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AHR Expo features sustainable products, technologies

March 3, 2010
More than 28,000 contractors attended the 62nd 2010 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition in January to learn about green products and technologies.

ORLANDO, FLA. — More than 28,000 contractors and other HVAC professionals attended the 62nd 2010 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition here in late January to learn about the latest sustainable products and technologies showcased by 1,822 exhibiting companies, making this show the best attended AHR Expo in the Southeast U.S.

There were loads of products of interest to plumbing and mechanical contractors. We’ll have coverage in this issue and the April print edition of CONTRACTOR.

Bell & Gossett introduced a new line of energy efficient potable water recirculator pumps for delivering instant hot water to every faucet. Featuring electronically commutated motor technology and a patented spherical motor design, the ecocirc eliminates the need for a conventional shaft, seal and bearing assembly. The rotor/impeller is the only moving part in the entire pump and it is magnetically balanced on a stationery ceramic bearing inside the pump housing. This design allows the ecocirc to use 68% less energy than most standard pumps and can save an average family of four more than 12,000-gal. of water a year by eliminating the need to wait for hot water to reach the plumbing fixture. Using only 10 watts of power, the ecocirc can save a homeowner hundreds of dollars in energy costs a year.

Making its North American debut, The Grundfos Pumps Alpha is an energy-optimized, 115V circulator featuring a permanent magnet motor design that will cut power consumption by a minimum of 50%. Designed for hydronic heating applications in residential and light-commercial applications, the Alpha is equipped with Grundfos’ AutoAdapt function that modulates circulator performance to match changing system demand. Developed in Europe nearly a decade ago, the Alpha is a proven technology, but rather than assuming that it would work equally well in North America without modification, Grundfos tested the product over the past two years in approximately 200 residential installations across the U.S. and Canada, including many of the installers’ own homes. Feedback from these contractors has led to important adjustments in the hydraulic design of the Alpha to better match the specific requirements of the North American market.

Taco introduced new solar pumping products for solar thermal applications. The Solar Pumping Station combines the features needed for a closed-loop water heating system with only five connections to make: two for the solar collector, two for the storage tank’s heat exchanger, and one for the expansion tank. Included are the integral variable speed solar control pump, isolation ball valves, air elimination and flow meter. The unit continually adjusts pump speed to maximize solar collector output and efficiency, and is pre-engineered, pre-plumbed and pre-wired. Also introduced was the Solar X-Pump Block, which combines a stainless steel flat plate heat exchanger with two bronze circulators and a solar differential temperature control, and the Variable Speed Solar Pump line, featuring circulators with integral solar differential temperature controls. Taco also announced the addition of the KS1217 Pump with pumping capacity up to 9,000 GPM; the TC Series of pumps, offering single stage, double suction, vertical split case pumps for use in heating, air conditioning, pressure boosting, cooling water transfer and water supply applications; the 2400 Series Pumps, designed for quiet, efficient operation in a range of medium to high flow/head applications; and one commercial pump line and three related commercial product lines as Revit (.rfa) family files.

LA-CO Industries showcased its Heat-Seal Stik, a premixed epoxy sealer, and Cool Gel, a clear, non-toxic and non-staining gel that protects rubber, plastic, distortion, and painted and finished surfaces during soldering, brazing or welding. Contractors can make system repairs to unit leaks in as little as 90 seconds when using Heat-Seal Stik. The product works on aluminum, copper, glass, ceramics and R-410A type systems. It also melts at 250ºF from a torch or heat gun and requires no mixing or measuring. It withstands pressures up to 600 PSI and seals in temperatures up to 350ºF. LA-CO’s Cool Gel Heat Barrier Spray acts as a barrier between surfaces and the heat from a torch. Cool Gel’s easy trigger spray formula minimizes the potential for fire and heat damage and it evaporates completely, plus, it saves contractors time by eliminating the disassembly of valves and other components before soldering, brazing and welding.

Bradford-White touted its Icon system and the accessory packages available for its water heaters. The Icon system offers advanced temperature control, performance software, intelligent diagnostics, pilot-on indication and an integrated piezo igniter. The company offers accessories, including an integrated thermostatic mixing valve, a leak detection sensor, a rubber water dam for the floor, an inlet shutoff valve that closes when a leak is detected, and energy saving programmable control, and a power source for all its accessories that incorporates an LED status indicator that monitors all the accessory packages.

