NORDYNE nordyne.com is a manufacturer of heating and cooling equipment headquartered in O'Fallon, MO. NORDYNE has manufacturing facilities in the Midwest, producing central HVAC equipment for both residential and light commercial markets and sells product globally through indepdendent wholesalers. NORDYNE is a subsidiary of NORTEK , a privately held company. NORDYNE manufacturers central heating and cooling systems for site-built homes under the brand names Frigidaire, Tappan, Westinghouse, Maytag and others. It also manufacturers the majority of HVAC products for manufactured housing industry, under the names Intertherm and Miller. NORDYNE currently produces the most energy efficient central air conditioner with a 24.5 Seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER), certified by the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute.
In 1919, NORDYNE began as International Oil Heating Company. At that time, they manufactured oil burners for residential heating products. Since 1822, St. Louis had been known as the dirtiest place in the Mississippi Valley because of its excessive use of coal-burning fuel. It was so dense that a writer for the Missouri Republican reported that it was necessary to use candles during midday. The problem continued in the 1920s and growers were not allowed to sell evergreens to St. Louis City because of the horrible pollution.
The company felt their oil burners provided a cleaner solution to the dirty coal problem not just for the St. Louis area, but nationwide. The company reported thousands of flattering testimonials from customers expressing their satisfaction of using oil burners over coal and wood. The oil burners provided two main advantages to the homeowner. First, they minimized the daily effort required to keep the furnace operating and second, they used clear burning fuel. In 1924, Domestic Engineering, a trade publication, estimated that by 1930 at least eight million oil burner installations for heating purposes would be made.
Beginning in 1928 through the early 1930s, International increased their marketing efforts of oil burning fuel with the use of radio advertising. They became the largest spot radio advertiser during this time and sponsored some of the largest radio personalities, including Gene Autry, Eddie Arnold, The Girls of the Golden West, and later George Gobel, and a show called Sam and Henry (later renamed Amos and Andy).
In 1932, the company introduced the “New International Blue Flame Burner” for converting coal and wood stoves to gas, using oil fuel burners. The Blue flame burner cost less to operate then coal and wood stoves. The draft in the stovepipe could be shut off to keep all the heat produced with the Blue Flame Burner inside the home. “It’s just like using city gas” boasted a 1932 advertisement.
A chance happening occurred that directed the company into extending its market from residential oil heating to the mobile home industry in 1933. From 1937 to 1939, the St. Louis Board of Alderman issued a mandate for coal washing because of the continued pollution problem in the city. By 1940, Illinois coal was outlawed in St. Louis and replaced with a cleaner-burning Arkansas coal. Pollution was reduced, but not eliminated. Soon after, the Mississippi Valley Fuel Company’s pipeline was near completion and Laclede Gas was able to provide gas fuel to those in St. Louis who could afford to install a gas burning furnace.
In 1940, they developed the first forced-air distribution system using perimeter heating technology. This became the preferred method of forced air heating of residential homes. During this time, one of their notable audiences became the military in WWII. International was the sole supplier of heaters for military mobile homes. The equipment was sent mainly to the Aleutian Islands and other cold spots.
After WWII, they needed to focus on new heating concepts since the military demand for these units declined. While they continued to develop new technology for room heating, they also began to take a larger interest in the “mobile home” business, which was quickly developing during the 1950s. The mobile home was an evolution of the travel trailer. Soon it was being manufactured in larger sizes and marketed as low-cost housing. The homes could be placed on any lot or even a permanent foundation. It was a market that required special technological needs and the company had a leg-up on anyone else producing products in the HVAC industry. From 1948 through 1959, the company developed the following firsts for mobile homes: alcove heater, fully automatic mobile home furnace, first furnace to distribute air through ducts, first sealed combustion oil furnace, first UL listing of a sealed combustion gas furnace, and finally, the first hinged furnace door.
This decade also marked a new movement in HVAC…central cooling for homes.
While commercial applications for electric air conditioning existed since 1906, the use in a residential home first appeared in the late 1930s with the introduction of the first window air conditioner. It wasn’t until the 1950s that whole-home electrical air conditioners would be manufactured and sold to consumers. The solutions for a central air conditioner for a mobile home did not exist.
Cooling a mobile home meant overcoming the challenges of the home’s material structure, which typically included a lot of metal; the home’s final installation process, which could vary between a permanent or mobile application; and the duct work design, which used flex materials. Also, moving air through a mobile home structure is difficult because of the limited space for air to be distributed. With their experience in overcoming the air movement challenges, they were able to produce the first mobile home air conditioner in 1958 called the UF 2000.
