Water Heating, Hydronic Innovations Abound at AHR Expo

BY ROBERT P. MADER Of CONTRACTORs staff ANAHEIM, CALIF. A growing economy and the promise of hundreds of new products helped the 2004 AHR Expo to set new records for a West Coast Show, according to its organizers. With more than 22,000 registered visitors (not including exhibitor personnel), the 2004 event set an attendance record, while the number of exhibiting companies (1,652), and the 324,590

BY ROBERT P. MADER

Of CONTRACTOR’s staff

ANAHEIM, CALIF. — A growing economy and the promise of hundreds of new products helped the 2004 AHR Expo to set new records for a West Coast Show, according to its organizers. With more than 22,000 registered visitors (not including exhibitor personnel), the 2004 event set an attendance record, while the number of exhibiting companies (1,652), and the 324,590 net sq. ft. of exhibit space also topped previous West Coast records established by the 1998 AHR Expo in San Francisco. Including exhibitor personnel, more than 38,000 persons registered for the Anaheim Show.

Held Jan. 26-28 at the Anaheim Convention Center, the show attracted exhibitors and attendees from around the world. Visitors came from more than 100 countries and 277 international exhibitors came from 34 countries. There were plenty of new products to see.

A.O. Smith showed an early version of its Equinox rooftop water heater, scheduled to go into production in the third quarter of this year. The 120,000-Btuh unit, with an 80-gal. storage tank, is designed for fast-food restaurants. The unit has two circulators, one for high-temperature water and one for tempered mixed water for hand washing.

A.O. Smith also presented 300,000-Btuh and 400,000-Btuh models of its Cyclone XHE commercial gas water heater line, both with 130-gal. tank. The unit’s unique burner design achieves efficiencies as high as 99%. The company touted the water heater’s ability to be manifolded together to serve high-demand applications in lieu of a boiler system.

State Water Heaters was showing its Ultra Force commercial gas water heaters, 94% efficient and with 100-gal. tanks. The water heaters fire from the top down into a submerged combustion chamber and heat exchange coil, then vent out the bottom. The unit offers four venting options including conventional venting and sealed direct venting, either vertically or through a sidewall.

Lochinvar has expanded its line of Intelli-Fin water heaters and boilers to include models with inputs of 750,000, 1 million, 1.3 million, 1.5 million, 1.7 million and 2 million Btuh. Previously, some customers had installed oversized Intelli-Fins and used the unit’s modulating capacity to match the load. The lower inputs down to 750,000 Btuh will allow customers to better size their systems, the company said. Each model runs at 97% efficiency.

The infinitely modulating firing system and copper tube heat exchanger provide an accurate response to the demand for heat, while maintaining an ideal gas/air ratio. All models feature a wide variety of venting options, including conventional, sidewall, vertical direct vent and horizontal direct vent. Each can be vented up to 100 equivalent ft.

Rheem’s latest introduction is its Pronto! tankless gas water heater. Rheem’s parent, Paloma Industries, makes the unit. Rheem expects most of its sales will come from the 7.4-gpm model, available in the second quarter of this year. The bigger units will have inputs ranging from 21,700 to 199,000 Btuh and can vent through a sidewall. Outdoor units will also be available. The units run on both natural and LP gas.

Rheem also showed its AdvantagePlus sealed combustion gas water heater with inputs of 100,000 through 199,000 Btuh. The burner fires into a combustion chamber in the middle of the tank, then exhausts through coils that wind down around the interior of the tank. The power vent fan is located at the bottom. Combustion efficiency is in the 95% range. The water heater can power vent 40 ft. using 3-in. schedule 40 PVC, CPVC or ABS pipe.

Bradford White showed its eF Series commercial gas water heaters with thermal efficiencies topping out at 99.1%. The line features tanks from 60 to 100-gals. and inputs from 125,000 to 300,000 Btuh.

ECR International introduced the Watter$aver heat pump water heater. The product is a drop-in replacement for 50-gal. electric water heaters, ECR said, with the same footprint, electrical hookup and plumbing connections. The only difference is that it needs a condensate drain.

Bell & Gossett showed off its Triple Duty Valve that performs all the functions of three valves that are normally required on the discharge side of hydronic pump systems. By incorporating three valves in one, the new valve saves significant money in material costs and minimizes installation time. The Triple Duty Valve includes a calibrated balance valve, a non-slam check valve and a shut-off valve.

