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What Contractors Need to Know About SEER2 Regulations

In 2022, the environmental and economic impact of energy consumption received significant attention from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other regulatory governing bodies. The result was an update in SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Standards) Regulations, which serve as the efficiency standard for HVAC equipment like gas furnaces and air conditioning units.


Now that 2023 is underway, the new SEER standards – SEER2 – have taken effect. Navigating new federal regulations can be challenging, but contractors must adhere to updated legal requirements to stay in business and avoid punitive action against them. This article will explain what you need to know about SEER2 moving forward.


Prepare for New Rating Procedures and Techniques

Some of the primary changes rendered by SEER2 regulations involve changes in testing. The DOE hopes updated procedures and testing techniques will give a more accurate equipment analysis concerning energy efficiency.


The new testing methods, called M1, are thorough and aim to simulate real-world conditions. Compared to the previous methods, one change is that the new tests will measure unit efficiency with varying external static pressure requirements.

The following equipment will be subject to updated testing and may be affected by SEER2 regulations:

  • Air conditioner condensing units

  • Heat pumps

  • Single packaged units

  • Evaporator coils

  • Mini-splits

  • Gas furnaces

M1 Testing Requirements

Manufacturers are redesigning system components to accommodate new testing requirements. As a result, even those that currently meet SEER ratings will need to be renovated in 2023 to remain compliant.


Matching components, like furnaces and air handlers, will undergo a redesign phase to meet changes in the airflow setpoint. As a result, additional field install equipment, like Thermal Expansion Valves (TXVs), may be required in some regions.


The primary reason for the updates in SEER2 testing is to represent external field conditions more accurately. For example, existing SEER testing does not adequately reflect the influence of ductwork and external static pressure on HVAC products. Essentially, current testing is not representative of real-world application.


For additional information regarding SEER2 test procedures, review and download this document from the Department of Energy.


Regional Requirements and Inventory Compliance

The SEER2 requirements for 2023 and beyond vary by geographical location. The U.S. has three separate SEER2 regions (North, Southeast, and Southwest). Please review the specifics from seer2.com below:

  • North Region: Residential central air systems below 45,000 Btu must have a SEER2 rating of 13.4 (14.0 SEER). Residential central air systems 45,000 Btu and above must also have a SEER2 rating of 13.4 (14.0 SEER). Heat pumps in any region must meet 14.3 SEER2 (15.0 SEER) and 7.5 HSPF2 (8.8 HSPF) requirements.

  • Southeast Region: Residential central air systems below 45,000 Btu must have a SEER2 rating of 14.3 (15.0 SEER). Residential central air systems 45,000 Btu and above must have a SEER2 rating of 13.8 (14.5 SEER). In addition, heat pumps in any region must meet 14.3 SEER2 (15.0 SEER) and 7.5 HSPF2 (8.8 HSPF) requirements.

  • Southwest Region: Residential central air systems below 45,000 Btu must have a SEER2 rating of 14.3 (15.0 SEER) and 11.7 EER2 (12.2 EER). Residential central air systems 45,000 Btu and above must have a SEER2 rating of 13.8 (14.5 SEER) and 11.2 EER2 (11.7 EER). In addition, heat pumps in any region must meet 14.3 SEER2 (15.0 SEER) and 7.5 HSPF2 (8.8 HSPF) requirements.

In the Southeast and Southwest regions, before selling products from a dealer's existing inventory, it's essential to ensure they comply with new efficiency standards. Compliance with 2023 standards is based on the least efficient combination of indoor and outdoor units, commonly referred to as the coil-only rating. You can identify ratings on the equipment's energy guide label. If a range is given, use the least efficient rating. Further explanation is available at www.seer2.com/about.


What It Means for Manufacturers, Contractors, and Retailers

While there will likely be growing pains in the first year of SEER2, manufacturers are consistently improving their equipment's efficiency standards and should transition seamlessly.


Contractors that install HVAC equipment must do their due diligence to ensure compliance with the new SEER2 standards. Pay attention to industry news and updates, and get ahead of changes when possible.


As many existing systems become regionally nonviable, HVAC equipment retailers in the southeast or southwest regions may be able to liquidate inventory to businesses in the northern region. The other major factor to consider regarding SEER2 is the rising equipment cost. Most estimates indicate prices will rise 15% to 25%, depending on the manufacturer. Contractors should be upfront with customers about the price jump and work with them to find a financing plan that fits their budget.


Discover the Johnstone Advantage Today

As a leading distributor of HVAC/R equipment, parts, and supplies, we understand the challenges contractors face when ensuring new installations comply with new regulations. In addition to providing quality materials, we're here to support, train, and educate HVAC industry workers on the latest equipment and techniques.


Contact us online or stop by a Johnstone Supply store near you to see how we can help your business grow by providing the products and insight you need to succeed.


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