Friedrich provides pieces for modular puzzle

SAN ANTONIO—With demand growth expected to outpace supply growth in the hotel industry over the next two years, according to STR forecasts, the number of modular construction projects should also rise. The easy process of getting the hotels from groundbreaking to opening makes them a popular choice among new-builds.

And, the major brand companies are ramping up their modular construction game, too. As reported by Hotel Business in May, Marriott International, Inc., made a commitment to increase the number of modular construction properties in the U.S. by partnering with four modular construction firms.

When modular hotel builders put the pieces together, a major part of the process is the installation of the air conditioning units. Friedrich, based here, has developed the Vert-I-Pak, which is ideal for modular hotels due to its size and easy install, according to TJ Wheeler, VP of marketing and product management.

“Vert-I-Pak provides modular builders with a compact, packaged total HVAC system that fits into a small interior closet and can be incorporated into the overall modular manufacturing process,” he said. “That turns setting the unit into a straightforward process; electrical, drainage and duct connections can be done by a single technician in minutes. Previously, modular builders would turn to products like split systems that required installation of the indoor part at the factory, then coordination of the outdoor unit. The old approach opens the door for high costs and quality problems because the work is done outside of the strict quality-control guidelines that modular builders follow. And, hotel operators and their guests love the comfort and convenience it offers because it’s quiet and efficient.”

Wheeler said that Friedrich has been producing Vert-I-Pak since 1997 and the units have been installed in nearly all brands in the industry in the limited-service group. The units are approved for use and are the basis of design for the major flags in the lodging industry.

All Vert-I-Pak units are AHRI (Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute) certified for performance, and models are available in nominal cooling capacities of 9,000, 12,000, 18,000 and 24,000 BTU. All units are only 23 in. wide and deep, keeping the footprint small and consistent throughout the range.

Vert-I-Pak units also work for conventional projects, whether new-builds or renovations. “Vert-I-Pak requires minimal labor to install and maintain, is completely out-of-sight and reduces call backs,” said Wheeler. “As hotel flags continue to move upmarket, they demand a solution that delivers more from a performance and aesthetic perspective.

“It’s also a smart choice because, unlike central systems, there’s less risk a building becomes uninhabitable if the system needs to be repaired or replaced,” he continued. “There’s no clutter of outdoor condensing units like you have with split systems—and no cooling tower to find a home for like you have with a chiller. Plus, the builder or renovator doesn’t have to deal with refrigerant lines running from floor to floor.”

The installation process is pretty straightforward. “For modular construction or even site-built properties, all that is required is to install the wall plenum and louver through the wall, then attach electrical, drainage and duct connections to the unit,” Wheeler said. “To simplify installation, the floating chassis design slides into the wall plenum and a weather-tight gasket firmly seals the chassis to a patented telescoping plenum without the need for fasteners from the unit to the plenum or the wall. This not only speeds installation but reduces sound transmission through the walls that can be common with competitor’s units that affix the units in place rigidly.”