Innovative products abound at AHR Expo

March 1, 2012
CHICAGO —The 2012 AHR Expo, held here, Jan. 23-25, was a recording breaking show with nearly 40,000 contractors, engineers, distributors, and other HVACR professionals attending to see what innovative products, from inspection cameras and thermostats to water heaters and boilers, companies have to offer.     

CHICAGO —The 2012 AHR Expo, held here, Jan. 23-25, was a recording breaking show with nearly 40,000 contractors, engineers, distributors, and other HVACR professionals attending to see what innovative products, from inspection cameras and thermostats to water heaters and boilers, companies have to offer.   

Viega displayed its new MegaPress and MegaPress G systems for installing Schedule 5 to Schedule 40 black steel pipe in sizes ½-in. to 2-in. The systems make secure watertight and airtight connections in under seven seconds. The Viega MegaPress and MegaPressG systems use cold press connections for pipe installation.

The Viega MegaPress system is ideal for hydronic heat, chilled water, compressed air, fire sprinkler systems, low-pressure steam and vacuum lines. The Viega MegaPressG system is designed for use in fuel oil and natural gas applications. Over 200 fittings are available for both systems ranging in sizes from ½-in. to 2-in. that include elbows, couplings, reducers, tees, reducing tees, threaded adapters and unions. The systems use a stainless steel grip ring with an EPDM sealing element for the Viega MegaPress system, or HNBR for the Viega MegaPressG system, along with a stainless steel separator ring that ensures the sealing element and grip ring perform at maximum capacity.

Bell & Gossett announced at AHR that its popular ESP System Syzer is now available for mobile handheld devices. The ESP-System Syzer is extremely accurate at calculating flow rates and pressure drops in piping systems. The new mobile app version of this tool now allows HVAC professionals to easily download it on an iPhone or iPad and enjoy the same functionality while working in the field. Among other functions, the ESP-System Syzer calculates the friction loss and velocity through various pipe types and sizes based on existing fluid conditions, the relationship between fluid temperatures, system flow and heating/cooling load, and the relationship between Cv, flow and head and it accounts for fluid properties. The System Syzer application is based on the novel plastic wheel calculator designed by Bell & Gossett’s Gil Carlson. Widely recognized as the “Father of Modern Hydronics,” Carlson first introduced the System Syzer in 1963.

Bradford White has introduced its OnGuard RMT system, a remote monitoring technology and service available for commercial and residential gas powered water heaters. OnGuard RMT combines proprietary hardware, alert status notification, 24/7 factory-based technical support and fast service dispatch to give customers the ultimate level of awareness, protection and peace of mind. When connected, the status of the water heater is communicated directly to Bradford White technicians. In the event the water heater indicates a fault or requires service, the customer is contacted. The same technician then contacts an authorized service contractor to perform any required repair or maintenance. Bradford White covers the cost of the service calls and repair. In addition to monitoring, live technical support and service dispatching, customers also get fault alert notification via email or phone call, and the tracking, reporting and data collection of unit performance. This data provides a record of burner cycles, fuel usage, run time, and water temperature fluctuation. The OnGuard RMT system can also monitor up to four water heaters, collecting and storing data for each unit.

Taco made a splash with the introduction of its second-generation BumbleBee variable speed, wet-rotor circulator.

The high-efficiency ECM motor requires only 9 to 42 Watts, depending on the load. The pump can operate in three different modes: Delta-T (ΔT) differential temperature mode for fixed settings from 5°F to 50°F difference between supply and return sensors; fixed speed for a specific GPM; or setpoint mode to meet a desired temperature (65°F to 220°F). The Bumblebee features a brushless DC, permanent magnet motor with the option of 115-230V, 50/60 Hz input power. The programmable pump offers new plug-in remote temperature sensors and a digital display that reveals real-time Watt usage and GPM flow. The BumbleBee Circulator covers flows from 0-15-GPM and heads from 0-15 ft., making it a good choice for many hydronic, radiant heat and snowmelt applications, whether residential or light commercial. An integral flow check is included that can be pressed into the discharge flange, if required.

Rinnai showcased its Value Series of tankless water heaters, which has expanded from two to three main models, in a range of sizes and capacities to suit medium- and smaller-sized homes. These tankless water heaters are available in three light weight and compact models: V53e, V65i/e, V75i/e, and interior and exterior models. These models deliver continuous hot water to multiple plumbing and appliance demands, heat water only when needed, and eliminate the expense of reheating water in a holding tank. RINNAI also showcased its Ultra Low Nox tankless water heaters. Features include a commercial-grade heat exchanger for residential and commercial applications; industry-leading activation rates as low as 0.4 GPM; a pre-set with a maximum temperature of 120°F with an option to increase it to 140°F; integrated condensate collector; and high-altitude operation.  These tankless water heaters meet the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (SCAQMD) NOx requirements pursuant to Rule 1146.2, which requires Type 1 units to comply by Jan. 1, 2012.  

