One of the most iconic brands in San Antonio business may be 133 years old, but Friedrich Air Conditioning is busy looking ahead to the next century, opening a state of the art design and development center to research what the home and commercial HVAC systems of the future will look like, 1200 WOAI news reports.
David Lingrey, Friedrich's Vice President of Engineering, says the facility includes places to test a/c systems, to train HVAC service and repair personnel, even a 'rain test room' which will make sure that outdoor compressors hold up well in rainy conditions.
Lingrey says many of the systems of the future being tested now at Friedrich include updates to control systems, including making sure the a/c, whether it is a window or a central unit, can 'talk' to the rest of the home or office.
"We have Wi-Fi enabled air conditioners that allows utilities or the consumer to shut them off and turn them on," he said.
Friedrich began in San Antonio in 1883 as a maker of high end furniture. Around the turn of the 20th century the firm began manufacturing 'ice boxes,' which were pieces of furniture designed to keep food cold. That led to involvement in commercial air conditioning systems, and, after World War II, Friedrich helped pioneer one of the most significant social developments in American history, the population of the 'Sun Belt' with the spread of residential air conditioning units.
Although Friedrich's manufacturing facilities are now in Monterrey Mexico, about 150 employees in the management and engineering operations remain in San Antonio, where the company is still headquartered.
Lingrey says in addition to making your a/c 'smarter,' another goal is to make it more efficient. The central air conditioning unit is the single biggest user of electricity in the home between April and October, and he says making that more efficient would be a major breakthrough.
"Efficiency levels are improving, primarily as a result of federal standards and changes there," he said.
Another item in the works--improving on the concept of the thermostat. He says currently your air conditioning compressor is either 'on' or 'off,' but on days that are warm but not hot, that doesn't have to be the case. Rather than cycling the a/c unit between off and on, Lingrey says it would be more efficient to make a system which could have different levels of 'on,' to run more efficiently.
Chances are good that whatever Friedrich turns out at the new facility on Isom Road will be around for a long time. The fourth window a/c unit that the company ever made, back in 1952, has been installed at the new facility, and it's still working, still helping to keep people cool during the hot San Antonio summer.