DALLAS - Eight companies have been named as the winners of the fifth annual International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) Innovation Awards. All companies will be recognized at a special ceremony during the 2007 AHR Expo in Dallas.

The awards presentation will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007, at 11:30 a.m., in the New Product Technology Theater A, located in Exhibit Hall A on the show floor.

The AHR Expo Innovation Awards competition is designed to encourage the development of new products that will have a significant impact on residential, commercial or industrial HVACR markets.

Sponsored by International Exposition Co. (IEC), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), the 2007 AHR Expo Innovation Awards competition sought out products and solutions that would meet today’s complex energy challenges, offer innovative designs, provide value, and have useful applications.

The panel of judges was made up of specially selected ASHRAE members who are knowledgeable about a wide variety of products. The winners of the awards are highlighted below.

Building Automation Award Winner: Lennox Industries’ Comfort Sensor

Building Automation:

Lennox Industries

The Comfort Sensor is a new product for light commercial applications that combines multiple sensing and zone damper control options in a single device. The Comfort Sensor’s primary function is as a zone temperature sensor for use with Lennox’s L Connection® Network building automation system. It was designed to enhance the functionality and performance of Lennox’s S-Class™ and L Series® rooftop units, as well as other Lennox and third-party rooftop units and split systems.

There are several versions of Comfort Sensor available that combine relative humidity and/or carbon dioxide sensing options. Zone damper or terminal box control is also optional in the same device for zoning applications. An LCD interface is available, allowing the user to easily adjust the temperature setpoint and obtain zone information. All models include a system override button that can be used to put the rooftop unit into occupied mode, or this feature can be disabled.

According to Mark Hess, product manager, commercial controls, Lennox Industries, installation of the Comfort Sensor requires only two communication wires and power to operate, making it much easier to install than comparable products. “Less wiring and only one sensing device to install helps to minimize the amount of contractor labor necessary for sensing and zone control.

“Because zone control is available in the device mounted on the wall in the space for sensing, the zone controller can be serviced in the space without entering the ceiling plenum. This is not only easier for the servicing contractor, but it’s less disruptive to the customer and their business.”

The Comfort Sensor can be used for stand-alone applications that do not require a complete building automation system. A typical application could be a small office building that requires zoning for comfort control. The intuitive user interface and simple up and down buttons make it easy for end users to customize the comfort in their space.


Emerson Climate Technologies

Cooling Award Winner: Emerson Climate Technologies’ Copeland Scroll Digital compressor

The Copeland Scroll Digital™ compressor was designed to provide infinite variable-capacity modulation without changing the speed of the compressor motor. Introduced to the U.S. commercial air conditioning market in 2003, this compressor can change capacity every 20 seconds, allowing fast response to widely varying heat loads, such as in restaurants, retail stores, and conference rooms.

Copeland Scroll Digital adds value in any application that experiences widely varying loads and requires tight temperature or humidity control. Schools are one example.

“Classrooms are occupied only during specific portions of the day, meaning the cooling load in the room varies widely with time,” said Bart Powelson, director, commercial a/c marketing, Emerson Climate Technologies Air Conditioning Division. “Precise temperature control means the room is comfortable for occupants and conducive to learning. Superior humidity control makes mold growth less likely, thereby providing a healthier learning environment.”

The simple, compact design of the Copeland Scroll Digital compressor allows for easy installation and serviceability for contractors. The compressor occupies roughly the same amount of space as a fixed-capacity compressor and can be brazed into the system. Control electronics are contained inside one compressor controller, which can be mounted inside the condenser cabinet and wired to the compressor.

The compressor controller also provides compressor protection and diagnostic value to contractors by recognizing seven different system problems, including high discharge temperature, locked rotor, contactor faults, and load voltage. Once a problem is detected, the controller protects the compressor by either scaling back maximum output or, for the most severe faults, taking the compressor offline.

The controller directs repair technicians to the root cause of a system problem via the red LED, which flashes a specified number of times to notify the technician of what fault has been detected. Diagnostic capability reduces the time required to troubleshoot problems, while compressor protection enhances reliability by stopping preventable compressor damage.

