More heat, less fuel

BY ROBERT P. MADER OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF Visitors to the ISH North America show Sept. 28-30 in Chicago can address their customers' concerns about high fuel prices with a number of the products on display. Numerous manufacturers showed condensing boilers, and solar thermal collectors are making a comeback. The show, whose sponsors include the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors -National Association,


Visitors to the ISH North America show Sept. 28-30 in Chicago can address their customers' concerns about high fuel prices with a number of the products on display. Numerous manufacturers showed condensing boilers, and solar thermal collectors are making a comeback. The show, whose sponsors include the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors -National Association, American Supply Association, Radiant Panel Association and International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials, also exhibited decorative plumbing, PVF, tools, software and other industry-related products.

Condensing boilers
Weil-McLain presented its Ultra line of gas condensing boilers that modulate down to 20% of full fire. The boilers have "PhD" (precision hydronic data) technology, a microprocessor that monitors room temperature, return water temperature, flue temperature, domestic hot water and the outdoor temperature, then controls the firing rate accordingly. The company also showed its Ultra oil boiler, with a cast-iron heat exchanger, Beckett burner and Honeywell controls.

Lochinvar introduced the Squire, a stainless-steel indirect-fired water heater for use with the Knight condensing boiler. The Squire comes with the thermostat pre-wired. The heat exchanger is 316L passivated stainless steel.

Lochinvar also heavily promoted its Smart System controller on the Knight boiler that is best used with Pocket PC software, which assists setup and programming of units and provides trend analysis. The company gave away a Pocket PC in a promotional drawing during the show.

The Munchkin Energy Star-rated Contender wall-hung boiler from Heat Transfer Products delivers 93% AFUE. The boiler can be coupled with HTP's SuperStor Indirect Water Heater to provide domestic hot water. The direct-vent, sealed-combustion unit offers a unitary construction that combines a stainless steel condensing heat exchanger, back flue and water manifold into a single assembly.

Also from HTP, the new Phoenix gas-fired water heater delivers both space heating and domestic hot water in a single condensing appliance. The unit has a combustion efficiency of 96%. Side tappings in the jacket permit connections to a hydro-air system. The burner assembly is a streamlined version of the one used on Munchkin condensing boilers.

Burnham introduced the Freedom CM gas-fired, wall-hung, 95% AFUE condensing boiler. The cast-aluminum monoblock boiler with outdoor reset control modulates between 40,000 and 120,000 Btuh. It comes with a polypropylene concentric venting kit. Getting into a market that hasn't been addressed in years, New York contractors will be delighted to see that Burnham has introduced an oil-fired steam boiler. The 86% AFUE unit comes in four sizes from 287 to 628 sq. ft. of steam or 0.75 to 1.65 GPH.

Dunkirk presented the Quantum 95M-200 gas modulating condensing boiler. The 95% efficient boiler is infinitely modulating from 80,000 to 200,000 Btuh and comes with outdoor reset and domestic hot water priority. No primary/ secondary piping is needed and intake and exhaust gas can be piped with 3-in. PVC to 60 ft. Return plumbing and gas piping can be left, right or rear. Piping connection options on rear or on top of the boiler facilitate multiple boiler installations.

Peerless Boilers showed its new Pinnacle oil boiler. Peerless says that the stainless-steel boiler is the country's first 93% AFUE fully condensing oil boiler. The Energy Star-compliant boiler has two firing rates of 70,000 and 84,000 Btuh. The unit has an optional outdoor reset sensor, can produce domestic hot water and controls that can stage two boilers. Access to the burner and internal components is through the top.

Buderus introduced its GB142 high-efficiency wall-hung boiler that comes in four models from 84,800 to 198,800 Btuh. The boiler has direct-vent and sealed-combustion options using 3-in. PVC. Buderus is selling the boiler with a companion prefabricated manifold that ensures proper flow rate through the boiler. On the other end of the spectrum, Buderus has jumped into the residential replacement market with its GC124 cast-iron residential gas boiler. The boiler comes in standing pilot or electronic ignition, side-piping design for easy retrofitting, in three models from 74,000 to 132,000 Btuh.

