By Robert P. Mader
Of Contractor’s staff
Atlanta— Close to 50,000 HVACR professionals, including more than 27,400 registered attendees and more than 22,300 exhibitor personnel, participated in AHR Expo 2001 in January here. The final tally of 27,470 attendees represents a 15% increase over the last show held in Atlanta in 1996, which attracted 23,838 visitors and 19,922 exhibitor personnel.
The 2001 show, which had 1,297 exhibitors and 385,900 sq. ft. of exhibit space, also ranks as the second largest show ever, just behind Chicago 1999.
The influence of the Internet was everywhere.
Phoenix DataComm was showing a wireless monitoring system. The SENTRI can track any data the user desires, such as temperatures, pressures, on/off or open/closed status. The user can access that data on a customized, secure Web site and can control the equipment over the Web. If any operating parameter goes into alarm, the control telephones the user’s (or service contractor’s) pager and cell phone and displays the data on the Web site.
FieldCentrix, which offers a wireless Internet service management system, an-nounced that it has integrated its system with Maxwell Systems’ back-office accounting software.
FieldCentrix Enterprise software uses wireless communications, handheld computers and the Internet to automate field service operations. The system automates communication between field technician and office, receipt of work assignments, completion of work orders, and making information ready for invoice and payroll. Maxwell Systems’ software automates the back office and provides customers with streamlined accounts receivable, payroll and general ledger capabilities. Other back-office modules, including job costing, material handling, equipment costing and inventory control are available.
Seimens Building Technologies has updated its Apogee building automation system with a new graphical user interface, Insight 3.3, and a new Web server application called Apogee-Go. This application allows the usual functions such as alarm management and control point commanding, but building managers can now do them in real time on the Internet.
Honeywell has put boiler/ burner controls on the Internet. The FlameNet Web server gives users password-protected Web access to the 7800 Series burner controls and ControLinks Fuel Air Control System. If there’s a problem, FlameNet will notify the customer, contractor or both by e-mail, Web page, cell phone, standard phone, handheld or fax. The FlameNet server allows customers to create and customize how they view control data in a Web page format.
BuildNet announced the debut of its new product, BuildNet Express, a collection of Web-based job management tools that include project management, collaboration, procurement and bid management. BuildNet Express subscribers do not need to buy any software. They need only a subscription and access to the Internet. BuildNet Express also offers wireless connectivity through pagers and cell phones. BuildNet Express handles project management functions and purchasing. Builders and subcontractors can use the project management function to create and update project schedules online, and communicate and collaborate with any other BuildNet Express users. Users can make changes to a master job schedule and have those changes show up in real time in the schedules shared by other contractors connected through the Web or wireless devices.
The e-procurement capability allows users to buy or sell online at any time from any dealer with access to the Internet, even wirelessly.
Echelon Corp. announced that both the company’s Lonworks device networking platform and its Open Systems Alliance program are receiving widespread industry support. Echelon announced that Invensys has joined the osa program, a significant development given the size of Invensys. The firm sells building automation systems worldwide under its own name and also owns Ranco, Robertshaw, Maple-Chase, and Uniline controls and Fasco fractional horsepower motors.
Echelon also shared its press conference time with Circon Systems Corp., its newest osa member. Circon is selling its Web Control 2 product, which allows users to monitor and control hvacr systems using standard Web browsers.
Not all the products unveiled at AHR Expo were tied to the Internet, of course. While contractors won’t be seeing products from Varidigm Corp. soon, the company introduced a revolutionary product line aimed at hvac manufacturers — cheap and reliable fully modulating hvac controls. Varidigm is a new company formed by alumni of the Gas Research Institute and possesses 20 gri patents. Varidigm offers variable-speed electric motors and controllers, pre-mix burners and closed-loop combustion controls. The combination can provide fully modulating furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps and fan coils. Two manufacturers were showing residential chillers. Radiant contractors have told Contractor in the past that they’ve done away with, for example, five condensing units around large homes by using a brazed-plate heat exchanger to make their own chilled water system. Now two niche manufacturers are doing it for them.
Unico was showing its Unichiller, an R-22 unit that can be mounted up to 900 ft. away from the residence. It provides 44°F chilled water to multiple air-handling units. Available in 3-, 4- and 5-ton capacities, the scroll compressor units have eers at 95°F ambient in the 10 or better range.
A company called Multi-aqua was showing an air-cooled chiller system for residential or light commercial applications. The R-22 unit, in 3-, 4- and 5-ton sizes, works with vertical ducted, universal mount, high-wall, freestanding or hideaway fan coils, which are also supplied by the company. The unit runs off a Copeland Compliant Scroll.