Lochinvar introduced its ARMOR X2 Commercial Condensing Water Heater. The ARMOR X2 combines a stainless steel heat exchanger with modulating/condensing combustion to deliver thermal efficiencies as high as 96%. Available in models with 1.0, 1.3 and 1.5 million Btuh inputs, the unit offers an advanced solution for a range of commercial applications. The ARMOR X2 has two independent combustion systems that consist of two 316L stainless steel heat exchangers, gas valves and combustion blowers designed to work in unison. With a turndown ratio of 10:1, the combustion system can fire as low as 10% of the maximum water heater input and modulate up to 100% as demand increases. The water heater also features Lochinvar’s Smart Touch operating control. This full-color, touchscreen control provides complete control of all functions, simplifying installation and operation while also offering access to system performance data and history. In addition, the control allows the water heater to communicate seamlessly in real time with building management systems by using an on-board MODBUS protocol.

Grand Hall, manufacturer of the Eternal hybrid water heater, launched the new GU100. It can support up to two simultaneous applications such as running two showers or a shower and a dishwasher at the same time. It can also replace a traditional 50-gal. standard tank, freeing up space in a home and is compatible with traditional and retrofit recirculation systems to deliver instant hot water.

The GU100 operates on ½-in. gas connections, and it has a lightweight compact design and convenient top mounted water connections. Other features include: on-demand hot water with 96% thermal efficiency; 100% stainless steel heat exchanger with built-in reserve tank that eliminates the cold water sandwich; full-flow design, providing unrestricted water flow; dual activation, temperature and flow sensing, compatible with low flow Water Sense fixtures; 2-in. or 3-in. PVC venting; self-cleaning process that flushes out sediment to maintain efficiency and prolong product life; user-friendly digital display to control temperature and view diagnostics; exceeds Energy Star requirements of 0.82EF and qualifies for available government and local utility rebates; and meets new ultra low emissions standard (SCAQMD 1146.2 Listed), minimal carbon footprint.

ClimateMaster offered the Tranquility High Efficiency (TR) Series. Available in ½-ton to 5-ton sizes, The TR Series exceeds ASHRAE 90.1 efficiencies. The Series offers an extended-range refrigerant circuit that uses HFC-410A refrigerant and is capable of geothermal ground loop applications and boiler-tower water loop applications.  Standard features include Copeland scroll compressors, microprocessor controls, galvanized steel cabinets, epoxy powder-painted front access panels, galvanized steel with an epoxy powder-painted drain pan, and sound-absorbing air handler insulation. Optional features include the e-coated air coil, DDC controls, high static fan motor, Cupro-Nickel water-coil and sound-absorbing UltraQuiet package. ClimateMaster also introduced the Tranquility 22 Digital (TZ) Series geothermal heat pump system. This cost-competitive product incorporates high-end features including a two-stage compressor, EnergyStar Tier 3 efficiency, a variable-speed fan, communicating digital controls and plug-and-play functionality. It also offers one of the industry’s smallest footprints, making it suitable for installation in confined spaces.

Building on its Benchmark series, AERCO showcased its expanded line of boilers with two additional sizes with an input of 750 and 1 million BTU/hr.

The new BMK750 and BMK1000 utilize the same fuel-saving technologies, design principles, and key components found in the design of the Benchmark series. The BMK750 and BMK1000 come standard with AERCO’s patent pending, Oxygen Level (O2) monitoring system, which displays the O2 level directly on the unit in real time and can be remotely monitored via MODbus. This technological advancement will reduce boiler down time by predetermining boiler maintenance requirements.

NTI showcased the Trinity Fire Tube high-efficiency condensing boiler. The Trinity Fire Tube (TFT) heat exchanger is ASME certified and uses a down-fired concept. The tubes have a dimpled design to optimize heat transfer, increasing energy efficiency. The wet leg combustion chamber enables up to 99% combustion efficiency.

The heat exchanger is constructed using 439 stainless steel, making it resistant to corrosion, and the design allows water to flow freely around the heating surfaces of the boiler, significantly reducing pressure drop. The TFT provides AFUE efficiencies up to 96%. Features of the boiler are iflex interface, providing easy navigation; optional touchscreen, providing for easy programming and control; advanced Sola Controller; and a fully-modulating combustion system.

