Kohler launched a variety of new products this year, among many others.

KBIS, IBS showcase smart, sustainable products

Feb. 19, 2015
KBIS wrapped up its 51st annual show at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Visitors Center, Jan. 22. More than 500 exhibitors took part in the three-day show on Jan. 20-22, 2015. There were many new and innovative water-conserving, bathroom products at KBIS. Besides viewing all the bathroom and kitchen products at KBIS, CONTRACTOR staff also visited the International Builders’ Show during Design & Construction Week.

LAS VEGAS — The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) wrapped up its 51st annual show at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Visitors Center, Jan. 22. More than 500 exhibitors took part in the three-day show on Jan. 20-22, 2015. Plus, in collaboration with the National Association of Home Builders, KBIS co-located with the International Builders’ Show (IBS) for the second annual Design & Construction Week. Needless to say, there were many manufacturers to visit to see what newest products they are offering contractors and consumers in 2015.

There were many new and innovative water-conserving, bathroom products at KBIS. For starters, Kohler launched a variety of new products this year, including the new roundfront San Souci toilet. San Souci boasts sleek lines that make for a toilet that is seamless and easy to clean. This is one of the smallest toilets in the market — its compact bowl and regular height seat provide a thoughtfully-designed solution for small bathrooms. A concealed trapway and low-profile bolt caps add to the clean appearance of the San Souci. This one-piece toilet utilizes Kohler’s innovative AquaPiston flush system, a patented flush engine for gravity-fed toilets that features a canister design for enhanced flushing performance. This flushing device provides a fast, powerful and clean flush. The patented AquaPiston flush engine directs water to flow in from all sides, and the precision-engineered tank, bowl and trapway create a strong siphon that results in a thorough, effective flush every time. With its 1.28-gpf, the San Souci is also listed as one of Kohler’s WaterSense models. The San Souci toilet is available in ten colors, providing options for consumers looking to create a statement piece or extend an existing color scheme to the toilet space.

Another new product showcased at the Kohler booth was the Honesty faucet collection, offering a contemporary, square design for the bathroom. Its sleek lines and flush fitted aerator create a seamless, easy-to-clean design, making Honesty a perfect choice for both residential and hospitality applications. As with all Kohler faucets, the Honesty line is constructed of premium materials for reliable durability and topped with a lasting finish that resists corrosion and tarnishing. WaterSense labeled, Honesty uses at least 30 percent less water than standard 2.2 GPM faucets while still meeting strict performance guidelines.

New products for the bathroom were also taking center stage at the Moen booth with the new Rizon bathroom collection. The ideal choice for homeowners looking to achieve minimalism in the bath, this new contemporary suite demonstrates that uncomplicated styling is anything but plain. Rizon lavatory faucets make a dramatic statement at the sink and are available in single-handle, single-hole and two-handle widespread platforms. Additionally, all lavatory faucets in the collection are certified to meet WaterSense criteria. The faucets are flow-optimized and allow water to flow at 1.5 GPM versus traditional faucets that flow at 2.2 GPM, offering a potential water savings of up to 32 percent. To extend the look to the bath tub, matching Roman tub faucets are available with or without a hand shower. The Rizon collection also features matching shower fixtures that are compatible with Moen’s Posi-Temp pressure-balancing valve, which maintains water pressure and controls temperature. Both a standard showerhead with a flow rate of 2.5 GPM or an Eco-Performance showerhead that features a flow rate of 1.75 GPM, meeting WaterSense requirements, are available as well. The collection also utilizes the innovative Moen M•PACT common valve system on its widespread faucet, showering options and Roman tub faucet.

Also, showcased at Moen was the new Magnetix handheld shower collection. Magnetix hand showers are the first Moen products to feature an innovative and powerful magnetic dock to allow for easy release, while also securely snapping the hand shower back into place. The magnetic dock of Magnetix hand showers lowers the height of the showerhead for consumers that are shorter or prefer to be seated in the shower. It also reduces arm motion so users can now simply extend the arm straight out to dock in one motion — rather than having to stabilize the handheld within a standard shower arm cradle. Since the magnet eliminates the need for a cradle, the hand showers also feature a more streamlined appearance and reduce clutter. Handheld showers with Magnetix offer transitional styling to coordinate with most bathroom décor. Additionally, consumers can maximize their shower experience by switching between six high-performance spray options. Each features optimized pressure ranging from massage to combinations of soft and forceful full-rinse sprays to offer customization and meet any shower preference. For added convenience, select models offer a push-button feature to easily change between settings. The Magnetix hand showers include a flexible, kink-free, 60-in. metal hose for greater reach in the tub or shower, allowing users to accomplish other tasks, such as bathing children, washing pets and cleaning the shower, with ease.

