In spite of continuing economic challenges, thousands of HVACR professionals flocked to Chicago’s McCormick Center for 2012’s AHR Expo. Nearly 2,000 companies showcased their latest products and technologies on more than 429,000 sq.ft. of exhibit space. This made the AHR Expo the largest event in its 82-year history. Yes, that meant more walking, but there were also more new products to see, so it was worth the sore feet.

The AHR Expo is never a disappointing event. Every year, it features innovative products, and we always meet interesting people. Expo officials’ final report said the show drew nearly 40,000 contractors, engineers, facility managers, and other HVACR professionals.

Contracting Business.com editors spent three days covering the event, and we now present our “travelogue” of activity, to give you an idea of the products and people that made 2012 AHR Expo a winner. Among some of the really interesting products we saw and news we uncovered were the following:

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) reported that 2,800 people attended the ASHRAE Winter Conference, held Jan. 21-25, as part of AHR Expo. The top-attended sessions were selection of proper chiller technology; thermal displacement ventilation applications; heat pump optimization; air source versus ground source heat pump systems; integrated design energy retrofits; and water-cooled VRF systems.

Other conference highlights included the technical plenary, which drew 600 attendees, with its focus on Chicago’s energy-efficient economic model for sustainability.

ASHRAE announced a brand repositioning with a refreshed logo, a new tagline, and a change to using only its acronym.

“ASHRAE’s original commitment to HVACR engineering excellence remains resolute, even as the Society continues to expand its influence into all facets of building design, construction, reconstruction, and operation,” ASHRAE President Ron Jarnagin said.

“Just as integrated design is the cornerstone of sustainable buildings, ASHRAE members create an integrated body of knowledge to make buildings as high performing as possible.”

And now, on to the exhibits:

Bosch featured six products, including the TA series geothermal heat pumps, described as one of the most efficient and quietest water-to-air units on the market.

Bosch’s EP series geothermal heat pumps, with ECM (electronically commutated motor), provides added energy savings and better comfort.

Then there was the Buderus GB162 gas-fired condensing boiler, which is capable of achieving efficiencies of up to 96%.

The 1210 ESC condensing tankless water heater is the highest-performing, fully-condensing, gas tankless water heater Bosch manufactures.

Bosch’s Compress heat pump water heater can bring a 59% reduction in water heating cost.

Bosch’s Buderus G125BE oil burner, a low-temperature burner, burns oil efficiently and almost soot-free. It’s suitable for detached houses and two-family homes. Bosch.com Circle 167

The ClimateMaster Inc., team announced it had received a U.S. patent for its ClimaDry technology, a dedicated dehumidification mode that uses condenser water in the reheat process, to provide a constant leaving air temperature to the occupied space, eliminating temperature swings during dehumidification. ClimaDry technology is available in most ClimateMaster Tranquility products.

“The patented ClimaDry modulating reheat and dehumidification option is like no other on the market today,” said Dan Ellis, president, ClimateMaster. “This patent is a recognition of how technologically advanced this system is.” Other ClimateMaster innovations on display included: EarthPure polarized media electronic air cleaner; Tranquility series geothermal heating and cooling packaged systems, which now feature tin-plated air coil u-bends; Tranquility modular water-to-water (TMW) series, in 360 (30 tons) and 600 (50 tons) sizes. climatemaster.com Circle 168

The Danfoss press breakfast is an AHR Expo highlight. The Danfoss team addresses topics that are relevant to national energy policy or politics, befitting a global company influenced by and influential in energy use and policy.

President John Galyen said climate and energy challenges have become very interrelated, and include refrigerants, energy efficiency, and the Smart Grid.

“Energy efficiency is a matter of economics. It’s critical to the nation’s economy, to our national security, and to our business. Energy demand will continue to increase, and energy efficiency is at least part of the answer. Technologies exist today with high return on investment and green technologies will create jobs,” he said.

At the Danfoss booth, a variety of products were featured. Danfoss VLT Drives division introduced vertical bypass panel assemblies, to deliver robust variable speed drive performance in HVAC applications, with market-preferred bypass controls and maximum geometric flexibility.

Danfoss Turbocor Compressors, Inc. announced a significant expansion of its line of oil-free, magnetic bearing variable speed centrifugal compressors. danfoss.com Circle 169

The Emerson Climate Technologies team had $20,000 in dimes on display, to symbolize the $20,000/year that a typical, 50,000 sq. ft. supermarket incurs in refrigeration expenses. A new refrigeration system powered by the Copeland Scroll K5 refrigeration compressor incorporates variable volume ratio technology to optimize low-condensing performance. Enhanced vapor injection capability allows for maximum capacity at low set points without having to add more or larger compressors.