Exhibiting at the show, HTP expand its commercial water heating product line by adding Heavy Duty Gas, Light Duty Gas and Electric Water Heaters to its commercial high efficiency Phoenix line.  These new water heaters have a formed blue cobalt glass, specially heated and fused to thicker gauge steel to provide a coating available against corrosion. The Heavy Duty Gas Water heater is offered in ranges suitable for all commercial and industrial settings. Featuring 65-gal. and 73-gal. tank sizes with inputs ranging from 125,000 to 360,000 BTU. The Heavy Duty Water Heater has a multi-flue design that increases heat transfer, resulting in greater transfer of energy to water.  The Light Duty Gas Water Heater is offered as a 73-gal. tank at 76,000 BTU with a single flue design and offers  hot water for longer periods of time by reducing standby loses and saving energy. The Commercial Electric Water Heater is available as a 50-gal., 80-gal. and 100-gal. tank and supports inputs from 6 to 54kW with standard voltage of 208V, 240V, 480V and 600V. A twist lock flange is specially welded to the tank for longer tank life; the twist lock feature makes it easy to change electrical elements.

Viessmann showcased its new CombiPLUS Kit, bringing on-demand DHW capability to Vitodens 100 Space Heating Boiler. Equipped with expanded control logic, the popular Vitodens 100 condensing space heating boiler can deliver on-demand domestic hot water with the new CombiPLUS Kit.

Slightly bigger than a large shoe box, the optional CombiPLUS Kit can be mounted underneath or beside the boiler with minimal piping and electrical connections, as part of a new boiler installation or as a later addition to a compatible Vitodens 100. Generating up to 3.6 GPM of reliable on-demand DHW, the CombiPLUS Kit eliminates the need for a DHW storage tank in many lower-load applications. The compact unit integrates a stainless steel plate-type heat exchanger, built-in pressure bypass, three-speed DHW/space heating pump and three-way diverting valve. Built-in temperature and flow sensors ensure consistent supply, and DHW heating is managed through the boiler’s on-board control.  

Fresh off a wildly successful field test, Rheem showed off its H2AC Rooftop Unit with eSync Integration Technology at the AHR Expo. Designed for full service restaurants, this integrated system delivers air conditioning and water heating from a single source. The system works by taking the heat removed from the HVAC system — which would normally be rejected into the atmosphere — and then uses it to heat water. In a six month pilot period, a Western Sizzlin buffet restaurant in Northwest Arkansas saved more than $2,300 on its gas utility bills as a result of installing the new Rheem integrated air and water solution. Western Sizzlin expects to hit the payback point on the integrated air and water system in just 1.3 years.

WaterFurnace announced the future release of its 7 Series, which is set to be on the market late second quarter or early third quarter 2012. The key differentiator to this product is the introduction of InfiniSpeed technology — a soft start variable capacity compressor which provides the highest performance and quietest operation the company has ever offered. The compressor isn’t limited to the “high” and “low” speeds of past systems, running at the exact speed needed for any situation. It’s extremely efficient components allow nearly continuous operation. This provides more consistent indoor temperatures and comfort levels throughout the home. Other features are the electronic expansion valve, employed for optimal refrigerant control; variable speed ECM fan motor that has been updated with communication capability providing complete airflow control; Aurora controls, providing advanced service diagnostics including setup, configurations, real-time sensor fault, and lockout history; and online remote monitoring and control.

ECR International displayed a full range of high-efficiency equipment, including the Enviromaster International Everter inverter-driven variable speed ductless split systems. Available as air conditioners or heat pumps, the units are available now in single zone although multi-zone models are probably on the horizon. They feature efficiencies up to 17.00 SEER. For its Dunkirk boiler brand, ECR showed its Helix VLT 96% AFUE residential gas modulating condensing boiler. The Helix VLT comes in five models with inputs modulated down to 10,000 Btuh and cranked up as high as 200,000 Btuh. For its Utica Boilers brand, the firm displayed the SSC, stainless steel condensing boiler that is also 96% efficient. It, too, comes in five models with the same 5:1 turndown ratio.

Victaulic displayed its popular line of patented Advanced Groove System (AGS) couplings, fittings and accessories at the 2012 AHR Expo. Originally available for 14-24-in. pipe, Victaulic recently expanded its line of large-diameter pipe couplings and fittings for systems up to 60-in. in diameter. From 14-in. through 60-in., the AGS couplings are the only large-diameter couplings on the market to feature two-piece housing segments. These couplings offer contractors better speed-of-assembly over couplings featuring multi-segment housings. When compared to welding, large-diameter pipe may require several hours to complete, but an AGS coupling can be assembled in less than an hour and without the added risk of fire. Style W07 and W77 AGS couplings are ideal for use in large-diameter HVAC applications and are available in sizes ranging from 14-in.-60in./350-1,525 mm. These couplings are equipped with plated bolts and nuts and a Victaulic FlushSeal gasket in Grade “E” EPDM, Grade “T” nitrile or Grade “L” silicone.

