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Kalos Services Inc. and HVAC School Host 4th Annual HVACR Symposium

Editor’s note: Kalos Services Inc. and HVAC School hosted the 4th Annual HVACR Symposium on January 19 – 21 2023 at the Kalos HQ facility in Clermont, FL. The event was another sellout, with 200 in-person attendees and others joining the virtual sessions. The following is a condensed summary of the event provided by the hosts.

The symposium managed to fit a lot of star power into this year’s electrification panel, which consisted of Kimberly Llewellyn (left), Bill Spohn (middle), and Jim Bergmann (right).

Another symposium has come and gone. We were privileged to have had some great speakers, sponsors, and attendees at this year’s symposium. So many people invested in themselves and the industry, and it was an absolute blessing to be among them.

There were many familiar faces among the speakers and some newcomers as well, all of whom brought unique perspectives and quality training to the event.

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), ensured that all in-person attendees were well-fed (smartac.com), or supported the symposium in any way, the sponsors made the event an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Here’s a quick recap of the symposium sessions:

We had a full house for this year’s symposium. It was loaded with many great speakers, sponsors, and attendees.

Day 1:

We kicked the symposium off with a session by Jim Bergmann. He shared the shocking statistic that 90–100% of residential HVAC systems have a fault of some kind, whether that’s in the line set sizing, equipment sizing, ductwork, etc. He used that to set up his session about quality installation and meeting standards.

Other morning sessions included another presentation by Jim Bergmann about how we can be smarter about maintenance and make our maintenance procedures more efficient.

Chris Hughes and David Richardson led a session about taking a common-sense approach to sales, recognizing customers’ about their families’ health and safety. Dr. Bailes’s presentation on ventilation dove into pollutants inside the home and how we can use ventilation effectively and safely to combat those threats to indoor health and safety.

Bert (right) went around and interviewed many of the speakers, including two of the most prolific authors: Eugene Silberstein (left) and Jason Obrzut (middle). Those two are current co-authors of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology, also known as the RACT Manual.

Jim Jansen with Sporlan gave an excellent presentation about the TXV and how it works, and Ty Branaman covered effective ways to think about and teach superheat, subcooling, and saturation. On the products side, Matteo Giovanetti from Micro-Air led a session about the EasyStart soft starter.

The final lineup of morning sessions had quite the concentration of star power; it included a Manual S session by Ed Janowiak, a commissioning session by Jim Bergmann and Chris Hughes, and a thermal imaging session by Eric Kaiser and Bill Spohn.

The afternoon session got back into full swing with a technology-centric group of speakers. In the main tent, Andy Ask and Ken Gehring led a panel discussion about dehumidification strategies and products. Nikki Krueger also brought some of her expertise to the table, which made this session a high-level masterclass in dehumidification theory and design. Tony Gonzalez from Fieldpiece led a session on how technicians can better use wireless technology for diagnostics, and Craig Migliaccio explored the humble yet complicated mini-split from the inside out.

Rick Sims tackled a unique topic in multi-family HVAC design problems. Even though HVAC systems in apartments and condos fall under the “residential” category, they have shared vents and other unique design aspects that can present problems for occupants and HVAC professionals alike.

This year’s lively business round table consisted of Luke Peterson (left), Andy Holt (middle), and Tersh Blissett (right).

Steve Coscia’s session armed HVAC/R professionals with effective customer service strategies, especially when technicians have to deliver bad news to customers. Trevor Matthews led a fundamentals class that focused on the proper and improper operation of components in the refrigeration cycle.

The concluding sessions of Day1 bridged the gap between theory and practice. Eugene Silberstein, author of Pressure Enthalpy Without Tears, broke down a high-level engineering concept and made it accessible to technicians, turning it into a tool they can use to optimize HVAC system performance. Joey Henderson’s class focused on airflow distribution, explaining how HVAC technicians could use knowledge of laminar flow in the field to take accurate measurements and design better duct systems. Russ King’s presentation also focused on measurement, particularly how we can use it to identify structural or design problems and optimize HVAC system performance.

Day 2:

We kicked off Day 2 of the symposium featuring three of the industry’s most informed and transparent voices on the low-GWP refrigerant transition: Jason Obrzut (ESCO Group), Don Gillis (Chemours), and Dr. Chuck Allgood (Chemours). They addressed changes to tools, recovery tanks, and other field practices, explained the phasedown timelines, and nipped misinformation in the bud. Sporlan’s Jim Jansen explained the best practices for installing filter driers and how they play a massive role in contamination cleanup and Trevor Matthews explained the necessary mindset and possible trajectory for HVAC technicians who want to get into commercial refrigeration.

Andrew Greaves manned the NAVAC booth and provided plenty of hands-on opportunities for symposium attendees to try out NAVAC tools.

The following sessions shared a common theme: system design. David Richardson with NCI focused on preparing for a duct renovation, empowering installers to offer solutions that offer value to the customer. Joseph Hillenmeyer with AprilAire led a session on fresh air ventilation and how a well-designed system can reduce the probability of health problems and structural damage due to poor IAQ. Sam Myers and Nikki Krueger also teamed up to lead a session about vented crawl spaces and how they can wreak havoc in unconditioned indoor spaces.

