts 15 to 20 years, its met its expectation.
Essentially, today’s air-to-water heat pump systems are appliances— considering their construction and durability. With proper installation and routine maintenance, they should last 15 to 20 years.
MH: Will you offer training for these products?
Chaffee: Yes. Taco provides training for all of the technology it offers to the market. We’re passionate about the support we offer to installers and system designers, the System M air-to-water heat pump will allow us to continue to educate on products and system design, especially as we look to implement high performance, energy efficient HVAC system.
MH: Other thoughts?
Chaffee: Glad you asked! We’ve heard this question on many occasions from a wide range of trade professionals: “Why does Taco want to offer this technology?”
The answer stems from our combination of expertise in hydronics, thermal distribution and comfort. These different facets meet and combine uniquely in our newest technology—the System M. It’s a single-source, air-to-water, turnkey heat pump system designed and built to meet the comfort and efficiency needs of a low-carbon society.
If we at Taco can help the trade to accomplish this, all the better. After all, that’s been an important part of our makeup dating back more than 100 years now. In the past decade or so, we’ve made a concerted effort to move from our role as a component manufacturer to that of a systems provider. With System M, we’ve combined no-compromise comfort with environmental benefits. And, considering that the technology is easy to size and install, it’s a win-win from many perspectives.
In our continuing Industry Forecast series, we talk with John Hazen White, Jr. – Executive Chairman & Owner of Taco Comfort Solutions, on topics such as the short-term economy, supply chain issues, and lessons learned over the course of the pandemic. Here is our exclusive Q & A with John Hazen White, Jr.:   Read more
In our continuing Industry Forecast series, we talk with John Hazen White, Jr. – Executive Chairman & Owner of Taco Comfort Solutions, on topics such as the short-term economy, supply chain issues, and lessons learned over the course of the pandemic. Here is our exclusive Q & A with John Hazen White, Jr.:
MH: We’ve all experienced supply chain shortages, whether it’s industry related or things such as computer chips, plastics, bacon, etc., for example. Do you project a turnaround soon or within the next 6-12 months for certain materials that relate to your specific company?
JHW: Due to the China’s current COVID lockdowns and further supply chain disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine, we believe that chain issues are going to get worse over the next several months. Much of the processing of base raw materials and secondary materials has been shut down, further straining the supply chain. Exacerbating these issues, the skyrocketing costs of fuel and transportation are going to make the delivery of goods more costly.
MH: We are in the midst of some of the highest inflation rates since the early ‘80s. Do you think that higher inflation becomes a “newer normal”? Explain.
JHW: Eventually costs will temper demand and inflation will slow. Unfortunately, this will be accompanied by an economic downturn. The risk is that governments may try to artificially stimulate the economy, which could potentially prolong the inflationary upturn.
MH: In general, how do you see the economy short-term? Give a few examples of how you draw that conclusion (housing starts, commercial construction, etc.).
JHW: The short-term economy appears to be healthy. Orders remain strong and backlogs are at all-time highs. Data such as housing starts point to continued growth in 2022, with low inventory levels and a tight rental market driving that growth. In addition, manufacturing construction is on the rise to meet capacity demands.
MH: Where are you seeing signs of positivity, if any?
JHW: Short-term, the economy appears to still be growing, but at a slower pace. Although the last two years have been very challenging, these challenges can also serve as a catalyst for improvement. Companies are reinventing their structures and processes to adapt to a much faster business pace. We’re seeing step changes in productivity, efficiency, and innovation to keep up with today’s challenges and changing business environment.
MH: How do you as manufacturers work with customers who are dealing with longer lead times and/or higher prices? Is it a matter of open lines of communication?
JHW: Constant communication and strong partnerships are great ways to manage through the current supply chain and production issues. Most customers understand the challenges that all manufacturers are currently dealing with – they just want to be kept informed to minimize surprises and plan their projects accordingly.
MH: It seems that in today’s employment landscape, it’s hard to find good labor, whether it’s truck drivers, waiters at restaurants, etc. In our industry, how do we continue the fight to highlight the trades as a great career choice?