In 1957, they secured the rights to patents for an electric hot water baseboard heating system. A year later, they were the first and only for three decades, to design and produce the electric hot water self-contained baseboard heating products. These could be used in various building environments, whether home or office. Over the next few years they would continue to improve the baseboard system with additional patents.
They continued a pattern of innovation during the 1960s and introduced the first sealed combustion furnace for the travel trailer; the first spark-ignited gas fired travel trailer furnace, and first RV air conditioner with heater strips. They introduced the first mobile home closet-installed furnace; 4 and 5 Horsepower air conditioners for mobile homes and the first upflow sealed combustion furnace for mobile homes. They even built the first wind tunnel machine to produce conditions up to 100 MPH to test and analyze their pilot and main burners. With continued success through the 1960s, the company went public under the name Intertherm in 1969, at a net worth of over $35 Million.
In 1970s, would also refocus their recent innovations on site-built home applications where there were fewer challenges, and more competition. After all, if they could successfully make a manufactured home comfortable with all of its heating and cooling challenges, they certainly could design products for the site-built home that would rival other manufacturers. The first example of refocusing technology developed for the mobile home market occurred in 1971. It was at this time they introduced the first sealed combustion residential oil and gas furnace.
Another influential first was their modular air conditioner, which had plug-in components, and a low profile design. In 1976, they took this design to a new level and developed the first economizer allowing self-contained air conditioners cool with outside air. It would also be the first self-contained mobile home air conditioner to achieve EER values in the range of 8. This design became the early blueprint for the “packaged” system, which includes the coil, condensing unit and a blower in one complete unit. This packaged system became the basic design standard other manufactures would follow in developing their own packaged systems in the residential market place. Packaged systems are commonly found in Florida, Airzona, parts of California and Tennessee. They are typically mounted on slab or rooftop, depending on the structure.
With their ability to continue to meet the needs of the HVAC market, the company continued to expand. At the end of the decade, the company opened a second manufacturing facility in Missouri.
The 1980s were a decade of change that would help leap them into the manufacturer they are today. After 30 years of being the only manufacturer producing baseboard heating, Intertherm introduced “Softheat” technology to their electric hot water heating baseboard products. The name “Softheat” derived from the fact anyone could safely touch the metal baseboard without worrying about burning themselves. At the time, portable electrical heating units were considered risky to children, as well as the home, if the unit tipped-over.
Finally, in 1986, a company called Nortek purchased Intertherm, along with a rival company, Miller, owned at that time by Lear Siegler. They were merged, and a year later, they officially changed the company name to NORDYNE. By 1988, the company expanded the residential product line and introduced the brands Intertherm and Miller products to the residential market. Over the next few years, the company identified the challenges in manufacturing both residential and manufactured housing product lines. While much of the technology was the same, the product lines were each built to meet very different design applications.
To assure that the facilities could meet the demands of producing quality products consistently for both markets, NORDYNE begins to look at the implementation of Demand Flow Technology. In 1994, the company takes its first steps with training employees, converting management systems and building the tools for full implementation. This process was Demand Flow Technology and it was designed using the theories of Just-In-Time along with very precise quality control measures. By following the processes rigorously the manufacturer would be able to reduce turnaround times at an industry-leading rate. Since all products were checked on average 200+ times during the manufacturing process, quality assurance levels increased to the highest levels in its history. Additionally, the demand system put in place allowed NORDYNE to assist their distributors in increasing inventory turns and freeing-up capital.
By 1998, NORDYNE becomes the first manufacturer DFT certified. The company was now confidently producing both HVAC products for site-built (a.k.a. residential) and manufactured housing at two different facilities. Because Miller and Intertherm had such long and prominent history in the manufactured home market, NORDYNE decided to rebrand the residential product line so it would not be confused with its manufactured housing line. The two products are distinctively different from a performance and design standard, as well as the codes to which the products are installed by a contractor. It was at this time NORDYNE began working with prominent appliance manufacturers such as Frigidaire and Maytag to sell its product under consumer-recognized brands.
