There was plenty to see and appreciate at AHR Expo in Orlando. And there is good news to report: Innovation is alive and well in the HVAC market. Some new products on display demonstrated genuine ingenuity. Exhibitors had enthusiasm to spare as they shared what’s new in the market with this first-time visitor to the show. HVAC is not a new market, but it is changing and, in some regards, re-inventing itself. The vibrancy, variety and sheer size of AHR Expo showed off the newest and best the industry has to offer.
‘Better Way to Heat and Cool’
Electronics highlighted the benefits of inverter systems -- "a better way to heat and cool" -- at their press event at AHR Expo. Despite the advantages, HVAC contractors are pushing back at the new, less familiar systems. The industry is at a "crossroads."
Inverter systems have variable-frequency drives that control the speed of the compressor motor, enabling lower power consumption – operating at a partial load as Innovation is alive and well in the HVAC marketLG opposed to a full load. For example, an inverter system may use only 20 amps compared to 90 amps for traditional systems. The systems are quieter, too. There are also now inverter systems for ducted systems – "the space in between that nobody is talking about". New "hydro kits" can also extend the benefits of the systems, providing radiant floor heat or the ability to melt snow from a driveway.
LG Electronics also introduced a new line of IP-based controls, aimed at the 97% of commercial buildings that are 100,000 square feet or less, many of which don't have building automation systems. The controller can be used in lieu of integrating with third party systems, which can add costs. They also are introducing predictive analytics that can consider multiple conditions over time and then predict things that may happen, such as maintenance requirements.
The company also emphasized the benefit of LG as part of a range of products the company provides for the home, from OLED televisions to appliances to robotic vacuum cleaners. There is an opportunity for all the devices to be connected to an LG panel and "drive the experience."
Monitoring Indoor Air Quality
Airthings was a new exhibitor at AHR Expo, located off the beaten path among the high-numbered booths. Even so, the company had a great show with “enormous interest,” said Oyvind Birkenes, CEO. Airthings has an indoor air quality monitoring system, with a battery-operated, wireless sensor as the main component. There Some new products on display demonstrated genuine ingenuityare actually seven sensors inside the device, monitoring radon gas, CO2 level, temperature, humidity, VOC levels, pressure and ambient light.
The device can be easily mounted on the wall and provides data every 5 minutes, which is sent to the cloud to be analyzed. The cloud system provides an overview of data, which is customizable. Users can set notification levels and/or download air quality reports. The system can also be integrated with building management systems (BMS) or other dashboard displays. A hub can manage up to 50 of the sensors for larger systems, in effect, a fully independent local network. Birkenes said the device provides a “disruptive” upsell opportunity for various platforms.
Cooling Towers Making a Comeback
A new era of cooling towers includes products that are modular and built on a smaller scale for tighter locations, says Neal Walsh, HVAC Business Manager, Baltimore Aircoil Company. “We’re turning the concept of cooling towers on its head,” said Walsh. The new concept leverages the energy efficiency advantages of cooling towers, while opening new applications to the technology.
The modules of the product can be put in place by a forklift, and it is less than half the size of a traditional cooling tower. Up to six of the devices can be installed in A new era of cooling towers includes products that are modular and built on a smaller scale for tighter locationsa row with a control panel. Low water usage enables the system to be flushed and refilled once a day – no expensive water treatment needed. In all, it is less expensive to install and maintain, and could be installed inside a building, on a roof or anywhere there is space. The product is popular with school districts, which seek to avoid refrigerants. The new design is driving a “resurgence in popularity” in the market, said Walsh.
Plastic Pipes with Easy Waterproof Sealing
Uponor displayed pipe systems made of PEXA (cross-linked polyethylene) plastic, featuring “crosslinking thermal memory.” The pipe returns to its original shape when heated. It is available in ½-in. to 4-in diameters for residential or commercial installations. A special tool can be used to expand the pipe to accept a fitting, and then the pipe returns to its original shape when heated to create a water-tight seal without glue or solvents. The pipes can be used for radiant heating applications, and Uponor offers “roll-out” mats (pre-assembled configurations of pipes) for easy installation. Through a partnership with a Serbian company, the company also now offers polypropylene pipe for larger applications.
|There was plenty to see and appreciate at AHR Expo in Orlando|
SPVU Systems with Greater Efficiency
Bard offers “single-package vertical units” for commercial applications in space-confined systems, whether the application is equipment cooling or “creature Many products demonstrated at AHR are also big in the education marketcomfort,” said Paul Quigley, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. The factory-sealed systems ensure greater durability for mission-critical applications, such as telecommunications, data centers, etc. Bard’s products are also big in the education market (especially portable classrooms).
Their line has been completely redesigned and reconfigured by Bard’s engineers; they have replaced nine major product families (and 10 million product iterations) with just two categories. The new models meet the Department of Energy’s 11EER minimum energy conservation standards for Single Package Vertical Unit (SPVU) air conditioners and heat pumps – a 22 percent increase in efficiency. They can also remove 35% more humidity than other units. The new systems use recycled denim for insulation (instead of fiberglass).
Leveraging the Benefits of UV-C
UV Resources highlighted the use of UV-C spectrum light for HVAC applications. They have a germicidal lamp system that uses UV-C to penetrate the HVAC coil to eliminate microbial buildup. It keeps coil surfaces, drain pans, air filters and ducts free of organic buildup and works better than pressure washing or chemical treatment.
The company also displayed a germicidal UV fixture that can be wall-mounted at 7 feet or higher in a room. Special louvers direct “germicidal irradiation” at an upward and outward angle and create a zone of UV-C to kill germs and minimizes the dosage in the lower area of the room. It's useful in doctors’ offices, public buildings, etc.
LG Components’ New Compressor
LG Components launched a new product – a fusion compressor (hybrid) that merges the best of rotary systems and of scroll technology. Durability-improving innovations include a more sensitive vacuum prevention device and a stronger, stress-tested discharge reed valve that withstands the harsh operating conditions posed by refrigeration applications and limits excessive sound levels. It is compatible with multiple refrigerants, including R-404A, R-507, R-407A, R-407C, R-448A and R-449A; the compressor has a capacity range of 1-6 HP