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HVAC School For Techs by Techs 2024 5th Annual HVACR Training Symposium was a Resounding Success

HVAC School For Techs by Techs 2024 5th Annual HVACR Training Symposium was a Resounding Success

The HVAC School For Techs by Techs 2024 5th Annual HVACR Training Symposium was held at Kalos Services Headquarters in Clermont, FL, on February 1-3, 2024.

The HVACR Training Symposium is an annual trade event that has been held at Kalos Services since 2020. Many of the industry’s finest minds come together to lead educational sessions about a wide range of applicable HVAC/R topics, from fundamentals to advanced design and diagnostics.

This year, over 45 training sessions, lasting 50 to 80 minutes in length, were conducted on a tented main stage on the grounds and smaller venues inside the Kalos commercial and residential warehouses. Several panel discussions and question and answer sessions rounded out the presentations.

In-person tickets sold out (there is only room for about 200 attendees) well in advance of the symposium, but virtual ticket sales are unlimited and were available before, during, and after the symposium. Even though the in-person experience offers the benefits of networking opportunities and free food, the virtual ticket is a high-value offering that can also earn the user up to 16 NATE CEUs and provide a wealth of useful training classes for people at all stages of their HVAC/R careers.

Bryan Orr of Kalos Services kicks off the Symposium

The following is a summary of the event provided by Emily Gutowski, Danielle Wexler and Laurie Candeloro of the Kalos staff.

5th Annual HVACR Training Symposium Summary

The 5th Annual HVACR Training Symposium showcased several familiar and new speakers and sponsors, and we had plenty of thought-provoking sessions and panels—some technical, some psychological, all HVAC/R-focused. As always, it was a privilege to see how many people truly care about the industry and want to invest in themselves and the craft as a whole.

Several sponsors, new and returning, also helped make the symposium possible. Whether they sponsored the symposium itself (measureQuick and ACCA), made the virtual access possible (TruTech Tools), sponsored one of the after-hours events (Refrigeration Technologies), provided raffle prizes, or supported the symposium in any way, the sponsors are the ones who made the event what it truly was.

Here’s a quick recap of the symposium sessions:

Day 1: Morning

We kicked the symposium off with Craig Migliaccio’s session about metering devices. He dove into the way metering devices work in an HVAC system, including the pressures applied to TXVs and EEVs that allow them to modulate and maintain a constant superheat. His session also covered the basics of troubleshooting systems with dynamic metering devices.

One day’s main stage lineup

Other morning sessions included a presentation by first-time symposium speaker and NCI chairman Dominick Guarino. His session defined “high-performance” and “low-performance” HVAC and drove home the importance of being able to sell high-performance solutions; we can’t make a positive difference in our customers’ lives without being able to sell them our comfort solutions. Meanwhile, Trevor Matthews gave a presentation introducing techs to CO2 refrigeration, covering the theory (pressure-enthalpy diagrams) and infrastructure (system components). Luke Peterson also explained what it really means to be thorough in our work to prevent callbacks, taking an approach that was equally technical and psychological.

The next wave of sessions included Dr. Allison Bailes’s presentation about nuanced and realistic discussions of indoor air quality. His session focused on occupant health, revealing some shocking truths about what happens to our bodies when we spend years of our lives inside buildings with poor indoor air quality. Jeff Kukert guided attendees through the ins and outs of Copeland scroll compressors, including the varying pressures throughout the compressor and built-in strategies to prevent overheating. Brian Feenie’s presentation started some conversations about how ACCA’s QI certification and measureQuick can help technicians guarantee value and performance, which builds trust in our customers and is a win for the industry.

The final group of sessions before lunchtime all had to do with data in some form; Ed Janowiak also went over Manuals J, S, and D in residential HVAC design. He also introduced a tool to help marry ACCA Design Manuals and code compliance in the field: the Residential Plans Examiner Review Form. Eric Kaiser focused on the art and science of collecting data with the proper tools at your disposal, including selecting a tool that will help you get the readings you need to troubleshoot and commission equipment. John Ellis and Jon Esquivel’s session focused on turning IAQ readings into solutions that benefit the customer directly by targeting their health and safety concerns—while getting paid to collect the data.

Day 1: Afternoon

A few interesting sessions helped us shake off that lunchtime sleepiness, including Rob Minnick’s presentation about home performance. He stressed that building design is very closely linked to HVAC design, and we get the best of both when we consider them in the other’s design process, especially when HVAC professionals consider building leakage in their designs. In the main tent, Chris Mohalley broke down the history of the ECM and several troubleshooting considerations, walking through several possible field scenarios. Tony Gonzalez from Fieldpiece led a tool-centric session focusing on field practices required for the evacuation and recovery of A2L systems, which will be invaluable knowledge over the next few years.

The sessions that followed included the likes of Rachel Kaiser and her scientific look at combustion, which included a look at different substances in the air and their effects on combustion. Andy Holt also led a session dealing with customers and how to put yourself in their shoes to make them feel at ease and satisfied with the work you do in their homes. Then, the TEC team of Steve Rogers and Chris Hughes teamed up with Russ King to deliver a session about “The Great Heat Pump Revolt of 2026,” including an informative and honest discussion about heat pumps and how well they work in various climate zones, especially with the new Manual S.

