Stepping into the terminals of the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, attendees of this year’s AHR Expo were instantly reminded that they were in the city hosting Super Bowl LIII. Between the bright signage and looming construction projects, members of the air-conditioning, heating and refrigeration industry likely felt right at home.
From expo nightlife hosted at some of the city’s leading hotels and museums to access to Georgia World Congress Center’s estimated 3.9 million sq. ft. of exhibition space, Atlanta was an impressionable return for the expo after two decades. During the three days of the show (Jan. 14-16), 45,078 people walked through the exhibition hall and attended educational sessions.
Following are some highlights that Plumbing Engineer magazine gathered at the show for our community of plumbing, heating, cooling and piping pros!
As expected, many exhibitors launched new products at this year’s expo. Bradford White introduced its Infiniti K Series of tankless water heaters. The offering features a built-in internal recirculation pump, up to 10:1 modulation, venting lengths that can vent 2-in. or 3-in. PVC or polypropylene up to 280 ft. long and scale reduction technology that provides improved performance, longer life and lower maintenance costs. A key feature of the tankless water heater is its STEADISET technology, which keeps water consistent and virtually eliminates “cold water sandwich” with no internal buffer tank. This product will be available for orders in 2019.
LAARS launched its updated electric boiler that was developed based on demand for low emissions: ELECTRA-THERM. Popular in solar applications and areas such as the Pacific Northwest and Canada, this offering turns a large boiler into an instant water heater, thanks to controls technology. The boiler features built-in digital temperature control with outdoor reset capability and multi-boiler staging control, access to all circuit breakers from the front of the unit, a 30 or 125 PSI pressure relief valve option and an SME H Stamp heat exchanger vessel. The product will be available for orders by the end of the first quarter of 2019.
Leak detection was a theme at Rheem’s booth after receiving customer feedback for this feature. It’s new Prestige combination boiler is a new addition to the company’s expanding high-efficiency product portfolio. With its compact design, the combi-boiler frees up space without sacrificing performance. Energy Star-certified and at 95 percent AFUE, the offering is estimated to be 15 percent more efficient than standard boilers.
Raypak attendees saw a flashy preview of its redesigned look and size for its XVers condensing fire-tube boiler with what it called a “concept car.” The new version will be smaller than the current offering while still offering installation flexibility, easy commissioning, optimum seasonal efficiency and long-term reliability. The boiler will be available for order by the end of the second quarter of 2019.
Viega spotlighted its MegaPress XL Stainless offering and introduced its new Branch Connector Kit. The kit features fittings that are currently available in 3 to 4 in.; more variations will be available for order by the summer. Overall, the kit offers a new way to create branches from main runs or install instrumentation onto existing piping.
Grundfos introduced its TPE3D twin-head inline pumps. The two pumps fit within the same footprint of one pump and include two electric and one hydraulic connection. With one of the most efficient circulators, it can be set up with one pump as an emergency backup for the other, or use of both at the same time. It features building automation system integration through its CIM card, offering cost savings for realistic data connection and an algorithm that calculates data and estimates flow rate. The pumps are available for order this month.
Product Line Expansions
Niles Steel Tank spotlighted an offering that is not new to the market but is new to their tanks: single and double-wall Power Plate heat exchangers. The exchangers are for commercial facility domestic water applications and designed to provide a high rate of heat transfer while protecting against leaks and cross-contamination. This update will allow the company to enter markets including dairy and green rooms.
Navien’s booth focused on its new, patented addition of stainless-steel heat exchangers to the NFB Series. Innovation and ownership have been key strategies for the company recently. The heat exchanger showcases how the company has reinvented fire-tube technology from the ground up. A key feature of the product is its elimination of high-stress-point welds. And its built-in hardware to connect a boiler system pump and optional NaviLink Wi-Fi remote control speak to the company’s interest in system design and approaches.
Uponor announced that its ProPEX press adapters are now offered in copper. The adapters connect ASTM F1960 PEX expansion connections to 1/2-in. to 3-in. copper press piping systems. The offering is an answer to the industry’s desire for flameless solutions that make hybrid PEX-to-copper connections fast and easy. The adapters reduce overall project timeline, do not require new tools or processes and are backed by a 25-year transferable limited warranty.
Holdrite focused on its Firestop System. In 2019, the line of Firestop Sleeves will be fully expanded to include caulks, no-hub fitting and the Testrite system for pressure testing. Traditionally, the sleeves have been known for safeguarding property from water damage and mold while protecting against fire, gas and smoke spread. The new system will expand on this.
Bosch spotlighted its Buderus line of SSB boilers that are offered for residential, light commercial and heavy commercial. Focusing on the second generation of the boiler, the company spotlighted how having two in an application is ideal for heat and hot water servicing in commercial applications such as hotels and hospitals. Each SSB industrial boiler has two fully independent heat exchangers that can be operated individually. Their innovative design allows for up to four boilers to be cascaded on either side without additional purchased venting parts or accessories.
Victaulic spotlighted its new solution for CPVC pipe joining. The offering for valves and couplings allows the company to cover plastic, stainless and copper. The solution will change how engineers and contractors join plastic pipe in HVAC and potable water systems.
From Alexa compatibility to virtual reality, the connected world of the Internet was at the forefront of this year’s expo. At the Watts booth, the SentryPlus Alert system was the tech focus. The flood protection system detects potential hazardous conditions, shuts down water supply and issues multi-channel alerts for action items. The first round of order shipments goes out this month.
Mestek spotlighted the HEATNET 3.0 controls software used on its products. The online version of the software can be accessed on any browser and broadcasts data every minute, allowing engineers to watch their design in action. Because the software is outgoing data only, security has been attractive to financial institutions and military projects.
Armstrong Fluid Technology unveiled its Active Performance Management tool. The tool delivers real-time insights allowing for informed, data-driven responses to changes in load and system performance. By learning patterns and then being able to predict them, the goal is for the software to help optimize pump and system performance. A key feature is the ability to predict and prevent cavitation in pumps.
Technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and building automation control (BAC) was among many of the trends that the AHR Expo predicts will be the focus for exhibitors over the next year. Other trends include alternative refrigerants, job force replenishment and recruiting into the HVACR industry and whole-building systems operations.
More broadly, the AHR Expo also foresees that HVACR’s role in new markets will be a focus; specifically, cloud integration and climate-controlled systems in health/wellness and food production.
There is much to follow in anticipation of the next AHR Expo that is scheduled to take place Feb. 3-5, 2020, in Orlando, Fla.