What Happened in Vegas, Shouldn’t Stay There

The AHR Expo was a great show, and we’ve got your recap.

It was a record-setting year for the 2017 AHR Expo, which took place Jan. 30-Feb. 1 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. In total, 68,000 attendees and 1,968 exhibiting companies took over more than 500,000 square feet of space. The show was by far the largest and best attended expo in the Western states.

The editors of Plumbing Engineer walked the floor to find the newest products and greatest innovations. We also attended some informative seminars and sessions, and wrapped it all up for you in this review. 

Here are just a few takeaways worth noting: 

The Watts Co.’s Aerco boiler line announced its new Benchmark Platinum high-efficiency boiler to a packed event at its booth. Two features stand out about the new boiler. The AERtrim feature ensures the boiler fires efficiently. It monitors the actual conditions of the boiler and self-adjusts its combustion process to make sure the system is operating at optimal levels. The AER Remote Monitoring function allows for simple maintenance and troubleshooting. The related onAER function is an app-based monitoring system that provides contractors or facilities managers with an overview of the system and unit performance. With remote monitoring, installers can resolve issues quickly and prevent more serious matters from developing thanks to email alerts and monthly updates that report detailed unit performance.

Armstrong Fluid Technologies’ entire pump line from 1 hp to 1,250 hp now will featured enhancements in connectivity — the Internet of Things. Providing extended intelligence, wireless connectivity, new integrated Armstrong controls and on-board web services, these technological advancements can mean energy savings of 30 percent or more, according to the company.

For example, the company’s new Tango Parallel Sensorless Pump, ranging from 1 to 10 hp, the new line of Tango pumps is a completely integrated offering designed to further reduce the first installed costs as well as ongoing lifetime costs. Also, the company’s Pump Manager is a web-based service that leverages the embedded intelligence and connectivity to provide sustained performance and significantly enhanced reliability. 

Aquatherm North America announced the addition of its new SDR 9 MF RP product line to its Blue Pipe options. SDR stands for standard dimension ratio; 9 is the pipe thickness (or SDR); MF is multi-layer faser (Aquatherm’s proprietary thermal expansion-reducing fiberglass extruded layer); and RP stands for raised pressure.

The piping utilizes the latest advances in high-performance polypropylene-random (PP-R) resin technology for improved performance and capabilities in applications such as high-pressure risers, high-temperature heating and district heating, and industrial process systems where a high safety margin is required.

Aquatherm, in partnership with McElroy, also introduced the industry’s first Polypropylene Hot Tap Tool. Previously, if a contractor needed to add a new branch line, it would require shutting down and draining the piping system.

The design completely seals the system, drills through the pipe wall and retracts cutout pipe pieces, leaving in place a fusion-welded outlet fitting and ball valve. It is designed to provide branch lines ranging from 1 to 2 inches nominal diameter on Aquatherm PP-R piping systems. As with the Aquatherm fusion outlet fittings that have seen widespread use, the hot tap outlet can be used on larger main pipes that are at least twice the nominal size of the branch line.

Bell & Gossett featured an updated intelligent pump controller and variable frequency drive. The TECHNOLOGIC series, an intelligent pump controller with two advanced controller, includes a Start-Up Genie designed to cut on-site setup and commissioning time in half. The Genie easily guides installers through ten preconfigured applications, preset pump protections and input/output options. The company says setup time can take 15 minutes.

Bell & Gossett also highlighted a new tool for HVAC system designers to specify the most accurate and efficient centrifugal pumps based on their true performance within a hydronic system. PLEV, which stands for Part Load Efficiency Value, is a calculation based on the partial load that a pump will experience most of the time it’s in operation in a commercial building HVAC system.

Bosch’s booth focused on the “invisible comfort” inside a home. Its new tankless water heater series, the Greentherm 9000 Series offers nine models for high-efficiency domestic hot water in residential or commercial applications. It benefits both the homeowner and the installer, by being ultra-efficient and effortless to install. Premium model in the series —  the Greentherm 9900i SE — was just recognized as an Innovation Awards Honoree at CES 2017. The booth also included the first-of-its-kind NOx gas tankless water heater, which delivers hot water on demand, a user-friendly connected interface and easy installation.

Bradford White Water Heaters announced additions to its large volume electric water heaters, thanks in part to its subsidiary, Niles Steel Tank. In addition, its ElectriFLEX HD (for “Heavy Duty”) offers contractors and distributors alike the added value of commercial water heaters that can be converted in the field or warehouse. Phase, voltage and wattage can be easily changed.

hilmor unloaded a full arsenal of 15 new products at AHR that included the Digital Adjustable Torque Wrench, a tool made specifically for tightening flare nuts on mini-splits. It features a digital display of the torque value, an LED light indicator and an adjustable head that accommodates flare nuts from 1/4-inch to 11/16-inch. Also on display was the Valve Core Removal Tool that features a magnet built into the back of the plunger. The tool allows technicians to remove valves for unrestricted flow. hilmor’s Vacuum Pump helps HVAC-R professionals work hands-free and efficiently and includes built-in durable hoist points on the handle. It can be attached to a hilmor carrying strap. When it’s time to pull a vacuum, technicians can connect a hose to the 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch port (1/2-inch only on 5 and 9 CFM pumps), open the leak-proof blank-off valve and crack the gas ballast to start evacuating. The new pumps can pull a system down to 25 microns. The dual-stage pumps are available in 3, 5 and 9 CFM models. 

