ORLANDO, FLA. — More than 51,000 builders, remodelers and other members of the home building industry were in the aisles of the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show (IBS), which ran for four days at the Orange County Convention Center here. It was refreshing to see that NAHB admitted to a smaller turnout than the AHR Expo in Chicago in January that hosted approximately 57,000. IBS had been a show that drew more than 100,000 attendees in its heyday.
The 2012 IBS featured exhibits from more than 900 suppliers representing all facets of the home building industry. Builders and remodelers also attended more than 165 educational sessions on design trends, green building, marketing, remodeling and other building industry topics. Among them were a number of plumbing, hydronics and HVAC manufacturers.
Kohler Co. debuted a budget-friendly shower remodeling alternative: the HydroRail, an external shower column that combines two of the most popular custom shower upgrades in one product.
“HydroRail takes a shower from ordinary to extraordinary, offering simple installation and easy customization,” said Kohler Marketing Manager of Performance Showering Les Petch. “Homeowners can choose from a selection of Kohler rainheads and handshowers to customize the installation to meet experiential and design preference.”
Since it uses existing valving outside the wall, HydroRail, in most cases, can be installed in about an hour, which helps keep installation costs low. A simple-to-operate diverter at the bottom of the column adds to the ergonomic functionality for the entire family, and a slidebar bracket allows the bather to customize the water delivery height, ideal for those wanting to shower without wetting their hair, or for younger bathers.
A.O. Smith was at the show with its High Efficiency Revolution Tour (www.hotwater.com/MMV) tour bus that has been remodeled. The High Efficiency Mobile Marketing Vehicle (MMV) took a break in October 2011 from its nationwide tour to expand the product offering on display inside the mobile showroom.
The High Efficiency Revolution Tour will continue to feature its original line-up of A.O. Smith’s high-efficiency products, including the NEXT Hybrid High Efficiency Gas, the Voltex hybrid electric heat pump, the Effex high efficiency gas, a variety of tankless models, and the Vertex 100 condensing gas water heaters. These, along with the new standard units, will be on display throughout the High Efficiency Revolution Tour in an interactive learning environment.
Some contractors thought that A.O. Smith had stepped away from atmospheric water heaters, so the bus was reworked to include the Effex, the most efficient conventional-vent product on the market. The patented air intake system turbocharges the combustion process to produce the highest efficiency available for a standard atmospheric product. The Effex installs with the same gas, water and venting connections as a standard model, but it operates well above the standard efficiency with an Energy Factor of .70, making the Effex Energy Star qualified.
Viega introduced a new plastic PEX Press system, including Viega’s Smart Connect feature, for joining cross-linked polyethylene tubing. Made in the U.S., the new Viega PEX Press system is suitable for potable water and radiant applications in residential and light commercial projects. The fittings are corrosion resistant and comply with Zero Lead requirements, and bear NSF approval. The Smart Connect feature enables installers to easily spot unpressed connections during pressure testing by allowing water to flow past the fitting on a missed connection.
The system uses the same hand and power tools as the bronze PEX Press system to join PEX tubing using plastic fittings without O-rings, glues, cements or lubricants. The hand tools do not require calibration. The Viega PEX Press system can be used with all Viega tubing. Fittings are available in sizes 3/8-in. to 2-in., and include couplings, elbows, tees, lav adapters and closet adapters. The system offers metallic threaded and solder transition adapters for joining PEX tubing with other materials. The PEX Press fittings are factory assembled with attached stainless steel sleeves with three view holes, which helps installers insert tubing correctly ensuring proper installation. Color-coded tool locator rings assure proper alignment of the press tool.
Gerber has expanded its affordable Allerton bathroom suite with the addition of high efficiency toilets (HETs). The new HETs flush at 1.28-gpf and are pending certification by WaterSense.
“Gerber is proud to offer water-conserving high efficiency toilets as part of our top selling Allerton bathroom suite, which showcases a simple and clean style,” said Ron Mudge, marketing manager for Gerber.
Featuring a Fluidmaster fill valve and a dual-fed siphon jet, the Allerton HETs have Gerber’s Avalanche flushing platform. Additionally, the HETs come with a 3-in. flush valve and are available in Gerber’s ADA compliant ErgoHeight, elongated and round front bowls. The Allerton tanks are offered in 10-in. or 12-in. rough-ins, and come with a 2-in. fully glazed trapway.
The Allerton suite also has low-flow faucets and stylish lavatories. The faucets, like the HETs, are certified by WaterSense, offering water at 1.5-GPM, compared to the industry standard 2.2-GPM. Included in this collection are Gerber’s self-rimming and pedestal lavatories, which offer generous wash basins.
Little Giant displayed its Inline CP constant pressure system by Franklin Electric. The system provides increased and constant pressure for municipal water systems and private well systems. The pump, motor, drive, and pressure switch package can provide constant pressure no matter how many fittings or irrigation sprinklers are in use. Its ability to provide constant pressure makes it well suited to cistern systems and it may be used instead of a pressure booster for irrigation systems. The product features extensive stainless steel construction and it is small enough to mount between floor joists.
Lubrizol debuted FlowGuard Bendable multilayer composite piping, made with using specially formulated compounds and manufacturing technology from The Lubrizol Corp. While Lubrizol typically licenses its technology to other manufacturers, the company makes the bendable pipe itself. Certified to NSF SE 7033, the pipe provides a combination of performance, flexibility and rigidity. Constructed of multiple layers of CPVC bonded with laser butt-welded aluminum, FlowGuard Bendable conforms to the application, providing reduced installation time, lower installed costs and superior life cycle costs. It is certified for potable water service by NSF International and listed by NSF to the Uniform Plumbing Code. Its pressure rating is 400 psi at 73°F/100 psi at 180°F. It connects with common fittings and its rigidity allows it to use fewer hangers compared with other types of CPVC pipe.
A new PE pipe was announced at Builders. The Dow Chemical Co. and Zurn PEX Inc. announced a strategic collaboration focused on delivering next-generation piping solutions for hot and cold pipe applications. The Dow and Zurn PEX alliance will leverage a combination of Dow’s innovation in advanced PE-RT (Polyethylene of Raised Temperature) resin technologies and Zurn PEX’s plumbing system expertise. The collaboration already anticipates results, with the projected launch — due to take place later this year — of a high performing and more sustainable plumbing and heating solution designed to serve the light commercial, multifamily and residential plumbing markets. Dow’s PE-RT resin is a certified Level 5 chlorine-resistant material especially designed to withstand the unique and high demands of both hot and cold-water usage. Homeowners and contractors can install their plumbing systems as continuous circulation loops and on-demand recirculation, both of which reduce water consumption and hot water energy use when compared with traditional plumbing systems.
Lennox displayed the SunSource Home Energy System, a solar-powered central heating and cooling system that reduces overall household electricity consumption without the costs associated with traditional solar installations. The SunSource System includes a solar-ready, high efficiency Lennox air conditioner or heat pump that has been specially enhanced to serve as the platform for this new home energy system. A Lennox solar subpanel provides the connection between utility-interactive solar power system and the HVAC unit. One to 15 roof-mounted solar modules harness energy from the sun and use it to run the home’s central heating and cooling system as well as other appliances — the more modules, the more homeowners can reduce their utility costs. A communications system allows homeowners to monitor each solar module’s operation and energy production online, as well as other environmental benefits such as the amount of carbon offset. When the heating and cooling system is not running, the system is able to use solar power to operate other devices in the home that consume electricity, such as lighting and appliances. In addition, if the SunSource system generates power that is not used by the home, the power will be sent back to the utility company, which may entitle the homeowner to a credit on their utility bill.