UPDATED Feb. 8, 2018 — Rack it up as another historic AHR Exposition. This favorite North American event for the heating, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration industries occupied record square footage of 534,080 sq. ft. at Chicago’s expansive McCormick Place. That greater size very likely resulted in record mileage walked by show attendees, but that’s what you sign up for when you come to this celebration of the newest products in HVACR.
The final numbers as provided on Feb. 7 by International Exposition Co.:
- Total Attendance (including exhibitor personnel) – 72,075, up from 68,615 attendance at the 2017 Las Vegas show)
- Total Visitor Attendance – 49,995, up from 48,568 (2017)
- Exhibiting Companies – 2,155, up from 2,118 (2015)
- Exhibit Space (SF) – 534,080, versus 500,159 (2017)
- Countries Represented – 169, compared to 165 (2017).
“The excitement generated by this year’s record crowds of attendees and exhibitors was palpable from the show floor to the training sessions,” said Clay Stevens, manager of the AHR Expo. “Whether you are designing a building’s HVACR system from the ground up, or want to make your existing spaces warmer, cooler, quieter, smarter, safer or more comfortable and efficient, the AHR Expo is the only place where you can see and experience it all, learn from the industry’s top experts and stay at the forefront of innovation.”
The 2018 AHR Expo was convened amid an atmosphere of positivity. A pre-Expo survey of exhibitors found 62% of those exhibitors surveyed were optimistic about business prospects in 2018. Another 27% said they think 2018 will be an “excellent” business year.
The AHR Expo was another comprehensive presentation of products and instruction. An astounding number of seminars were offered throughout the event’s first two days. The enterprising contracting business owner who brings one or more associates to the show can share the duties of walking the floor and visiting the seminars.
(In the above photo collage: From left to right in each row, starting at top:
Row 1--Emerson party at Chicago Soldier Field; Abhi Chakravarty, Emerson, describes features of the Sensi Wi-Fi thermostat; Will Jones, Danfoss reviews features of in-field service app;
Row 2--Spencer Fuller, JCI leads a chiller seminar; Emerson party group from Latin American Division at Emerson's Soldier Field party; Mark Dunson, Emerson;
Row 3--Dave Thomas, Sporlan; Brian Morrison, LENOX; Danfoss Turbocor TTH, Product of the Year;
Row 4--Steve Hale, Danfoss; HEAVY TRAFFIC!; Bruce Marshall received Dan Holohan Lifetime Award from Taco;
Row 5--Daikin AWV chiller; Super Bowl preview at Seton booth; Mark D'Agostino, leading Hunter Industrial into commercial HVAC fan arena;
Row 6--One of the best show perspectives, from the Rheem booth; Russ Tavolacci, left, and guests at the Samsung welcome event.)
The AHR Expo kicks off a new year that holds much in store for the residential and commercial contractor. Residential products of interest include still more and smarter mini-split products for homes, additional connectivity through smarter thermostats, newer and more efficient split systems and improved chillers, rooftop units and VRF/VRV units for buildings. And don’t forget the tools.
The VRF/VRV revolution could perhaps be positioned as the year’s biggest development, as major split system manufacturers have established product marketing agreements with the leading mini-split companies. This is a classic “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” scenario, which will offer many options to contractors who want to remain loyal to certain brands, but yet not miss out on mini-split installation opportunities. (See Bob Mader's editorial HERE.)
Among the innovative mini-split products I viewed was Samsung’s Wind-Free™ units for residential and commercial applications, which utilize thousands of micro holes to gently disperse cold air. Stand beneath the WindFree cassette, and you can’t tell it’s on.
“The HVAC industry will experience new technologies, connectivity, and mobile support from Samsung this year. The AHR Expo is a valuable launchpad for us to reach a large audience of service professionals, engineers, and design build contractors,” said Russell Tavolacci, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Samsung HVAC America.