Lochinvar announced a major expansion into the commercial solar hot water market by partnering with collector manufacturer TiSun GmbH of Tyrol, Austria. Lochinvar is simultaneously expanding its Squire indirect water heater line with the introduction of six new solar models, as well as the addition of a 65-gal capacity standard indirect model. With the addition of these seven new models, the line more than doubles in size. The new Squire solar models are offered in two solar configurations, each with a backup heat source. The solar models feature 304L stainless steel heat exchanger coils.

The SDT solar models feature a dual coil design for boiler backup. The stainless steel coil in the bottom of the tank provides the primary heating source using solar energy, while the coil in the top of the tank is connected to the boiler. The SDT models are available in 65-, 80- and 119-gal. capacities. The SET solar models are equipped with electric backup. Like the SDT, these models feature a stainless steel solar heat exchanger coil at the bottom of the tank to provide the primary source of hot water. However, in place of the second coil, the SET models are designed with an electrical connection. The SET models are also offered in 65-, 80- and 119-gal capacities.

Viega introduced its new Climate Mat product for commercial/industrial installations that allows installers to finish large jobs in-slab jobs quickly. With this product, installers can lay up to 20,000-sq.ft. of tubing for radiant heating or cooling in just eight hours. Instead of manually laying, tying and suspending individual lengths of tubing, the Climate Mat allows installers to roll out the mat and pour a 4-in. concrete slab directly on top of the tubing without typical reinforcements. Suited for large rectangular or square slabs typically found in warehouses or airport terminals, the Climate Mat offers these benefits over traditional heating and/or cooling methods, including fast installation, even heat distribution, customizable for any project, and free design support from Viega.

Titeflex, a long-time supplier of flexible gas lines, introduced its FlexSure system for connecting solar collectors and water storage tanks. The dual solar tubing consists of two flexible stainless steel tubes pre-insulated with EPDM insulation and a UV-resistant covering. The firm is also offering FlexSure for underground applications.

Ridge Tool Co. announced the launch of RIDGIDConnect — a subscription-based, online business tool designed for service professionals and contractors who create or use digital information. A first-of-its-kind platform, RIDGIDConnect provides the ability to share and store digital assets such as diagnostic job site photos and videos, job reports and histories, maintenance records, customer lists and other business files, which in turn simplifies external and internal communication, as well as the recordkeeping process. The “share” aspect of RIDGIDConnect allows professionals to overcome communication challenges previously associated with digital media assets. RIDGIDConnect subscribers have the ability to prepare and send detailed, professional job reports that include notes and customer details to multiple recipients; edit and narrate digital media (videos and photos) to provide concise, easy-to-follow explanations; and control recipients’ access privileges.

Victaulic announced that it’s now offering Tour and Andersson flanged-end balancing valves in 14- and 16-in. sizes for use in large-diameter applications with high flow requirements. This is the first-of-its-kind calibrated balancing valve in this size range. Overall, Victaulic offers TA balancing valves in sizes ½-in.-2-in. with sweat and female threaded ends, 2½-in.-12-in. with grooved and flanged ends, and now 14-in.-16-in. in flanged ends only. Victaulic also offers a line of supply and return coil package components in ½-in.-2-in. sizes, as well as the new TA Differential Pressure Control valve for differential pressure stabilization in circuits.

Heat Transfer Products was displaying its Phoenix Evolution appliance that melds hydronic space heating and domestic hot water with complete system control in a single 96%-efficient package. A Phoenix Evolution unit can provide the functions of a gas-fired water heater, a 135,000 Btuh boiler and a buffer tank in a space the size of an average residential water heater. This “combined hydronic appliance” consists of three major components: a hot-water storage tank, available in 55-, 80- or 119-gal sizes; a modulating burner assembly attached to the outside bottom of the tank; and a space-heating module also attached to the tank at the top containing a high-output heat exchanger and a variable speed pump. A system controller, called “Total System Control,” regulates the pump, modulates water flows from the storage tank and controls output temperatures.