Viessmann, in addition to touting its wall-hung condensing boilers, showed two types of solar panels. The Vitosol 100 is a flat-plate solar collector, while the Vitosol 300 is a higher performing vacuum tube collector. The company displayed the Vitosolic 200 controller for its solar systems.

Schuco USA showed flat-plate solar collectors that used a serpentine copper tube covered with a proprietary absorber coating, backed by thermal insulation and covered by a high-transparency glass. Schuco, which started in business as a commercial building window manufacturer, has installed a large number of solar panels in Germany. The company sells the whole package — mounting hardware, storage tanks, controls, valves and pumps.

Hydronic component maker Caleffi has come out with a solar line that operates up to 390°F and 145 PSI. The line includes differential temperature regulators, circulation units, diaphragm safety relief valves, motorized ball valves, thermostatic mixing valves, discal solar air separators and automatic air vent valves.

Oventrop, an old-line German supplier of brass goods for radiant floor heating systems, introduced a line of evacuated tube solar collectors, along with its Regusol line of valves and control systems for solar installations.

Solarnetix Inc., based in Toronto, introduced itself as a distributor of a full line of German solar thermal products from companies such as Pommerening Armaturenwerk.

Heating products
Watts Radiant introduced its new PEX Aluminum PEX line, RadiantPEX-AL. RadiantPEX-AL is a multi-layer pipe consisting of an inner and outer layer of high temperature-resistant polyethylene with an aluminum core. The aluminum core serves as an oxygen barrier. Radiant-PEX-AL holds its shape and is flexible enough to bend around obstacles without the use of fittings. It doesn't expand like PEX, so it creates less noise in staple-up applications. The pipe works well for snow-melting stairs since it will keep its shape.

Grundfos unveiled two new Super-Brute wet rotor circulators. The pumps' three-speed motor, field-set on high, medium or low, makes it possible to adjust the circulators to fit most needs. The UPS15-58 meets the needs of most hydronic applications. The UPS26-99 fits applications requiring higher head. The new UPS43-44 was developed for lower head with higher flow. The circulators include an integrated, removable check valve for minimal friction loss, making them a good choice for zoning hydronic heating systems because the check valve eliminates backflow from adjacent zone pumps.

Wilo USA exhibited its line of residential wet rotor circulators, commercial dry rotor inline centrifugal circulators, commercial wet rotor circulators and vertical multi-stage pumps.

The FlorHeat Co. showed its EasyFloor system, a radiant floor backer board with reflector plates and plastic channels into which the PEX tubing snaps.

Tankless water heater manufacturer Noritz debuted its newest hydronic heating units. The units are suitable for residential hydronic or radiant heating systems, the company says. Available are two models, NH-2001- DV and NH-1501-DV, with maximum Btuh of 199,000 and 150,000 respectively. Both are priced to be competitive with current traditional hydronic systems yet are smaller in size, 24.2-in. tall, 18.3-in. wide, 9.4-in. deep and wall mountable.

REHAU showed its full line of PEX pipe for plumbing and heating applications that is now available in sizes up to 2 in. It exhibited its InsulPEX insulated underground pipe that is newly available in sizes to 160 mm. Wisconsin's Burns Best Inc. introduced its outdoor corn boiler than can burn either corn kernels or wood pellets.

Water heating
Rheem is going full speed into the tankless water heater market. The company introduced five new models, including units for indoor, outdoor and indoor direct-vent applications in homes with one to two bathrooms. It trotted out an indoor direct-vent model for homes with two to three bathrooms, and a heavy-duty 199,900 Btuh indoor direct-vent model for homes with three or more bathrooms. The company has a full line of tankless accessories: an outdoor recess box, cosmetic pipe cover, tankless service valves, pressure relief valve, 3- and 4-in. horizontal vent kits, a remote control and control cabling to link two water heaters together.

