The AHR Expo (International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition) announced the winners of the 2023 AHR Expo Innovation Awards. Each year, winners are chosen in ten industry categories to represent the most innovative products and technologies set to hit the market in the year ahead.
“The awards program experiences growth year on year,” said Show Manager Mark Stevens. “This is a direct correlation to just how fast our industry is growing through innovation. The awards are a key indicator of how HVACR is being called upon to solve worldwide issues at a rapid pace. We aim to highlight this innovation trajectory and honor those that are pushing the bar to create real solutions to difficult problems.”
The Innovation Awards draw hundreds of manufacturers who are designing new and never before seen solutions or improvements upon existing products and technologies launching into the marketplace in the coming year. They encourage exhibitors to submit new products and technologies for recognition via review and selection by a panel of third-party judges comprised of distinguished ASHRAE members. Entrants are evaluated based on overall innovative design, creativity of the product or service offered, product or technology real-world application, as well as overall potential market impact.
“We are thrilled to celebrate this year’s winners as well as to continue to champion innovation among our industry professionals,” continued Stevens. “In the last few years, HVACR has taken on a wider audience outside of our direct industry stakeholders. It is refreshing to welcome an understanding of the value HVACR brings to the world in essentially every factor of daily life. Manufacturers on the AHR Expo show floor are challenged to continuously innovate and adapt as the built environment around us changes, and you’ll see them meeting this charge head-on in Atlanta.”
The Innovation Awards program serves as an annual metric for year-to-year industry development and growth, as well as a forecast of the marketplace in the upcoming year. While the Awards officially recognize only a select few, the show floor is a robust example of how manufacturers are growing the industry in an exciting way.
“AHR Expo would like to formally congratulate each of our 2023 AHR Expo Innovation Award winners, as well as our finalists and all our entrants, for their continued leadership and contribution to HVACR,” said Stevens. “We look forward to seeing each of you on the show floor in Atlanta, as well as where you’ll lead us in the future!”
The 2023 AHR Expo Innovation Award Winners and finalists were selected in ten industry categories, including building automation, cooling, heating, indoor air quality, plumbing, refrigeration, software, sustainable solutions, tools and instruments, and ventilation.
Copeland Compressors and Condensing Units: Copeland ZPSK7 scroll compressor
The Copeland ZPSK7 scroll compressor is a product line of 1.5 – 5-ton two-stage compressors ideally suited for residential and light commercial HVAC applications. When a partial load is needed, bypass ports inside the compression chamber open which partially unload the compressor. This allows the compressor to achieve 65% capacity, thereby consuming less energy at light loads and avoiding costly stops and starts which use more energy. When demand increases, the modulation control valve is activated, sealing the bypass, and shifting capacity to 100%. The ZPSK7 two-stage compressor can run at lower capacity without stopping, ensuring air continues flowing over the coil and the filter.
Finalists: Dorin USA, Mikrofill by Stuart Turner.
Chemours: Opteon XL41 Refrigerant
Opteon XL41 is a non-ozone depleting, low global warming potential refrigerant replacement for R-410A in residential and light commercial air conditioning, and scroll chiller applications. This innovative product maximizes the benefits of the transition to HFO refrigerants while minimizing the impact of the transition. Opteon XL41 provides a 78% reduction in GWP from R-410A, while remaining compatible with all R-410A residential and commercial applications and lubricants. This greatly reduces the re-design effort for OEMs, and reduces the learning curve for the technicians in the field.
Finalists: Copeland Compressors and Condensing Units/Emerson, Fujitsu General American Inc.
The Copeland ZFW variable speed scroll solution includes brushless permanent magnet (BPM) motor-based scrolls and variable frequency drives (VFDs) targeted for low-temperature, stationary refrigeration applications. The variable speed scroll provides better efficiency, precision, flexibility and reliability, while Copeland variable frequency drives, EVM/EVH Series complement Emerson compressors and controls. It has double the capacity of a fixed-speed compressor of the same size while providing a 20–30% efficiency improvement. With vapor injection technology and a speed range of 1,000–7,000 rpm, it offers unparalleled levels of control, while reducing cycling rates and greatly improving reliability. Optimized for use with new Copeland EVM variable frequency drives, the combination offers cutting-edge levels of performance.
Finalists: Danfoss, MATELEX.
SmartD Technologies: SmartD Clean Power VFD
SmartD's Clean Power Variable Frequency Drive changes the motor control landscape. By delivering a clean, sinusoidal signal it reduces motor system losses by up to 40% and extends motor lifetime in a compact footprint that can be deployed without ancillary filters. The SmartD VFD integrates wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors into its multi-level inverter architecture and combines them with patented modulation algorithms to produce a pure-sine wave electrical signal without the need for external filters. WBG semiconductors have intrinsic characteristics that make them more efficient: on-state losses are 10-80% lower and switching losses are 9 to 30 times lower than standard IGBTs.