Laars Heating Systems announced a new NeoTherm condensing boiler that offers 95% energy efficiency. Laars is adding three additional commercial NeoTherm boiler sizes (600, 750, 850 Mbh) to the full line-up of current residential sizes (80, 105, 150, 210 Mbh) and commercial sizes (285, 399, 500 Mbh). A complete line of models were introduced as volume water heaters in February, starting with capacities from 150,000 to 500,000 Btuh, with larger sizes to come. NeoTherm is a direct vent, sealed combustion boiler that modulates with a 5:1 turndown. The boilers feature top connections for water, gas and air intake (horizontal or vertical direct vent). The natural gas or LP-fired boiler features an ASME stainless steel heat exchanger, optional boiler pump, diagnostic information and low NOx emissions.

N.Y. Thermal Inc. displayed its Trinity series of high efficiency heating equipment, the Trinity Ti 95.1% AFUE boiler and water heater and the Trinity Lx gas boiler or water heater that boasts steady state efficiencies as high as 98%. The modulating Ti comes in four models up to 200,000 Btuh and, as a water heater, can produce between 4.0 and 5.5-GPM of DHW at 110°F based on 45°F inlet water. The Lx includes a 5.7-in. color display screen for easy programming, connection with other Lx boilers or Modbus connections to building automation systems. The Lx comes in four models up to 374,000 Btuh, making it suitable for commercial applications such as hotels, carwashes or Laundromats.

WaterFurnace International Inc. showcased its Versatec Ultra series, which combines high efficiency, flexibility and industry standard options in a compact water-source heat pump for water loop and geothermal applications for retrofit and new projects. The series is Energy Star rated, exceeds ASHRAE 90.1 efficiency standards, uses R-410A refrigerant and is available in a selection of capacities (9,000 to 70,000 Btuh output). Units feature single capacity rotary or scroll compressors that are paired with PSC blower motors. Compressors are mounted on a double isolation system for quiet operation, and a variety of cabinet sizes includes seven vertical and seven horizontal models for application flexibility. The series also features hot gas bypass/hot gas reheat; flush mount connections; blower inlet rings; and other features. Waterfurnace also showcased the Envision NXW Series of reversible chillers available in 8- to 50-ton capacities and the Envision NDW Series available in 8- to 15-ton capacities for light commercial.

General Tools & Instruments introduced the New Seeker line of video inspection tools. All three models come with a 39-in. camera tipped probe with built-in, adjustable LED lighting. The camera features a 60 ° field of view. The base model comes with a 70mm LCD monitor, the mid-range model has an 89mm monitor and the top-of-the line unit comes with data logging and can record either still images or up to three hours of video.

In addition to its HVAC products, Noble Co. displayed ProBase, a waterproof composite shower base that’s ready for tile and creates a code-required slope. The UPC-listed product is easily cut to size and allows for a 2-in. adjustment for drain placement. It can be flood tested in an hour. The shower base comes in 48-in. x 48-in. shower pan sizes or a 32-in. x 60-in. tub replacement size.

American Hometec presented its tankless water heater, Model AHQ-C10, featuring Coilless Technology for low-flow and single-use applications that eliminates lime scale build-up and heats water indirectly with a processed quartz tube heating technology. Because there are no coils, the electric components are never in direct contact with the water being heated, preventing accumulation of lime scale inside the unit. The AHQ-C10 comes with three capacity settings in one unit, which allows for adjustable power consumption and energy saving optimization. The unit is suitable for all water conditions and provides an unlimited supply of hot water, heating water on demand for efficiency and water conservation.

Eagle Mountain launched its Intelligent Climate Control System, the Ecô Energy Management System, offering intelligent climate control technologies to the residential and small commercial HVAC marketplace. Ecô is a browser-based management system that can be monitored and controlled remotely, from any Internet connection, including a handheld device. The system has the ability to interface with National Weather Service data to adjust set points in anticipation of weather changes, and provides system health updates and reports errors to users via e-mail or text messaging. Ecô accumulates historical data for analysis and generates real-time performance data. Geomax geothermal heat pumps were also showcased. The company offers GEOMAX systems that integrate ground source heat pumps with loop fields, hydronic or forced-air distribution, solar hydronic, domestic hot water, auxillary heating systems, fresh air exchange and intelligent climate control.

ecobee showcased its Energy Management System, which reduces operating costs and delivers increased energy conservation for commercial buildings. It comes with a Web portal, allowing users to remotely control and monitor HVAC systems, plus it identifies, analyzes and trouble-shoots performance issues. It has a full-color touch screen and offers multiple occupied and unoccupied schedules. A building manager can create standard operating procedures across multiple properties and compare, contrast and audit energy consumption levels for each property. Users can also configure the ecobee EMS to send alerts and service reminders. The ecobee EMS can manage an unlimited number of thermostats in multiple locations across diverse geographies.