Bradford White unofficially introduced its Combi2 water heating/space heating unit that will be formally rolled out in January. The units are designed to supply domestic hot water and space heating for applications up to 55,000 Btuh. The water heater can handle radiant applications and hydro-air. The units, in gas-and oil-fired versions, are offered in conventional and power-vented models with capacities of 50, 70 and 75 gal. with a first-hour rating from 105 to 140 gal. The glass-coated heat exchanger coil is rated at 2.3 ft. of head loss at 8 GPM.

Rinnai showed its Continuum line of tankless water heaters, both indoor and outdoor mounts, with firing ranges from 15,000 to 199,000 Btuh. The units can produce about 4.5 GPM at a 70°F rise. Rinnai pointed out that it came in No. 1 when a prominent home-builder magazine asked its readers what products they are most curious about.

Takagi's latest tankless heater is the T-K3 that can deliver 4.7 GPM at a 70°F rise but it measures only 13.8-in. wide so it can fit in between studs. Gas inputs vary from 11,000 to 199,000 Btuh, and the unit has eight temperature settings from 104°F to 185°F. The company says that one unit will handle up to 6,500 sq. ft. of radiant floor. Up to four units can be controlled together with the firm's Easy Link cabling. The units would be piped in parallel but fired in series.

Danze attracted attention with its Sirius Collection faucets that have a signature ribbon-like shape of the spout. A rectangular base grounds the faucet while the handle reflects the spout profile. The collection includes five lavatory faucet options in either single-or two-handle models for both deck and wall mounting. Sirius shower faucets feature both thermostatic and pressure balance technology. A Roman tub faucet has been added.

Viega showed a way to create recirculating hot water systems in commercial buildings without running a recirculating line to the fixtures. The technique uses "internal recirculation." A copper riser, from 1 in. to 2 in., goes up through the building as high as six floors. Inside the copper riser, however, is a 3/8-in. PEX pipe, right in the center. A pump connected to the PEX return line at the hot water source sucks the water through the PEX from the highest point in the building, creating the recirculation.

BrassCraft has made it easier to install stop valves for toilets and lavatories. The company has invented a proprietary stub out with a unique end form. The stub outs work with copper, PEX or CPVC pipe. The SureConnect valve is pushed onto the end of the stub out and is then locked in place with a locking ring that can be pushed in by hand. The connection is sealed with double O- rings. The locking mechanism allows the valve's position to be indexed every 45°, so the valve can be installed in any direction.

Jay R. Smith Mfg. Co. showed off its Boss Tee that can be used during construction to hydrostatically test the pipes for leaks, then stays in the completed system as a standard cleanout tee. When it's closed off with an internal plug, it can support up to 30 ft. of head pressure. The internal plug is installed through the cleanout opening. A test port is located right above the cleanout opening so the contractor can install a water pressure gauge and boiler drain valve.

The Powers division of Watts Water Technologies showed the PowerStation, an all-in-one water tempering recirculation system for commercial and institutional facilities. The available packages incorporate recirculation design that optimizes valve performance for safe water distribution. The packages feature the HydroGuard master tempering valves. The assemblies, in a variety of configurations, can handle flows up to 200°F and more than 100 GPM, yet they can safely temper water to ASSE 1017 standards with flows as low as 1.5 GPM.

In-Sink-Erator displayed its new Evolution PRO Series disposers that it introduced at last spring's Kitchen/Bath Industry Show. The disposers feature MultiGrind and SoundSeal technologies, allowing users to grind nearly any food waste and hear little. The Multi-Grind technology uses multiple rings for more thorough grinding. Some disposers in the line have automatic jam sensors and clear a potential jam without the user intervening.