“We’re doing more than just showcasing Samsung’s innovation; we’re providing attendees the opportunity to realize the Samsung experience, and most importantly the value it brings to them,” he said. Samsung team also held a fine welcome event Monday night at the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry.
Daikin North America LLC (DNA) has announced the launch of the new VRV LIFETM system, designed specifically for residential applications, whether single family, townhomes or condominiums, due to its very compact outdoor unit style.
The VRV LIFE heat pump system combines several styles of both ductless and ducted indoor models to accommodate design flexibility, depending on the end user’s preference. DNA’s latest VRV LIFE offering includes a ducted style furnace and evaporator coil system combination commonly applied throughout North America. Up to 10 indoor units can be connected to a single outdoor VRV heat pump to heat or cool, with high heating capacities well below 0F (-18C).
But the split system still dominates, and some brands have made improvements for 2018 — some required, others that are planned product enhancements.
Rheem is the first manufacturer to have a residential gas-fired furnace that is certified by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) for Rule 1111. SCAQMD created the California mandate to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) in natural gas-fired, fan-type central furnaces from 40 nanograms per joule to 14 nanograms per joule.
The new Rheem® Ultra Low NOx gas furnace has met the expected reduced NOx emissions and will decrease NOx emissions by 65 per cent from the current standard, a significant milestone that Rheem sources say is an illustration of Rheem’s leadership and commitment to manufacturing the most environmentally friendly and responsible products.
The new YORK® Affinity Variable Capacity Residential Systems feature inverter-driven variable capacity technology, which dynamically adjusts capacity and airflow, unlike conventional systems that simply turn on or off. Air circulates more precisely and quietly, maximizing comfort while reducing energy consumption. The systems are ENERGY STAR® Most Efficient qualified, featuring up to 20 SEER YXV air conditioners and YZV heat pumps that can reduce energy costs by as much as 50 percent compared to older 10 SEER units.
The new Johnson Controls Metasys 9.0 Building Automation System offers substantial enhancements to the Metasys product line, including two new IP/Ethernet-based controllers and user interface features that make finding critical information and resolving issues easier than ever. The Metasys system also debuts a new, cloud-hosted optimization platform that proactively analyzes building data and an exclusive first look at new integration capabilities.
Verasys from Johnson Controls is the first plug-and-play solution that integrates heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment and controls. Designed for light commercial buildings, this controls system provides a simple user experience with configurable controllers that seamlessly connect to a vast array of mechanical equipment, controls and sensors, without requiring any special programming tools.
“By expanding our overall portfolio of HVACR, controls, automation, fire protection and security products, we can now offer our customers a broader range of connected buildings solutions,” said Bill Jackson, president of global products, Building Technologies & Solutions for Johnson Controls, who was busy dividing his time between displays by JCI’s many divisions.
The LG MultiSITE Communications Manager is a compact and powerful controller that allows third party integration of an LG HVAC system into any Building Management System via BACnet® , LonWorks® and Fox protocols.
Perhaps Johnson Controls' biggest announcement was the release of its new YZ magnetic bearing centrifugal chiller. JCI says this is the first chiller fully optimized for ultimate performance with a next generation low-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant—R-1233zd(E). Chosen for its efficiency, safety, availability, low environmental impact and cost, nonflammable R-1233zd(E) has an ultra-low GWP of 1 and is readily available from refrigerant manufacturers.
The YORK® YZ chiller uses an integral, variable speed drive and advanced magnetic bearing technology that features a single moving assembly suspended in a magnetic field that does not require lubrication.
For the commercial market, LG is debuting redesigned Heat Recovery Units as well as the expansion of the line to include 6-port and 8-port models. For residential and light commercial applications, LG is launching a new 5-ton single-phase VRF heat pump unit to complement the currently available 5-ton single-phase heat recovery unit.lubrication.
LG’s new rooftop dedicated outdoor air systems (RT DOAS) offer building owners and facility managers the ability to seamlessly implement a complete end-to-end LG HVAC system. Available now in a wide range of capacities, LG RT DOAS units are available up to 70 tons and are configured to be easily compatible with LG VRF systems and LG MultiSITE™ controls.