Solar Panels Plus showcased the SplitCool DC18, a DC-powered, high SEER air conditioning system for any commercial or residential location where cooling or heating is required and grid power is unavailable, unreliable or requires generators. The SplitCool DC18 runs off a battery bank that is supplied power from an array of photovoltaic panels and installs without ducts. When added to an existing facility, the unit eliminates nearly 30% of cooling or heating losses. Each room can be conditioned as a separate zone, and it can be used in permanent and temporary remote buildings or structures. Also showcased was the new SPP-25, a 25 tube solar thermal collector that can be used in commercial and residential projects for heating domestic water and space heating.

Advanced Telemetry showcased the EcoView Commercial and EcoView Residential energy and resource efficiency solutions. EcoView Commercial is controlled through a wireless touch panel dashboard or Web interface, helping business users understand, track and control how they are consuming resources. Account specialists at Advanced Telemetry’s Network Operations Center are available to remotely monitor user consumption data to immediately detect and diagnose anomalies. Features include an on-site “dashboard” touch panel; components that communicate wirelessly; a Web-based interface for real-time access, monitoring, reporting and remote thermostat control; and other features. For the home, EcoView Residential provides real-time information on a house’s energy and resource usage, allowing owners and tenants to pinpoint consumption from devices. The energy and resource management system can be connected to wireless control devices, such as thermostats and light switches. A flat screen touch panel communicates wirelessly with metering devices that measure a home’s electricity and water consumption, providing real-time, graphical illustrations of energy usage for viewing. An existing broadband Internet connection enables remote monitoring and management of household energy use from any Web-enabled device when away from home.

EnOcean Alliance, an international consortium of 130 companies with the goal of standardizing wireless control systems for sustainable building applications, and several consortium member companies exhibiting at AHR, showcased the latest EnOcean-based monitoring and control products for HVAC applications. In the form of EnOcean Equipment Profiles (EEPs), Alliance standardization guidelines ensure interoperability among HVAC products of all Alliance member manufacturers. Included among the EEPs are temperature, humidity, gas and occupancy sensors. Products on display at the show included building energy-management solutions; HVAC monitoring and controls; wireless actuators; and EnOcean-BACnet based solutions. Several Alliance members displayed EnOcean solutions at their booths, including Distech Controls, Functional Devices Inc., LonMark, Spartan Peripheral Devices and Tridium.

Rehau introduced its new RauPlate joist space radiant heating system that can facilitate rapid and efficient installations without disrupting an existing floor. RauPlate double-channel heat transfer plates are affixed to the underside of the subfloor, eliminating the need to change or add height to the existing floor above. With one pipe channel on each edge, the pre-drilled heat transfer plate design securely clips in two runs of 1/2-in. RauPEX O2 Barrier pipe. The aluminum plate offers excellent conductive properties and even radiant heat output to the floor above. When combined with fixing rails, RauPlate keeps a firm grip on the pipe, reducing expansion noise in the joist space.

Grand Hall introduced the Eternal Condensing Hybrid with full-flow design and stainless steel heat exchanger with a built-in 2-gal. reserve. The unit combines the flow capacity of traditional tanks with the continuity of tankless units to supply hot water with good pressure for up to five simultaneous applications. The Eternal Condensing Hybrid can either be wall-mounted or floor standing with water connections on the unit’s top. It may be vented with 2-in. or 3-in. PVC up to 100-ft., direct vent sealed combustion convertible, natural gas or propane on the same unit, and the indoor unit can also be converted for outdoors. The water heater features a full modulation infrared burner that is dual activated by both a thermostat similar to a tank, or flow sensing similar to tankless. Available in two sizes, the GU145 is 145,000 Btuh with a maximum output of 14.5-GPM and the GU195 is 199,000 Btuh with a max output of 19.5-GPM. Both are CSA and IAPMO listed and certified to NSF-5 standards.

