Hydronic gem collection

March 1, 2002
BY ROBERT P. MADER OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF The 59th AHR Expo attracted more than 28,000 contractors, engineers, wholesalers and others Jan. 29-31 to the Dallas Convention Center. The show had plenty of new hydronic heating, radiant and plumbing-related products for contractors to see. Heat and hot water Weil-McLain proudly announced that Good Housekeeping has granted to the manufacturer its Good Housekeeping


The 59th AHR Expo attracted more than 28,000 contractors, engineers, wholesalers and others Jan. 29-31 to the Dallas Convention Center. The show had plenty of new hydronic heating, radiant and plumbing-related products for contractors to see.

Heat and hot water
Weil-McLain proudly announced that Good Housekeeping has granted to the manufacturer its Good Housekeeping Seal.

"We are proud that our products met the high specifications of the Good Housekeeping Institute and earning its seal is the start of another fine chapter to the heritage of Weil-McLain," Vice President/Marketing Dave Dolan said. "We very much appreciate Good Housekeeping recognizing our Without Compromise approach to precision manufacturing and customer support and are honored to join the elite cadre of organizations that are also backed by the seal."

In addition, Weil-McLain announced the launch of its company Website. The new weil-mclain.com offers information for consumers, contractors and distributors. Dolan noted that the Website is geared toward helping consumers make good decisions about heating equipment. The Website features: a Learning Center for homeowners; contractor and distributor locators; a contractor showcase; educational information; and convenient links to service information, manuals and other product literature.

Lochinvar debuted the 99% thermally efficient Armor commercial gas water heater featuring inputs of 50,000; 199,000; 285,000; 399,000; and 500,000 Btuh. The unit, essentially a Knight boiler with a separate storage tank, features a stainless steel heat exchanger, 5:1 modulating turndown and the firm's Smart System operating control.

Lochinvar also refined its Power-Fin 1500, 1700 and 2000 models, with Btuh inputs from 1.5 million to 2 million, with a new internal cascading sequencer. The control eliminates the cost and set-up requirements of a separate third-party sequencer for installations of up to eight units. The internal sequencer simplifies creation of a cascading lead/lag system.

Aerco presented the Benchmark gas-fired hot water condensing boiler with seamless modulation and turndown from 2 million Btuh all the way down to 100,000 Btuh. The boiler can achieve 99%+ efficiency with 60°F return water while firing at minimum input, plus it consistently measures less than 30 PPM of NOx. It fits through a standard doorway. Aerco also showed the Modulex boilers featuring 96% efficiency, capacities from 300,000 to 1 million Btuh, and turndown ratios, depending on the model, of 6:1 to 23:1.

Bradford White Corp. introduced its Combi2 combination water and space heating system for light commercial and residential uses. The direct-fired, quick-recovery water heaters provide both home space heating and potable hot water and are available in capacities of 50 and 75 gal.

The gas-powered systems require a small footprint and are available in power-vented and atmospheric-vented models. In addition to meeting domestic water heating needs, the units can serve as a heat source for radiant heat and hydro-air applications. The system's 1-1/2-in. O.D. glass-coated heat exchanger coil ends with 3/4-in. NPT connections, welded to the tank.

The closed-loop, double-wall carbon steel coil provides a positive leak path. The coil's large diameter assures low pressure drop (8-gal.-perminute flow gives 2.3 ft. of head loss) and fast recovery. The 50-gal. capacity units have shipping weights of less than 245 lb.

The A.O. Smith Vertex water heater won the AHR Expo Innovation Award Green Building Product of the Year. The awards were judged by a panel from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers. The Vertex is a 76,000-Btuh, power-vent residential gas water heater that is 90% efficient.

It was developed as part of a U.S. Department of Energy program. The unit has an estimated 127-gal. first-hour delivery and a 93-GPH recovery rate. The height, diameter and placement of water and gas connections on the Vertex unit are identical to standard gas units. Its power-vent design allows vertical or sidewall venting using 2-, 3- or 4-in. PVC pipe. Side tappings allow it to be used as part of a radiant heating system.