Rinnai’s AHR display conveyed the focus on making transitions from older technologies to tankless as painless as possible. The Modular Hybrid Water Heating System is a tankless rack system, powered by Rinnai’s C199 condensing tankless heaters, paired with a 119-gallon storage tank and recovery pump skid system. The system has a lifespan that is significantly longer than that of traditional commercial tanks. 

The Corner Wall-Mount Tankless Bracket System can hold two tankless units. Designed with commercial applications in mind, the system can replace medium or large tank water heaters and free up the space with two C199 tankless units. It also features a vertical manifold design to pipe into existing piping.

The Control-R Module was also a big hit. This wireless recirculation demand system attaches easily to the tankless water heater by a two-wire interface. Benefits include on demand water, Title 24 Compliance and wireless control via smartphone through a downloadable app. For even more convenience wireless buttons are available to interact with Control-R. Buttons are mounted near the point of use (kitchen faucet or bathroom sink).

Rehau introduced its new Everloc+ compression-sleeve fitting system designed for use with RauPex UV shield PEXa pipe in potable water applications. The system comes complete with both polymer and lead-free brass fittings in diameters up to 2 inches as well as the Everloc+ power tool, powered by the DeWalt 12V MAX battery platform.

Everloc+ connections are made using a two-step expansion and compression process, both performed by the Everloc+ power tool, which is specifically designed for assembling Everloc+ fittings. First, the pipe is expanded, then the sleeve is actively compressed over the pipe and fitting for a secure connection that is immediately ready for pressure testing.

The Everloc+ in sizes up to 1 inch will be available this month with diameters in 1 ¼ to 2 inches expected to be on the market in July.

Taco Comfort Solutions launched the 0015e3, the only ECM circulator on the market with three settings. With three easy settings, the 0015e3 replaces all three-speed hydronic circulators in its class. Its variable speed, high-efficiency ECM motor also uses up to 85 percent less electricity.

The 0015e3 is the solution for contractors who want the durability, efficiency and simplicity of other Taco ECM circulators, but prefer the option of three easy settings. The circulator is ideal for hydronic systems zoned with circulators or zone valves, and provides three maximum-feet-of-head pressure settings to match system requirements — LOW (5 feet), MEDIUM (10 feet), or HIGH (18 feet), with a maximum flow of 16 gpm. 

The company also introduced the Parallel SelfSensing Pump Controller designed to easily stage individual pumps in a parallel configuration for optimal pumping efficiency. Parallel pumping enables the use of smaller pumps, reducing purchase and operating costs, as well as the amount of space needed in the mechanical room. The Parallel SelfSensing Pump Controller is capable of operating with up to three Taco SelfSensing pumps in parallel with a fourth as a standby. The controller provides connection for a single building automation system based on several automation protocols. The module comes with one RS-485 port, and supports BACnet or Modbus protocols.  

Victaulic’s exhibit portrayed the inside of a mechanical room, showcasing new additions to the PHA system solution, including vibration isolation pump drops, pressure-reducing valve stations, the RG5200i intelligent roll grooving tool and the award-winning Style 870 rigid coupling for saturated steam and condensate piping. Victaulic took mechanical room design to the next level by supplying the booth with a 3D virtual reality headset. Visitors had the unique opportunity to walk around mechanical and fire protection pump rooms and interact with systems and piping in ways that reach beyond 2D drawings. Visitors were able to access and examine every detail of an individual room as well as scale second and third levels and eventually end up on the roof a building. This technology is instrumental for designers and contractors who seek preciseness in their projects, saving time and potentially thousands of dollars in placement and diagnostics. 

Viega highlighted a new line of ball valves, including zero-lead valves in bronze and stainless steel. One of the newest editions to the line is a press-fitting-to-hose-thread valve that comes with a cap and chain for the hose side. The bronze ball valves are full port and designed for potable water applications. The ball valves are available in ½-inch and ¾-inch press sizes and ¾-inch hose sizes. Other features include a lockable metal handle, stainless steel ball and EPDM sealing element.

Viega also rolled at its new ProRadiant Insulated PEX Barrier Piping System designed specially for snow melt applications. According to the company, the piping’s insulation cuts heat loss compared to competitive lines. A “smart” membrane between the outer casing and insulation enhances and maintains the insulation value, keeping operating performance high throughout the pipe’s service life. Meanwhile, the bonded system eliminates water from penetrating and no special considerations for thermal expansion are required. The LDPE jacket resists any impact during installation. Finally, the UV-treated piping requires no special tools for assembly and is available in long coils or custom coil lengths

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