Preliminary attendance figures show that more than 61000 total attendees including 42400 visitors participated in the 2015 AHR Expo

Innovative products galore at 2015 AHR Expo

Feb. 25, 2015
This year's Expo showcased innovative products, including: Bell & Gossett debuted the Series e-1531 close coupled, footless end suction pump. Gastite introduced its new patent-pending XR3 fitting. Rothenberger featured the Roscan 150 infrared camera. Owens Corning is planning to produce Fiberglas Pipe Insulation with ASJ custom-fit for Aquatherm pipe. Rheem introduced its EcoNet smart technology.

CHICAGO — This year’s AHR Expo claimed the title for the best-attended event ever held in Chicago. Preliminary attendance figures show that more than 61,000 total attendees, including 42,400 visitors, participated in the 2015 AHR Expo, Jan. 26-28, at McCormick Place, and with more than 2,100 companies exhibiting at the Expo, there were plenty of innovative products to peak contractors’ interests. 

The Series e-1531 from Bell and Gossett.

Bell & Gossett showcased many new products, including the Series e-1531 close coupled, footless end suction pump. Advanced computational fluid dynamic techniques were used for the comprehensive redesign of the legacy Series 1531 pumps. The new Series e-1531 joins the recently launched Series e-1532 close coupled, footed, end suction centrifugal pump. Installation is easy, thanks to the footless volute, enabling increased vertical or horizontal mounting options for greater installation flexibility; close coupled configuration, providing a compact footprint and offering automatic alignment for easy installation; and backward dimensional interchangeability enables simple retrofit installs.

The expanded efficiency profile, or Efficiency Island, enables users to maintain higher levels of efficiency over a much wider range of operating conditions, resulting in reduced electricity consumption, improved overall system performance and lower life cycle costs. Optimized hydraulics contributes to greater efficiency for both fixed and variable speed operation, providing superior energy savings in either setting. This suction pump is available in 15 sizes and a variety of configurations, enabling customization and flexibility that fits a broad range of system demands. Stainless steel impellers reduce corrosion or degradation potential from varying water quality, providing longer product life and decreased maintenance/repairs. True back pullout capability supports low maintenance and service costs.

Bell & Gossett also announced at the Expo that it is expanding its hydronic system design training with the introduction of the Online Little Red Schoolhouse — an interactive, self-paced series of free educational courses. The launch of Bell & Gossett’s Online Little Red Schoolhouse marks the first time the iconic brand’s pump systems training and educational programming will be available to a global audience via the internet.


The Hydro Multi-B from Grundfos.

Grundfos also featured many new products, along with the Comfort PM Auto, which sets the standard for intelligent and energy-efficient hot water recirculation, eliminating the wait for hot water at showerheads and sink taps. The Comfort PM Auto is capable of reducing energy costs by as much as 96 percent thanks to the innovative AutoAdapt feature, which ensures that the pump runs only when required.  Plus, the Comfort PM Auto features three operating modes. In addition to AutoAdapt, which learns the household’s consumption patterns and then adapts to it, the pump also has temperature mode to keep the water temperature within an automatically detected range and 100 percent mode to allow the pump to run constantly at full speed. For basic needs, Grundfos also offers the Comfort PM model, which is available with 100 percent mode. Both the Comfort PM and Comfort PM Auto are compact, easily installed, provide silent operation and save as much as 12,000 gallons of water per year.

Also highlighted at the Grundfos booth was the Hydro Multi-B and Hydro MPC BoosterpaQ. Based on the highly efficient Grundfos CR pump range, the sturdy, compact Hydro MPC BoosterpaQ is a fully integrated pressure-boosting system with the intelligent CU 352 controller optimizing pump operation based on demand. Not only is the Hydro MPC BoosterpQ the most energy-efficient solution for varying flow needs, it’s now available for immediate delivery with no lead times. The Hydro Multi-B is an all variable speed controlled pump system utilizing two to three GrundfosCME pumps with integrated variable frequency drive. The Hydro Multi-B boasts two key features: an easy-to-use CU323 controller for efficient, optimized pump control in constant-pressure applications and simplicity of installation and operation, the key design concept for the system.