Noritz used the show to display a bevy of new models, including the 631 Series in standard venting and outdoor models with inputs up to 180,000 Btuh. The units produce 6.3 GPM at a 45° rise. The 931 Series is available with standard venting, direct vent or outdoor installation and fires up to 250,000 Btuh. The 931 can produce 9.8 GPM at a 45° rise.

The NH Series was designed specifically for hydronic heating with a choice of nine temperature settings up to 180°. Available in two models, the units fire at a maximum of either 150,000 or 199,900 Btuh.

Rinnai showed its full line of Continuum wall-hung tankless water heaters in both internal- and external-mount residential models. The units have inputs as high as 199,000 Btuh and will produce 4.8 GPM at a 70° rise.

Takagi emphasized that it is serving the hotel market with it Mobius T-M199 direct-vent convertible tankless heaters with inputs to 199,000 Btuh. The devices feature a control system allowing 20 of them to link together. The remote controller can be up to 400 ft. away from the water heater. They fire either natural or LP gas.

Paloma showed its 7.4 Series tankless heater that now features direct venting. The unit will produce up to 4.8 GPM at a 70° rise. The heater includes a carbon monoxide monitoring system and an overheat protection system.

Viessmann, German brass-maker Oventrop and Baxi showed solar collectors. Oventrop displayed evacuated tube collectors, water storage tanks and its Regusol control system. Baxi, distributed in North America by Ontario-based Marathon International, showed an extensive line of wall-hung condensing boilers, solar products and a residential co-generation unit.

Greenwood Technologies showed a residential smoke-free wood-burning hydronic heating unit. The device is 85% efficient and is smoke-free because of the firebrick lining that gets really hot — 2,000° — and retains that heat, gasifying everything in the wood that will burn.

Heating accessories
Viega introduced three stainless steel manifolds. Offered as valveless, shut off/balancing or shut off/balancing/flow meters, the radiant manifolds come fully assembled in 1-1/4-in. diameter with 6-5/8-in. spacing brackets for remote mounting. Compatible with Viega mixing and injection stations, the stainless steel manifolds allow for higher flow rates.

Grundfos Pumps has added four new pumps to its line of VersaFlo multi-speed wet-rotor circulators. The new sizes improve the line's retrofit and replacement capabilities. The shorter flange-to-flange pump length, with matching flanges, make the pumps an easy drop-in replacement of other pumps without the need for pipe modifications.

Both cast-iron and bronze VersaFlo UP(S) pumps have dynamically balanced rotors and laser-welded, stainless steel, curved blade impellers to achieve high pump efficiency. Standard VersaFlo motors are suitable for variable-speed drive applications. VersaFlo UPS pumps have a two- or three-speed switch, so the designer, installer or user can select the speed required, thus maximizing the energy savings by matching the pump performance to the system requirements. UP motors are single speed, dual voltage.

REHAU showed a radiant line that includes Mc4 design software for plotting heating systems. The Raupanel radiant heating system comes with PEX pipe, aluminum panels and wood return bends and InsulPEX energy transfer pipe.

Watts Radiant introduced a PEX-Aluminum-PEX line called RadiantPEXAL. The multi-layer pipe consists of an inner and outer layer of PEX with an aluminum core that acts as an oxygen barrier. The pipe holds its shape and its flexible enough to bend around obstacles without the use of fittings. It does not expand and contract so it's not noisy, and it's good for snow-melting steps because it keeps its shape.

Taco unveiled its electronic ball Valve, a compact, gear-driven, capacitor-powered valve. When the thermostat calls for heat, the unit's processor sends a signal to the miniature motors in the power head that turns a series of gears to rotate the ball valve 90 degrees. Once the zone has been satisfied, the capacitor discharges a portion of its stored energy to the motor, which then turns the ball valve back to the closed position.