Day 1 finished off with three more sessions that all had a common theme: “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” Among these sessions was a close look at how to collect and apply good data led by measureQuick’s Ben Reed and independent consultant Caroline Hazard; they focused on collecting business and field data in a session that applies to business owners and technicians alike. Alex Meaney also gave a beginner-friendly session for people who want to take baby steps into building science, including theoretical building science concepts, how to overcome psychological barriers, and ways to get started in that side of the industry. Bryan Orr also led a presentation about humility in thought leadership and how to contribute to the industry (or any cause) without pretentiousness and with genuine care for others.

Day 2: Morning

Chris Jerry of Verizon, Andrew Lewis of Lewis Air, Heating & Cooling and Patrick Scampton of HOP Energy watching Gil Ledoux of Uniweld perform an aluminum coil leak repair

Just like in his book Psychrometrics Without Tears, Eugene broke down the principles and math behind human comfort in ways that just about anyone could understand. In the residential warehouse, Eric Kaiser and Sam Myers gave a hands-on demonstration showing the difference between good duct practices and bad ones (including poor sealing, high compression, and turns that result in high turbulence). Trevor Matthews also gave his Refrigeration Mindset presentation, which set forth some good habits and practical steps for HVAC techs who want to get into refrigeration.

 

 

This year, we had an entire dehumidification hootenanny with industry titans Tim De Stasio, Chris Conway, Chris Hughes, Dustin Cole, and Genry Garcia (the GOAT), moderated by the one and only Nikki Krueger. The conversation focused on different install configurations, sizing, and even sales. Meanwhile, two of Kalos’s very own directors, Matthew Taylor and Roman Baugh, led sessions about market refrigeration and VRF systems, respectively. Matthew’s presentation focused on the similarities between the HVAC and the R, as well as market refrigeration career opportunities for HVAC professionals. Roman’s session focused on VRF equipment and diagnostic principles for people who want to branch out into VRF/VRV service.

The final wave of classes before lunchtime consisted of mostly safety-oriented sessions. Don Gillis and Christian Pyles from Chemours took the main stage and delivered the latest news on A2L refrigerants, including work clearances and line set installation guidelines. Tyler Nelson from Sauermann gave a combustion analysis presentation, including a detailed breakdown of the readings you’ll get on your combustion analyzer, CO testing, and commissioning. Kevin Hart (the Canadian, not the comedian) also led a roundtable discussion about how and why the HVAC industry is failing to address the IAQ threats in most homes. He started his session off with an explanation of how locality, construction standards, and a lack of emphasis on humidity control lead to “sick homes,” and then he opened up the discussion with a panel consisting of Roman Baugh, Jon Esquivel, and Tim De Stasio.

Day 2: Afternoon

Challenges of Small Business Roundtable: Tersh Blissett, Jason Julian, Luke Peterson, Adam Mufic & moderator Matt Bruner

Eric Kaiser and David Richardson offered two unique perspectives in their session about combustion analyzers; Eric’s tool expertise and David’s high-performance HVAC knowledge gave a well-rounded look at an invaluable tool in gas-fired furnace markets. Tony Amadio also gave a session about residential load calculations, including varying methodologies and an engineer’s perspective of Manual S. The TEC team of Chris Hughes, Steve Rogers, and Jake McAlpine also delivered their presentation on #betterhvac, which covered the importance of creating a performance baseline during retrofits, especially furnace-to-heat pump replacements.

Then, veteran speaker and highly respected educator Ty Branaman taught a class about teaching the things we can’t see, bringing seemingly theoretical concepts to life with lively demonstrations (including throwing around several boxes representing cubic feet of air). Regal Rexnord’s Frank Granville also gave a presentation about reducing callbacks by keeping universal ECMs in the truck to replace failed PSC motors. Jim Fultz also led a session about dual fuel, an oft-misunderstood but vital part of the electrification equation that could bring comfort and energy efficiency to customers, allowing HVAC professionals to help them get the most out of their heat pumps.

Dr. Allison Bailes, Tony Gonzalez, and Russ King all stepped up again on the afternoon of Day 2. Dr. Allison Bailes decided to tackle the issue (or is it?) of undersizing in HVAC, especially in terms of rules of thumb that aren’t actually so cut and dry. Tony Gonzalez also shared his presentation on combustion analysis and how we can use combustion analyzers on a variety of gas-fired equipment, not just furnaces. Russ King also explained what friction rate really is, what it does, and how we can measure it in his presentation; he also broke down the differences between total external static pressure and available static pressure as they related to friction rate.

