The majority of 10-SEER air-conditioning inventory has been installed, according to a recent survey from Emerson Climate Technologies.

The survey, the fifth installment in a series of market surveys on the 13 seasonal energy-efficiency rating, asked 748 HVAC contractors and distributors questions to gauge their awareness and concerns regarding the 13-SEER regulations.

The most recent survey from Emerson shows that 77 percent of 10-SEER inventory has been used up. The survey also predicts that 97 percent of 10-SEER inventory should be used up at the end of 2006.

“Some contractors communicated through the survey that they had stocked up on 10-SEER inventory in anticipation of the 13-SEER transition,” said Karl Zellmer, vice president of air-conditioning sales for Emerson Climate Technologies. “Their primary reasons for holding on to this inventory include staying competitive in case the competition stocks up on 10-SEER inventory, having prior new-construction commitments, and having some special-needs applications.”

The survey also provided insight into 13-SEER market trends regarding system repair and replacement from users with less-efficient systems. According to the survey, 48 percent of contractors are repairing systems more than they were in 2005. The primary reason for this increase is that repairs are more cost effective than system replacement. Fifty-seven percent of contractors surveyed said that their driving force for repairs is the lower upfront cost.

Information was also found on user buying trends, indicating that contractors are successfully selling systems higher than 13 SEER.

“Some industry leaders thought that the high-end market would shrink substantially with the implementation of 13-SEER regulations,” said Zellmer. “However, this survey shows that the demand (for systems over 14 SEER) is surprisingly high. There is a strong end-user demand for highly featured deluxe products, which (systems over 14 SEER) are able to provide.”

Twenty-five percent of respondents said they were selling higher-SEER units for better energy costs, while 22 percent said it was for improved benefits and features. Another 4 percent identified building codes as the reason for selling a unit over 14 SEER.