The final slate of morning sessions consisted of specialized systems, equipment evolution, and refrigerant evacuation. Roman Baugh and Steve Cook spoke about VRV/F systems and how they differ from typical commercial HVAC systems. Jose de la Portilla from Rheem gave the manufacturer’s perspective on the recent M1 regulations (SEER2, EER2, etc.); showing historical data of how equipment has evolved around changing regulations and how it might continue to change under these new testing protocols. Tony Gonzalez led a service-oriented session about getting faster, better evacuations, touching on more than your typical best practices: removing Schrader cores and using larger hoses.

The second half of the day’s sessions began with Ty Branaman’s presentation about training the next generation. Ty’s class got to the heart of what Generation Z really wants and how the industry can attract them and develop their potential. On the theoretical side, Rachel Kaiser taught a session about the gas laws; she grounded the highly theoretical, expansive topic with experiments and by highlighting practical applications of the gas laws in the field. Nikki Krueger and Bryan Orr also led their dehumidification session, merging the theoretical aspects of heat loads and energy transfer with best practices for building design in green-grass and humid markets.

Three unique service-oriented sessions came next. John Ellis discussed maintenance agreements and making them profitable; using a combination of financial and service best practices to make them worthwhile for the contractor and the customer. The presentations by Dirk Nauman and Jim Fultz focused on the troubleshooting side. Dirk addressed reading schematics; that schematics literacy makes it much easier to understand how a system’s components are connected, and technicians who can read schematics well are at an advantage when it comes to troubleshooting. Jim Fultz’s session was about troubleshooting integrated furnace controls (IFCs); the IFC contains the terminals that lead to the components of the appliance, and technicians would be wise to use it to aid them with the diagnostic process on furnace service calls.

Ed Janowiak’s ACCA credentials made him well-suited to lead his duct design session, which drew from ACCA Manuals D and T. Niek-Jan Bink flew in from the Netherlands to give a presentation about the ACIN Instrumenten FlowFinder. This unique and versatile airflow measurement tool can also be used to help technicians identify duct leakage. Alex Meaney led a session about undoing long-term misinformation on the individual level. Many people’s understandings of the world are informed by metaphors that lack context, and some people have simply been fed outdated information that is no longer true. Alex explained how we could get through to those people without being jerks about it.

Russ King’s second session emphasized a big problem with comfort diagnosis: contractors don’t ask the right questions. Customers don’t distinguish between hot and muggy; if you ask a customer if they’re hot and they say yes, they might actually mean they feel sticky due to humidity. Russ explained how to think like psychologists to ask more useful questions. Chris Mohalley’s highly technical session focused on the complicated relationship between MERV ratings and motors, especially when static pressure drops enter the equation. Andy Holt led a technician-focused session about soft skills. Whereas other soft skills classes tended to be more customer-focused, Andy’s session emphasized the importance of living a balanced, meaningful life.

Day 3:

As per tradition, Day 3 was shorter than the other two days. Jim Bergmann and Eric Kaiser kicked off the final day with their sessions on remote diagnostics and heat pump retrofits, respectively. Jim showed how we could use measureQuick to watch real-time measurement data from a remote location and assist with system diagnosis. Eric’s session covered heat pump retrofit jobs, touching on duct design, load calculations, and even zoning. He also covered the resources we have at our disposal to convert furnaces to heat pumps, especially the ACCA Manuals.

The electrification panel of Kimberly Llewellyn, Jim Bergmann, and Bill Spohncame next. Each brought interesting perspectives to the table; Kimberly works with METUS and has an engineering background, Bill is a NetZero HVAC enthusiast, and Jim has plenty of experience comparing the design and performance of furnaces and heat pumps. Although they expressed different feelings about electric heat, they agreed that the industry is not yet ready for mass electrification, all for slightly different reasons.

The final two sessions before lunch were Kevin Hart’s humid-climate ventilation session and the business round table with Andy Holt, Tersh Blissett, and Luke Peterson. Kevin’s session stressed the importance of measuring more than just relative humidity and temperature to track the effectiveness of fresh-air ventilation; we need to see the big picture of a home’s IAQ, including the presence of particulates in the air. The business round table discussed some common financial tips such as including using your profit margin for pricing and managing pay and price increases during inflation. Recruiting also entered the conversation, leading to a segment about women in HVAC and if the trades are accessible to women.

After lunch and the symposium sponsors’ gear raffle, Alex Meaney led the final educational session, about HVAC design, the many things that go into it and the many mistakes we often make when designing systems. For instance, some HVAC professionals equate CFM and tons without understanding that those are separate, non-equivalent measurements. System design requires us to understand what we’re calculating, why that matters, and how we can make it happen.

Throughout the event, the sponsors demonstrated several products aimed at making field work safer and more efficient for field technicians and installers. These products included NAVAC’s tubing expanders, benders, and flaring tools, Sporlan’s flame-free ZoomLock fittings, Fieldpiece’s test instrumentation, INFICON’s multi-purpose leak detectors, and so much more.

The attendees, Kalos staff, speakers, and sponsors all came together to make this special symposium possible. Jason Obrzut summed it up best when he said, “At the HVACR Training Symposium, we see a lot of dedication to continuing education, furthering the trade, and making things better. The people here want to leave the industry better than they found it.” It’s clear that the symposium speakers, sponsors, and attendees all care very much about this great trade and want it to have a strong future, and it’s a privilege to be among such a great group of people.

Visit https://hvacrschool.com/ for more information on the training and instructional materials available to you.

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