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Building boom fuels HVAC drives sales

24 June, 2008

The boom in the construction business across Europe has boosted sales of variable speed drives for HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) applications, says a new report. The study, from Frost & Sullivan, says that drives revenues from HVAC applications in Europe were worth $292.5m in 2007, and predicts that they will reach $456.5m by 2014. HVAC sales represent about 10% of the total drives market, according to F&S.

Sales in the HVAC sector have benefited from rising energy costs as well as the passing of standards and directives designed to promote energy conservation, says F&S. But increasing competition is squeezing drives manufacturers’ profit margins, especially with the growing demand for smaller, cheaper HVAC drives, it suggests.

The growing awareness of the financial benefits of conserving energy is increasingly driving the replacement of power-hungry traditional HVAC systems with more efficient systems using VSDs.

"The declining prices of the drives have ensured that the payback period of the investment on these drives has shortened," says F&S research analyst, Venkataraman Salavakkam. "With shorter payback periods, users are able to justify the capital expenditure on these products."

Increasing ease of use is also helping to boost sales. Advances in drives technology and displays have reduced the need for operators to have technical expertise or an understanding of the machines and processes involved. "This ease of use has converted drives into simple devices," says Venkataraman, "and has encouraged OEMs and mechanical contractors to use them in HVAC systems."

To sustain this sales momentum, the report suggests that drives vendors could offer value-added services to help sway purchase decisions in their favour in this highly competitive market.

While the AC and servo drives segments are the biggest revenue generators, the DC segment mainly relies on maintenance and repair orders to sustain itself, Frost & Sullivan says.

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