The new LG RT DOAS systems are capable of delivering a maximum airflow (CFM) of 18,000 and feature a robust two-inch foam-injected double wall construction increasing energy efficiency and unit durability for a longer, more sustainable lifespan. For added design and construction flexibility, the LG RT DOAS units are configurable with more than 190 options to fit nearly any design specification.
LGRED° (Reliable to Extreme Degrees) heat technology, is designed to optimize cold climate performance. Products featuring LGRED° deliver superior heating performance: 100 percent of rated heating capacity down to 5F and continuous heating operation down to -13F. This increased performance not only delivers heat when traditional models are unable to, but also operates with incredible efficiency; making products with LGRED° heat the ideal heating solution for colder regions of the country. LGRED° heat technology is currently available on the 9K and 12K as well as the new 15K and 18K Btu/h capacities of the Art Cool™ Premier single zone systems and along with the Multi F and Multi F MAX multi-zone systems.
Also new from LG and receiving a debut at AHR Expo 2018 are 13 more models of indoor units that are now Wi-Fi capable and controllable using the LG SmartThinQ app.
Emerson announced an important thermostat innovation. The next evolution of Emerson’s nationally-recognized smart thermostat — the new Sensi™ Touch Wi-Fi thermostat — combines proven smarthome technology with a color touchscreen display and sleek, minimalist appearance that will be at home in any modern living space.
The Sensi Touch Wi-Fi thermostat — along with an updated version of the classic Sensi™ Wi-Fi thermostat — is now compatible with smarthome management platform Apple HomeKit™, bringing simple and secure control using the Apple Home app on iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch, or voice using Siri. Abhi Chakravarty, product leader, provided demonstrations of the new Sensi throughout the long show days.
RIDGID® was showing the many features of the new RP 241, the next generation inline press tool that is 25 percent smaller and 10 percent lighter than its predecessor.
RIDGID says the RP 241 is an ideal solution for pressing copper, stainless steel, black steel and PEX in hard to reach areas, its lightweight, compact design also helps minimize fatigue and maximize productivity.
The RP 241 comes standard with a 12V battery that provides over 140 crimps per charge - more crimps than contractors need per day. It weighs 7.4 pounds, with battery and jaws, and at 15.8 inches is 12 percent shorter in length than the prior model. The tool easily connects to a RIDGID Link, app, which provides data on total number of crimps, service history and more.
Other innovative features of the RP 241 are 180-degree rotation—allowing contractors access difficult to reach areas; and a bolt sensor detects if the jaw is properly inserted into the tool, helping to ensure a quality press. In addition, it is compatible with all prior RIDGID compact series jaws and attachments.
Danfoss announced that 15 million TR6 thermostatic expansion valves are now currently in operation throughout the United States. The TR6 was designed specifically for the US residential air-conditioning market and with plans for it to be manufactured according to Danfoss’ strict quality standards.
LG Compressors believes rotary compressors are making a comeback. Where before there was a very small margin of error, LG’s unitary duty rotary compressor is among the first modern compressors to perform like a scroll.
The price for LG rotary compressors is right, too. LG’s new, two-stage modulating compressor means contractors can find a middle price point for performance just shy of that of a variable speed compressor.
Then there’s reliability, which LG sources say is so important in the compressor market. The threat of callbacks and a shortage of trained technicians means that manufacturers have to double-test for reliability. LG’s compressors are extensively lab- and field-tested to minimize those
Over multiple AHR shows, Sporlan has been promoting the benefits of the ZoomLock crimping tool. The ZoomLock Roadshow was brought alive at the Sporlan booth, with regular demonstrations of the ZoomLock PZK crimping tool. Learn more about the Roadshow at zoomlockroadshow.com.
Sporlan sources say "The ZoomLock Advantage" includes:
• 10-second leak-proof
• No brazing and no flame.
• No fire watch required.
• 40-60% time and cost savings per job.