Amtrol showed its BoilerMate Top Down 80 hot water tanks that, as the name implies, hold 80 gal. The tanks serve boilers with outputs of 40,000 to 140,000 Btuh and have a first-hour rating as high as 255 gal.

Victaulic invented grooved piping connections in the 1920s, but now that it has a slew of competitors, the firm is emphasizing its Commercial Building Services. Besides providing all the components and tools, Victaulic performs value analysis, pre-planning and project management services such as pipe cut sheets and bag-and-tag, and a software department offers free software packages.

Grinnell presented a grooved stainless steel system in sizes up to 12 in. for Schedule 5, 10 and 40 pipe. The system, which can handle up to 600 PSI, has 316L couplings and fittings of both 304 and 316 stainless. The gasket can be Grade E EPDM, Grade T Nitrile or Grade O fluoroelastomer.

Watts Regulator expanded its line of quick-connect fittings to include the 45 Series brass quick-connect fittings. The fittings allow fast, leak-free connections to copper, PEX, PB and CPVC pipe without the need for installation tools. The collet and O-ring design protects the O-ring during installation and keeps it from binding and crimping. Stainless steel gripping teeth in the collet allow the fittings to interconnect with multiple materials without tools or tube inserts. All the fittings are approved and certified to NSF, CSA, ASTM and to the Uniform Plumbing Code.

ITT Bell & Gossett introduced a line of wastewater pumps. The line includes sump, sewage and effluent wastewater pumps, engineered wastewater pumps including grinder pumps, panels, float switches, basins and pump removal system accessories.

In addition, B&G exhibited a new differential bypass valve designed to control excess flow in hydronic systems. When there is a reduction in demand, the valve acts as a bypass while ensuring adequate flow to the remaining open circuits. The differential bypass valve helps reduce velocity noise caused by excess flow through the circuits while maintaining the pump head at a constant valve. It offers 3/4-in. connection, all brass body with non-ferrous internals, horizontal or vertical installation, ratings up to 150 PSIG and 230°.

Conbraco's Apollo unit has begun shipments of its new 34HL Series Automatic Temperature Control Mixing Valve hot and cold mixing device that meets performance levels specified by the ASSE 1069 Standard. The mixing valve uses thermostatic mixing valve technology to produce water flow that is controlled within 5° of setpoint. The 34HL Series valves provide water at each outlet between 90° and 120°, depending on user preference.

They handle flow rates as low as 1.5 GPM to as high as 60 GPM without "dead zones" or temperature variations between high and low demand.

The mixing valves feature a cast-bronze valve body, brass retainers and connections, a high-temperature thermoplastic shuttle, stainless steel springs and wax-filled thermal element. Servicing can be performed without removing the valve from the plumbing system.

Cooling systems
Fujitsu General America introduced a new lineup of ductless air conditioning systems featuring variable refrigerant flow technology. The VRF system has a multiple-speed compressor that ramps up and down based on the needs of the building load.

Zoned cooling is built in; each cooling zone has its own fan coil and individual room control. Wall-mount or duct-type indoor fan coil units are available, giving designers and installers the option of having a fully ductless application, a central-type ducted system or a combination of both, all operating from a single outdoor unit.

Fujitsu also unveiled three ductless split systems, enlarging its Halcyon line of R410A inverter wall-mounted air conditioners and heat pumps. The units have ratings of up to 20 SEER and 10.0 HSPF. The Halcyon lineup now includes 29 systems with capacity ranges of 9,000 to 42,000 Btuh.

Unico extended a commercial HVAC concept to the residential realm with its UniChiller RC outdoor heating-and-cooling unit. The reverse-cycle device, which can be remotely mounted anywhere away from the house, produces chilled or hot water that is pumped into the home and distributed through fan coil units. Multiple units can be connected to serve larger loads.

Energy Saving Products Ltd. showed its Model HV-50 high-velocity system.

Amcor introduced the Amcoraire Duo ductless split system that provides both cooling and heating. The manufacturer claims the 24,000 Btuh model is less expensive than the competition.

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