Every Copeland Scroll K5 Refrigeration Compressor comes equipped with CoreSense technology, which means contractors can easily diagnose compressor issues on-site or from a remote location.

Show attendees got a peek at Emerson’s Mobile Toolbox of apps for smartphones that Emerson has developed:

  • HVACR fault finder, for electronics and compressor troubleshooting
  • Emerson PTPro, for pressure/temperature conversion
  • White-Rodgers mobile, with product replacement information for thermostats, gas valves, and HVAC controls
  • Emerson e-Saver, which calculates the annual cost savings of high efficiency systems
  • Copeland X-Ref, a compressor cross-reference.

All apps available for free download at emersonclimate.com/mobileapps. emerson.com Circle 170

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Fujitsu General America, Inc. introduced a Halcyon split-system heat pump line with equipment that achieves up to 27.2 SEER. The new RLS2 line of heat pumps offers 9,000- 12,000- and 15,000-BTU models with increased heating performance, newly designed chassis, and the ESP energy saving program. Fujitsugeneral.com Circle 171

Contractors got a chance to test out General Tool’s wide range infrared thermometer (IRT657) at the show. With its broad measurement range of -40F to 1076F (-40C to 580C), the new thermometer can be used for testing and troubleshooting HVACR systems and components. generaltools.com Circle 172

North American Technician Excellence (NATE) had a very successful year, with more than 20,000 NATE exams sold in 2011, reported Don Frendberg, chairman of the NATE board of trustees

“We’ve also achieved ANSI accreditation, which is significant in terms of the credibility of our exams, and the standards we wish to establish. There are more than 30,000 NATE-certified technicians in the U.S. In this, our 15th anniversary year, we can say we’ve certified more than 50,000 technicians over the course of NATE’s history,” Frendberg said. NATE is consolidating its separate service and installation exams into one test, with 75 questions, rather than have two tests with 50 questions. This was done in part due to ANSI’s suggestions. Frendberg said NATE exams are also being translated into Spanish. NATE will be conducting Beta testing for the translation soon. natex.org

Fluke Corporation introduced the Fluke 430 Series II three-phase power quality analyzers, the first tools to use a patented algorithm to measure energy waste and quantify its cost, said company spokespersons. The 430 Series II helps facilities reduce electrical power consumption and improve performance and lifespan of electro-mechanical equipment. Watch a video of the 430 series in action at http://bit.ly/fluke430series. fluke.com Circle 173

Grundfos circulator pumps are energy efficient, and demonstrate environmental responsibility. Company spokespersons said the Alpha is the most compact circulator in its class, with integrated electronics and software, and a permanent magnet motor design. The Magna is a range of powerful pumps for heating and air conditioning systems in buildings of any scale. grundfos.com Circle 174

Among Honeywell’s new refrigerant offerings are Genetron Performax LT-R407F for supermarket refrigeration.

“Performax LT has a global warming potential (GWP) of 1810, which is only slightly above that of R22. Most competitive products have a global warming potential above 2000,” explained Ron Vogl, technical marketing manager, fluorine products. “It provides for a very easy retrofit. Its capacity matches up very well with R22. Performax LT is a very good fit when retrofitting medium and low temperature refrigeration systems,” Vogl said.

“We will continue to work with our distributor partners and wholesalers, to ensure we deliver products that will improve the environment,” said Lincoln Germain, Honeywell’s global business director, heat transfer fluorine products. honeywell.com Circle 175

At the LG Electronics press breakfast, company representatives announced the debut of LG’s third generation, Multi V III commercial air conditioning system for large-scale facilities. “This is a huge step forward for LG, as far as its application, but most importantly we have the most efficient system available in this category in the U.S.,” reported Kevin McNamara, LG vice president, commercial air conditioning.

“We’re introducing a breakthrough in higher efficiency solutions —up to 21.8 IEER — that blends effortlessly into a wide range of commercial and residential environments,” McNamara said. lg.com Circle 176

We found that Luvata has developed a full line of air-cooled condensers. They combine the higher capacity and lower refrigerant charge of traditional high speed motors with the low sound and high energy efficiency of traditional lower speed motors.

