From Orange County, CA to Orange County in Orlando, FL, the AHR Exposition has been keeping things hot in the HVACR industry for the past two years. This year, the palm trees grew in Florida and despite the hurricanes that ripped at them just a few months before the show, the trees stood tall and proud.

As did the Orange County Convention Center, home to the 2005 exposition, which hosted more 1,871 exhibits that occupied 372,955 sq.ft. of space. According to the International Exposition Company, this was the first time in 75 years the show was held in Florida, and it was one of the biggest shows held in the Southeast. More than 45,000 attendees crowded the aisles looking for the latest innovations and products to help them in their businesses.

From day one, the show operated at a frenetic pace — the tide of attendees ebbed and flowed from booth to booth, from meeting to meeting, and that continued even after hours at networking hospitality suits, restaurants, and even at the outdoor battle of the bands at Pointe Orlando.

ASHRAE Winter Meeting

As always, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) produced a large variety of sessions in conjunction with its annual Winter Meeting, which is held concurrently with the Show. These included numerous short courses.

The theme of the public session, particularly appropriate for the environs of Orlando, was "Energy and Humidity Reduction Practices in Southern Climates." A panel of six speakers, including representatives of the Florida Solar Energy Center, Florida Power & Light Company, CH2M Hill, and Sunbelt Engineering, tackled topics such as Florida's new energy code, the whole-building approach to humidity control, reducing sensible gains, and the importance of commissioning.

The speakers stressed good HVAC system design as the key to preventing moisture and humidity problems in buildings.

"Most moisture problems are predictable, many construction problems are really design problems in disguise, and technical design peer reviews are the best way to prevent problems," said Norman L. Nelson, P.E., senior technologist and forensic engineer, CH2M Hill, Raleigh, NC.

Added Don Shirey, a research engineer with the Florida Solar Energy Center, "Be smart about designing your ventilation system. Do your homework and get to know ASHRAE Standards 90 and 62."

And the Winner Is ...

In addition, the finals of the 2005 SkillsUSA competition were held at the show to determine who would represent the USA in the World Skills Competition in Helsinki.

The SkillsUSA Championships showcases the best career and technical students in the nation. Contests begin locally and continue through the state and national levels.

The competition in the HVACR skill area determined who goes on to represent the United States in the WorldSkills Competition in Helsinki, Finland in May. Contestants at the AHR Expo were chosen from winners and runners up from the two most recent years of the annual SkillsUSA Championships held in Kansas City, MO.

Shawn Wasielewski from Easton, PA, won the contest and heads to Helsinki in May.

Meanwhile, Down on the Trade Floor

The editors of Contracting Business worked the show and found a number of interesting products and developments.

On the trade show floor, A.O. Smith Water Heaters showed off the Equinox™ rooftop water heater, which the company says is the first tank-type commercial water heater that operates outdoors in any climate.

Featuring an 80-gal. tank and 120,000 BTU input, Equinox is designed for fast-food restaurants and other light- to medium-duty commercial applications. The unit features a low-Nox powered burner design with an internal heat exchanger; combustion air intake and exhaust venting directly through the unit, which eliminates the need for indoor venting or indoor air supply; and a built-in recirculating pump that keeps the system constantly primed with hot water under pressure.

The Equinox is controlled by A.O. Smith's exclusive EMC-5000 control. Features include digital display of settings, tank temperature, and system status, as well as easy-to-understand diagnostics. For more information, visit www.aosmithwaterheaters.com.

A.O. Smith also announced that it will be teaming up with its business partner, State Water Heaters, to offer comprehensive water heater and boiler training. The courses, which will begin in July, offer basic and advanced training on residential and commercial, gas and electric, water heater and boiler installation, operation and service
information. For more information, visit www.aosmithwaterheaters.com or www.statewaterheaters.com.

The Invisible Service Technician (IST) monitor from Invisible Service Technicians, LLC is designed to provide all of the key operating data that a contractor requires to detect and diagnose developing problems before they cause a failure in a customer's equipment.

The IST consists of a monitor with 10 sensors and six open sensor inputs, mounted on a customer's heating, cooling, or refrigeration equipment and connected to a phone line. The system monitors multiple operating parameters and immediately notifies the IST data center if a problem is detected. The online data center, in turn, alerts the servicing contractor and provides enough operating data to allow him or her to diagnose the problem without having to visit the customer's site.

The IST allows contractors to lock-in customers through continuous monitoring; attract new customers who appreciate a high level of service, and increase the efficiency of service technicians, all at what the company says is a cost lower than other monitors on the market.

The IST won an AHR 2005 Innovation Award in the Building Automation category.

For more information, visit www.istmonitor.com.

Zone-A-Trol™ unveiled a new line of zone control dampers for the retrofit market. The Retro-Round™ insertable zone damper is easy to install in any existing round metal duct. The dampers feature a motor actuator that allows the installer to just plug in the motor. The DC-powered motor is wired using standard telephone wire with RJ11 plugs. A 25-foot cable is supplied with each damper, along with a splitter that allows up to 10 dampers to be controlled from a single zone. Green and red LEDs on the motor indicate when the damper is open or closed.