Alfa Laval showed the AlfaNova, which it claimed is the world’s first 100% stainless-steel, fusion-brazed heat exchanger. The AlfaNova is designed for use in refrigeration and process cooling systems requiring a high level of corrosion resistance and fatigue resistance. AlfaNova’s stainless steel construction makes it suitable for ammonia refrigeration, absorption chillers, hygienic applications, as well as for process cooling and heating systems.

Gastite unveiled a pair of new tubing cutters that deliver a clean cut for optimal flaring across all diameters of flexible gas piping. The two cutters are designed specifically for use with Gastite corrugated stainless steel tubing. Gastite, a division of the Titeflex Corp., is a manufacturer of flexible gas piping systems from 3/8 in. to 2 in. for residential, commercial and industrial applications. In a separate announcement, Accubid Systems said it has added more than 200 items manufactured by Gastite to the mechanical material database that forms the heart of Accubid’s just-released Estimating Version 6 software. The new items are typically used for commercial and residential gas piping installations.

Following the trend to make hydronic radiant heating more accessible, Uponor Wirsbo showed off its proPanel mechanical room in a box. The pre-assembled, pre-wired and pre-piped panels make it easier to install controls for radiant systems. Wirsbo has five proPanels that offer choices such as one reset mixed temperature or two mixed temperatures via variable-speed injection mixing; floating-action mixing valve vs. variable-speed injection mixing; or ability to control high temperature loads.

Armstrong re-introduced the circuit balancing valves that it first showed at ISH North America, now refined and ready for release. Armstrong said the circuit balancing valves are more accurate than others on the market, are line sized with a 95% flow accuracy, produce a stable pressure signal and have flow straightening vanes.

Taco showed its bronze and cast-iron LoadMatch circulators for single-pipe hydronic applications. The LoadMatch system replaces typical two-pipe hydronic systems with a one-pipe system comprised of LoadMatch circulators and fan coils. The circulators include an integral check valve and anti-condensate baffle.

Grundfos displayed its Super Brute three-speed circulator that the company said can replace more than a dozen competitive models. The multiple speeds mean zone valves close off reliably. The circulator has a removable integrated check valve and it eliminates the expense for an inline check valve. Grundfos also showed its Comfort Series Instant Hot Water System. The system includes a circulator on a timer that’s installed near the water heater and a thermal bypass valve at the farthest fixture.

The one thing missing from solderless crimped copper tube joining systems such as the Ridgid ProPress system was a convenient way to add ball valves. Conbraco addressed that with its Apollo ball valve for solderless pipe joining. The valve has 2-in. tube extensions already soldered on it.

Quietside Corp. showed is full line of boilers, both floor-mount and wall-mounted, in capacities from 46,000 to 168,000 Btuh. The line includes boilers with AFUEs in the low 80s up to condensing models. Quietside also showed its thermostats and boiler control modules.

No need to climb the van to remove the ladder with the Knaack Mfg. Weatherguard EZ-Glide System. Crank on the ergonomic drive arm and the system moves the ladder from the top of the van to the side where it can be easily removed.

Watts Radiant introduced the HydroSkid made-to-order hydronic assemblies. The assemblies are made for larger more complex applications and come with controls, pumps, number of zones and any flow requirements necessary.

Rehau unveiled its new PEX residential fire protection system, which integrates sprinklers with cold-water plumbing. Comprised of Raupex pipe and Everloc fittings, the system meets the requirements for multipurpose sprinkler systems as defined by the National Fire Protection Association Standard NFPA 13D. Each sprinkler is served by either 34-in. or 1-in. Raupex PEXa pipe. The plumbing system is then integrated by teeing off the fire protection system, typically with 12-in. or 34-in. Raupex pipe to feed the plumbing fixtures.

Watts Regulator introduced the Series AS-B Bronze Air Scoops. The air separators mount in the horizontal position and come with tappings for an expansion tank, air vent and boiler fill piping. They come standard with a Watts Model FV-4M1 automatic vent valve.

HeatFab showed its Saf-T Vent SC vent pipe that can vent any ANSI class appliance from I through IV. The AL 29-4C double-wall pipe can be installed with zero clearance to combustibles, vertically or horizontally, for condensing, concentric vent or wall-hung direct-fired applications.

In 2005, the AHR Expo moves to Orlando, Fla., at the Orange County Convention Center, Feb. 7-9.

TAGS: Plumbing