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NEW YORK-The warm summer across most of the nation shrunk carryover of room air conditioners and left the industry in good shape for 2003. Manufacturers will continue to add electronic and remote controls; increase offerings with Energy Star certification (though they concur that consumers want Energy Star only if a rebate is involved); and reduce some chassis sizes. In a few cases, energy-efficiency ratings will go up, though talk of EERs is secondary to Energy Star.

Amana is increasing Energy Star offerings to at least seven models from 5,000 to 18,000 BTUs; reducing depth on several smaller units; tilting more from mechanicals to ergonomic touch controls; and adding a heat-cool series at 12,000, 18,000 and 20,000 BTUs. This year's five-function electronic controls -- fan-only for energy-saving, climate, sleep, dehumidification and automatic on-off -- which are said to be unique, are being carried over across most of the line. Dehumidifiers at 15, 25 and 55 pints remain.

Carrier is launching Solitaire Energy Star models in five capacities from 5,000 to 12,000 BTUs. All have electronic and remote controls, three-speed fan, four-way air discharge and easily removed rigid mesh filter; the 8,000, 10,000 and 12,000 also offer fresh air/exhaust. The largest unit can go in a window or through the wall. Solitaire will be supported with advertising, in-store displays and literature.

All Carrier products for residences and light commerce continue to be sold primarily to independent retailers, but through two-step distribution. "We are a full-service air-conditioning manufacturer," reiterated Toni Nevins, senior product manager.

Cooline retains its multifilter combination of antibacterial and charcoal filters, but is tweaking its electric heating and cooling between 9,000 and 24,000 BTUs. A heat pump at 12,000 and 15,000 is new; electric heat at 15,000 and 22,000 is discontinued.

Danby's line spans from 5,000 to 18,000 BTUs, most with electronic controls, three-speed fan and cool, slideout chassis and oscillating air swing. Several, including the 5,000, are Energy Stars. Installation videos again are provided.

Five portables from 7,500 to 8,300 BTUs electronically control air conditioning, dehumidifying, fan operation and electric heating. Features include oscillating air swing, LED and remote controls, and an external bucket for extended operating times.

DeLonghi has improved compressors and components in its six Pinguino portables, permitting increased capacities between 8,500 and 13,000 BTUs. Two models are designed for professional channels, and DeLonghi has added sales staff to extend its market reach.

Aesthetic changes include silver accents at the high end. Two models retain the Cool Jet option, one with a Super Turbo function said to kick up from 10,000 to 12,000 BTUs.

Fedders highlights a full line of Energy Star models. There are new designs in room air and a fresh line of dehumidifiers. As usual, Fedders is offering a comprehensive selection, including through the wall, vertical, heat-cool and portables with "cutting-edge technologies" in multiple brands.

Friedrich offers 70 models, including 30 with the Energy Star seal. Some exceed 11.5

EERs. More price-sensitive units at 5,000, 6,000 and 8,000 BTUs come with electronic remote controls.

Three slider-casements at 8,000, 10,000 and 12,000 BTUs are new. Chassis on some 15s, 18s and 24s are lighter and smaller with the same or larger capacities. Dehumidifiers will add a 65-pint to the 30, 40 and 50; all feature electronics and updated styling.

GE is doubling Energy Star to 16 models, giving customers step-up options with a mechanical series from 5,000 to 24,000 BTUs. The GE brand consists of basic and Energy Star mechanical and electronic series; the last uses remote controls. The lineup includes three heat-cool, two slider-casements and one Energy Star remote control at 24,000 BTUs introduced in June.

Haier is adding five Energy Star models; 5,000s in mechanical and electronic-remote versions; and a remote control on a portable. The 5,000s come in smaller, lighter chassis. The line extends to heat-cool models at 12,000, 18,000 and 24,000 BTUs.

Energy Star is considered a primary selling feature. The entire line has been repackaged with consumer-friendly graphics to provide relevant information quickly. Dehumidifiers grow to 25, 40 and 50 pints in black and white.

LG's two-brand strategy dedicates LG products "with differentiated features" to regional chains and buying groups, while carryover Goldstar models head to national accounts with full-color packaging to designate the channel.

Multiple LG introductions include a larger air filter with filter-change indicator; contemporary looking low-profile units at 6,000 and 7,600 BTUs; upgrades on through-the-wall mechanical SKUs from 8,000 to 12,000 BTUs and 9.0 to 9.5 EERs; heat-strip models at 10,000 and 12,000; deluxe styling on display panels; mechanical casements from 6,000 to 12,000; and more Plasma heat exchange and remote controls. Mechanical dehumidifiers at 30, 40 and 50 pints remain; Energy Star electronic units at 50 and 65 pints are new.

Various Goldstar customers will get mechanical and electronic air conditioners from 5,000 to 24,000 BTUs. One is an Energy Star model at 10.8 EER. Redesigned dehumidifiers are mechanical at 30 and 40 pints and an electronic at 50 pints.

Panasonic is adding to its Energy Star and BTU array. Every unit comes with electronic and remote controls. Quasar is improving some EERs.

Sharp's larger line features Plasmacluster Ion technology, which cleans and freshens air, on three Energy Star models at 8,000, 10,000 and 12,000 BTUs and 11.0 EERs. Five other models from 5,000 to 11,500 BTUs and 11.0 EERs carry the Energy Star logo.

"Space-efficient chassis" in three size groupings include the new Sub Compact series of 5 and 6. The entire lineup offers touch and remote controls and Library Quiet. Availability is January through March.

Whirlpool is moving production of compacts in-house at its affiliate in Manaus, Brazil: No Asian products are being purchased. There are two 5,000s and one 6 electro-mechanical, an Energy Star 5 and an electronic 6. Expectations were that the styling is unique for the United States.

Dehumidifiers with Ultra Low Temp will include a 65-pint with an improved compressor. The whole line, Energy Star-rated except for the 25-pint, carries over.

WindChaser expects to add perhaps five mobile products to the four offered this season. Two fresh lines are likely. Compacts at 7,000, 9,000 and 11,000 BTUs include an 11,000 remote with heater rated at 1,000 watts. Contemporary European styling will include 7,000 BTUs and WindChaser's automatic water elimination.

A mini-series of dehumidifiers is designed for close quarters such as closets, small kitchens and boats. A comfort station -- humidifier, dehumidifier and air cleaner -- automatically maintains whatever humidity level the user programs.
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Title Annotation:air conditioners, US
Author:Beatty, Gerry
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 21, 2002
Previous Article:NEWS BRIEFS.

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