East Stroudsburg Air Conditioning

Posted on: May 23rd, 2014 by RF Ohl

Here is another video that Steve Ohl was featured in. This video discusses AC servicing and tips on how to find a good contractor to handle your air conditioning. Some of the topics that are talked about in the video are:

  • Advancements in technology as it pertains to HVAC systemsLatest technologies in the thermostat
  • Split unit AC systems – A great alternative to ducted whole house systems and an excellent way to condition a room with a better solution than a window AC unit.
  • What does certified and/or authorized really mean when shopping for a HVAC contractor? Should consumers place a lot of trust in this? What is really important for a consumer to understand when they are selecting a HVAC contractor?



Video Transcript:
Brett Lewis: Hello everybody. This is Brett Lewis from L4 Group and I have another session today talking about energy and today we have Steve Ohl from RF Ohl and Steve is going to answer some questions that some consumers are curious about learning when it comes to air conditioning and HVAC systems and just energy systems in general. So Steve, how is it going today?

Steve Ohl: Good, good. It’s nice out. How are you?

Brett Lewis: Very good, very good. Hopefully getting some nice good warm weather for the spring. So first off, why don’t we just start off with – give everybody a little bit of background about what RF Ohl is all about.

Steve Ohl: Sure. RF Ohl is a heating oil and propane supplier for five counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley and we’re also an HVAC full service heating systems, air conditioning installations, heat pump installations, natural gas installations of heating systems.

We also offer service on the heating systems and repairs or we also operate a hearth and patio showroom and there are gas grills, barbecue grills, charcoal grills, retractable awnings, fireplaces and heaters and we’re basically a service company that delivers heating oil and propane.

Brett Lewis: You guys basically keep us warm in the winter and keep us cool in the summer and let us play outdoors.

Steve Ohl: Yeah, yeah. We like to say we’re your source for indoor comfort and outdoor fun.

Brett Lewis: Awesome, awesome. So today, I wanted to touch on a couple of different topics. So, the first one is just advancements in technology in the HVAC system arena.

For instance, like thermostats. I know they have come a long way in the past couple of decades from the little round – I remember the round Honeywell thermostats that basically you just set the temperature and set to heat or cool. So what’s available today? What’s on the market?

Steve Ohl: There are several different brands. Many of them are so advanced, they’re linked to smart phones, security systems. Basically the home automation concept is pretty much a reality anymore, if you want it to be that way. The next is it’s a really good system that we use. It ties in the train [0:03:00] [Phonetic] and you can basically view that from your smartphone or you have an Android or an iPhone and turn on lights if you want. I think there are 264 different items that you can toggle on and off within the home whether that’s cameras, security systems, door locks.

If you were there in your – you had to get a leaky faucet fixed or something and the repair guy is there and you forgot about it from work or a vacation. Just go and get your smartphone and open the door and it’s all tied to the thermostat system and so that’s the technology.

Brett Lewis: That sounds very cool. I actually pulled it up before the interview here and I wanted to do a quick screen share about the system that you’re talking about. You see my screen?

Steve Ohl: Yeah, that’s it.

Brett Lewis: Yeah. So it looks like – like you were saying, you can turn on and off lights, front door locking, door sensors so you can know that your door is actually closed or opened. That’s cool.

Steve Ohl: Yeah, if you want to check, you forgot. Oh, I forgot to lock the house or the kids are at home when you left. You wanted to make sure they lock the doors. You can just quick buzz in there and check it out and make sure everything is secured.

Brett Lewis: Yeah. I see here you have a whole list of things that you can show as being locked, closed, opened, the temperature. Oh, and they got a video too?

Steve Ohl: Yeah, you can do – you can link to videos and check things. So many applications. I really don’t know anybody that’s using all of them but there are a lot of applications and I’m sure somebody is out there.

Brett Lewis: Yeah, that’s pretty wild. I guess if you’re away from your home and this is like another advancement on a security system really.

Steve Ohl: Yeah, it’s like you have a smartphone. Now you have a smart house. There are just so many different things you can do with it.

Brett Lewis: This is tied right through your thermostat.

Steve Ohl: Correct. Yeah, right through the – next to the – we’ve installed quite a few of them already and it’s a pretty neat item.

Brett Lewis: That is very cool. Then I guess it needs Wi-Fi. So you need to have your Wi-Fi set up in your house to communicate.

