A Summary of the Light Commercial HVAC Market Assessment
In the market assessment report that was conducted for the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, the market for light commercial HVAC was analyzed for the Pacific Northwest region. For the purposes of this study, light commercial was considered to be less than 25 tons and the objective of the survey was to discover the nature of the different players in the market and analyze the size of the market at the same time. A secondary purpose of the market survey was to analyze perceptions about energy efficient products such as indirect evaporative cooling systems.
According to a Dun & Bradstreet search of SIC codes, there are 5700 companies involved in the HVAC business in the Pacific Northwest. Of these, approximately 850 had 10 or more employees and it is assumed that those are likely to be the ones involved in light commercial HVAC. Of these, about 800 were contractors and approximately 50 were distributors. For the purposes of the survey, 46 different individuals were contacted.
In terms of HVAC products, it was found that approximately 50% of the market share is sold by Trane. Carrier has about 30% and Lennox has about 15%. The remaining 5% of the market is taken up mostly by York. It appears that both Carrier and Lennox are increasing market share rapidly due to favorable products and prices.
Regarding the distributors in the Pacific Northwest, there are six major players in the region. For the big three manufacturers, Lennox products are distributed exclusively through the factory, Trane products are available through the factory and one distributor and Carrier products are offered through a variety of different distributors.
It seems that while there are a large number of contractors in the area, there are relatively few that handle the majority of the installations. It would seem that this is a result of distributors who make a practice of sticking with a preferred group of contractors.
This is not the first market assessment of its kind. To evaluate the results of this survey (that showed approximately 6800 packaged units per year), results of past surveys were compared to the findings here. These found that generally 9000 to 9600 packaged units were sold on a yearly basis. The discrepancy in numbers may have to do with recent economic realities or errors in computations due to the overlap between large residential and small commercial equipment in previous studies.
Regarding indirect evaporative cooling systems, none of the contractors that were interviewed were regularly installing them. Aside from the occasional unit that was installed in a kitchen make-up air system the contractors generally had no experience with these kinds of cooling systems.
Feedback was garnered from the contractors as to what would help to increase the number of evaporative cooling systems in the market. One of the first responses was to say that prices needed to be competitive with current systems. Further, they indicated that maintenance must be straightforward and easy to carry out. They also suggested that the existence of utility rebate programs would be a significant step forward in having more of these kinds of units installed as it is a measure of cost reduction for consumers.