PTACs partner well with wall thermostats

SILVER SPRING, MD—Energy efficiency—and its salutary effect on the environment—was at the top of the list of priorities for developer Milestone Hotel Partners when it was selecting a heating and cooling system for its recently opened, two-brands-in-one building that includes a Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton here.
Milestone, an affiliate of Boca Raton, FL-based Milestone Hospitality International, eventually decided to install package terminal air conditioning (PTAC) units in guestrooms of both branded sections in combination with wall-mounted thermostats that incorporate sophisticated motion sensors.
“With these devices working in tandem we’re able to lower the heat or air conditioning to a preset level automatically when the motion sensor indicates that guests have left the room. Significant energy savings result. Then, when the guests return, the system recognizes that as well and quickly restores the heat or air to the level the guests had indicated was their preference,” explained Milestone’s executive vp, Max Mednick. “Not only is the energy saving beneficial for the environment, but it’s cost effective for us as the developer.”
Thanks to the wall-mounted thermostat, the PTAC system allows guests to feel a greater sense of control in determining the temperature they want in the room. No longer do they have to bend down over the PTAC unit itself where it is installed in a sleeve under the guestroom window. In addition, the digital thermometers now in use give an exact read out as opposed to older models that only allowed for an increase or decrease in temperature.
The PTACs that Milestone chose here in Silver Spring, MD, were manufactured by Amana, while Inncom provided the rest of the temperature control system.
The developer created the two hotels through the adaptive reuse of a 1960s-era office building. The 149-room Hampton occupies the lower eight floors of the 13-story building, while the 90-suite Homewood occupies the remaining five floors. As an extended-stay brand, Homewood Suites offers suites that are larger than traditional hotel rooms and include a fully equipped kitchen. “Therefore, the room configuration on the Homewood floors are different, which required an extra motion sensor to ensure the system accurately picked up when guests entered and exited the room,” Mednick explained.
Another oft-cited advantage of PTAC systems as opposed to central air alternatives is their ease of maintenance and that has been borne out here. “The property is still brand new, so it’s not an issue yet. But when the units start to need repair, we won’t have to take an entire floor out of service just because the unit in one room broke down, which is the way we have to do it when a central air system malfunctions,” said the hotels’ general manager, Joseph Lumpp.
Instead, the hotels maintain a supply of spare units that can be quickly and efficiently pressed into service to replace a malfunctioning unit. “We have three spare units for the Hampton and two for the Homewood, which seems sufficient given each brand’s number of keys,” Lumpp explained.
The properties’ chief engineer is responsible for the spare units and for executing the switch should a change over be necessary. The engineer is also responsible for a third hotel that Milestone Hospitality owns and operates across the street from the Hampton and Homewood. However, that property, a 236-room full-service Hilton, works on a central air system as opposed to a PTAC system.
A final advantage for the PTAC option is how effective preventive maintenance has been shown to be in extending the life of the units and keeping owners’ overall costs down. Many experts believe PTACs will last 12 to 15 years if they’re maintained properly.
Proper maintenance, meanwhile, entails both annual and monthly procedures for the PTACs. This means pulling each unit out of its wall sleeve once a year for a coil cleaning, using an acid wash. Then, to supplement that process, each unit’s filters have to be cleaned on a monthly basis. The filters can be either washed or vacuum cleaned. By neglecting preventive maintenance hotels run the risk of shortening the life span of a unit’s compressor by as much as half.