Delta also featured new bathroom products at its booth. Featuring Delta Faucet Company's first joystick lavatory faucet, the Tesla Bath Collection is set apart from typical modern design by its divergence from cool, straight lines. Inspired by the uniquely organic shapes found in nature, this soft contemporary collection was created with urban high-rises in mind and goes beyond expectations by lending a spirited sense of the outdoors to any interior. For added convenience, the faucet also offers Touch2O.xt Technology with TempAssure Technology, providing touch and hands-free activation as well as a visual temperature indication. The Tesla Bath Collection is slated to begin shipping in Spring 2015 and features a full suite of products, including single-handle and vessel lavatory faucets, a free-standing tub filler, wall mount and widespread faucet options, single and dual-function pressure balanced showers with H2Okinetic Technology, TempAssure dual-function thermostatic showers with H2Okinetic Technology, diverters, Roman tubs, a light sconce and other matching accessories.

Also featured at Delta’s booth was the Odyssey Digital and Odyssey XO Digital Shower solutions, allowing consumers to control shower function with a user-friendly touch screen panel. Unlike digital shower offerings that require separate access panels, the Odyssey Digital Shower solution installs just like a standard shower and allows maintenance in front of the wall to reduce installation time. With the Odyssey Digital Shower, every shower function, including temperature and water flow, can be easily activated with the touch screen panel. For showers with multiple outlets, the Odyssey XO Digital Shower allows users to control a combination of showerheads, handshowers, or body sprays and features a Pause/Play functionality to allow users to stop the flow of water easily to perform tasks such as lathering up or shaving, and then return to the same temperature and outlet settings.

Franke showed only kitchen faucets at the show with the introduction of the new Ambient and Steel offerings in complete product suites to meet a variety of needs in the modern kitchen. Included are kitchen, prep and bar faucets, equipped with pull-out or pull-down sprays, as well as pot fillers and point-of-use hot- and/or cold-water dispensers, the latter marketed under the name of “Little Butler.”

The new Ambient family comes in more than a half dozen models. Besides the 16½-in.-tall flagship of the line, Ambient also includes prep and bar faucets, all equipped with a brass pull-down, dual-spray head that extends up to 21-in. Users can simply toggle between full and needle patterns. Measuring 18⅞-in. tall, the Semi-Pro model features an arched, fully rotating, flexible spout that can be fixed into a straight-ahead position with its press-and-click stabilizer arm. Hose construction consists of a silicone inner core protected by a low-friction, smooth nylon, braided, outside mesh. In markets that require lower kitchen cabinet clearances, the Ambient Series offers an 8½-in.-tall faucet with a pull-out — rather than a pull-down — spray.

The new Steel family counts five different faucet models, with list prices ranging from $395 to $595. Included are kitchen, prep and bar models that feature a stainless steel pull-down, dual-spray head that extends up to 21-in. and offers full and needle spray patterns. The Steel series is designed to compete against comparable stainless steel faucets that sell for upwards of $1,000.

For the entertainers, Scotsman Home Ice showed its lines of residential ice cube and ice nugget machines. Scotsman introduced a new stainless steel residential gourmet ice machine, the DCE33. The DCE33 stainless steel model replaces the previous DCE33, which had a black finish. This residential ice machine is 15-in. wide, produces 30 pounds of gourmet ice in 24 hours, and fits under the counter to complement any kitchen or home entertainment area. The stainless steel appearance fits beautifully into any décor or can be installed with a custom wood front to match surrounding cabinetry.

Scotsman, which invented chewable ice for the fast food industry in 1981, introduced its new Brilliance residential nugget ice machines. These 15-in. ice machines fit under the counter in the kitchen, bar or outdoor setting, and dispense the same “Original Chewable Ice.” Scotsman’s nugget ice is made with bits of compacted ice that are soft and chewable. Its soft form enables the ice to take on the flavor of the beverage to create a better tasting drink. Producing more than 80 pounds of soft ice in 24 hours, Brilliance Nugget ice machines feature a stainless steel cabinet or they can be installed with a custom wood front to match surrounding cabinetry.

Enviro Water Products introduced its Combo System comprised of a salt-free softening system and a four-stage filter. Enviro Water Products is looking to do business with plumbing contractors, not the water treatment crowd. The firm’s Water Quality Association-certified NaturSoft water softening device is a physical water treatment system that eliminates the negative effects of hard water without use of chemicals or salt. The system was designed to change the structure of the calcium and magnesium minerals found in hard water from their ionic form to a harmless crystalline form. In this stable form, calcium and magnesium do not attach to pipes, appliances, or fixture surfaces. The crystals are so small that they are readily rinsed away by the normal flow of water, keeping these beneficial minerals in the water.

The other half of the Enviro Water Products Combo System is the Carbon Series, which uses a four-stage water filtration process to address a range of contaminants, bacteria and potential impurities such as chlorine, chloramines, pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals and industrial solvents. The Carbon Series first line of defense is a 5-Micron pre-filter that removes dirt and debris 20 times smaller than a human hair. The second and third stages use two types of carbons to gain a wider range of contaminant filtering capabilities offered from each type of carbon and the final stage works to prevent the growth of bacteria and algae.

