Volume 11 | Issue 2 | Year 2008

We generally take air for granted unless we encounter a critical problem: excess humidity or problems breathing because of invisible pollutants. Thomas & Betts through its Reznor brand never takes air for granted and Reznor, since 1888, has been dedicated to the technologies that create and sustain comfortable indoor environments.
The company was founded by George Reznor around Mercer, Pa., 60 miles north of Pittsburgh, where it still maintains a facility. Reznor had invented a reflective type of gas heater for residential use. “He took the heating element and built a box with a reflective
sheet behind it, which aimed heat at the floor,” notes Reznor Communications Manager John Garavelli. “It made heat directional. It was a big innovation.”

The Reznor family owned and ran the company into the 1960s. Thomas & Betts Corporation acquired it in 1992. Reznor is today a part of a broader HVAC division, which is part of Thomas & Betts, a USA publicly traded company with revenues over $2 billion USD. (NYSE: TNB). With four manufacturing facilities – U.S.A. Mexico, Belgium and France – the Reznor brand and its technology helps build upon Thomas & Betts’ reputation for innovation.

And while gas heat is still a core of the business the Reznor brand has now expanded to include both commercial heating, cooling and ventilation air systems.

BIG INNOVATORS
Innovations that have furthered the company’s place in the industry have included a high-efficiency commercial gas furnace introduced in the early 1990s, providing 92 percent fuel efficiency. The breakthrough was truly unique, Garavelli says, as up to the last few years Reznor was the only brand in the world that made super-high efficiency gas fuel heaters for commercial and industrial uses. “High efficiency” was prevalent in the residential market but not at all in commercial uses,” Garavelli says.

Last year the company introduced its next generation unit, which is smaller and more compact, with higher efficiencies, and reduced emissions levels. Explains Marketing Manager Tom Clark, Reznor brand high efficiency commercial heaters can have a payback of one to two years with today’s energy costs.

INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Another innovation is the company’s MAPS II unitary heating/cooling air systems, offering a unique approach to providing large volumes of outside air for replacing exhausted air and outside air for improved indoor air quality. Its applications include:

  • Hotel & motel corridor air conditioning;
  • Restaurant, bar and kitchen replacement air to feed exhaust fans and entrance losses;
  • Industrial ventilation;
  • Medical facility replacement air for waiting rooms, surgery centers, & corridors;
  • Ventilation for improved indoor air quality in schools and other public buildings.

Reznor addresses the problem of heating, cooling and dehumidifying outside air, understanding that outside air temperature and humidity conditions vary widely, and that variation requires staging of capacity for ultimate comfort and energy efficiency. The company can solve these issues with totally self-contained package units or with modular split systems (condensing units and air handlers).

If the job requires a split system, then Reznor’s new M Series of condensing units provide capacity to meet changing demand during the day. The model MASA features three stages of cooling to handle the part load conditions as well as the full-on design conditions. In addition, the M Series of condensing units are environmentally friendly, utilizing R410-A refrigerant, and energy efficient compressors and motors. All of this translates into a lower totalcost-of-ownership.

When it comes to the air handling side, the company has advanced its market position with its PREEVA™ family of indoor, pre-engineered, ventilation, units. This series provides HVAC contractors and engineers a modular concept to make specifying, installing and servicing easy and cost effective. This new line has standard features and options to accommodate most any HVAC application. With either analog or digital controls, and all the necessary air handling features, PREEVA™ provides a total solution for handling recirculated indoor space or outside air.

The PREEVA™ series uses the highly efficient Reznor® TCORE2® combustion system as the “heat engine.” The unit comes in indoor or outdoor models that provide air volumes up to 7,500 and heat up to 400,000 btuh (93 kW). The PREEVA™ family has modular add-on cabinets for advanced cooling and mixed air control. In addition to the PreevA line, Reznor provides other products that expand the air, heat and cooling capacities up to large industrial sizes.

IT’S NOT THE HEAT IT’S THE HUMIDITY
In a typical week a MAPS or PREEVA unit can remove a whopping 4,000 gallons of water from the air, which just goes to show what humidity levels and condensation can do to a building’s air quality.

“There’s a lot of humidity in buildings, which can compromise the indoor structure, the building contents or even people’s health and safety with complications from mold growth in walls or ceiling or moisture on floors. Many building codes require fresh air pumped into a building. Besides moisture generated from internal processes, when you’re pumping in hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of air per minute with water vapor it adds up to a lot of water,” says Clark. And that can become an expensive proposition. The PREEVAdH and MAPS lines dehumidify the incoming air. The air is then reheated to space comfort levels and delivered to the zones via the building’s ductwork system.

“One of our national accounts is with a restaurant chain. They found themselves having
to replace store interiors every three to four years, predominately in more humid climates. This can cause all kinds of problems that were solved using Reznor MAPS units” Clark notes, adding that Reznor’ systems also go into “schools, hospitals, hotels, kitchens, condos and nursing homes” – literally anywhere items (or people) could be affected by excess moisture.

Changing building codes often require designers to meet competing goals. The most common are increasing efficiency requirements combined with the requirement to bring in outside air for each occupant in the building. Thomas & Betts is developing the technology needed to fully condition outside air in the most efficient ways possible. Reznor product development has been driven by changing requirements and a drive to deliver the highest value product possible. With changes in building practices creating tighter buildings to conserve energy, the company has recognized the need to better deliver higher qualities of ventilation air. So Reznor started providing outside air ventilation units that could heat, cool, dehumidify and filter the air. Today the company is involved in marketing the fourth generation of these units.

Reznor products have been used around the world to help provide lower building maintenance costs and increased indoor air quality.

FUTURE GENERATIONS
Today Thomas & Betts is active in lean and Six Sigma programs, employing lean principles both on its plant floor and office area and Reznor is no stranger to these time and cost saving measures. Explains David Street, vice president of marketing, “We employ many programs on a regular basis to find what is essential and adds customer value and eliminate what is not. And we do this in all of our facilities with all of our products around the globe.”

This initiative toward excellence goes hand in hand with Reznor’s brand distinction, considered the best in its markets, Street emphasizes. “We don’t compete with many of the major HVAC companies – our products and solutions are more specialized.”

For the future the company has set its sights on developing products to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time setting new standards and improving energy efficiency. The Reznor group also wants to incorporate its high-efficiency products into other applications. According to Street, “If your company is looking to reduce its carbon footprint in the future and improve the internal quality of your building we aim to have the products to help you meet your goals.”

Clark adds, “Thomas and Betts provides us with a strong base of manufacturing expertise and a wide range of capital to invest in equipment to automate and improve the way we operate. Its strength and diversification has given us a leg up in weathering the storms of economic times.”