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ROOM-AIR 2000 PLAYS TO THE ELECTRONIC AGE.

Retailers with depleted stocks of room air conditioners are not likely to rush into ordering for 2000, according to early indications.

Industry carryover is around 250,000 units -- half that of an average year -- but the stores have multiple suitors. Vendors continue to woo big accounts aggressively. Additional suppliers are entering the market. After intense price-cutting over the past two years, participants are watching for hints that the smaller inventories will affect this year's programs.

A year from now, energy-efficiency ratings will increase significantly. "I think it will have a dramatic effect on our industry," said Tom Purcell, Fedders North America's senior vice president for sales.

Electronics, remote controls and portables are more numerous in the new lines.

Carrier is adding two air-conditioner series, of portable air conditioner-dehumidifiers and of room air purifiers.

Six GC sizes from 5,000 to 12,000 BTUs offer sound reduction. Eight DC/JC models run from from 10,000 to 27,000 BTUs. All include electronics and remote controls; options are cool only, heat-cool and heat pump.

The Holiday portable unit -- 6,000 BTUs and one quart of water removal an hour -- has an automatic thermostat. A split model has a capacity of 8,900 BTUs. Air purifiers offer HEPA-filter and smoker units rated at 120 to 190 Clean Air Delivery Rates.

Cooline America Corp. is supplied by a giant Saudi plant also said to produce several brands well known in this country. "We do expect to come into the U.S. market for the 2000 season, probably through some traditional distribution at the beginning," noted Bryan Brandegee, president. The line will be from 9,000 to 24,000 BTUs, with new chassis on mid-sized models.

Danby will offer a heater with 40-pint dehumidifier. It's retaining the four-in-one (air conditioner, fan, dehumidifier, heater), but adds an external bucket, so running time reportedly jumps from seven to 14 hours.

Danby also will add higher-capacity dehumidifiers, probably three models 45 pints and up.

DeLonghi continues to increase its Pinguino portable line. The series includes the PAC03 three-in-one: 7,500-BTU air conditioner, dehumidifier and air purifier.

The Professional line consists of the PAC-GSRU for the growing ductless-split market. Model PAC-210, which requires no water to cool, has a capacity of 7,500 BTUs. The step-up PAC-290 is rated at 7,500 BTUs for uninterrupted use without water or 8,500 BTUs for eight hours of "super-cooling" when filled with water.

Fedders focuses on its portable model. The 6,000-BTU Euro-style machine, quietly shipped a year ago, is getting a push now. It's also a dehumidifier handling 1.5 pints an hour, and an air cleaner.

The extensive lineup has few additions and deletions, with slight energy-efficiency improvements on some units. Basically everything will be produced with the Fedders label, but Emerson Quiet Kool, other house lines and private labels will be available upon customer demand.

The 65-pint dehumidifier is possibly the largest in the industry. Its feature package matches those on the 40- and 45-pint units.

Friedrich is raising EERs, lowering noise and adding features across most of its broad line. The SS08, 10 and 12 probably will jump to 11.0 and 11.7 EERs, with wireless infrared remote controls and electronic operation. Sleep settings are among the quiet improvements on everything from 8,000 to 18,000 BTUs, and on a 21,000-BTU model.

The high-end maker's ZQ series introduced a year ago to reach modest price points will be expanded in selected areas.

Frigidaire will market room air conditioners bearing its premium Gallery label. Advanced electronics with remote controls for precise temperature control, automatic fan operation and timer will be featured on 10 Gallery models. Frigidaire and Gallery units range from 5,050 to 28,500 BTUs and have a maximum of 10.5 EER.

The Gibson and White-Westinghouse lineups essentially are unchanged.

GE Appliances will introduce the first high-end GE Profile room air conditioners, with full electronics, digital readouts, remote controls, timers, Circulaire fins for rotating air delivery, energy-saver switches and EERs of around 10.0. Capacities range from 10,000 to 14,000 BTUs.

Most products in GE's comprehensive line have added features and energy efficiency.

Goodman's Amana lineup again emphasizes premium products with its Quiet Zone line. Touchmatic controls reportedly can be set in 1-degree increments and displayed on the SmartCool pad.

An equally upscale through-the-wall line is new, targeting another important niche. Seven straight-cool models range from 7,000 to 11,200 BTUs and four heat-cool units cover 8,000 to 11,000 BTUs.

Haier America Trading officials were in China last week to firm up details of their five-model line. Two carry Energy Star logos; four meet next year's standards.

LG Electronics reportedly is upgrading energy ratings so that 13 of the 15 Goldstar models comply with the 2001 standards. Three M-series units with electronic touch controls, sleep mode and energy-saver program were said to adjust temperatures by 1 degree every two hours overnight.

Goldstar also will offer its largest machine, the R2402, with 24,000 BTUs. A basic 5,100 steps up to the R5400, at 5,400 BTUs. The R7000 is lighter and smaller than the LWB0714CL, which it replaces.

Panasonic will increase EERs by as much as 18 percent, to 9.7 and 11.0 on selected models. More machines will offer E-Plus electrostatic filtration, and some will add a cooling speed. Altogether there will be five Panasonic and four Quasar models, still ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 BTUs.

Samsung is bringing its electronic touch controls to this country. The AW series, from 6,000 to 18,000 BTUs, also includes automatic air swing and energy-saver switch. Units with manual controls remain in the line.

Sanyo is promoting "the first ductless split-system gas heat-air conditioner to produce heat using natural gas as a heating medium." Cooling mode on the 14KGS11 is 8,000 BTUs. Sanyo also is adding three low-ambient units to its split-system lineup.

Sharp "had such success with this year's line that we're not making any changes," reported Heather Sweet, associate product-marketing manager. There are six compacts, six mid-sized units and three heavy-duty machines. Remote controls, included with six of them, "were very popular," she said. Four models qualify for the Energy Star logo.

Whirlpool will add high-end electronic Surround Cool systems on a 5,000 and a 7,000, promoted as "central air conditioning one room at a time."

WindChaser portables are the PACS10 starter piece, 10,500 BTUs; the PACS12, 12,000 BTUs; and the PACSR12, which adds a remote control. The smaller PAC8 carries over.
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Comment:ROOM-AIR 2000 PLAYS TO THE ELECTRONIC AGE.
Author:Beatty, Gerry
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 4, 1999
Words:1096
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