Builders Show products focus on conservation

BY ROBERT P. MADER
Of CONTRACTOR’s staff

LAS VEGAS — About 60,000 homebuilders showed up here for the 2009 International Builders Show, about half of the show’s usual attendance at its peak. All of the exhibitors were happy, however, because they were talking to the 60,000 builders who will still be in business next year.

Plumbing products at the show focused on water and energy conservation and low-lead potable water systems.

Uponor, which has moved beyond selling PEX piping to providing system solutions for plumbing, fire safety and radiant systems, introduced a complete line of lead-free brass transition fittings and valves that meet California and Vermont lead-free legislation and exceed the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act. Combining these new fittings with Uponor’s PEX-a tubing, engineered plastic offering and ProPEX Out-of-the-Wall Support System provides a lead-free plumbing solution from the inlet to the faucet. The new fittings carry the NSF us-pw-G marking for lead-free compliance and feature Uponor’s ProPEX fitting system for solid connections.

Kohler Co. unveiled two new touchless technologies for specification in the commercial space to increase design options and functionality. The new technologies, Wave and Insight, build upon Kohler’s previous touchless products by offering more choices for any type of user and setting. The Wave Technology applies to urinals and toilets, and only works upon user-controlled actuation and water delivery. In other words, the user must “physically” motion for the flush, which reduces false flushes. This “waving” motion also prevents the fixture from actuating during use. The flushometer is equipped with a 0.5/1-gpf for urinals or 1.28/1.6 gpf-for toilets. A retrofit option is available for remodel projects. The Insight Technology for wall-mount and deck-mount faucets analyzes and logs feedback from its environment upon initial installation. If the bathroom space has low lighting, or highly reflexive lighting, the sensor calibrates its factory default setting to accommodate its new home. As a result, the sensor is tuned to its exact position, and eliminates false actuations. Insight technology is available on several faucet lines, with a factory-installed 0.5-GPM aerator.

In addition to touting its new Energy Star ratings for many of its water heaters, Rheem introduced the new RTG-66DV direct-vent, gas-fired tankless heater that Rheem says is powerful enough to meet the hot water needs of a two- or three-bathroom residence. Measuring 25½-in. high, 13½-in. wide and 10-in. deep, the unit uses of concentric venting. The RTG-66DV expels the byproducts of combustion through a 3-in. exhaust pipe that sits inside the 5-in. intake run, thus eliminating a second line. The maximum vent length extends up to 23-ft., with three 90° elbows. With inputs ranging from 11,000 Btuh to 180,000 Btuh, the unit delivers 120°F water at a rate of 6.6-GPM at a 45°F rise. At a 35°F rise, the flow rate increases to 8.4-GPM.
Rheem is also offering solar water heating systems under the Rheem Solaraide brand. Combining a storage tank with one or two collector panels, these “passive” systems operate without pumps or controllers, relying instead on the natural process of convection —also called indirect thermosiphoning — to circulate the heat-transfer fluid. Solaraide systems use a freeze-proof heat transfer fluid. The fluid also circulates in a “closed loop” environment, which further protects against freezing.

Delta unveiled its patented Pilar Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Touch2O Technology. Pilar is designed for consumers who are looking for a cleaner and more efficient way to work in their kitchen. With Touch2O Technology, the homeowner can start and stop the flow of water with just a tap anywhere on the spout or the handle. Pilar operates manually as well as with Touch2O functionality, while the handle adjusts flow rate and temperature. A blue LED light indicates when Touch2O Technology is engaged, and turns red when the batteries need to be replaced. Pilar features Delta Faucet’s patented Diamond Seal Technology that eliminates leaks and requires no lubrication, eliminates wear on seals and ensures "like new" operation for life. Delta says the Diamond valve will last up to 10 times longer than the industry standard, based on ASME 112.18.1 for 500,000 cycles. Diamond Seal Technology, which incorporates the Diamond valve and one-piece InnoFlex waterways, satisfies California statute AB1953, mandating that by Jan. 1, 2010, the weighted average lead content in pipes, fittings and fixtures used to convey drinking water cannot exceed 0.25% lead on wetted surfaces.

A.O. Smith Water Products had environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. conduct presentations on the benefits of the firm’s Vertex 100 high-efficiency gas condensing water heater at the booth for wholesaler Ferguson and Stock Building Supply. Begley had a Vertex 100 installed in his home as part of an energy efficiency project. The water heater is 96% efficient.

American Standard and its partner Safety Tubs teamed up to unveil its new line of walk-in baths that combine safety features that promote independence, pampering amenities and an innovative design that suits any décor. Therapeutic massage systems, deep soaking dimensions and the Quick Drain are just a few of the features of the American Standard walk-in baths. Safety Tubs, the inventor and manufacturer of the acrylic walk-in baths, presented its features and options including its patented T5 door system, its version of the Quick Drain, dubbed the patent-pending Minute Drain, and a legs-only massage system.

SFA Saniflo introduced a macerating system that is capable of handling multiple fixtures throughout an entire house or a small commercial structure — the Sanicubic Lifting Station. Capable of handling 12.5-gal. of effluent per minute, the new system consists of two, 2-HP motors housed inside a compact plastic box, measuring 22-in. x 19¼-in. x 16-in. Each independently operating pump has its own high-performance grinding system: a fast-rotating cutting blade to reduce solids in the wastewater stream from toilets, tubs and showers, sinks, washing machines and dishwashers. Effluent enters the Sanicubic through one of five different inlets — one on either side of the unit at the bottom and three along the top. Each adjustable inlet can range in diameter from approximately 1½-in. to 4½-in. As soon as the wastewater level reaches the trigger point in the long pickup or dip tube located inside the Sanicubic, the pumping system activates. Effluent is pumped from the Sanicubic through 1½-in. PVC or CPVC piping connected to the top of the lifting station. Maximum pumping distances are 36-ft. vertically and 328-ft. horizontally, or a combination of both.