AHR Expo shows its wet side

March 13, 2017
So many innovative products for the HVACR and plumbing industries were showcased this year at the AHR Expo, and these products are more intelligent and more versatile than ever.

LAS VEGAS — So many innovative products for the HVACR and plumbing industries were showcased this year at the AHR Expo, and these products are more intelligent and more versatile than ever.

Rheem showed it Classic Series Tankless Electric Water Heaters that came from its Eemax acquisition. The electric models are available in both whole house and point-of-use. They use a self-modulating technology that activates only when water is running, performing at a thermal energy efficiency rate close to 99 percent. The compact design mounts directly to the wall (or under the sink) with common hardware and the unit’s external control panel has a digital display, so water temperature can be adjusted in one-degree increments from 80°F-140°F.

Rheem also displayed the Prestige Series EcoNet Enabled Condensing Tankless Gas Water Heaters, the latest addition to Rheem’s line of innovative, contractor-focused tankless water heating solutions. These units provide continuous hot water and can save up to 1,100 gallons of water per year, and an estimated $1,100 in lifetime energy costs. Compatible with the Rheem EcoNet Smart Home System, these tankless gas water heaters can be part of a smart home solution that reduces up to 60 percent of a home’s energy costs.

Rinnai showed off its Control-R communication module that plugs into the control board of its tankless heaters. The Control-R will work with any Rinnai water heater going back to 2006. If the communication module senses a problem, it emails the contractor with the faults that the control board is showing. Also, in a simple but brilliant move, Rinnai showed its Corner Wall-Mount Tankless Bracket System that will hold two tankless units. Because tank-type water heaters are so often installed in corners, the corner bracket makes it easy to use the same space.

Watts Water Technologies is working on integrating its various hydronics and radiant products, including its tekmar Controls acquisition, radiant tubing and wall-mounted modular mechanical packages. Watts Senior Sales Manager Rich McNally noted that the modular packages can supply as many as five different water temperatures in a house, while the controls can “learn” the performance characteristics of the house to optimize boiler run-times and efficiency. McNally called it an “indoor feedback system.”

Bradford White Water Heaters showed off its ElectriFLEX HD (Heavy Duty) field convertible commercial electric water heaters. ElectriFLEX HD water heaters are ETL Certified and can be converted quickly on-site to provide a commercial application solution for almost any situation. In addition to phase convertibility, the ElectriFLEX HD model offers 12 different convertible wattages from 6kW to 54kW and six convertible voltages, including 208V, 240V, 277V, 380V (Canada), 480V, and 600V. The field convertibility allows the plumbing contractor to install the water heater before he knows what kind of electrical service the electrical contractor is going to provide, explained Assistant Product Manager Trevor Pinto. The units are available in 50-, 80-, and 119-gallon capacities and are suitable for nearly all new or replacement commercial applications, including hotels, apartments, hospitals, restaurants, and office buildings.

At the Bell & Gossett (B&G) booth, a Xylem brand, the updated intelligent pump controller and variable frequency drive were showcased. The Technologic series is an intelligent pump controller with two advanced controller functions including a Start-Up Genie engineered to reduce on-site setup and configuration time by 50 percent, and an electrically controlled bypass for a range of hydronic HVAC system applications. The Technologic Start-Up Genie guides users through quick and easy commissioning, with its 10 preconfigured applications, preset pump protections and input/output options. Set-up time is approximately 15 minutes, compared to 45 minutes for similar products. A bypass option is available with electronic control to ensure uninterrupted operation of the HVAC system by keeping the rotating equipment running. It also has the ability to alter hydraulic performance to maintain constant system pressure. This bundled offering of hydraulics and controls ensures a single point of contact and ease of service — a critical factor in specification.

Connected and communicating controls play a big part of Armstrong Fluid Technologies’ entire pump line from 1-HP to 1,250-HP. Providing extended intelligence, wireless connectivity, new integrated Armstrong controls, Parallel Sensorless Pump Control and on-board web services, these technological advancements can help building managers realize energy savings of 30% or more, according to Armstrong.

A new, integrated Armstrong controller provides a wide range of new functionality including on-board diagnostics, trending, alerts and automatic flow-balancing. Real-time connectivity options include BACnet, BACnet IP, and Modbus. All pumps are delivered with both wireless and wired connectivity. On-board web services provide wireless access for commissioning and performance management. According to Armstrong Director of Global Sales Enablement Neil Cooper, the connectivity options will allow mechanical contractors to startup pumps from their mobile devices.

Piping systems, filtration system and more

Viega reminded attendees that it makes ball valves, including zero-lead valves in bronze and stainless steel. One of the newest editions to the line is a press-fitting-to-hose-thread valve that comes with a cap and chain for the hose side. The bronze ball valves are full port and designed for potable water applications. The ball valves are available in ?-in. and ?-in. press sizes and ?-in. hose sizes. Other features include a lockable metal handle, stainless steel ball and EPDM sealing element.

