Elegant and Practical Seen at KBIS

June 1, 2008
Chicago - The annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, held this April in Chicago, has always been more artsy than, say, a plumbing contractor's show like ISH North America. A perfect example of that is Kohler's Karbon articulating kitchen faucet that has three swiveling joints in it. Because it's hard to describe, it's best if you look at the adjacent photo. The position in which the faucet is shown

Chicago - The annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, held this April in Chicago, has always been more artsy than, say, a plumbing contractor's show like ISH North America.

A perfect example of that is Kohler's Karbon articulating kitchen faucet that has three swiveling joints in it. Because it's hard to describe, it's best if you look at the adjacent photo. The position in which the faucet is shown is only one of a thousand. There may be simpler ways to put water into a sink, but that's not really the point with a product like this.

Kohler also showed a soaking tub, the Fountainhead VibrAcoustic bath, in which the entire bathtub is a big speaker that pulses through the water. The tub has four expert-designed sound and vibration “experiences,” matched up with chromatherapy lights, that are designed to relax the bather.

Gerber introduced the Logan Square Suite, complete with lavatory faucets, tub and shower fittings, Roman tub fillers, pedestal, self-rimming or undermount lavatories. Gerber's XP3 flushing system, including 3-in. flush valve technology, powers the toilet designs. The suite's pedestal lavatories, available in standard and petite sizes, offer expanded deck space. The Logan Square faucets, available in chrome and brushed nickel finishes, feature arcs in a simple design that complements the style of the vitreous china.

Moen announced at the show that one-handle, two-handle, pulldown and pullout kitchen faucets will feature Hydrolock quick connect installation to improve the ease and speed of installation, with no tools required. In addition, a heavier hose weight is now included to better assist in wand docking. The company also offers an extra-long, 68-in. fiber hose with ball swivel joint on all new pullout and pulldown kitchen faucets for ease of use, quiet operation and extended range of motion. A retrofit kit is available for existing Moen pullout and pulldown kitchen faucets. Moen's new Roman tub valve design addresses connectivity concerns, adapting to both PEX connections and copper-to-copper connections. Both valves are designed to work in varied substrates and can accommodate a deck thickness of up to 4-1/4-in. The adjustable shank requires no cutting.

Among the products on display by Rheem was a 7.4 GPM direct vent tankless gas water heater. Users can set the unit's UMC-117 remote control from 100°F to a maximum of 140°F. Additional remote control thermostats also are available. The water heater also features a film wrap overheat limiter that instantly detects an unsafe temperature in the heat exchanger and immediately shuts down the unit. Rheem also offers models for homes at high altitudes of 6,560 up to 9,840 ft. These high-efficiency, direct-vent units draw makeup combustion air directly from outside a residence or business rather than from the interior. The feature eliminates the need for additional provisions for combustion air on the inside, while alleviating indoor air quality problems.

Bosch demonstrated the new ProTankless GWH C 800 ES condensing unit that offers a flow rate of up to 10-GPM and 92% efficiency. The water heater has 199,000 Btuh input, can cascade for increased flow rates and will accommodate recirculating applications. It vents vertically or horizontally with 3-in. PVC, CPVC or ABS-DWV pipe and has concentric and twin pipe venting options. The unit, available in natural gas or liquid propane, also features direct vent, room-sealed combustion and is suitable for outdoor installation using an optional kit.

Rinnai showed its new LS Series line of tankless water heaters. The units feature a commercial-grade heat exchanger for residential and commercial applications and an integrated condensate collector. The R94LS model has a maximum input of 199,000 Btuh, and 180,000 Btuh for the R75LS model. The manufacturer's EZ Connect feature allows for the connection of two units together. For commercial applications, the water heaters feature a variety of digital controllers that allow for precise control and monitoring and an available wireless controller that provides control from a central location, even on retrofits. Exterior units can go on outside walls or on rooftops with no additional protection or venting. The units' concentric venting system allows for zero clearance, sealed combustion and single penetration.

Prolific fitting maker Danze introduced a new fixture line. A series of powder room collections encompasses a full suite of products including toilets, bidets, furniture-grade vanities, pedestal or vessel sinks and matching mirrors. The lines include value-added features. Toilets throughout the collections, for example, feature a 3-in. flush valve, ergonomic elongated bowl with 16-1/2-in. rim height and a soft close seat. The fixture line comes in the traditional Orrington Collection, contemporary Ziga Zaga Collection, and the Cirtangular Collection with an architectural feel that melds circular and rectangular shapes.

Symmons introduced a new family of bath fittings called the Oxford Suite. Crafted in a square traditional style, the suite includes a widespread lavatory faucet, roman tub faucet with diverter, hand spray and holder, and shower trim. Going in an opposite design direction, Symmons also unveiled the Naru Suite, a contemporary collection inspired by Japanese design. Naru includes a widespread lav faucet with a waterfall flow, a roman tub faucet with waterfall flow and hand spray, and tub and shower trim.

