Cool on climate, cost and competition: Seeley International unveils the product you are looking for
It is official: Energy efficient power at a price to suit everyone has arrived. We have all seen and heard the campaigns urging us to switch to greener, cleaner methods of power usage. We have also all considered the time and money it might take to do so. But now, thanks to one Adelaide-headquartered global player, our visions of low-energy, low cost cooling systems are swiftly becoming a reality.
“It is the most energy efficient cooling in the world and it’s available to anyone who wants it,” Frank Seeley, Chairman and founder of Seeley International tells AUBJ.
“It is important to ensure that people are getting the biggest bang for their buck.”
And what a bang it is, as Seeley returns fresh from a trip to Dubai where the company’s product, the Climate Wizard (previously dubbed The Wizard of Oz by Dubai press) has picked up a flurry of awards and gained yet more recognition amongst the world’s major energy players. Of course, Seeley’s Climate Wizard and its wider product range, which has also been received to critical acclaim, was not invented overnight. This latest success is good news for our worldwide energy requirements today, and it all started with Seeley’s vision to move away from what he deems to be the ‘metal mentality’ of many evaporative cooler manufacturers some years ago.
A feat of engineering
Seeley International’s success story began when Seeley himself started asking questions. Having spent some years selling evaporative coolers and gathering a great understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, he asked why these products were continually made from metal, when doing so meant that they would ultimately rust or corrode. He decided that there was a pressing need to make an all plastic evaporative cooler.
“All the engineers told me this couldn’t be done so I asked them why and started to address the problems [they mentioned]. Eventually, against everyone’s belief and expectations, we produced the world’s first all plastic portable evaporative cooler and it was a beauty,” he recalls.
“Then we extended to rooftops [and] rooftop coolers which we made in plastic in the early 1980s. During that process, we had started to become very vertically integrated and by that stage we had started to make our own electric motors, our own injection moulding and manufacturing our own pumps.”
By turning to plastic once again for these rooftop products, Seeley saw significant cost reductions. Drum fans, for example, which were made from steel and cost around A$200 at the time, were replaced by Seeley’s patented all plastic models costing around nine dollars per piece. It was a breakthrough which threatened to drastically change the industry landscape.
“It ended up growing the industry because when we started the total number of rooftop coolers sold in Australia was about 12,000 to 15,000 and now it’s more like 60,000 to 70,000 and that has proliferated throughout the world as well,” Seeley says.
“Seeley owes its existence to its ability to innovate. Innovation is one of the things that engineers and non-engineers inside the organization all eat, drink, breathe and sleep. It’s the lifeblood of the company.”
This emphasis on innovation has seen Seeley unveil numerous high profile and wholly successful products since this time. With 40 years spent blending focuses on innovation and automation, using the best engineers available and combining them with less technical, more lateral thinkers, the results speak for themselves.
The proof is in the products
When Seeley first made portable evaporative coolers, and in doing so strove to move away from the then-popular ‘metal mentality,’ it signalled a new approach in industry. That first unit produced was a resounding success, but true to the company’s tireless work to improve upon perfection, later value analysis allowed Seeley to later replace the some 389 components in the product with just 56 components.
“In other words, we got the plastic to do the work—the clipping and holding together and all of those sorts of things,” Seeley says.
“We eliminated screws, nuts, bolts and rivets and all those but in the process we actually improved the air delivery, made the unit quieter, able to cool more, and able to draw less power.”
This move launched the company into rooftop evaporative cooling, as Seeley applied this same technology to this new area. This also presented new challenges, with rooftop unit fans facing more forces, using bigger motors and moving more air, and the company rose to the challenge and patented a device to meet these demands: Breezeair.
“We started off Breezeair with conventional motors and yes, it was very efficient in terms of its performance— it was the best in the world. But the problem with conventional motors is that when you cut down the speed, you don’t save a lot of power,” Seeley explains.