For the residential market, Daikin showcased its new streamlined L-Series Single-Split products with efficiencies up to SEER 24.5, introducing a 3-Tier strategy. Multi-Split systems were also on display showing expanded indoor unit capacities and more than 1,000 connection combinations. Commercial products showcased include the new FCQ Round Flow Cassette, FBQ Ducted and FTXS Wall-Mount fan coils for the SkyAir series, offering improved comfort, easier installation and up to 35% higher SEER levels (up to SEER 19.3). The new VAM Energy Recovery Ventilator, multiple port branch selectors and MERV13 filter kits were also showcased.

FLIR Systems showcased the next generation FLIR i-Series point-and-shoot infrared cameras, featuring higher resolutions and wider field-of-view choices. There are three rugged models that help contractors find problems fast and accurately.

New performance options include the upgraded i7 with 36% more thermal imaging resolution than before. All i-Series cameras capture thousands of calibrated temperature measurements in every image to produce a complete thermal picture that shows where hot spots and other heat-related problems are immediately. 

RIDGID announced the newest addition to the RIDGID SeeSnake inspection product line, the SeeSnake nanoReel industrial inspection camera system. The nanoReel N85S system is used for ultra-small diameter lines ranging from ¾-in. to 2-in., and has the ability to make tight turns for specialized applications. The lightweight, compact drain inspection camera system allows users to push cable distances of up to 85-ft. The nanoReel internal drum cartridge can be removed from the housing assembly and can be exchanged with optional interchangeable drums to allow the nanoReel inspection camera system to fit specific applications. The RIDGID SeeSnake microReel L100 and L100C drums are used on lines ranging from 1½-in. to 4-in. and offer stiffer push cables to allow the user to inspect lines up to 100-ft. The microDrain D30 and D65S drums are used on lines ranging from 1½-in. to 3-in., including P-traps, toilet traps and pool lines up to 65-ft.    

Ecobee unveiled its latest product, the Smart Si thermostat, designed for the residential market. The Smart Si offers remote connectivity anytime from anywhere via a computer, iPhone, smartphone or tablet, and includes a high resolution color display, an intuitive user interface.

It is also Wi-Fi enabled. Automatic alerts and reminders will notify homeowners when HVAC equipment is due for service, if there is an equipment malfunction or when it’s time to change a filter.

At the Nest booth, the company showcased its Learning Thermostat, which programs itselfbased on the temperatures the homeowner sets. Simple to use, the thermostat learns the homeowner’s personal schedule in a week, and then it starts automatically turning down heating or cooling when the homeowner is away to save energy. The Auto-Away feature can sense when no one is at home and will lower the temperature. There is also an energy history that can be checked to see how much was saved. The thermostat can be connected to a home’s Wi-Fi, so it can be controlled from a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Amtrol’s new HydroMax water heaters, showcased at the company’s booth, feature the Ener-G-NET digital control with on-demand sensing.  Proprietary Instantaneous Indirect Technology, keeps the boiler off during idle periods while supplying abundant hot water to meet heavy demands.  To simplify installation, every HydroMax includes copper connections, integral heat trap, bottom drain, T&P valve and blowdown tube.

Northwestern Ohio Foam Products (NOFP Inc.) showcased the BarrierX5, which meets the new proposed IRC code requirement of an R-5 insulation for under radiant floor slab-on-grade heating. BarrierX5 can be used in hyrdronic radiant floor heat, electric radiant floor, snow melt, and many other instances. BarrierX5 is made with 1.25” thick 100% recycled extruded expanded polystyrene that meets the R-5 building code requirement for the material by itself. BarrierX5 protects floor heating from heat loss and moisture penetration, and under concrete foam insulation is a thermal block that insulates the concrete from the cold and dampness of the ground. The product is durable, will not collapse under the weight of concrete, and available in flexible 4’x60’ rolls with a patented edge taping system.    

Runtal unveiled its new electric panel radiators (baseboard style). This patent pending technology combines high outputs and low surface temperatures with quality. Runtal’s electric baseboard panels are available in 3’ to 10’ lengths in increments of one foot in both 208 and 240 volt configurations and may be ordered in more than 100 Runtal colors.

Webstone showcased its patented Isolator with rotating flange and drain, which has been enhanced with two new versatile features: a newly designed snug-fit rotating flange that offers greater control over positioning during installation; and a multi-directional main valve that allows for draining from either side of the pump.

Goodway Technologies Corp. introduced the new Ram-Pro tube cleaner. The powerful RAM-PRO handles the demands of commercial contracting work. A sturdy roll cage protects the RAM-PRO. Features are a Quick Connect shaft that attaches with a simple push – and quickly disassembles for transport; a chain drive system replaces a traditional rubber belt for smooth performance in challenging situations; the motor assembly is connected with vibration isolators to help tolerate bumps and jolts. 

SpeedClean showcased its TC-SC-50 tube cleaner, which gives contractors the portability, power and performance to clean and bring chillers back on line faster. Advanced features and functionality included a compact, innovative design, reversible shaft rotation and integrated water flush.

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.      

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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