MARS Revisits Innovations, Finds New Ones
Expo booth features new products, a salute to history
HVACR innovations present and past characterized the MARS booth at the recent AHR Expo in Las Vegas.
From a U-shaped window air conditioning unit that keeps the compressor noise out and the cool air in, to a portable dehumidifier that collapses into its bucket, to a salute to a 50-year history with ductless mini-splits, new ideas, and older ideas improved to meet new market demands — all were prominent at the MARS display at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Founded in 1946, MARS sells finished HVACR equipment, including air conditioners, furnaces, heat pumps, mini splits, and air handlers, under the Century and Comfort-Aire brands, and also has a motors and components division that sells some of the technology that goes into such equipment: capacitors, transformers, motors, relays, and the like. That division sells its parts to HVACR equipment manufacturers as well as to the aftermarket.
“MARS can offer for its distributors that one-two punch,” said Glen Bowen, vice president of marketing for the MARS equipment division. If a buyer needs an air conditioner, MARS has them, and if she or he needs a motor for an a/c unit, MARS has those, too.
The new Comfort-Aire Cube portable dehumidifier was one of the innovations on display at the expo. The Energy Star-rated appliance collapses into its own bucket for easier shipping and storage.
Bowen said that while the Cube wasn’t designed with shipping costs in mind, its compact size means it takes up less cargo space than a more traditional dehumidifier, offsetting the recent rise in shipping costs, which has kept its price about the same as an older-model dehumidifier with fewer premium features. “Probably one of the few Cinderella stories out of the” supply chain crisis, Bowen said.
The Cube comes in 20-, 35-, and 50-pints-per-day models, as well as a 50-pints-per-day model with a built-in pump. The bucket capacity of the 20-pints-per-day model is 25 pints, while the other models have a 33.8-pint capacity.
Also new — and old — is the RXTS Series window air conditioner, a U-shaped Energy Star unit designed to have the window close over its chassis, leaving the compressor, and its noise, outside. The design makes for a safer and more efficient installation, Bowen said, and the compressor is quieter to begin with, thanks to an inverter-drive compressor and a DC fan motor.
The RXTS series comes in 8,000-, 10,000-, and 12,000-Btu models, with the latter able to cool a room of up to 550 square feet.
“This product was one of our hallmarks in 1968,” Bowen said, and was updated and re-released last year. The original Comfort-Aire U-shaped a/c units were made by Heat Controller Inc., which MARS acquired in 2013.
Heat Controller also pioneered ductless mini splits in the U.S., under the Comfort-Aire brand, beginning in 1972, and a MARS display in Vegas paid homage to that history. The display included an original model and a large photograph of Heat Controller CEO James Knight working with an early model.
“Nobody else had what Comfort-Aire has been doing for 50 years now,” said Bowen. “So we’ve got a full line of ductless mini-splits, everything from single-zone to multizone and everything in between: console units, normal high-wall cassettes, all types of air handlers.”
MARS’s VMH Series of single- and multizone mini splits, available in both the Century and Comfort-Aire brands, offer up to 28-SEER, hyper-heat operation (down to -22°F), and smartphone connectivity for high-wall models. The high-wall models have design features that allow for faster, easier disassembly for service, according to company literature.
The booth also featured the MARS HRG18 Series 18-SEER Inverter heat pump, also available with either the Comfort-Aire or Century label. The HRG18 heat pump, in three-ton and five-ton models, offers aluminum-alloy fin-and-tube coil construction, an inverter compressor, and a variable-speed fan operation to provide both durability and cutting-edge performance, the company said.