Top PTAC trends include energy efficiency and design updates

From improved air quality to duct-free systems, PTACs are rolling out a host of tweaks aimed at improving the guest experience.

“They’ve made some changes to the requirements for fresh air,” said Douglas Mackemer, national director of parts, supplies and specialized equipment at Carrier Enterprise. “Many hotels in the past may have undercut the door to bring fresh air in from the hallways, but now the new standards are requiring a separate type of ventilation exchange within the facility.” This new ventilation requirement can require either a new freestanding piece of equipment or a modification to existing units.

* New polymeric mesh filters on PTAC units can also ensure clean air in the guestroom, said Lorie Quillin-Bell, go-to-market director, LG Electronics USA Commercial Air Conditioning. “The filters are simple to maintain; they can be cleaned just by using soap and water,” Quillin-Bell said. Additionally, an LED diagnostics feature can alert property owners to an issue that requires service.

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* Duct-free systems are also offering an alternative to PTACs for heating and cooling, Quillin-Bell said.

“Duct-free systems maintain easier installation procedures with little or no ductwork, and they allow integration into a comprehensive property-wide energy-management system,” Quillin-Bell said. Duct-free systems can consist of small individual units per room, with a one-to-one split system, or incorporate a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system that allows occupants to heat or cool rooms individually. Duct-free systems and PTACs with inverter technology also take up less space in the building and provide energy savings.

* Other tweaks, such as changing the shape of a PTAC unit for a slimmer fit, have met with challenges to adoption, said Mackemer. “When a manufacturer embarks on a product line like that, it ties the hotelier to just that equipment, so in the future the property owner will feel handcuffed to having to buy that product from that person,” Mackemer said.

Since PTACs are installed through the wall, a nonstandard-sized unit will require a nonstandard-sized opening, and any future unit would have to fit that opening, Mackemer said. “For example, in some parts of the Northeast, you have high-rise buildings that don’t necessarily have standard openings, and now they have to go back to custom-built equipment in those openings.”