At the WaterFurnace booth, the Aurora Universal Protocol Converter (UPC) — available on Versatec Base, Versatec Ultra and Envision² Compact products — was featured. Designed to incorporate the advanced features, performance and controls of WaterFurnace Aurora-based heat pumps into commercial building automation systems (BAS), the Aurora UPC seamlessly communicates with Aurora boards and converts the Modbus protocol to BACnet MS/TP, LON or OpenN2 protocol. The module provides access to unit sensors, relay operations and faults and allows individual unit configuration — all without the need to manually access the heat pump. A portable touch-screen interface gives a technician full access to equipment status, parameter values, temperatures and humidity sensing, as well as access to alarm and trend history. The Aurora UPC features a multi-protocol field selectable communication port that supports: EIA-485 BACnet MS/TP @ 9600, 19.2k, 38.4k, 76.8k baud; Metasys OpenN2; and LonWorks TP/FT-10 (requires optional LON plug-in communication card). The controller includes an onboard CR2032 battery with a 10-year lifespan to provide 720 hours of cumulative power outage capacity. The Aurora UPC also features: LEDs for status of power, network communication, processor operation and errors; local laptop or Aurora Touch Interface connection for field service and configuration; and heating and cooling control from a remotely located zone sensor. In addition, the Aurora UPC includes an Rnet communication port that allows for up to five ZS Series Rnet zone sensors to be connected for space temperature averaging.


Gastite, a manufacturer of Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST), introduced its new patent-pending XR3 fitting. FlashShield withstands nearly 95% of simulated direct lighting strikes while other conductive CSST competitors withstand only 5% based on independent third party testing. FlashShield also utilizes advanced aerospace shield technology. FlashShield is the only manufacturer that meets strict ICC-ES PMG LC1024 and LC1027 performance criteria. FlashShield also provides more than 10 times the lightning resistance of the competition for just a few dollars more per install. The XR3 fitting metal locking feature will enhance electrical continuity and the Jacket-Lock feature eliminates exposed stainless steel beyond the nut metallically shielded layer. There is also a multi-point seat for a reliable metal-to-metal seal.

Rothenberger & Greenlee

The Roscan 150 IR camera from Rothenberger.

Rothenberger featured the Roscan 150 infrared camera with touchscreen WIFI capability at its booth. This infrared camera enables the thermal imager to make easy work of analysis of warm and cold sources. This new camera is the latest addition to Rothenberger’s Roscope line of cameras. The Roscan 150 can be used for leak detection and analysis of refrigeration and heat sources and relies on overlay technology that allows the user to see both the visual image and the thermal image for more accurate analysis and understanding. This camera has a high level of accuracy, measuring with a range of -4 degrees to 428 degrees. The Roscan 150 offers a simple to use system, which features emissivity settings for exact temperature differentiation of various materials. The Roscan 150 is available as a single unit, or as a complete drain inspection set, the Roscope i2000 modular system has use in multiple applications.

At the Greenlee booth, a new line of HVAC clamp meters, featuring True RMS for accurate measurement taking when the voltage or current waveform is distorted by non-linear loads, was showcased. The new versatile meters allow HVAC end-users to take measurements, including capacitance, temperature and DC mico-amps. The new clamp meters, CMI-600 and CMI-1000, are suitable to measure temperature, capacitance and DC micro-amps, frequently needed for HVAC applications. There is a three-wire phase sequence and motor rotation testing function available. This line of clamp meters can also be used for all HVAC applications that do not require DC current measurements. Both the CMI-600 and CMI-1000 come with AmpTip technology, which provides increased accuracy on small wires carrying 60 amps or less. All three meters can perform three terminal phase sequence and motor rotation testing. One of the convenient many uses for these meters includes troubleshooting fire alarm system end-of-line resistors as the meters will measure up to 60kΩ, which is grate than the value of the system.


A mobile management screen from FieldAware.

