My 2013 AHR Expo experience got an early start, with a 7:30 press breakfast sponsored by Trakref. TrakRef — a product of Polar Technology LLC — is a compliant software management tool designed to provide comprehensive tracking of refrigerants from the time of purchase, throughout maintenance cycles concluding in recovery and reclamation or destruction.

TrakRef provides the user total control and access to their refrigerants regardless of location or application while keeping up with maintenance schedules and leak rate monitoring.

"Ever since chlorofluorobcarbon (CFC) gases were invented, refrigerants have operated in a commodity environment. The industry produced what was demanded and supplies were readily available," said Ted Atwood, owner and president of Polar Technology.

"Then we learned that refrigerants had a negative impact on the environment. Now, the resulting regulations, among other factors, are forever changing the paradigm in which the industry operates," Atwood said. "If those in the supply channel are going to survive and thrive, they are going to have to collectively deal with new realities of how to keep expensive equipment operating and serviced, something we call System Uptime. This will also need to be accomplished in a world that includes changing demands, challenges in supply, compliance and reporting." Atwood added.

TrakRef is designed to provide comprehensive and transparent tracking and management of refrigerants from the time of purchase, their deployment throughout maintenance cycles, their recovery and reclamation in their final destruction at the end of the life cycle.

The Taco team provided attendees with an interactive demonstration of the features in its newly-constructed Innovation & Development Center a look at new system design software, green building systems solutions, energy saving e-smart components, and smart technology variable speed, variable flow pumps and controls.

Taco President John White Jr. gave a sincere welcome and note of appreciation to media representatives in attendance, and to the entire Taco family of employees.

"We've built an incredible team at Taco, from the employee side of the business, who are a big part of our lives, to what we bring to the marketplace, in terms of system designs and energy efficiency," White said. "I think Taco has the best team in the industry. I'm very proud of them. The new Innovation & Development Center is for the entire industry: engineers, contractors, wholesalers, and it's a facility we can all use for innvoative development."

Taco's first day included telling many show attendees about new products such as Fuel Miser, vertical pumps, LowFlow injection technology, and mixing systems for chilled beams, all of which had their beginnings in the Taco Innovation & Development Center.

Bradford-White provided a look at its new OnGuard RMT, a water heater management system that can allows Bradford White support technicians to monitor water heater for optimal performance. If they see a fault or something that requires service remotely, they will contact the homeowner and servicing contractor.

The Icon System is Bradford White's new advanced temperature control system with exclusive performance software, intelligent diagnostics, pilot-on indication and a separate immersed thermowell and integrated Piezo igniter.

Director of Marketing Carl Pinto said Bradford White is continuing its push for commercial products and increasing marketing of the Bradford White-branded hydronics line produced by Laars. "People have been anxious for that, and we're looking at a second quarter release. We have a greater integration between Laars, Bradford White and Niles," Pinto said.

Fujitsu products on display included the popular Halcyon wall-mounted mini-split systems 9RLS2, 12RLS2 and 15RLS2, described as being among the most efficient mini-splits in North America, with Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratings (SEER) of up to 27.2-SEER.
The RLS2 systems are packed with features specifically created to save consumers money – such as an Energy Saving Program, or ESP, a programmable remote control and inverter technology. 

If a home occupant leaves a room without turning the unit off, ESP knows that the person has left, and 20 minutes later, set temperature is increased by 4F when cooling and reduced by 8F when heating. When the room is again occupied, the ESP returns the system to the previous operating mode. This prevents wasteful operation to save energy without you having to think about it.

"One-to-one ducted and one-to-one cassette units came into the line as part of our multi-zone units," said Senior Vice President Roy Kuczera. "By branching them off to independent outdoor units enables us to target commercial housing, multi-family housing, office spaces. The static pressure on our ducted units is .36, which is twice that of our competitors. It enables us to condition three different spaces in the building with mini-duct, yet still have independent control for a single dorm room. These also are capable of being tied into wired and wireless remotes."

Trane Commercial —Trane is celebrating 100 years of customer-driven innovation at the 2013 AHR Expo. Trane experts are exhibiting innovative new products, systems and services, informative on-site demonstrations, technology-based presentations, and special anniversary activities. 

New innovations on display this year include Trane Advantage VRF variable refrigerant systems, featuring variable-speed compressor tehnology and the ability to individualize solutions for improved temperature control and attain improved efficiency.

Trane Intelligent Variable Air systems are new, efficient systems for a building's HVAC needs, to save energy, installation costs, and time. This system can deliver 20 to 30% better energy efficiency than a traditional variable air volume (VAV) system.

IntelliPak I Unitary Rooftop Systems are now available in 20-130 tons. The new Direct-Drive Plenum fan provides static efficiency improvements of 15-20% versus traditional fan technologies.

"It's all about driving up the efficiency of package rooftop units. We've used variable speed drives on the fan side of these package units for many years, and now we're using variable speed drives on the compressor side of the these units" said Mark Weldy, vice president, EarthWise systems for Trane. "Most of these are three or four stage units, so going to variable speed drives isn't a dramatic and wholesale energy improvement but now we've got that variable control between stages. It's a great stable control and comfort story, and we're squeezing some energy savings out of it too."

A new, horizontally configured variable-speed water-source heat pump is now part of the Trane Axiom variable-speed portfolio, providing maximum design flexibility and cost savings through efficient operation.  Now available in sizes up to 5 tons, they are the first horizontally configured variable-speed water-source heat pups in the industry designed for commercial applications.

Tecumseh Products Company provided trade press editors with a look back at company developments that have reengergized Tecumseh, and given it a great outlook on 2013 and beyond. Improvements were made across all spectrums, from people to processes.

"Last year was a year of focus and reinvestment. I’m proud of the work out team did in the way of launching new products, quality initiatives, the work we performed at our facilities," said President, North America, Bill Merritt. "The reinvestment was in people, technologies, facilities, operations, and quality systems. We made a big investment in bringing in talented people, some of them new to the industry," Merritt said.

In describing the many  company improvements, Merritt said they were all made possible by Tecumseh's quality employees.

"People have made this happen for us. The people have given us the energy to get back on track, start making money again. Product, technology, and quality will drive us going forward."

Tecumseh has expanded the availability its new AE2 series compressor through its network of North American authorized wholesale distributors. Following on the path of its predecessor, the AE2 delivers best-in-class efficiency, a 20% greater capacity range, a smaller size envelope and Tecumseh’s industry known standard for reliability.

The AE2 compressor supports traditional HFC refrigerants R134a and R404A and has been optimized for use with hydrocarbon refrigerant R290 (propane).

Keith Gifford, director of global marketing, also announced the introduction of its new Celseon Low Profile” indoor air-cooled fractional horsepower condensing units and convenient new Evaporative Condensate condensing units. "Tecumseh’s Low Profile Air-Cooled, Fractional Horsepower condensing units offer the same world-class quality, reliability and features that you’ve come to know – in standard width and length dimensions – but with a reduced overall height of just 8.9 inches," Gifford said.

Photos by Terry McIver