Heatcraft showed a small refrigeration unit for food service or retail that makes building a walk-in a no-brainer. The pro3 refrigeration system drops right on top of a cooler or freezer. A condensate evaporation pan means the contractor does not need to install a condensate drain line. Controls are preset for 35°F cooler or -10°F freezer. Controls are easy to adjust and provide accurate temperature control.
Heatcraft was also showing a line of 3 hp to 15 hp condensing units. The units feature an industrial-grade grille for increased airflow and better performance at high ambient temperatures. A non-restrictive louver is available for Snowbelt regions. The condensing units also feature a floating tube condenser that virtually eliminates tube sheet leaks.
Peerless Heater Co. showed its Series GM cast-iron hot water boilers, available in four models with inputs from 228,000 to 399,000 Btuh. Peerless also touted the GM Series as part of its Flex-Heat modular boiler system.
Danfoss showed a variety of products both large and small. On the large side, Danfoss Maneurop introduced 20- and 25-ton Performer scroll compressors. The line now ranges from 7 tons to 25 tons, with tandem, trio and quadro assemblies extending up to 100 tons. The Performer may be used in liquid chillers, split air-conditioning systems and rooftop units.
On the small side, Danfoss introduced a new series of wireless thermostats. Building on the success of the TP 75 models introduced last year, the new models use wireless communication from the thermostat location to a receiver module that can be up to 30 yards away. In the secure FM digital transmission, each thermostat has a unique identity code as part of the information packet decoded by the receiver. After commissioning, the receiver responds only to its own unique thermostat.
As a cost-efficient solution for larger refrigerant lines, Danfoss is offering saddle sight glasses from 11/8 in. to 15/8 in. The saddle is brazed directly to a drilled liquid line and the appropriate sight glass is threaded into the saddle. A neoprene gasket provides a leak-tight seal.
Environmental Technologies Corp. announced that it is continuing to expand its onsite refrigerant service, which it has renamed Nth Degree. The firm was planning to leave the refrigerant service truck it brought to the show to service the Atlanta market. The company sets up its epa-certified technicians as entrepreneurs, which means they have a financial incentive to hustle to meet contractors’ refrigerant recovery and recycling needs. The trucks contain an array of recovery equipment, tanks, scales and a gas chromatograph for analyzing recovered refrigerant. The service also takes care of all the epa paperwork for contractors.
Taco showed its kv/ks line of vertical in-line pumps, designed with crowded mechanical rooms in mind. The line features 21 pumps with capacities up to 2,500 gpm and heads to 180 ft. The pumps do not require an isolation pad so they take up a minimum of floor space. According to the firm, the pumps have a longer seal and bearing life than end suction pumps and require less installation time.
Munters Corp. showed how its line of humidity control equipment could cut energy costs. Munters touted its line of desiccant dehumidification equipment, noting it could improve indoor air quality while reducing energy cost. It also, however, showcased its evaporative cooling technology, including the Turbofog system for pre-cooling intake air for gas turbines used to generate electricity. Grundfos Pumps Corp. introduced its variable-speed circulator. The fully modulating VS can be used in primary/secondary piping configurations and can be used for set-point control, temperature and zoning applications.
Spectronics was thinking big when it put together its BigEZ refrigerant dye leak-detection system. The system injects enough dye to detect leaks in refrigeration and air conditioning systems that contain 16-gal. of lubricant. The BigEZ consists of a handle/threaded shaft and collar assembly, a disposable cartridge filled with 4 oz. of Ar-Glo fluorescent leak detector dye and a hose assembly with a low-loss fitting.
Beckett Corp. showed its line of condensate pumps, this time with a notable improvement. The replaceable check valve is attached with a retaining clip rather than being threaded, making it easier to remove, clean and replace.
CertainTeed Corp. rolled out its latest version of ToughGard duct liner, now with an “enhanced surface.” The new surface retains its thermal and acoustical performance but it is 40% more moisture resistant than the previous generation. CertainTeed made its point with a perpetually running waterfall fashioned out of the new insulation.
Little Giant Pump Co. rolled out a condensate pump designed specifically for ductless mini-splits. The EC-400 has a two-piece design that allows both the float sensor reservoir and the pump and control to be placed in the air handler, or the pump/control can be placed up to 3 ft. above the air handler in the ceiling void or inside conduit.
Next year, AHR Expo 2002 will be held Jan. 14-16 in Atlantic City, N.J.