Steve Ohl: Correct. Yeah, you would have to have some type of communication system in your house, which most everybody does and just about anybody looking at that unit would probably already have Wi-Fi in their house.

Brett Lewis: Yeah, yeah. So what about houses that already have a thermostat on an existing system and then they wanted to switch over to something kind of like this? How easy is it to just make that conversion?

Steve Ohl: It’s not really hard at all. It’s just a matter of calling an HVAC expert in and have them take a look at it. That’s usually not that involved but you just want to definitely make sure. Like I said check the Wi-Fi and some different connections that you have within the home and make sure everything is OK.

Brett Lewis: OK.

Steve Ohl: The longest …

Brett Lewis: Cool, cool. I might have to check that out for my own home. Yeah. No, awesome. So now, what about the systems themselves? What kind of advancements have you see in the industry in the actual units?

Steve Ohl: A lot of technology just like we looked at and the improvements and efficiencies and they have modulating motors. Instead of systems modulate to adjust slowly over the changes of heating and cooling needs, that way they’re not just on or off because typically that’s where most of your energy consumption comes from and if you – if you think about a window air conditioning unit and you know how they just kind of blow and blow and it’s always high, low, medium, that’s about it or maybe only have high and low.

With the modulating systems, it’s just variable. It senses when it needs to be turned up and turned down and you really don’t know the units are on for that matter. They’re super quiet. Just you’re comfortable. It just adjusts to the needs that you have and it’s not a choice of on or off. It’s – well, like a lot of people have them in their hearts. They may not realize it but you might have a comfort control system, I believe they call it in most cars, and you just set the temperature in a digital display and it adjusts. You don’t have to be high and low.

If you remember you got your car years ago and get the defroster on when you went and left and it was on high and well that’s – so you turned the car on. It’s on high. Some of the cars even out here, you just turn your car on and it knows what temperature and it just adjusts to it. So it’s kind of the same concept but a lot more people can relate to the car aspect because they may not have had the variable output in the home. It’s more like climate control. Just adjust to your needs.

Brett Lewis: Right, right. So just instead of a simple on and off, it’s now – you just set the thermostat and then as the house needs more cooling, then it kind of amps up to that level and then slowly kind of gradually dies down as it satisfies that temperature.

Steve Ohl: Yeah. Then even then, heating. Say you have a sudden swing. It will sense what it needs to do and some of the units will actually switch over to heating also for you. It’s just – definitely a lot of advancements in the technology improvements within the HVAC industry. It has come a long way, specifically with the energy needs.

As energy costs increase, it’s just kind of natural that there will be this competition to make more and more efficient HVAC and heating systems.

Brett Lewis: Yeah, exactly, exactly. So all right, so now what about alternative systems? So we’ve been talking about traditional HVAC systems that you find in houses. But I know the split unit systems, they’ve undergone quite a bit of change over the years as well. Can you talk about that?

Steve Ohl: Yeah. There are many split systems out there. There are several different manufacturers. For instance we use train [0:09:59] [Phonetic]. Mitsubishi and Fujitsu are our three, four, mini split systems.

Between those, we haven’t been able to find any configuration that we cannot install at any home. We’ve never looked at a house and said, “Oh, there’s no way we can install many split systems in this home.” I really let people know right out. It’s like almost any home we can install many split systems. We did a home recently with five separate additions and it ended up being a combinations install with a main – what you call a whole house air conditioning heat pump system along with multiple mini split systems. So it worked out and it’s amazing.

You can have a 200-year-old house, farm house with all kinds of things. You don’t know what’s going on because that house was built so long ago. You can come in and take a look at it and usually there’s a way to install a mini split system or you can have a brand new home and you just didn’t want to put the air conditioning heat pump just at the time and now you’re looking. We don’t have to disrupt and put in ductwork. It’s really typically a day or less in installation for you depending on how complicated the system is, but definitely a lot of advancements on non – like a non-traditional whole house heating and cooling system.

Brett Lewis: Right, right. I can imagine the challenges that you have running ductwork in a 200-year-old farmhouse with big stone walls in it.

Steve Ohl: Yeah, stone walls, plaster. There are a lot of different things and actually the mini split will do heating also. You can just add a heat pump right on to the mini split system and you have heating for the cooler times of the year and you have – you know, in the warmer days, you have cooling also.

Brett Lewis: Awesome. Just to back up a little bit, can you just briefly describe what a mini split system is for those viewers out there that don’t know what that is?

