An anticipated 65,000-plus plumbing-heating-cooling engineers, designers, contractors and more will come together Jan. 22-24 in Chicago for the 2018 AHR Expo, which show management says is already set to be the largest show on record.

The event, held at McCormick Place, brings new products, technologies, educational sessions and networking opportunities to PHC professionals across the country.

“Pre-registration is on a positive trajectory and we are optimistic for an excellent turnout in Chicago,” AHR Expo Show Manager Clay Stevens says. “There will be 12 acres of exhibit space, making the 2018 show the largest ever in AHR Expo history — 7% larger than the previous record.”

What’s new

While the format of the show itself is not really changing, there is an increased emphasis on products, technology and education this year, Stevens says.

“There will be more groundbreaking and award-winning new products that are on the cutting-edge of energy efficiency, building automation, indoor air quality, environmental responsibility and more,” he says. “There also will be a 10% increase in the number of educational seminars offered in the convention center.”

Manufacturers are bringing their latest, greatest products to AHR and are finding new ways to catch attendees’ attention and keep them engaged.

“We are adding more videos and product animations,” Caleffi Director of Product Management and Technical Support Kevin Freidt says. “Customers like these and they make for interesting conversations.”

“Daikin’s exhibit will showcase our latest technology and demonstrate how we’re applying innovation to create the most effective solutions for each unique environment,” Daikin Applied Director of Marketing Strategy Julie Carver says. “Attendees will have a chance to speak with Daikin experts and executives on the latest industry trends and technological advancements.”

Uponor plans to showcase more real-life applications this year.

“We will be discussing commercial vs. light-commercial structures and how PEX piping systems offer specific solutions in both of these applications,” Uponor Light Commercial Segment Senior Manager Stan Sveen says. “In addition, we will be highlighting our newest BIM content solution with UNIFI Connect, allowing global architectural firms, engineering firms, contractors and operators accurate and efficient access to our Autodesk Revit library of products.”


Industry trends

While technology is a major theme at the event, energy efficiency continues to be the No. 1 trend across the board, Stevens says.

“If there were to be one major theme for the products on display, it would be energy use,” he says. “That includes high-efficiency equipment, energy [heat] reclamation, waste heat use, limiting heat loss, renewable energy sources, controls and methods that lead to efficient operation.”

Stevens adds: “The variety of different types of products on display, if anything, is growing. Products that have been well represented on the show floor in the past will continue to have strong representation in 2018, such as indoor air quality and building automation and controls. Two other product categories that appear to have a growing presence on the show floor are low-GWP [global warming potential] refrigerants and medical facility applications.”

Connectivity also will be a major trend at the 2018 show.

“We see more wireless and web-based electronic products such as ‘smart’ thermostats,” Freidt says.

Carver adds: “We know the integration of the Internet of Things continues to trend for customers. Solutions that give unprecedented visibility to energy expense make for a compelling business case for our customers.”

The labor shortage and its effect on the industry is also a hot topic at the 2018 AHR Expo.

“We are noticing product trends that are in direct response to mega trends in the industry — labor shortages, energy savings and intelligent solutions,” Sveen says. “We’re seeing products and systems that are making it faster and easier to do things, all while keeping high-performance standards and meeting tight budgets and scheduling deadlines.”


Maximizing the show

For first-time attendees and show veterans alike, Stevens says the best way to maximize one’s time is to plan ahead.

“To arrive at the AHR Expo in McCormick Place without any advance planning would be a mistake,” he says. “There is so much to take in — it can be overwhelming. I strongly recommend that every show attendee, prior to their arrival, visit and conduct a search for the products they want to see, exhibitors they want to visit and educational sessions that cover subjects of interest. The free MyShow Planner will create a personal agenda that attendees can take with them to the show via the Official AHR Expo app or on their laptop.”

Sveen also says having a plan is critical when visiting the show floor.

“Creating a pre-show plan is critical to having the most positive experience,” he says. “First, clarify the challenges your business is facing, then map out the show to focus on those vendors that can best address those challenges. Using the show’s website and app are helpful resources for understanding what is available and making your plans.

“Also, be open to learning something new. Engaged, customer-focused vendors have great insights. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn when you simply ask a question.”


What’s next?

As the AHR Expo continues its steady growth, Stevens says they will work to continue offering “more exhibits, more new products, more innovative technology and more educational opportunities” to all attendees.

“Although the core value of the show that attracts an ever-growing number of attendees hasn’t changed, its size and scope has grown considerably — by 34% — since the 2013 event,” he says. “More short courses and seminars are being offered to meet the need to understand basic equipment as well as high-tech products and their applications.”

Over the last five years, interest in the growing array of products on display has expanded visitor attendance by more than 15%, Stevens adds.

“The continuing growth of the AHR Expo is indicative of a strong PHC industry that is constantly developing new and innovative products that will meet tomorrow’s needs by creating healthier and more comfortable indoor spaces using less energy and without sacrificing our environment.”

Carver anticipates the show will only continue to grow as manufacturers capitalize on the opportunity to interact directly with customers and key stakeholders.

“The Expo attracts more companies and innovators, which is engaging the industry in new conversations and opening up the opportunity to explore what’s beyond traditional HVAC,” she adds.

For registration and additional information regarding the 2018 AHR Expo, visit