International Builders’ Show

Besides viewing all the bathroom and kitchen products at KBIS, CONTRACTOR staff also visited the International Builders’ Show during Design & Construction Week.

At GE’s booth the 80-gal. GeoSpring Hybrid Electric Water Heater, made in Louisville, Kentucky, was showcased. The 80-gal. unit will exceed the U.S. Department of Energy’s new energy efficiency standards for all electric water heaters larger than 55 gallons. The 80-gal. GeoSpring is ideal for large households living in homes that have more than two baths. The hybrid electric water heater also includes the same water and electrical connections as a standard electric water heater, making it easy to install. It boasts an energy factor of 2.9, exceeding U.S. Department of Energy’s 2015 energy-efficiency standards. Plus, it provides the same amount of hot water as a traditional 80-gal. standard electric water heater, along with exclusive features, such as vacation mode, which will lower the water temperature to 50 degrees for the duration of a trip, and then automatically reenergize itself the day before the homeowner’s return. Consumers can adjust the temperature setting in one-degree increments from 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

At the American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning booth, controls were center stage.

The AccuLink Platinum 950 will change consumers’ perception of thermostats, giving them a home management tool for remotely controlling the comfort of their homes. When paired with Nexia Home Intelligence, the Platinum 950 allows homeowners to access their home temperature and comfort from any web-enabled smartphone, tablet or computer. Other features include: Nexia Home Intelligence compatible, 7-in. high-definition color touchscreen, create up to six daily heating and cooling schedules, built-in humidity sensor, air quality management tools, upgradable software, Wi-Fi connection, up-to-the-minute weather station, compatible with AccuLink Communicating and Variable Speed systems, digital photo frame, and maintenance and filter service reminder alerts. Also featured at the booth was the AccuLink Platinum 850, Gold 824 and Silver 624 connected thermostats.

For homebuilders, ClimateMaster featured its Trilogy 45 Q-Mode variable-speed geothermal heat pump system, which provides the industry’s highest efficiencies of 45 EER and on-demand hot water generation capabilities. The system additionally offers programming, monitoring and control for homeowners and dealers over the Internet from any WiFi-enabled device via the firm’s iGate Connect technology. iGate allows end-users and contractors to custom-tailor, monitor and adjust unit functioning directly from the thermostat.

In addition, ClimateMaster displayed its Tranquility 30 Digital (TE) unit, which joins the Tranquility 22 Digital (TZ) packaged heat pumps that integrate digital communicating controls, two-stage capacity, variable-speed fan and variable-flow geothermal source functions within a single package. The TE unit additionally employs iGate communications technology, and vFlow, which varies water flow based on changes in unit capacity level and source water temperature to maintain optimum system performance.

Trane showed homebuilders its full line of residential products, including controls and air filtration systems. The company trotted out its TruComfort variable speed air conditioners and heat pumps, which run at the exact speed needed to maintain a home’s ideal temperature, within one-half degree of the selected comfort setting. The Trane XV18 and XV20i with Trane TruComfort technology boast an energy efficiency rating of up to 18 to 21 SEER, respectively. The XC95m gas furnace boasts an AFUE rating up to 97.3 percent. The firm displayed its EnviroWise geothermal systems, a line of ductless systems, and its CleanEffects whole house filtration equipment. To control it all, Trane introduced show-goers to its ComfortLink II communicating control that’s compatible with the Nexia Home Intelligence system for total home automation.

Noritz introduced a condensing tankless water heater that’s sure to be a hit with plumbing contractors. The EZTR40 is designed to replace a conventional 40-gallon tank-type water heater for two-bath residences in warm-weather climates. The unit vents with 2-in., flexible polypropylene tubing that is threaded directly through the existing B-Vent formerly used by the tank water heater it is replacing. Water connections are located on the top of the EZTR40, just like on the existing tank-type water heater. The device uses the same ½-in. gas line used by the old tank unit, which eliminates the need to up-size to 3/4-inch run in replacement situations. This cuts labor time while avoiding the material cost for new gas piping, resulting in a substantially reduced installed cost to the homeowner.

At an off-site event, Dow Chemical Co. introduced Hypertherm 2399 resin for domestic and commercial hot and cold-water plumbing pipes. Dow had previously introduced a version of the PE-RT pipe for heating applications a couple years ago. The new resin enhances the flexibility of the plastic pipe so installers can bend water lines at turning joints allowing for easier installation. The pipe has achieved Level 5 chlorine resistance certification so it can be used for continuous loop recirculation systems. Dow is selling the Hypertherm resin to a number of pipe producers who will be selling the PE-RT pipe in a variety of sizes.

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