“Much of the change in speed is converted from kinetic energy into heat energy so the motor warms up. It’s in the air stream for a product that is supposed to be cooling, so therefore it is counteracting what the unit wants to do, so the efficiency drops down.”
By designing this product with an inverter motor, when the speed was reduced the product could save power while converting virtually none of it into heat energy. Essentially, the cooling effect goes up, power usage goes down and the Breezeair product is in action. This product, along with others, has proved to have universal appeal.
“Convair and Breezeair are sold in at last count over 110 countries around the world,” Seeley says.
“When people say they have arrived, this is the ultimate, is the beginning of their demise. We don’t believe in that. We are very pleased with what we have but we won’t ever be satisfied so that is why we will go on in leading the world in energy efficient cooling.”
The latest and greatest example of this is the Climate Wizard. As the jewel in Seeley’s portfolio today, its potential to revolutionize the way we cool our homes throughout the world, however high the temperature, is a world first for evaporative cooling and good news for everyone.
Unveiling the Climate Wizard
After 15 years spent grafting with the most lateral thinking in the engineering industry, Seeley has created its greatest product to date. The company took a reasonably well-known concept—indirect evaporative cooling—and placed it in the hands of those in industry who can really apply it (previously it was shunted to the realms of hands-off academics and those with little actual experience).
“We know the industry inside-out, as you would after 40 years, but we’re also manufacturers, so we were able to bring those two things together and work with lots of blood, sweat and tears to produce Climate Wizard and it is an absolutely superb product,” Seeley says.
“Climate Wizard is able to give you refrigerated-type cooled air, but at about the cost of an evaporative cooler. It can actually reduce air temperatures from a high level by as much as 43 degrees, with no moisture added to it.”
The beauty behind the Climate Wizard is that the hotter it gets, the better this product works. As the temperature rises, the Climate Wizard’s cooling effect increases by 40 per cent (and is coefficient by roughly the same value) but it doesn’t draw anymore power in the process. In short, by bringing the Climate Wizard together with refrigerated air conditioning, Seeley is a pioneer, and in terms of global market outlooks and our recent tough economic times, it couldn’t have happened at a more opportune moment.
In demand and on budget
Seeley says that markets will undoubtedly expand again as the world crawls out from underneath the brunt of the G.F.C, and interestingly the company has not been hit as hard as many might assume.
“In the last two years here in Australia, we have been over-budget every month with the exception of one month,” he says.
“Costs are spiralling and nothing is going to pull that back so the only way to attack it is to go for products that are going to use less power that anybody else’s.”
As of a few years ago, there has been a growing trend in Australia geared towards refrigerated air conditioning, despite the continued strength of evaporated cooling. This trend has become quite dominant, and Seeley says that is likely to continue for some time. It is also putting downward pressure on the evaporative cooling industry, but since the effects of the G.F.C have lessened and costs have continued to rocket, the buying public appear to be turning the tide.
“They don’t want refrigerated air conditioning, they want evaporated air conditioning. We must have something that we can afford to pay for, they say,” Seeley explains.
“Seeley is dominant in Australia and wants to be dominant around the world in energy efficient comfort products—heating and cooling products. We are working towards that end and Climate Wizard is going to propel us forward like nothing else we have ever had.”
Seeley already has a longstanding reputation for offering the best products around, but until now these have been products others have offered too. With the Climate Wizard that is set to change, and this is the one company behind it.
“In Dubai, we visited a large number of consulting engineers and architects and contractors with Climate Wizard,” Seeley says.
“These people want to have it—I have never seen such a level of excitement. They want to have it there and they want to have it there now.”
From the energy majors, to the general public, we are all waking up to how we use power and at what cost. The beauty of Seeley’s approach, aside from its conviction to delivering and exceeding the wider industry at every turn, is its universal appeal. In industrial, commercial and residential markets, the company’s products, particularly the Climate Wizard, prevail across the board. Wherever you are, when you next turn on the AC or open a window because your system isn’t up to scratch, it is probably a fine time to find Seeley International.