With separate residential and manufactured housing strategies in place, NORDYNE began to expand its presence in the residential market at a record pace. The new manufacturing processes also proved to be a key factor. Since the early 1990s, NORDYNE has been consecutively recognized by Copeland (now Emerson Climate Technologies) for having the fewest compressor failures in the HVAC market. Because of the confidence in its quality, NORDYNE introduced the industry’s first manufactured back warranty over 5 years in 2000, along with a guarantee to replace the unit (a.k.a. quality pledge) within the first five years of ownership if the compressor failed. This was the first replacement guarantee ever provided by a manufacturer on all compressor-bearing products in the residential market place. Additionally, the furnaces would also carry the same guarantee on the heat exchangers. The warranty length continued to grow, along with the quality pledge promise of major component replacement.
In the mid 1990s, the innovative baseboard line Softheat baseboard product was sold to Cadet Manufacturing, an established producer of electric heating products. The product was best sold through the retail market since it did not require the expertise of a licensed HVAC contractor.
Innovation was historically part of NORDYNE and this has continued to be part of its expansion into the residential market as well as the manufactured housing market during this time. NORDYNE introduced the Powermiser in the early 1990s, the first of its kind. It was an integrated heat pump and air conditioning system that could repurpose the warm air during the summer months and use it to heat one’s water heater tank for free. In 2001, NORDYNE introduced the platinum air conditioning system to enable the manufactured housing OEM to incorporate a residential type air system-design in manufactured homes. This would free up space in the home and create flexibility with the location of the furnace. In 2004 and 2005, the Platinum systems would become a major part of the hurricane recovery projects after Hurricane Ivan and Katrina destroyed many residential homes. Temporary housing put in place used Platinum systems because of the product flexibility.
A year later, NORDYNE introduced SmartLite technology to residential furnaces. This new technology was the first of its kind for the furnace market. SmartLite has the ability to learn the start-up characteristics of a furnace and then adapt its ignition time. This ability helped expand the life of the igniter. Many manufacturers have today adopted similar technology because of the reliability. In the same year, NORDYNE also introduced the first, and still, the only 90% AFUE efficient furnace in a standard foot print size for manufactured home market.
In 2005, the government passed legislation raising the minimum energy efficiency standards of central air conditioning and heat pump products from 10 SEER to 13 SEER. This was the largest jump in energy system performance since the introduction of the SEER rating system in the 1980s. NORDYNE not only met the 13 SEER challenge in 2006, they also introduced the highest energy efficiency air conditioner in the market with iQ Drive. The iQ Drive is the first rotary-inverter technology used in the central air conditioner application for the residential market. Though inverter technology was used overseas more widely, NORDYNE successfully adapted into central air conditioning to provide the most efficient air conditioner that also provides the quietest sound ratings as well as greatly reducing indoor humidity levels. Combined with its 95+ Gas furnaces, it also makes the most efficient complete heating and cooling system available in the home.
In 2007, the iQ Drive air conditioner system was awarded the Dealer Design Gold Award (highest) in the residential energy efficient products category. The Dealer Design Awards are sponsored by The Air Conditioner, Heating and Refrigeration News and selected by an independent panel of heating and cooling contractors. In early 2008, the iQ Drive air conditioning system won best in category for cooling performance as well as the best overall winner among all category winners for the 2008 International Expo Award Winners. It beat out technologies from current industry leaders in the residential market place.
With the cost of natural gas on the rise, NORDYNE introduced iHybrid to its line up in 2007. This is a packaged system for the residential market that incorporates 4-stages of heat and 2-stages of cooling. It combines the gas and heat pump technologies into one system.
In 2008 NORDYNE introduced a line of new gas furnaces for the residential market, one of the smallest available. The high-end furnaces feature iSEER, their own technology (patent pending) for energy efficient motors. The iSEER motor improves the energy efficiency of the outdoor unit when the furnace is using to distribute cool air during the summer months. It also introduced one of the most efficient furnaces available today at 97.4 AUE, the iQ Drive furnace. Its iQ control design provides the lowest furnace modulating capability in the industry from 15% to 100% capability.
Recognizing that many of the residential products offer very green properties, NORDYNE launched the ecoLogic symbol unto several products. The symbol is given to products that use technology with green-friendly characteristics, which include extreme energy efficiency, improved indoor air quality proprieties, as well as environmentally friendly. The label is used to simply communicate and separate technical features of the high-end products into recognizable consumer benefits.
- US Patent & Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov)
- Air Conditioning & Heating Refrigeration Institute (www.ahri.org)
- NORDYNE, Inc, (www.nordyne.com)
Standard Supply,Texas (ssdhvac.com)
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