Also on display were four models of Luvata unit coolers for commercial refrigeration: the CTE3 low profile; the CTE4 medium profile; the ICI high profile for largest walk-in and warehouse applications; and the DFE low velocity dual flow, for work rooms, or where perishable inventory is sensitive to the drying effects of moving air. luvata.com Circle 177

Related to air movement, we had the opportunity to see MacroAir’s high volume, low speed (HVLS) technology for commercial ceiling fans. This fan, part of the new AirStar line of fans, provides customers an affordable option to satisfy air quality and movement needs in smaller applications. Available in 8-, 10- and 12-ft. diameters, these Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified fans have a lightweight, streamlined frame and new motor design, for quiet operation and low power consumption. The new fan complements MacroAir’s existing line of HVLS fans, which provide energy saving and cost-reducing solutions in air movement. macro-air.com. Circle 178

Contractors unraveled complex steel calculations with an essential mobile app for flat-rolled steel buyers. “Unravel,” a flat-rolled steel calculator by Majestic Steel, makes it easy to verify steel coil and sheet specs. Users can calculate the weight of a steel coil without a scale, convert gauges to decimals instantly, and find the number of sheets in a bundle. majesticsteel.com Circle 179

MovinCool continues to take innovative steps with its line of industrial spot air conditioners and accessories. Big news this year, is the introduction of the CMW30 water-cooled, ceiling-mount air conditioner. The CMW30 is designed for server rooms and other applications with dense heat loads, but where a typical MovinCool air-cooled model won’t fit. The unit’s large cooling capacity is rated at 29,400 Btuh total and 22,000 Btuh sensible for computer rooms. The compact, self-contained CMW30 is only 20-in. high, which enables it to fit above a drop ceiling.

“Now with a water-cooled unit, our ceiling-mount line has a wider range of applications, giving our customers greater flexibility,” said Fran Labun, vice president, sales groups. Find MovinCool’s newest catalog at movincool.com/catalog. movincool.com Circle 180

According to company sources, Nest programmable thermostats work on just about all types of residential heating and cooling equipment. Once installed, the Nest begins to learn about users’ “home and away” habits. After about a week, the Nest will have learned the homeowner’s basic routine. Temporary changes can be made to the Nest without throwing the programming off. nest.com Circle 181

Rheem continued its ground-breaking product rollout when it unveiled the first-of-its-kind Rheem H2AC rooftop unit with eSync integration technology. Designed for full-service restaurants, this integrated system delivers air conditioning and water heating from a single source. The system works by using the heat removed from the HVAC system — which would normally be rejected into the atmosphere — as a way to heat water.

“Considering that today’s full-service restaurants are struggling with rising energy costs, there’s a strong, immediate opportunity for a system like the Rheem H2AC rooftop unit to make a real impact on an owner or franchisor’s bottom line,” said Chris Peel, Rheem’s senior vice president and chief operating officer. Also on display was the Rheem Prestige series modulating 95% AFUE gas furnace. A conventional furnace is either “off” or “on” at 100% capacity, depending on the demand for heat. The Rheem Prestige series modulating gas furnace works differently because it uses modulation technology, so it’s seldom “off” or “on” at 100%. Contracting Business.com magazine named this unit a 2011 Mechanical Systems Week Product Showcase Award Winner in the category of Forced-air Heating Equipment, and attendees at this year’s AHR Expo could see why!

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Rheem also announced the launch of its Ultra Low NOx (nitrogen oxide), environmentally friendly gas tankless water heaters throughout the U.S. These units reduce NOx emissions and comply with Ultra Low NOx emission standards scheduled for implementation in California next year. Rheem’s Ultra Low NOx water heaters feature a type of gas burner with nitrous-oxide emissions of only 10 nanograms per Joule.

Racing season has arrived, and Rheem announced a multi-year agreement with Richard Childress Racing, to be the primary sponsor of the No. 29 Chevrolet driven by Kevin Harvick for 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series® points races. rheem.com Circle 182

In the water control sector, Taco has added another feature to its Zone Sentry zone valve. According to Taco sources, the valve easily handles chilled water applications. The plastic components of the valve’s actuator are corrosion-proof. The board is sealed, eliminating any chance of the electronic portion of the valve coming in contact with moisture. The Zone Sentry’s patented technology uses a microcircuit-based logic to control a gear-driven, electronically-actuated ball valve to control fluid flow. taco-hvac.com Circle 183

Another company whose booth caught our attention was Tecumseh, with a fresh wave of products and initiatives:

