RAC and PAC product and technology trends
Room air conditioners (RACs) and packaged air conditioners (PACs) ac-count for a large proportion of the air conditioning equipment in the market. New models are released each year and the competition for customers is fierce. Manufacturers continuously develop models that offer higher levels of convenience and attempt to outperform the com-petition in improved energy savings, comfort, environmental friendliness, and design. Existing air conditioner technology is mature, however, and further improvements along conventional lines are not expected to bring about greater market growth. To do this, out-of-the-box product development is needed.
Much of the new technology for wall-mounted split RACs has been developed by Japanese manufacturers for the Japanese market. Japan uses the Annual Performance Factor (APF) to measure efficiency, with higher APF attained through efficiency improvements to key components - the compressor, heat exchanger, fan, and motor - as well as inverter technology. Over the last several years, manufacturers have been developing highly functional air conditioners that offer concentrated heating and cooling where people are present in the room to realize greater efficiency and com-fort. This is achieved through the use of sensors that detect the number of people and where they are, the room size and furniture layout, and the amount of sunlight in the room, among other conditions. Technology then takes data from these various sensors and feeds it into algorithms to optimize the vertical and horizontal direction of flaps controlling airflow direction and the motor controlling fan operation. Mitsubishi Electric and Panasonic are leading development of this technology. More recently, Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air conditioning (JCI-Hitachi) has developed a product that uses a video camera to achieve the same functionality and is attracting attention in the market. However, these high-end indoor units with added features and high APF also end up with a bulkier footprint.