IAQ products proliferate; clean air more than a trend

April 7, 2000
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DALLAS, TX — Lest there be any doubt, indoor air quality is now a firm part of the heating and cooling equation.

Gone from a mere catchy acronym 10 years ago, IAQ is now addressed and incorporated by many contractors and manufacturers in both existing and new products.

Under the IAQ heading, no less than 180 listings appeared in the International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating (IAHR) Expo show directory. These cover a wide range of products and services, from air duct cleaning to air filters, humidifiers to building automation systems, and chemical coil cleaners to chillers.

Bob Allen of Video Aire International said things are going well and demand is strong. His company started out as a two-person operation (that’s Bob and his wife Melinda) several years ago, and has grown steadily.

Allen firmly believes in the necessity of visually inspecting an air duct as you clean it, and the industry has responded with an exploding demand for this type of sophisticated equipment.

Peter Haugen of Vac Systems Industries said another side to this coin is in robotics. He said an air duct cleaner can now get the necessary duct-cleaning robotics in a package for less than $10,000.

It beats trying to clean the system solely with long wands, extensions, and multiple access holes — or trying to climb inside the system yourself.

The company also introduced what it says is the first project manager software exclusively for air duct cleaning, available March 1. It allows you to quickly and easily create estimates, and includes project management reports such as proposals, project logs, profit-and-loss reports, etc.

Rotobrush showed its “Roto-Vision” active video inspection system, which is illuminated, with full digital color, for IAQ as well as plumbing, pest control, building inspections, and other applications.

Some of the other familiar air duct-cleaning equipment companies were absent from the show. No-one seemed to know why.

CO detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors and alarms are a relatively new product. They are riding the coattails of the success in smoke alarms, going from essentially zero penetration in the residential market not long ago, to where they may be almost standard equipment in every home.

Also, CO detectors will most likely be a requirement for all new homes in the forthcoming ASHRAE Standard 62.2 (The News, Feb. 21).

Earlier concerns for false alarming are apparently resolved, and the industry appears confident the latest technology is reliable and accurate. CO is also detected via hand-held instruments, making it easier for service techs to diagnose a cracked heat exchanger or leaking flue.

Invensys, a company which showed products under several large and well-known brands (including Robertshaw zone controls, dampers, and mercury-free mechanical thermostats), showed carbon monoxide detectors from its Firex Division.

UEI showed its CO71 CO-measuring instrument along with digital multimeters, thermometers, and refrigerant leak detectors. Spokesperson John Tunstall said he frequently gives seminars for contractors on the importance of using a CO monitor in their work, and instructions on how to use one.

After a seminar, he said, contractors realize how this is now an “instrumental” tool in hvac service work. This one emits an audible alert above 35 ppm, signaling a dangerous CO level. This model came out three months ago. It is powered by a 9-V battery and sells for around $225.

The company also showed its new DT200 dual-input, digital thermometer featuring two thermocouple inputs and a triple display.

TIF (a part of United Dominion Industries) showed a new CO analyzer with an unusual feature: It talks to you. Not just a gimmick, this comes in handy in dark areas and saves you from looking at a display or fiddling with the lighted screen controls.

The 8500A supercedes the Model 8500 and is so new, it’s not available until April. The price, at $399, is the same as the older model it replaces, although it has more features (including a warranty that has been doubled to two years). It got a good reception at the show, according to TIF’s Adam Seymour.

Fluke showed a CO meter with a new auto processor and a sensor special to that unit that needs less calibration. It has an automatic backlight for dark areas and an automatic shutoff feature to save battery life. It’s been out for a year and a half and sells for about $279.

Sales are good, said a spokesperson, but there is still a huge potential out there for contractors who do not yet own a CO detector or meter. Utilities buy them in large numbers, he pointed out; then contractors see what the utilities are using and want them too.

The company has had several other new products all within the past year, including thermometers, a new 89 multimeter described as the “Cadillac” of multimeters, and sophisticated datalogging devices.

K.D. Engineering showed its SGA91A CO gas analyzer, along with its KD451, which goes beyond CO monitoring and is described as “a self-contained, hand-held indoor air quality monitoring system.” It also reads CO2, temperature, and relative humidity, along with other optional electromechanical sensors for ozone, oxygen, and NO2.

Similarly, TSI Inc. launched a line of IAQ-Calc meters. Model 8732 measures CO; models 8760 and 8762 simultaneously measure and datalog multiple parameters.

The 8760 measures temperature, humidity, and calculates dewpoints, wetbulb temperature, absolute humidity, and percent of outside air.

The 8762 adds an electro-chemical CO sensor said to be ideal for measurements made at boiler rooms, loading docks, and parking garages.

These instruments are essential for pinning down the causes of Sick Building Syndrome.

Sidebar: Products for commercial ventilation applications

Ventilation for commercial structures is every bit as important as for residential — perhaps more so, since many commercial buildings lack an adequate form of natural air infiltration.

Greenheck showed its minivents capable of moving 350 to 400 cfm for commercial ventilation.

The company also offers an expanded lineup of louvers to protect air intake and exhaust openings — an IAQ feature, but also an architectural one when tastefully specified.

Tuttle & Bailey, another of the commercial ventilation specialists, showed working model lab diffusers like the “Tensor” unidirectional flow diffuser. IAQ is more than just an important factor in laboratories; it can be essential to keeping workers from breathing in noxious gases.

These systems are also important in keeping contaminants in the room from getting into the supply air and finding their way into other parts of the building. A new cleanroom laminar flow diffuser directs fresh air directly from the ceiling to the floor, to avoid mixing — something you try to avoid in other more general commercial applications where you want mixing to occur.

Thermo Manufacturing showed a new product that incorporates almost any five-bladed ceiling fan with a fan box and an air diffuser, for better air circulation within a room. It can be applied in restaurants, churches, hotels, malls, office buildings, and production-assembly areas.

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