The company also introduced a line of Mastertrol™ zoning panels with easy-to-wire, push-in terminal blocks that eliminate the need to screw in each wire.

For more information, visit the website at www.zoneatrol.com.

Danfoss introduced 18 new products at this year’s exposition. Among them was a patented family of flangeless weld-in control valves for industrial refrigeration applications.

This product family won an AHR Expo's 2005 Innovation Award in the Refrigeration category, marking the third year in a row a Danfoss product has won in that category.

In ICV valves, the weld-in valve body has no internal bearing surfaces, and won’t require replacement during its service life. There is no bottom port. The seat and the entire valve mechanism are contained in a replaceable function module that’s accessible by removing the valve bonnet.

The ICV family offers both servo and digital motorized versions. Single-pilot and three-pilot bonnets are offered for servo-operated versions. To order a servo valve, the user selects the body size, a function module, and a bonnet.

For more information, in the ICV platform, visit www.danfoss.com

Taco Announces Green Initiative To kick off the first day of the AHR Expo, Taco held a press conference where company President John Hazen White, Jr. presented an overview of Taco's current standing in the industry and introduced Taco's new marketing and branding initiative — "Taco Green."

Taco Green is the company's commitment to the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED design and build initiative.

Taco Vice President Robert Flynn then presented the Taco Green strategy, explaining how the company would promote its energy efficient LoadMatch™ single pipe hydronic system design, variable speed pumps and D'Mand water recirculation system products as "green" products that are eminently suitable for use in Green buildings projects.

For example, Taco, now offers both bronze and cast iron models of its "00" Series of circulators for LoadMatch® single-pipe system applications. The circulators are designed for quiet and efficient operation on LoadMatch fan coil heating and cooling systems.

The LoadMatch system replaces the typical two-pipe hydronic system with a one-pipe system comprised of LoadMatch circulators and fan coils. According to Taco, the system eliminates the need for most balancing valves and energy-consuming control valves.

LoadMatch circulators direct water to where it needs to go, as opposed to forcing the water through the system's piping loop. The company adds that this system affords high system control and saves energy and money that would otherwise be spent on pipe, fittings and valves. Taco estimates that savings from a LoadMatch system can typically be up to 30% of life cycle costs.

For more information, got to www.taco-hvac.com

Rheem Manufacturing Company, Air Conditioning Division featured its new line of high-efficiency 18 SEER air conditioners: the Rheem Prestige Series™ RASL and Ruud Ultra Series™ UAS. Both series are equipped with two-stage Copeland Scroll UltraTech™ compressors to provide high efficiency, high humidity control, and quiet operation. They're also PrOzone™ certified, and feature R-410A refrigerant.

Other features include Emerson Comfort Alert™ diagnostics that monitor and analyze system performance. If a malfunction occurs, the system quickly guides technicians to the root cause of the problem. A three-blade outdoor fan powered by a GE® ECM two-speed motor on select condensing unit models is designed to significantly reduce energy bills by operating at low speed for temperatures below 85F and high speed for temperatures above 85F.

The Prestige Series and Ultra Series feature a wrap-around, all-steel, fully louvered cabinet to provide maximum coil protection from yard hazards and weather extremes. For service accessibility, a simple two-fastener access allows fast entry to all critical service points, controls, and the single scroll compressor. For more information, got to www.rheemac.com.

United Air Specialists (UAS) debuted its VisionAir commercial air cleaning system. According to the manufacturer, the system is simple and quick to install, and can significantly improve indoor air quality in a wide variety of applications. It also features an unobtrusive design and quiet operation.

Two models are available: VisionAir1 (wall-, ceiling-, or stand-mounted) and VisionAir2 (mounted on the wall or ceiling). Room volume for VisionAir1 is up to 6,000 cu.ft. and up to 12,000 cu.ft. for the VisionAir2.

Available options include an odor-free filter, UV-lights, and an air monitor that measures airborne particulates continuously and adjusts the fan speed accordingly. Applications include bars, restaurants, clubs, and hospitals. For more information, go to www.uasinc.com.

ClimateMaster has introduced an ERV (energy recovery ventilator) option for its RE series rooftop water-source heat pump (WSHP). The ERV uses a desiccant wheel coated with silica gel to recover energy from exhausted air, and transfer energy to the fresh air entering the building.

According to the manufacturer, ERV efficiency is about 70%, which allows the standard RE series unit to handle the remaining 30% of the load with no modifications. As a result, controls, maintenance and troubleshooting are greatly simplified.

The combination WSHP/ERV system is available in 1,200 through 8,000 cfm for 100% outside air conditioning.

In most areas of North America, the combination (ARI/ISO WLHP) EER is around 20 Btuh/Watt (5.86 Watts/Watt), significantly reducing operating costs. Building HVAC requirements are also reduced when a dedicated outdoor air system is applied, approximately 3 tons per 1,000 cfm.

The reduction allows for a cost-effective, green building design, while conforming to the ASHRAE 62 standard. When applied to a ground source (geothermal) application, savings are even more significant, since loop field requirements are also reduced.

ClimateMaster uses the AirXchange ARI 1060 certified energy recovery wheel, which includes a 5-year limited warranty. Many options are available, including CO2 sensors

For more information, go to www.climatemaster.com.