Daikin AC won a number of the 2010 AHR Expo awards. The VRVIII-C, winner of the Heating Award, features a two-stage compression cycle using multiple smaller compressors. A second outdoor unit, called a booster unit, introduces the second stage refrigeration cycle and increases the pressure to levels that allow high-efficiency comfortable heat at outdoor temperatures as low as -13°F. Several Daikin products were also awarded an honorable mention including Quaternity, which was recognized in the Indoor Air Quality category. The 22-SEER all in one system cools, heats, de-humidifies to a pre-determined setpoint and purifies the air. The Altherma was awarded an honorable mention in the Green Building category. The unit offers a total comfort solution for residential applications and supplies heating, cooling and domestic hot water three to five times more efficiently than conventional systems using oil or gas.

Trimble announced that it has bought QuickPen. The firm also introduced a variety of layout, estimating, BIM and asset management tools for contractors. Trimble introduced a new version of Trimble MEP Field Software for mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors. Trimble MEP 2.0 layout solution allows contractors to take digital CAD design file or 3D BIM into the field to simplify the layout of conduit, pipe, duct and cable trays. Users can create points directly from a DXF file into Trimble MEP running on the Trimble Nomad Controller. The Direct Reflex Layout feature makes locating points on a deck or overhead fast and efficient because users do not need to know elevation in order to achieve an accurate location — Trimble MEP determines the elevation automatically and turns the total station to the correct position. Enhanced DR Layout in version 2.0 extends this capability to walls: regardless of the orientation or design of a wall, Trimble MEP 2.0 will calculate the correct location for piping, duct and other wall penetrations.

Fulton Heating showed its Invictus line of gas-fired absorption heat pump systems for hydronic heating and cooling applications with thermal efficiencies as high as 149%. The absorption chillers use ammonia as a refrigerant. The company said that incorporating Invictus units with a boiler and custom controls creates a highly efficient system for commercial applications. The units work well with ground-source or pond-based geothermal applications and can supply both heating and cooling to a building simultaneously.

Schebler Chimney Systems introduced its eVent series of prefabricated chimney systems for high-efficiency, condensing boilers. The systems are designed to extend equipment life, reduce material, space and installation time. The series includes: eVent lightweight 24-gauge inner liner, affordable, continuous-weld, double-wall system with 1” air gap; eVentPlus, constructed of thicker-than-industry-standard 20-gauge material for structural integrity and extended equipment life; and eVentPlus2, with an additional 2-in. of insulation to diminish condensation and protect from freezing. It also enables tight installations by reducing clearance to combustibles.

Fujitsu General America offered three new ductless wall mount split system heat pumps. Each of the three systems offers an extended line set capability, providing a line set maximum of 165-ft. The 18RLXS is an 18,000 Btuh, 19-SEER, 10.0 HSPF heat pump that qualifies for Tier 2 Energy Star ratings, making it eligible for up to a $1,500 Federal tax credit. Fujitsu’s 24RLXS, a 24,000 Btuh heat pump with an 18.0 SEER, 10.0 HSPF rating that is also eligible for up to a $1,500 Federal tax credit. The 24RLXS operates optimally at temperatures of 0°F for cooling and 5°F for heating purposes. Also, the company’s 30RLX heat pump provides 30,000 Btuh of heating and cooling with ratings of 16 SEER and 9.5 HSPF. The 30 RLX also provides low ambient cooling operation down to 0°F, making it ideal for computer room cooling applications.

Silentium unveiled its "Silence in a Chip" noise control solutions, allowing cooling and heating units to work at energy-efficient speeds while significantly reducing operating costs. The Active Silencer duct can be attached to any new or existing air exchange unit or imbedded near the air device without adding resistance to airflow. It automatically calibrates to its environment, eliminating more than 10dB(A) of broadband noise at the source. Contractors can directly install the Active Silencer duct, saving time, labor and material costs as it eliminates the need for long labyrinths and ducts to reduce noise.

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