Zoeller Pump Co. demonstrated its pressure booster systems designed to increase household water pressure when city water pressure is a problem. The systems are available in applications from 1-GPM to 20-GPM and can increase water pressure by up to 70 PSI. The system's patented controller, flow sensor and pressure switch continuously monitor water flow and pressure. The control package automatically turns the system off if water pressure exceeds 70 PSI. It also protects against dry-run conditions, shutting the system down in 30 seconds if no water flow is detected. The systems work in tandem with municipal water lines and will not interfere with normal city water flow unless needed.

Additional coverage of KBIS will appear in the July issue.

General Pipe Cleaners unveiled its Gen-Eye Spectra video inspection system. The system features a DVD recorder and a high-resolution 15-in. LCD monitor that offers a large, crisp, clear picture of the pipeline. With the system, the operator records the video of the inspection directly onto a DVD-R disc in real-time or on the built-in hard drive. The 160 GB hard drive can record up to 290 hours of inspection. The system also has a VIK keyboard for typing on-screen text, an on-screen distance counter, AC/DC power capabilities, a built-in microphone for voice recording and a variable light intensity control. The control unit comes in a rugged case.

E.L. Mustee and Sons unveiled its new Topaz premium fiberglass bathtubs. The tub features an apron supported by two molded fiberglass brackets and a structural ribbed bottom and sides to prevent sagging. The one-piece molded tub with matched metal molds fits a standard 30-in by 60-in. alcove and is available with an 8½ by 14¼ drain offset. The tubs also install to stud walls for either new construction or remodeling projects. The company also displayed its new Vector multi-task sink, which it says is ideal for bars, hobby, work or utility rooms. The sink features a recessed shelf, optional utility rack, compression molded deep gloss finish and a 13-in. Depth.

Grohe introduced its new Ondus collection, the centerpiece of which is the AquaFountain, a shower system with wall-mounted and hand-held shower options. The AquaFountain combines spray with a waterfall cascade. Other faucets in the collection include the floor-mounted bath filler, deck-mounted five-hole tub filler and a three-hole basin mixer. Adding to the collection's visual differentiation are its original finish options, including VelvetBlack and high-gloss MoonWhite, which are two newly-designed, non-metallic finishes. The Grohe Rainshower and Jumbo Rainshower showerheads will also be available in the two new finishes.

Hansgrohe presented its new Skyline showerpanel, the height of minimalist design. The “vertical spa” features dual fold-away showerheads and footrest, flush-mounted body sprays and a cylindrical handshower, The Raindance showerhead uses the firm's proprietary air-injection technology that draws surrounding air into the showerhead and producing a spray with the sound and feel of rain. The shower panel incorporates a thermostatic mixing valve and two volume controls for diverting from the showerhead to the body sprays to the handshower. The anodized aluminum shower panel is shipped pre-plumbed for easy installation.

Runtal North America displayed its line of electric and hydronic towel warmer radiators. The European-style towel radiators are available in either self-contained electric models or hydronic models that integrate into a closed-loop forced hot water heating system. Model types and sizes allow for variations in heat outputs that enable a towel radiator to be a supplemental heater or to provide the sole source of heat for an entire room.

Myson Inc. brought along its bench radiator with a two-part laminated beech seat, specially designed feet and supports to hide all pipework and a thermostatic radiator valve. The radiator is available in 10 sizes up to 93-in. and features an output of up to 10,383 Btuh.

Portuguese fitting manufacturer Cifial introduced its Brookhaven L-Spout Series, which the company aptly describes as “statuesque.” The slender lavatory faucet has won design awards. The series is available in eight finishes ranging from polished chrome and aged brass, to distressed bronze and features a variety of lavatory faucets including the three-hole widespread, wall-mount and vessel bowl filler.

Mr. Steam introduced a new steamhead that features cooler surface temperatures, improved steam flow and quieter steam infusion. The rounded organic shape of the new steamhead allows for seamless integration into a bath or shower. The company supplies matching Mr.Steam in-shower controls and an Aromasteam aromatic oils system. The steamhead is available in a variety of finishes including polished chrome, brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze and antique brass.

PF WaterWorks showed its PermaFLOW drain, which generates flow turbulence to self-clean the fixture. The system continually moves sediment downstream to prevent routine buildup. The drain clears clogs by means of a rotating paddle, while leaving the drain in-line. Unlike traditional P-traps, the drain is transparent for easy inspection. The drain also has a “green” alternative. Designed to operate with high-efficiency faucets to provide low water flow and smaller water volumes, PermaFLOW has five active functions to improve water conservation while removing debris to maintain flow.

Steam Radiators showed its Steamview Series of radiators made for both one-pipe and two-pipe systems. The Steamview features single-piece construction, continuous mounting and uniform fittings that allow the radiators to be piped six ways. The radiators have a 2½-in. profile and are available in two heights and five lengths.

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.

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