Liberty Pumps introduced the Model SJ10, a non-electric backup sump pump that works off the municipal water supply. If power fails, water from a hose connection flows through the pump, creating an area of low pressure. The low pressure sucks up water from the sump pit. The pump removes 2 gal. of water for each gal. used. Liberty also showed the Model 404 residential drain pump. Only 11-in. high, the factory-assembled package is designed for bar sinks, laundry trays, dehumidifiers, utility sinks and gray-water drainage.

Saniflo emphasized its Sanipack unit that can be mounted inside a wall. The unit moves more than 10 GPM at 9 ft. of head and works with rear-discharge toilets, including those from Geberit and American Standard. The company also showed its own toilets, such as the Sanicompact and Sanistar that come with the macerating pump built in.

Zoeller Pump Co. displayed its Qwik Jon Ultima macerating toilet system with preassembled pump and tank that includes a Zoeller rear outlet toilet with elongated bowl. The system can be used with other rear-outlet toilets too. The 1/2-HP pump can accommodate a sink and bathtub.

Victaulic was promoting a service rather than a product, its Construction Piping Services, which performs estimating and project management, reviews drawings and specs, and produces pipe cut sheets, bag-and-tag services and advance ordering of Victaulic materials. The company also rolled out a Web micro-site, The site contains tips and strategies for reducing manhours, with the idea, of course, that it's quicker to use grooved coupling systems.

Little Giant Pump Co. presented the 18S Series 11/2-HP sewage ejector pumps that can pass solids up to 2 in. in diameter. It also showed the Crawl Space Sump System, a packaged unit to remove water from crawl spaces, yards, patios and driveways.

Anvil International emphasized that it is a member of the U. S. Green Building Council and that its pipe-joining products are made from 90% recycled materials.

ProVent System Inc. showed its ProVent single-stack DWV system, which is the same thing as a copper Sovent single-stack system, except in 3- and 4-in. PVC.

General Pipe Cleaners found that its customers wanted an "in between" kind of solution, so it introduced the Metro-Rooter for city contractors, a root cutter that can propel 5/8-in. cable up to 75 ft., but it's still light enough for one person to carry up on the roof or down into a basement. It can use 1/2-, 5/8- and 3/4-in. cables. The operator can vary the feeding speed.

The Mill-Rose All Purpose Pressure Tester simplifies testing by accepting different size NPT male fittings. APPT features multiple internal threads that allow contractors to attach any threaded pipe size from 3/8 in. to 2 in. It is said to be ideal for testing gas and oxygen lines, potable water lines, DWV and HVAC lines, utility lines, hydraulic lines, sprinkler systems and high-pressure steam. APPT test blocks are constructed of T60-61 aircraft aluminum and feature three ports that allow contractors to custom configure gauges and valves.

Superior Tool Co. showed its Ultra-Cut copper tubing cutter that cuts 1/2- or 3/4-in. copper tube in three seconds using the company's cordless tool that uses rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries.

BOSS Clips introduced its namesake product, sink clips invented by a plumber that allow installation of any stainless track bottom sink from above the counter.

Put that recip saw away. RectorSeal has come out with the Golden Pipe Schredder that reams out solvent welded plastic fittings so they can be reused. The tool can cut stub outs to recess pipe in the wall or floor and remove cracked or broken closet flanges.

Estimation announced that it received the first-place prize for the software section of the New Product Showcase at the 2006 ISH North America show. The company's ToolBox provides contractors with a set of tools designed to help them manage, analyze and store bids, jobs, submittals, RFIs and change orders. The software tracks the data and provides analysis on why a bid was won or lost, or why a job was under or over budget. ToolBox was written using the latest Microsoft tools and is designed for Windows XP. The program integrates with the company's latest Logistics Version 6.

Accubid told attendees about its Enterprise Estimating Version 2 software that's said to be a true multi-user networking solution that supports digitized takeoffs and live extensions and bid summaries.