The final sessions of Day 2 included Alex Meaney’s presentation about ACCA manuals in the real world, which showed how air and heat movement interact with a structure and the ductwork so that we can use Manuals J, S, and D more meaningfully. Jim Jansen’s session was similar to Craig’s opening presentation on Day 1, but it specifically focused on TXVs and the mechanical forces that act on them, mainly internal and external equalizing forces. Joe Medosch and Dan Wildenhaus also shared the results of a survey that revealed a lot about the state of the industry. They especially focused on room for improvement in the way we treat newcomers to the industry, and they showed how we can create opportunities for new technicians who would traditionally occupy “helper” or “tool jockey” roles. Dan and Joe also shared a different perspective on diagnostics, which framed the process as forming a hypothesis and analyzing all the evidence (including information gathered with your senses) against your hypothesis instead of actively trying to prove what is wrong with the system.

Day 3: Morning

Day 3 was shorter than the other two days, and it started off with the Women’s Panel in the main tent. The conversation was lively and focused on ways that women are currently empowered, barriers to women entering the trade (and in schools), recruiting women into the trade, and the experiences that Rachel Kaiser, Sophie Ashley, Jennifer Manzo, and Kimberly Llewellyn experienced as tradeswomen in HVAC. Panel moderator Jaimie Jarvis also shared her HR perspective in several male-dominated industries, including HVAC and the oil & gas industry, and the challenges that have been faced in workplace treatment and recruiting.

Roman Baugh also decapitated some scroll compressors; this year’s compressor teardown especially showed how system contamination can lead to failure, even from seemingly harmless substances like leak detection dyes. Joe Medosch also returned to give an honest discussion about IAQ, including the realities of “bolt-on” IAQ products that some contractors use without addressing the root IAQ problems.

The Home Performance Panel followed, bringing the knowledge of Dustin Cole, Adam Mufich, Michael Housh, and Doug to the table. They discussed the HVAC aspects of home performance and how to work with builders and other trades to provide truly holistic comfort solutions for homeowners. Jim Jansen also led a session about controlling contaminants with filter driers, including a discussion on the types of driers (and the desiccants inside them) and best practices to deal with contamination. Trevor Matthews also carried on the compressor diagnosis theme after Roman’s compressor teardown, though focusing on semi-hermetic compressors this time instead of hermetically sealed scrolls.

Edgar Carrillo of DBH Air & Ron Muir of Fieldpiece

The final session before lunch was the electrification update. Kimberly Llewellyn and Bill Spohn returned from last year and were joined by John Hoehn from Duckling. They recapped common themes from last year’s electrification panel. They presented new data about the electrification projects that HVAC contractors have been taking on besides heat pumps and the predicted positive and negative consequences of electrification. Kimberly also defined “electrification” in the industry and beyond, clarifying that the electrification initiatives don’t just consist of swapping furnaces for heat pumps; they also focus on strengthening the grid, considering efficient building design, installing solar panels, and upgrading EV infrastructure.

Day 3: Afternoon

After lunch, Matt Bruner moderated the Challenges of Small Business Roundtable, which consisted of panelists Jason Julian, Adam Mufich, Tersh Blissett, and Luke Peterson. They took questions from online submissions and in-person attendees and covered topics like training, hiring, beginning to offer niche skills, and more.

We capped off the symposium with a raffle for a variety of products offered by our sponsors and speakers, including a Kwik Model 3D license, some books by our speakers, some gear and tools, and even dehumidifiers. Ed Janowiak and Joe Medosch closed the symposium on a hopeful note, focusing on opportunities to improve industry education and recognizing the mentors in the trade.

Dominick Guarino of NCI, Richard Trethewey from “This Old House”, & Bryan Orr of Kalos Services during one of the podcasts

Throughout the event, our sponsors demonstrated several of their products and services aimed at educating and empowering technicians in the field. These products included NAVAC’s tubing tools and new vacuum pumps (including the NR7), Sporlan’s flame-free ZoomLock fittings, Fieldpiece’s test instrumentation, Chemours’s R-454 ABCs, INFICON’s multi-purpose leak detectors, and so much more.

 

We also had a lively livestream studio where we had several conversations about initiatives to change the industry for the better, the labor endemic, Q&As with longtime symposium and HVAC School supporters, and even an episode of HVAC Overtime on-site. Even though Jim Bergmann was not physically present at this year’s symposium, we were glad to bring him into some of these discussions as well. Most of those are available on our YouTube channel.

The attendees, Kalos staff, speakers, and sponsors all came together to make this special symposium possible. This symposium, as with all previous symposiums, showed just how much passion there is for our industry. Whether the attendees are manufacturers actively inventing and selling products that make technicians’ lives easier, educators imparting knowledge to others, mentors who serve as role models in the trade, or panelists attempting to break barriers for new or underrepresented HVAC professionals, anyone who has been to the symposium can tell that the drive to make the industry (and each other) better is contagious.

We were blessed to be able to host the symposium again, give a platform to so many inspiring speakers, and foster a sense of community in the skilled trades.

Register to buy virtual tickets HERE. Or email questions to Danielle.Wexler@kalosflorida.com.

Check the HVAC School website regularly for announcements about the 6th Annual HVACR Training Symposium.

View additional images from the Symposium HERE. Search for “2024 02 HVAC School 5th Annual Symposium”.

 

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