  • the Masterflux solar controller lineup, with a wide range of products to fit a variety of applications, including heavy-duty trucking, mass transit, and military
  • high-efficiency Celseon condensing units — the new “shorty”, AK/AJ, and AE2 Celseon fractional horsepower units have a variety of options, including service valves and liquid line receivers. This translates to less time, less inventory and greater flexibility, sources reported
  • the TA Mini Compressor for R&F and small commercial applications is 17% smaller than past models of similar capacity, as well as lighter and quieter, sources said. Redesigned internals provide for smoother motor operation, and an increased suction muffler volume brings improved noise reduction.

tecumseh.com Circle 184

Speaking of compressors, one product that caught our attention as we cruised the show floor was the spool compressor by a company called Torad. Spool compressor? The company calls this the next generation in refrigeration compressor technology. We spoke with company president, Joe Orosz, who explained that, since 2007, the research and development team has worked diligently to produce several working prototypes in finalizing the design of the spool compressor. “It’s important to us at Torad to listen to the needs of the HVAC industry, and provide a product that will offer incredible advantages to the complete design. It’s perfect timing to introduce this viable engineered alternative, especially one that can dramatically cut compressor cost of over 25%, and decrease the physical size and weight, all without sacrificing any of the performance areas,” Orosz said.

Torad’s design includes four main components: rotor, main housing, gate, and bearing housings. The components make up a single rotating spool assembly for the compressor. Greg Kemp, CEO and inventor of this technology, said the spool compressor combines the positive sealing of a piston compressor with the reliability of a screw or scroll compressor. He added that the Torad device achieves high efficiency levels over a wide range of sizes.

To learn more about spool compressor technology, and when it will be available, visit toradengineering.com. Circle 185

For those looking for new, time-saving tools, Viega’s MegaPress system is a fast, safe, and reliable way to join schedule 5 to schedule 40 black steel pipe using a unique press technology to secure pipe connections in under seven seconds. Spokesman Dann Holmes was busy with demonstrations. He said Mega-PressG is the only pressing system available for joining schedule 40 black steel pipe for fuel oil and natural gas applications. Faster installation saves time and money compared to welding or threading. viega.com Circle 186

Specialty products are essential to support and protect larger systems. That’s the mindset of RectorSeal Corp., a leading manufacturer of quality HVACR products. This year, Jerry Tomasello, director of marketing, and the Rector-Seal team introduced the Safe-T-Switch Models SS103E and SS500EP condensate overflow shutoff switches. The switches feature electronic probe sensors and an onboard LED display to provide what Rector-Seal describes as the industry’s most reliable operation, water damage protection, diagnostics, and monitoring of commercial and residential air-conditioning systems and condensate drains. rectorseal.com Circle187

Southwire Company believes in making work easier. Southwire’s SIMpullTstat features patented SIM technology that has been applied to the jacket of the thermostat wire, for a smoother, faster pull. This reduces the force required to pull through walls and studs by 50%. SIMpullTstat can be pulled two to three times farther over other wires without burning through the jacket. southwire.com Circle 188

In another geothermal innovation, WaterFurnace debuted Versatec Base, which combines high efficiency and an impressive list of value-added features in a compact water source heat pump for water loop and geothermal applications. The Versatec Base model exceeds ASHRAE 90.1 efficiencies, while using R410A refrigerant. In other company news, Tim Litton, director of marketing for WaterFurnace, said the company is changing product naming conventions, to give consumers a better understanding of its tiered products.

“Where before we had the Envision, Legend, or Synergy products, we’re changing that to an alpha-numeric scheme. The 7 Series will represent our premium, top-level offering; the 5 Series will represent our mid-level offering, and the 3 Series will represent our value offering. We’re getting ready to release the 7 Series, and we will upgrade Envision, which will become our 5 Series,” Litton explained.

And, WeDoGeo.com is WaterFurnace’s new online selection software. waterfurnace.com Circle 189

Speaking of software, Wrightsoft’s Right-Mobile Consultant drew a crowd. It’s a powerful, cloud-based tool that automates a repeatable sales process with proven selling techniques for the HVAC contractor. This cloud-based tool for HVAC professionals was designed to work on a multitude of devices, including desktop PCs, laptops, and tablet devices like the iPad and Android. Users can access the same program via a web browser on desktop, laptops, or tablet systems with touch-screen capabilities. The software performs optimally when used on a large multi-touch screen iPad. wrightsoft.com Circle 190

FIND ADDITIONAL AHR EXPO SHOW INFORMATION AT:http://bit.ly/cb2012ahrshowreport