New products and technologies at the 2012 AHR Expo stress added value for end users.

Daikin McQuay drew a big crowd to its booth at the 2012 AHR Expo in Chicago. Photo courtesy of AHR Expo

While attendance was certainly the talk of the 2012 AHR Expo held in late January at McCormick Place in Chicago, an equally great buzz was generated by the many new air-conditioning, heating, and refrigeration products and technologies on display.

One of the overarching themes to come out of AHR Expo, which drew a record 58,000 attendees (exhibitors and visitors combined), is how manufacturers are developing products and technologies aimed at giving the end user a better understanding and more control. With commercial and industrial budgets remaining tight and owners searching for any type of savings, this makes sense. Here’s a quick look at some of the new products and technologies at AHR that are sure to attract the attention of plumbing and mechanical engineers.

Geofinity showcased its Orb touchscreen system-control platform, which won an Innovation Award in the Building Automation category. The Orb features a commissioning agent providing text-based, multilanguage-capable notifications on a LCD screen. End users configure their settings for individual components such as the compressor, fan and high/low pressure switches. Combined with the electric heat economizer, any system can control four stages of heating.

Lochinvar’s Crest condensing boiler comes in five models ranging from 1.5-million to 3.5-million Btu/hr. Each comes with the Smart Touch operating control system. Photo courtesy of Lochinvar

Water heaters/boilers

Many companies displayed their latest in water-heating technology. Lochinvar showcased its Crest condensing boiler, which comes in five different models ranging from 1.5-million to 3.5-million Btu/hr. All models feature the Smart Touch operating control and fire-tube technology. Crest earned an 2012 AHR Expo Innovation honorable mention award.

The company also displayed its Strato-Therm+ solar thermal storage tank, which earned an Innovation Award in the Green Building Products category. Strato-Therm+ offers full functionality of a solar thermal storage tank, an indirect water heater and a hydronic buffer tank in a single unit, saving space for the end user.

WaterFurnace advanced upon its 3 and 5 Series water heaters with the new 7 Series geothermal heat pump. The 7 Series introduces the new InfiniSpeed technology, a variable-capacity compressor for higher performance and quiet operation.

The 7 Series fits right in with giving users a better knowledge of a product’s performance through the use of Aurora Controls. The control system provides advanced diagnostics, shows sensor faults, while lockout histories can be closely watched. The 7 Series also has a “Black Box” function that comes with a standard SD memory card slot to store performance data.

Laars added the Mighty Stack volume water heater and the NeoTherm LC high-efficiency boiler to its product line. The NeoTherm saves space and is 94% thermal efficient, while operating at 1 million Btu. The direct-vent, sealed-combustion boiler features an ASME stainless-steel heat exchanger with low 10-ppm NOx emissions.

The Mighty Stack is a volume water heater with an 80-gallon storage tank with 199, 300 and 399 MBH sizes fueled by natural or propane gas. The light commercial unit has 83% thermal efficiency, meets low-lead requirements and has a removable upper boiler piece to make handling significantly easier.

Rheem’s H2AC rooftoop unit with eSync Integration Technology can unite an HVAC and water-heating system for better energy efficiencies. The unit is ideal for restaurants and will take waste heat from the HVAC system, normally sent into the atmosphere, and use it to heat water. If the restaurant needs air conditioning and hot water, the unit switches from a refrigerant-to-air to a refrigerant-to-water system.

Daikin McQuay had its new Rebel commercial rooftop unit and SmartSource Water Heat Pump on display. The Rebel delivers 60% to 70% energy savings with an industry-first variable air volume heat pump unit down to three tons. The Rebel is the first packaged commercial system that uses variable heat pump technology with a hybrid fuel source (gas and electric) and is available between three and 15 tons.

South Korea-based manufacturer LG presented its Multi-V VRF systems. VRF technology minimizes losses found in the typical HVAC system. LG has an air-based and water-based VRF system available for installation. The water-source system is AHRI-certified and comes with a 24.0 IEER. The air-source system also is AHRI-certified and has a 21.8 IEER.

Laars’ Mighty Stack volume water heater has an 80-gallon storage tank with 199, 300 and 399 MBH sizes fueled by natural or propane gas. Photo courtesy of Laars

Other AHR eye-catchers

Viega had its MegaPressG system on display in Chicago. MegaPressG installs schedule 5 through schedule 40 black steel pipe in sizes 1/2-in. to 2 in. The system makes secure, watertight and airtight connections in less than seven seconds. More than 200 fittings are available for the system, which is designed for fuel oil and natural gas applications and is ideal for industrial and commercial settings.

Standex Electronics has a new line of flood prevention switches to protect HVAC systems. The low-voltage switches come with a magnetic reed switch, and will function well in commercial designs. The switches come in tee, elbow and bracket models with many different fittings.

Taco’s new Viridian high-efficiency wet-rotor commercial pump can decrease energy usage by 80% compared to a standard-size pump. The variable-speed operation is fully automated with Web-style controls and capacities up to 385 gpm.

NextAire introduced a multizone gas heat pump with a programmable thermostat that controls the indoor unit. Fan operation is set by the position on the “On-Auto” switch and the mode of occupancy.

Rheem’s H2AC rooftop unit with eSync Integration Technology is ideal for restaurants and will take waste heat from the HVAC system, normally sent into the atmosphere, and use it to heat water. Photo courtesy of Rheem


ClimateMaster’s Tranquility Rooftop Series geothermal heat pump is available in 3- to 20-ton units and can introduce a fixed amount of outside air year-round. The TRE models surpass ASHRAE 90.1 efficiencies and are made for a wide range of source water temperatures. The units are usable for closed-loop or ground-source closed-loop systems.

Synex Controls offered the ModSync Boiler Sequencing System - a control platform that can be utilized with existing boilers. It allows end users to customize any type of boiler, such as condensing, noncondensing and steam, in many commercial buildings or apartment complexes. The system also features inSite remote monitoring - an annual subscription service which allows Synex engineers to look at the system offsite and make recommendations on how to optimize performance and efficiency. The ModSync system was put into place at a school in Minnesota with eight-year-old boilers. The school reported 35% savings after the installation.

NIBCO’s S-1810 (fixed orifice balancing valve solder) and T-1810 (fixed orifice balancing valve threaded) improve flow measurement accuracy with + or – 5% from 100% to 25% open. Both are made from dezincification-resistant brass body, bonnet and trim.

For more AHR coverage, including videos from the show floor, visit the website