Steve Ohl: Sure. It’s kind of similar to the concept of the whole house system except you don’t have ductwork and vent registers in a ceiling or a floor.

Typically you will see these. There will be a two to three-foot long what they call a head unit inside the home and then outdoor, there will be an outdoor unit that’s really – where it separates it from the whole house unit is the ductwork.

[0:12:45] [Inaudible] refrigerator lines. But there’s no need to drill waterholes in the home. It’s usually a two-inch hole or less and the head unit is hung right over that hole. So you don’t see anything coming in. Everything is sealed up so there are no issues. You have a two-inch hole in the side of your house and bugs and different things are kind of there. It’s all sealed up and taken care of. So there’s – they have screenshots.

Brett Lewis: Let me put that up here on the screen so people can see. So yeah, so just while you were talking, I just Googled “mini split systems” and so this is what you’re talking about as far as the …

Steve Ohl: Indoor head unit on the top there and in the box, outdoor unit. You will see there’s a lot of restaurants and other things too if you’re out in general public. You can have remote controls and everything for those as well.

Brett Lewis: Yeah. That’s great. You can run – if I understand it right, you can run multiple indoor units off of one ampere unit. Is that right?

Steve Ohl: Yeah. I think some of the manufacturers, it’s up to like eight or nine units now off of one outdoor and I think we have something like 75 feet away to run the wine sets for the refrigerator.

That’s pretty amazing, the technologies. I want to say they’re up to like 27 SEER [0:14:14] [Phonetic], some of the units. So it’s pretty amazing. There are just leaps and bounds. Technology is just coming into the mini split market.

Brett Lewis: That’s good. I mean there are so many applications for that type of system. So it’s nice to have that versatility.

Steve Ohl: You will see them – I was in New York City recently and you will see them on the sides of buildings up 30 feet in the air. You would see them on rooftops at restaurants or especially areas where you’re in a town. A lot of people mistake that too if you live in a small town who will have nowhere for an air conditioning unit. There might be a place if you take a look at it and see what you have because it’s just multiple ways you can mount these. At our own office, we have one area.

For my unit in particular, we park from the back of the building and we didn’t want anybody to accidentally bump the outdoor unit. So we now did it at about I think seven or eight feet in the air and it’s off the ground now. It’s on special mounting practice they made for it. You will see that a lot. I mean we’ve seen them at restaurants or on rooftops. So it’s pretty amazing the versatility.

Brett Lewis: Yeah. No, that’s great. All right. So I want to shift gears a little bit now and talk about some of the terminology from a consumer’s perspective, when they’re looking to hire an HVAC company. I know myself, I see ads from companies that they title themselves as certified or authorized. What really does that mean to the consumer and is that something that consumers should be basing their decisions on when they’re trying to find a good contractor?

Steve Ohl: I mean it’s – basically it’s a manufacturer’s designation. So the manufacturer may require a certain amount of purchasing power for that particular designation. They may require you to buy say five units or a certain amount.

If they make you take classes that they have specific to that unit to get that designation, it’s not necessarily industry-wide standards. There are for instance like NATE certifications and different things like that.

The real thing to look for is the longevity of the company, the training that that company does and you can always ask what the skill set is of your – the company that you’re hiring. But typically it’s how long have they been doing the HVAC referrals from friends and neighbors going online and checking out say a website, making sure that they actually have a website. Do they answer their phone? That’s another big component is many times the contractor basically is unavailable after a certain time.

For instance like many companies at the HVAC industry, they’re a full service HVAC but they will also do the service instead of just the installation. So for us, it’s 24 hours. A live person answers the phone. If you have an issue night or day, just call and it’s taken care of.

So, that’s a lot of what you have to look for when – not just – certain manufacturer designations because that doesn’t necessarily translate into the service that you’re going to get after the installation.

Brett Lewis: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So basically the dealer or the installer is going to be certified from the manufacturer because they’re dealing with their products. But you need to look beyond that. It’s what you’re saying.

Steve Ohl: Yeah. It does mean something. It’s kind of – base that as a certain percentage of how you’re going to look at it. Maybe that weighs into the factoring 10 or 20 percent. But the rest of which to be referrals and talking to your friends and neighbors, going online, doing all the research, checking on a website.

