Comfort Solutions with Andrew Armstrong of Fujitsu General America




Andy Armstrong is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Fujitsu General America.  He is responsible for the sales of all the heating and air conditioning products from Fujitsu for the US and Canada and down into the Caribbean.

Go Bears!

Andy attended Washington University in St. Louis, as did our show host Marla (though different years in school).  They both were part of the Greek system there and were instrumental in helping it re-organize and grow.  Andy was a member of Thutene, which is a leadership honorary.  Every year they put on a carnival for a chosen charity.  The charity during his tenure was for cystic fibrosis.  They worked closely with the community to raise money, bring attention to that disease, and started a conversation about how we could help solve the problems of those children who had the disease. We were able to a significant amount of money.  He was very proud to be a part of that organization.

Marla stayed involved as a volunteer for Washington University in St. Louis until she moved last year, from the day she graduated. It’s been her second home for so long. Everyone there is so involved and it didn’t matter if you were an engineering student or pre-med, or an English major or a dance major. People had so many opportunities to be involved and part of the community.

Technology Mini-Splits

Fujitsu is a manufacturer of heating and air conditioning products. They’re manufactured in Asia and, like many of the Asian products, they’re a little bit different than what we’re used to here in the United States. This technology is very much focused on giving the amount of heat or cool that you need to a specific space, as opposed to heating and cooling the entire home or the entire business. We call the technology mini-splits.

You probably have seen a unit hanging on the wall in a specific room, which is how they were introduced originally. Now the heating and cooling can be delivered in several different ways.  The main idea is that you have your air handler inside, hanging on a wall or in a different place, and then a separate unit outside that is doing the compressor function of that unit, condensing function, and getting that heating and cooling to your space, very, very efficiently and very, very quietly.  “We are consistently trying to find better ways to heat and cool other than a window unit.” Window units are loud and block your view. They’re not a great way to heat and cool and they’re not efficient at all.

In Japan, 50 years ago, they started to look for better ways to do that. Three or four different companies, Fujitsu’s being one of them, came up with better solutions. “This mini-split concept, with an outdoor unit that does the loud work of an air conditioner (the compressor and condensing) and then just a quiet stream of air coming to the indoor unit that gives you much more concentrated comfort.  It puts the heat and the cool exactly where you want it, in a very quiet way.” In Japan and China and Europe, they’ve been using that for the last 40 and 50 years. In the US, we’re starting to figure out there are some real advantages to that as we are becoming more green.

It is a different concept than what so many Americans are used to with forced air heating and cooling systems, big central systems.

Fujitsu is like a BTU logistics company. BTU is the unit of energy that used to define how much heating or cooling you need in a given space. We move those BTUs around your house exactly how you need them when you need them. Unlike Asia and Europe, today they basically heat and cool rooms that you’re in. Here in the United States, we heat and cool entire homes, which is not a terribly green or efficient way to tackle comfort.

Education on efficient solutions

One of our challenges has been educating contractors to how this can be a better solution. As this revolution started {as an alternative to forced heating and air}. We are currently working to do this through distributors and people who are supporting those contractors, making sure that everyone has that information to let homeowners make a good choice about what is really the right solution based on their needs.

The idea is really more about what’s an efficient solution, but remembering the major goal of heating and air conditioning, that’s to be comfortable. So many of us think that to be green we have to be uncomfortable and that’s really not true. “We can make better decisions about technology and make better decisions about how we use technology and that’s about education”

Another challenge is that so many people don’t like the room architecturally and it doesn’t fit their design scheme. Today there are many other solutions that work with the mini-splits:

  • Cassettes that mount into the ceiling
  • ceiling mounts that will mount, not flush with the ceiling, but hanging from the ceiling,
  • wall mounts
  • floor console mounts that look more like a radiator that used to be in homes with boilers
  • ducted versions, so we can take a space above a closet or in an attic that delivers air to a couple of rooms from that ducted piece

Another thing to consider with the mini-splits is the ducting for the system. Our air handlers are as small as half a ton, which would do a small bedroom, and then go up from there to possibly heat an entire house.  When you think about whole-home ducting, you’re not only worried about the insulation and the mastic for sealing, but there is also the energy to move that air all through the house. It could be a very expensive proposition over time, so the efficiency of your system is actually improved greatly if you’re just moving a little bit of a refrigerant around as opposed to blowing all that air through the entire house.

At Fujitsu, we spend a lot of time training, helping contractors to ask the right question, to help homeowners make better decisions on how to be green and sustainable and yet not give up what they’re really looking for, which is comfort and a home they want to live in.

The number of laborers going into trades is decreasing.  The younger generations often don’t see the value in being a tradesman.  This issue is going to be a problem for the industry, there’s no question. One thing that is nice about the ductless technology is there is significantly less labor. Shrinking that labor requirements on this system and solving more problems faster in a sustainable way is always a good thing.

At Fujitsu, we are committed to educating the industry on mini-splits and making sure you have a premium player in your market.



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