What might assembly workers sweating through 100-degree summer heat, computer servers crunching infinite batches of Internet data, and surgeons performing complicated operations have in common? They all rely on portable air conditioning units from OceanAire, Inc.
Expanding the manufacturing facility five times within the last six years, OceanAire builds its compact, quiet, technologically advanced products in a 22,000-square-foot facility in Morton Grove, Ill. Its 17 highly experienced HVAC specialists build, test, run and thoroughly quality check each air conditioner before it leaves the plant.
“A growing company with an exceptional distribution base, we respond to the needs of our customers quickly through close contact with our distributors, and we focus on quality and delivery,” remarked Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Spencer.
Having worked in the HVAC industry for 32 years, Spencer knew the distributors even before OceanAire incorporated. He and the other five OceanAire owners have logged an impressive combined total of 197 years in HVAC/manufacturing. In addition to Spencer, company executives include President Peter Baffes; Vice President of Operations Terry Schaul; Vice President of Engineered Sales Joe Pius; Vice President of Production Carlos Morales, and Vice President of Product Development Joel Silverstein. Interestingly, the owners as well as many of the factory employees all worked together previously at another HVAC manufacturing company that was sold and moved out of the Chicago area. Knowing the business well, OceanAire hit the ground running on opening day and never looked back. Financed internally, the company has experienced consistent double-digit growth each year by focusing on two distinct product lines which include portable air-cooled and portable water-cooled technologies.
New Deluxe products for 2003
The following are new products in the Deluxe line offered this year by OceanAire:
ConvertibleAire – an air cooled heat pump, delivers true temperature control. With a set it and forget it logic based control system, ConvertibleAire can maintain even temperatures and automatically switch from cooling to heating or heating to cooling based on space temperature. The evaporator blower can automatically throttle through six fan speeds. As the space temperature approaches set point, the blower runs slower. This helps lower energy costs and noise levels. A moisture control mode cycles the compressor to remove humidity without excessively lowering room temperature. An electronic hour meter acts like a car odometer, recording the number of hours the compressor runs. This is a great feature for planning preventive maintenance schedules or tracking rental hours. The thermostat also can be remote mounted, which helps solve difficult cooling problems. For lower temperature applications (to 55 degrees), units can be ordered with an optional hot gas bypass system.
“Portable air conditioners have been in the marketplace for almost 50 years,” said Spencer. “Their one and only job has been to blow cold air. ConvertibleAire is the first portable air conditioner that breaks through that single function barrier. That’s where all the competition ends and OceanAire begins. We designed and patented our state-of-the-art, high efficiency air conditioner/heat pump.” While standard resistive electric heat with a 15-amp circuit carries about 5000 BTU/hour, ConvertibleAire delivers 15,850 BTU/hour on the same 15-amp circuit, he added. “That’s three times the heat with the same amount of electrical energy, with no combustion by-products, flue venting, red hot coils, or glowing cal rods. Now our customers can cool their ‘hot spots’ and heat their ‘cold spots,’ or run a unit to just dehumidify.”
ArcticAire – has all the features and capacities of ConvertibleAire except this is an air cooled cooling only unit. “Without the heating feature, ArcticAire costs less to build, so we can pass the savings along to our customers,” Spencer noted.
AquaCooler – includes the features and capacities of ArcticAire, except this is a water cooled cooling only unit. “Water cooled units need no condenser air ducting,” Spencer continued. “AquaCooler is ideal for basements, high rise buildings, medical operating suites, and can back-up many chiller and water cooled loops. Our new AquaCooler line will debut late this year.”
Deluxe product line features
“Our customers want quiet, compact, good looking portable air conditioners with high capacity and high efficiency,” said Spencer. “That’s a very tall order. We called on all 197 years of experience to create new solutions to old problems. We had to take risks that other more conservative companies may not have taken. A clean sheet of paper, fresh ideas, creative thinking and guts solved each design segment, one at a time.”
Since conventional blowers were noisy and consumed to much energy, OceanAire searched for a quantum leap in air handling capability and power consumption. EBM Industries, Inc. Farmington, Conn., teamed with OceanAire in this quest for quality. “OceanAire is a young company with loads of experience. We work well together,” said EBM’s Vice President of Marketing Mark Schiring. “With our reverse curved motorized impellers, we were able to increase airflow, lower power consumption by 50 percent, and reduce noise levels by a factor of double over conventional blowers.” Because of the EBM motor, OceanAire is the first company to manufacture a fully U.L. listed one-ton portable air conditioner that runs with a standard 15-amp power plug, while drawing less than12.6 amps.
“We have one of the most complete accessory lines available,” Spencer said. “OceanAire provides more than hardware. We provide solutions. Our technical and engineering support is second to none.” Deluxe product line accessories include nozzles to direct air flow and duct adapters that deliver evaporator air to remote locations. In addition, condenser inlet air plenums can bring condenser air to the unit, eliminating negative air pressure in the conditioned space. Ceiling kits can duct condenser discharge air into drop ceiling spaces. Evaporator inlet air plenums duct conditioned space air to the unit in remote cooling applications.
Standard product line
OceanAire also offers an array of technologically sophisticated products in its Standard product line. These include:
AirBoss and Polaris
The popular AirBoss – an air cooled, cooling only portable air conditioner has been in the OceanAire product line from the beginning. Competitively priced, with conventional blowers, in six sizes from 10,000 to 60,000 BTU/hour, AirBoss has solved cooling problems nationwide for seven years. Standard equipment includes enhanced fin rifled copper tubing evaporator and condenser coils, energy efficient rotary compressors in the smaller units, and a Copeland scroll compressor in the three- and five-ton models. “We use a 24-volt control system,” said Spencer. “This is an industry standard, and it allows our customers the option of remote mounting the thermostat to solve unusual cooling problems.”
The Polaris – a water-cooled portable air conditioner, has no air-cooled condensing section to duct. Instead, the heat of the refrigeration cycle passes into the water. In fact, some customers use the 98-degree-F water leaving the air conditioner to warm water for swimming pools or to temper water entering water heaters. The refrigeration system has all the enhanced features of the AirBoss series. High efficiency coils and compressors, conventional blowers and a 24-volt control system are standard. To eliminate wasting water, each unit is equipped with a Johnson Control V-46 water regulating valve. The cooler the water entering the unit, the slower the water flow.
“Polaris features a dry base pan, preventing formation of rust, sediment or fungal growth. All condensate drains directly into our standard condensate pump,” said Spencer. Standing water is eliminated, and all pumps have a 20-foot head, check valve and built-in safety switch. Installation is easy with the pre-assembled hose kits. The kits range from 10 to 40 feet in length and attach easily to the unit with brass flare fittings. “To be a complete portable air conditioner manufacturer, water cooled units are a must,” Spencer continued. “With our Deluxe and Standard product lines, we can meet virtually all of the requirements of our customers.”
Looking ahead, Spencer thinks OceanAire will be building more and more of the high efficiency low noise Deluxe product Line. “OceanAire pays close attention to detail in design, manufacturing, quality control, and service after the sale,” Spencer added. “Our customers are becoming more sophisticated, and their expectations are rising. Our vision is to utilize our experience, knowledge and integrity to not only meet the demanding expectations, but to exceed them.”