JHW: Social media is a great way to reach future tradesman of our industry. We have been running a social media campaign called #TradePower, which highlights successful contractors in the industry and the pride they take in their craftsmanship and service. Above all else, Taco has benefited by continuing to do what we always do – treat people right.
MH: In spite of COVID, people must move on. How has your company evolved—or continued to march forward—over the past two years, and talk about any new initiatives, expansions, etc.
JHW: The sudden disruption of COVID restrictions in 2020 forced a much faster adoption of planned technology upgrades. A planned rollout of organizational digitization was condensed from 18 month to two weeks, which gave us the ability to continue functioning and growing in the new work-from-home reality. One of the biggest positives we saw during the pandemic was the rise of global collaboration. The quick adoption of virtual meetings boosted our collaboration with our entire global workforce, ensuring the best players were part of any team meeting. This has led to an increased sharing of ideas on everything from safety protocols to operational improvements. More than ever, we are thinking globally to optimize our resources and maximize our growth.
Bob Barbour, VP, Sales Operations North America at Taco Comfort Solutions®, was presented the 2022 Dan Holohan Lifetime Contribution to Comfort Award at Taco’s press conference at the AHR Expo, by John White III., Senior VP, OEM Sales at Taco Comfort Solutions. Barbour began his career at Taco as an incoming material inspector in 1978 Read more
Bob Barbour, VP, Sales Operations North America at Taco Comfort Solutions®, was presented the 2022 Dan Holohan Lifetime Contribution to Comfort Award at Taco’s press conference at the AHR Expo, by John White III., Senior VP, OEM Sales at Taco Comfort Solutions.
Barbour began his career at Taco as an incoming material inspector in 1978 before finishing his civil engineering degree at the University of Rhode Island.
Through his 44-year tenure at Taco, Barbour held 11 positions there, including engineering management for fabricated products, VP of new business development, and regional sales manager. Barbour believes that his greatest contribution to Taco may be the introduction of TacoNet, a product selection software that assisted in sizing and selection of HVAC components. This software was a game-changer for Taco’s distribution, condensing the product specification process from hours to minutes. It was the precursor to all sizing and selection software now offered by Taco.
Barbour has been a member of ASHRAE for more than 30 years. He’s been involved at the national level with various technical committees. He also served the DOE Conservation Committee while the group – in collaboration with the Hydraulic Institute – determined energy standards for pumps in the US. Barbour also became an expert on air elimination in hydronic systems. His presentations to trade professionals in the US, Canada, Mexico and the Middle East typically drew large crowds.
Barbour lives with his wife in Rhode Island. His two grown children share his University of Rhode Island alma mater.
“If you look at the whole Taco family, they’re all trying to pull on the rope together in order to serve our customers and grow the overall business,” said Barbour, after receiving the award. “Because we’re a family, we put that extra effort forward to help the industry.”
The Dan Holohan Lifetime Contribution to Comfort Award is given annually to an HVAC professional or company that has made a substantial contribution to comfort technology, advancement, or training while displaying the exceptional good humor and love of people exhibited by Dan Holohan throughout his long career. Past award winners include Dan Holohan, Robert Bean, Bruce Marshall, Dan Foley and John Barba.
During the AHR Expo, John White III, Sr. VP/OEM Sales of Taco Comfort Solutions, presents the Dan Holohan Lifetime Contribution to Comfort Award—which is given annually to an HVAC professional or company that has made a substantial contribution to comfort technology advancement or training while displaying the exceptional good humor and love of people exhibited Read more
During the AHR Expo, John White III, Sr. VP/OEM Sales of Taco Comfort Solutions, presents the Dan Holohan Lifetime Contribution to Comfort Award—which is given annually to an HVAC professional or company that has made a substantial contribution to comfort technology advancement or training while displaying the exceptional good humor and love of people exhibited by Dan Holohan throughout his career—to Bob Barbour for passionate commitment to the industry and shared company success. Referred to as “Mr. Taco” from White III, Bob has been with the company for 44+ years and held at least seven different positions within Taco.
Barbour was certainly surprised and honored to receive the reward. “If you look at the whole Taco family, they are all trying to pull on the rope together in order to service our customers and grow the overall business. And because we are a family, we put that extra effort forward to help you and the rest of the industry.”