Finalists: ECM PCB Stator Technology, Lennox International Inc.
Caleffi Hydronic Solutions: Caleffi 536 Series PresCal HP Piston-type Pressure Reducing Valve
The only direct-acting pressure regulating valve in North America with true piston operation, the PresCal HP family ensures stable, high-precision water pressure control while withstanding severe inlet pressure or punishing downstream water hammer. It’s perfect for staged pressure control or demanding applications that are fraught with extreme pressure fluctuations. Instead of using a flexible, rubber diaphragm separating the high-pressure and low-pressure chambers inside the PRV, the PresCal HP uses a durable piston design. The high-range model serves as a first-stage PRV in a two-stage application. The low-range model serves as a second stage, or as a stand-alone PRV for punishing pressure spikes.
Finalists: EasyFit Isolator, Viega LLC.
Indoor Air Quality
BELIMO Americas: Room Sensor
Belimo room sensors accurately measure temperature, humidity, dew point, and CO2 with or without an ePaper touch display. Integrated Near Field Communication (NFC) provides easy field adjustability, commissioning, remote display capabilities, and troubleshooting even without power. These sensors are maintenance-free and provide long-term reliability for a comfortable room environment. Non-powered configuration allows customers to set these room sensors up before being installed in the field, eliminating technician frustration as the sensors can arrive on site fully configured and ready to communicate. Select models offer BACnet, Modbus, or MP-Bus, which enhances communication and reduces installation, cables, and terminal connections.
Finalists: AirGreen, Particles Plus Inc.
Taco Comfort Solutions: System M
The ultra-efficient System M consists of a sleek, whisper-quiet, inverter-driven outdoor heat pump that can be up to 4x more efficient than a gas furnace. The outdoor heat pump seamlessly integrates with Taco’s exclusive indoor HydroBox to provide a complete system with just six pipe connections needed. System M is a radically innovative air-to-water heat pump system that provides comfortable, efficient heating, cooling, and plenty of domestic hot water. A true plug-n-play appliance, its packaged design makes installation less intrusive; no refrigerant or gas lines are needed. System M seamlessly integrates with almost any high-efficiency heating and cooling system and is perfect for both new construction and existing HVAC systems.
Finalists: Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US, Trane.
Tools & Instruments
NAVAC Inc.: BREAKFREE POWER FLARING TOOL
NAVAC NEF6LM BreakFree Power Flaring Tool yields accurate, hassle-free tubing flares in a fraction of time compared to traditional flaring methods. Designed to perform reliably in harsh environments, NEF6LM also allows one-button, one-hand operation. The tool is equipped with a high-performance rechargeable battery that makes over 100 flares per charge. NAVAC BreakFree Power Flaring Tool NEF6LM delivers a fully automatic flaring operation and provides the ultimate quality of flares that an excellent experienced technician could achieve in years to be delivered simply by pressing a button. This greatly improves the efficiency and accuracy of tubing works and greatly reduces the refrigerant leaks in HVAC systems.
Finalists: Airthings, Onset - HOBO Data Loggers.
Cielo WiGle Inc.: Cielo Breez Max
Cielo Breez Max (Max) is the industry's first true smart thermostat for mini-split, window and portable air conditioners. It is loaded with an AI-based engine to auto-detect AC type and model number. Backed with AWS cloud, Max is universally compatible with any brand or type of ductless air conditioner. It works with a 5V adapter or can be hard-wired through 12/18/24 volts AC. It can also be powered with 12/18/24 Volt DC. All Cielo Breez Max are secured with TLS1.2 to authenticate and encrypt data securely when transferred over a network. Max is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, SmartThings, IFFTT and Siri shortcuts.
Built for mechanical engineers, the loadmodeling.tool quickly and automatically establishes peak cooling and heating loads to design and right-size the mechanical system using the EnergyPlus engine. This web-based tool supports cove.tool’s goal of providing the solutions needed for the AEC industry to unlock productivity and solve the climate crisis. One of the most revolutionary aspects of the loadmodeling.tool is that it is web-based, which presents a new opportunity for mechanical engineers as the majority of their tools are only available via desktop platforms that haven’t evolved much in the last few decades. Being web-based, the tool can be accessed anywhere, including results, which means large files aren’t having to be transferred or shared manually.
Finalists: HVAC Solution Inc., Rep Order Management (AccuQuote).
Funds raised from the entry fees of the Innovation Awards competition will be donated to the Atlanta College and Career Academy (ACCA), an Atlanta-based technical high school. More information to follow on AHR Expo’s work with ACCA and our investment into the future workforce of HVACR.
Registration for the 2023 AHR Expo is free through Feb. 4, 2023, and can be completed on ahrexpo.com.