On the plastic side, Viega introduced its ProRadiant Insulated PEX Barrier Piping System for its snow melting system. The Insulated PEX Barrier Piping System’s superior insulation results in a reduction in heat loss over competitive products in the market, according to the company. The “smart” membrane between the outer casing and insulation enhances and maintains the insulation value, keeping operating performance high throughout the pipe’s service life. The bonded system eliminates risk of water penetration and no special considerations for thermal expansion are required. The polyethylene (LDPE) jacket resists any impact or blows incurred during the installation or transportation. The piping system is UV-treated, requires no special tools for assembly and is available in long coils or custom coil lengths.

Aquatherm North America announced the addition of Blue Pipe in Standard Dimension Ratios. The new SDR 9 MF RP product line is used in mechanical and industrial applications. SDR stands for standard dimension ratio; 9 is the pipe thickness (or SDR); MF is multi-layer faser (Aquatherm’s proprietary thermal expansion-reducing fiberglass extruded layer); and RP stands for raised pressure. The piping utilizes the latest advances in high-performance polypropylene-random (PP-R) resin technology for improved performance and capabilities in applications such as high-pressure risers, high-temperature heating and district heating, and industrial process systems where a high safety margin is required.

Connected, communicating controls

Daikin announced the launch of a residential VRV line that can be integrated with a gas boiler, so one of the multiple zones handled by the unit could be a hydronic fan coil. The extra heat would extend VRV equipment into the U.S. northern tier and into Canada.

Daikin Applied has integrated connected and communicating controls into its commercial lines. Daikin’s Intelligent Equipment connects directly to 150 data points on rooftop and air-cooled chiller units to monitor energy consumption at the equipment level for more accurate performance measurement.

Daikin’s Rebel rooftop product line is Intelligent Equipment-enabled and includes integrated inverter compressor technology for precise temperature and humidity control. The high-efficiency Rebel rooftop product line provides a 41 percent energy savings over a year’s operation in cooling mode.

Vertiv, formerly Emerson Network Power, announced a first for its Liebert cooling products — AHRI certification. Previously there had been no AHRI testing and certification program for computer room and mission critical products. The Liebert units have earned the AHRI Certified mark through the Institute’s Datacom certification program. Vertiv is the first U.S.-based company to achieve this certification for data center cooling systems.

Vertiv also announced that two of its most popular Liebert cooling systems for small IT spaces are now available with the iCOM CMS Monitoring and Control System that enables remote monitoring, management and alarm troubleshooting for IT managers and service technicians. iCOM CMS operates through the industry’s first Internet of Things mobile app, the web or building management systems, allowing IT managers to view room and equipment conditions and alarm notifications, remotely manage cooling systems, and track the progress of troubleshooting and repair through automated workflow tracking.

At the Johnson Controls booth, the new Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Smart Gateway provides unprecedented control for network management centers. Offering fast, simple integration into the Metasys building automation system (BAS) or any other BACnet BAS, the small, yet powerful gateway brings data into a BAS for comprehensive control of the entire system. Data is organized and available on-demand from any connected device.

The VRF Smart Gateway works over Ethernet to discover all data points from VRF indoor and outdoor units, and makes the data available for every component across the entire system through the Metasys BAS. This comprehensive point data provides greater diagnostic capabilities and system control. Data is automatically structured and organized during the integration process, eliminating the time and costs associated with formatting. Information is displayed using familiar Metasys BAS conventions. Device and point names, graphics and summaries are uniform and consistent with other system data. Additionally, all Metasys BAS capabilities, including the Metasys user interface and offline configuration, are available for VRF systems. The user interface features a global search, schedules and reporting. Seamless integration with the Metasys BAS means the entire system is accessible and controllable through the BAS interface. In addition, Wi-Fi accessibility enables communication settings to be configured and data monitored and controlled 24/7 from a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

The next-generation VRF product line will feature multiple technology advancements. Outdoor units will offer improved performance, additional module sizes and greater efficiency. Indoor units will include several sizes of multi-port change-over boxes, improved static pressure performance for ducted units, and new capacities for several style units. In addition, VRF controls will offer new features with new functionality.

The innovations built into the VRF Smart Gateway and next-generation systems will enable engineers and mechanical contractors to design, install and integrate Johnson Controls VRF systems with greater flexibility and more options, and at a lower overall system cost.

Also during the show, Haier Ductless Air launched its new product lines. The company showcased a broad array of solutions from mini splits, multi-splits, professional series, VRF to water heaters.

Haier continues to innovate when it comes to our air quality solutions giving our customers more options than ever," said Nick Shin, vice president and business unit leader, Haier Ductless Air.

Some of the new products unveiled includes:

  • A new easy installation USB Wi-Fi module as an option for the existing Arctic & FlexFit Series and the new FlexFit Pro high wall models.
  • The Flexfit Pro Series is perfect for light commercial uses. The FlexFit Pro series offers a numbers of options to make installation and inventory easy. Powered by a single outdoor unit yet able to set different temperatures in different spaces via separate indoor units. Available from 24,000 BTU to 48,000 BTU. The 24K unit is interchangeable with single or multi-zone units.
  • The Mini VRF bridges the gap between the small multi-zone residential applications to multi-zone light commercial needs. Mini-VRF can have up to 9 indoor units with 9 zones of temperature control and comfort. With a 984 ft. refrigerant line length, multi-story applications and large building application is now possible.    
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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