Another big thing like a – I would say make sure when they show up, there’s the actual name on the van or the – maybe they have an estimator they send out ahead of time and make sure they’ve definitely been around and they have – in Pennsylvania, you have to have a PA contractor number. That’s another big indicator if they don’t have that because that’s basically saying that you’re able to do business in Pennsylvania.

Brett Lewis: Right, right, exactly. That contractor number, that has got to be displayed on the truck, doesn’t it or on the business card or something?

Steve Ohl: Yeah, there are certain requirements and that’s a sign that if – because one of the requirements is if you letter your vehicle, you have to put that designation on the vehicle. So some have skirted around that little loophole and if they don’t letter their vehicle, then they don’t have to put the PA contractor number on. So that’s why I said it’s a sign.

If somebody is not willing to put their name on the side of your vehicle, and say hey, I’m currently in business and I have a PA contractor number, that might be a sign to kind of get another estimate.

Brett Lewis: Yeah, exactly, exactly. So that’s good stuff. So what about your company? You want to talk a little bit about the types of services that you offer when it comes to installing and servicing systems?

Steve Ohl: Yeah. Yeah, I mean we do whole house units for air conditioning and heat pumps. We do mini split systems. We can do the installation of natural gas heating systems, propane heating systems, heating oil, fuel oil systems.

We also do solar. We do solar voltaic which is the – solar voltaic is the electrical panels and then also the solar panel for hot water heating. We do fireplaces and heaters, wood pellets and we have a full range of HVAC and heating and cooling system installations. We’re not just an installer. We also do the service. We have service plans. So if a customer wants to have that annual maintenance and not have to worry about calling and remembering to do that, we have plans available for heating and cooling.

So we can actually come out twice a year and check out before the heating season and then also check out before the cooling season.

So again if there’s something you’re looking for, definitely give us a call. We can tell you whether we can or cannot do it and we are fully-trained, fully-staffed and so we’re available 24/7.

Brett Lewis: Yeah. Also something that kind of differentiates you from a lot of other companies out there is you actually have a full blown showroom where not only can people see the systems that you’ve installed, but also all your patio furniture, the grills that you sell. I mean so you have a pretty large physical presence as well.

Steve Ohl: Yeah. We like to call it kicking the tires. If somebody says, “What does that system look like?” or “How does that work?” you can actually come in and spend time with our home comfort specialist and they will walk you through the systems and show you the components. We do seminars every once in a while and we will have people attend the seminar and we can get in as in-depth as people want to get with how the technology works. But most of the customers, really the main concern is what does it look like and how is it going to work, so that we can usually solve right away.

Then the other things we can address when we go out to the home and we do an estimate. It’s a free estimate. We go out to the home. Our estimator goes out and takes a look at the house and finds out the areas that you’re having issues with because not every home is the same.

As a matter of fact, no home is the same. So you go into the house. It’s usually the questions of what are the issues you want to fix and usually the home owner knows exactly where it’s not cooling or this room is hot.

Sometimes we don’t even need to do an installation. It’s just a matter of getting somebody out there to service and maybe balance the system that was just installed and never really maintained or never set up correctly and then you can save the customer a lot of money by just showing them that a couple of hours of maintenance and some service would repair this instead of doing a total replacement.

Brett Lewis: Yeah, exactly, exactly. All right. Awesome. Well, thanks for taking the time to answer some of these questions and then help us out as consumers looking to stay comfortable in the pending hot weather that we’re about to get slammed with this next couple of months.

So can you – let’s just wrap up with – if you could give everybody your web address that they want to get more information about RF Ohl, your phone number, where you’re located and then in that way, they can reach out to you if they’re interested.

Steve Ohl: Sure. Our website is www.RFOhl.com. Our phone number is 610-377-1098. We’re actually on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter. If you go on to our website and take a look at the website, there are links there to our Facebook and Twitter accounts and you can get updated with all the information there.

We’re in Lehighton Route 209 which is 400 Interchange Road, Lehighton. You can’t miss it. It’s right along the road and a big digital sign out front. You always have things posted on there. So one way or another or give us a call and we will come to you. But we’re easily available.

Brett Lewis: That’s good stuff. All right. Thanks Steve. Again thank you for taking time to talk to us today and I’m sure that people found this interview very informative if they are in the market for any kind of air conditioning system or service.

Steve Ohl: You’re welcome.

Brett Lewis: All right. Have a good day.

Steve Ohl: See you!

Brett Lewis: Yeah, bye.

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