During the Expo, FieldAware unveiled its newest features to the mechanical contracting community. FieldAware’s made for mobile solutions provide field personnel with mobile tools, on any smartphone or tablet, which increase their productivity and generate more revenue. Its Web-based back office functions are built on a flexible, cloud-based architecture with unlimited configurable fields that can accommodate virtually any business process. FieldAware’s contractor customers are able to easily customize the solution for their specific businesses. The Self-Service Portal enables service organizations to create portals that can be integrated into websites. The portals provide a more convenient way for their customers to request service, gain insight into the status of those requests, view past invoices and manage their accounts. They are optimized for both Web and mobile interfaces and fully-integrated with FieldAware’s cloud-based Field Service Management software; which enables a request for service through the portal to be entered directly into the FieldAware system, in one click, and dispatched accordingly.  The new enhanced dashboards will initially offer 15 pre-packaged executive dashboards with drill down capability. Predesigned dashboards contain key business indicators including job profitability, employee utilization and more. Drill down capability provides access to the raw data to provide insight that enables more informed decision making.


At the Aquatherm booth, an exciting announcement was made about Owens Corning Insulating Systems LLC planning to produce high-quality, Fiberglas Pipe Insulation with ASJ custom-fit for Aquatherm pipe as part of an exclusive agreement with Aquatherm North America. The introduction of these new solutions will enable insulators and mechanical engineers to confidently and easily work with the Aquatherm metric-sized polypropylene-random (PP-R) piping systems. The new AQ Fiberglas Pipe Insulation will leverage Owens Corning’s existing distribution channels to introduce more than nine sizes and 22 SKUs (covering pipe up to 4” (125mm) diameter) to the marketplace in January 2015. This product line delivers a custom-fit solution that matches the outer dimensions of the German-manufactured, metric-sized piping systems.


EcoNet smart technology from Rheem.

Rheem introduced show-goers to its EcoNet smart technology that will manage 65 percent of a home’s energy consumption. EcoNet is the first system to connect a home’s heating, cooling, and water heating systems through a central hub, making it easy for homeowners to conveniently manage energy usage and monitor diagnostics and maintenance schedules. The system uses a home’s existing WiFi connection to locate and link all compatible Rheem air and water products. Homeowners can then control these products through the free EcoNet mobile app on smartphones or tablets (both iOS and Android platforms), or a control center mounted in their home. The EcoNet smart thermostat is a wall-mounted 4.7-in. touch screen that has many of the same features of a traditional programmable thermostat.


Emerson Climate Technologies displayed its new ComfortGuard Monitoring Service at the AHR Expo. The ComfortGuard service allows homeowners to manage their heating and cooling equipment by providing real-time information and professional insight that predicts problems, prevents energy waste, and protects indoor comfort around-the-clock. Emerson is looking for contractors to join the ComfortGuard network. Following installation by an authorized service professional, ComfortGuard's 10 state-of-the-art sensors collect and transmit data over a Wi-Fi connection every time the heating and cooling system runs. With every run, a “32-point” inspection is conducted, including a scan for efficiency changes, filter degradation and component problems. Any indication of a problem generates a notice to the ComfortGuard monitoring team who analyze the data before sending a system alert to the homeowner and their service professional. Homeowners have access to a web and mobile portal, making system status, live data, equipment details and filter size just a click away. In addition, the contractor is alerted and will contact the homeowner to schedule a service call.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article, featuring more new and innovative products.

About the Author

Robert P. Mader

Bob Mader is the Editorial Director for Penton's mechanical systems brands, including CONTRACTOR magazine, Contracting Business and HPAC Engineering, all of which are part of Penton’s Energy and Buildings Group. He has been  with CONTRACTOR since 1984 and with Penton since 2001. His passions are helping contractors improve their businesses, saving energy and the issue of safeguarding our drinking water. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with an A.B. in American Studies with a Communications Concentration.

About the Author

Candace Roulo

Candace Roulo, senior editor of CONTRACTOR and graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts & Sciences, has 15 years of industry experience in the media and construction industries. She covers a variety of mechanical contracting topics, from sustainable construction practices and policy issues affecting contractors to continuing education for industry professionals and the best business practices that contractors can implement to run successful businesses.      

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