Green Building Award Winner: A.O. Smith Water Heater’s Vertex

Green Building:

A.O. Smith Water Heaters

The Vertex is a high-efficiency gas residential water heater that is 90 percent efficient. By using the Vertex, homeowners will enjoy reduced energy bills, as well as the enhanced performance that is delivered due to the increased efficiency and input.

David Chisolm, A.O. Smith brand manager, noted, “The Vertex can not only provide for the peak demand periods that most American households have in the mornings and evenings, it also can provide a continuous flow of hot water, enough to provide ‘one more hot shower.’ ”

The Vertex was introduced in April 2006, and the residential model can be used in new construction, replacement or retrofit applications. Because the product has a standard footprint, standard water connections, and standard gas connections, it can be installed as a replacement for any conventional water heater. The only modifications from a standard atmospherically vented product are the condensate lines, due to the high efficiency, and PVC venting. Both of which can be easily accommodated in most applications.

Chisolm stated that contractors will benefit from offering the Vertex because they will be able to provide higher-efficiency products to their customers to help drive down the cost of water heating while also providing a product that outperforms other water heater options. “The Vertex is the first cost-effective, mass-produced, high-efficiency condensing gas water heater available to the mass market.”

The high-efficiency technology - which existed in A. O. Smith’s Cyclone product line - was applied in a residential product to bring the Vertex to market. This product was a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Energy, TIAX (R&D), and A. O. Smith.


Empire Comfort Systems

Heating Award Winner: Empire Comfort Systems’ Mantis

The Mantis high-efficiency hearth system combines the beauty of a fireplace with the technology of a high-efficiency furnace. The fireplace includes dual burners with hot-surface ignition, hand-painted ceramic fiber logs, and a ceramic glass view window. The hot flue gases generated by the fireplace travel through a corrosion-resistant stainless steel multistage heat exchanger that captures more of the heat energy than any other vented fireplace. The exhaust is cooled down to about 120°F, so it can utilize common PVC pipe.

Designed primarily for use as a residential zone heating system, the Mantis can be installed as a free-standing unit, alone or on a pedestal, as a zero-clearance certified fireplace in a wall or cabinet mantle, or as an insert in an existing wood-burning fireplace. Because it does not require ducting, the Mantis can be installed in new or existing construction.

Since the Mantis uses PVC for its exhaust venting, installation cost and complexity are greatly reduced. When it comes to service and maintenance, the electrical and mechanical systems are accessible through a removable front panel. Even the connection points for an external thermostat or remote control system are located at the front, yet are still concealed behind the panel.

Introduced in fall 2006, the Mantis is the first and only vented fireplace system that exceeds 93 percent AFUE, noted Ken Belding, vice president of sales, Empire Comfort Systems. “It is also the first and only vented fireplace to humidify as it heats. The Mantis captures condensed water and pumps it into an evaporation tray above the fireplace. Heat and the circulation fan distribute this moist air through the room to reduce the static shocks and other effects of dry winter air.”

The Mantis comes ready to be installed as a conventional vent or direct-vent system, and both use PVC. With conventional venting, the Mantis draws in room air to support combustion and sends flue products to the outdoors. With direct venting, the Mantis draws air from outdoors and exhausts to the outdoors. Two switches on the front of the Mantis control the two burners - 9,000 Btu for the front burner, 19,000 Btu for the back burner. The Mantis works with a simple thermostat or remote control, or with a programmable thermostat or programmable remote.


Lennox Industries

The Humiditrol® dehumidification system, available on L Series® and S-Class™ rooftop units, provides intelligent humidity control for commercial buildings. This system helps ensure relative humidity levels stay between 30 and 60 percent, as recommended by the ASHRAE 62.1 guideline.

In late 1999, Lennox released the Humiditrol dehumidification system for a few select L Series rooftop units. Over the years, this option was made available to a wide variety of tonnage sizes in the L Series and S-Class product offering. In addition to more tonnage size options, the Humiditrol system has received an upgraded control system to improve dehumidification control and overall system performance.

The Humiditrol system offers independent humidity control that is separate from temperature control. This allows the rooftop unit to intelligently control humidity without sacrificing the thermal comfort of the occupants. In addition, the system has the ability to provide partial cooling and full dehumidification performance when desired. This often occurs on high humidity days that are warm, but not hot.

According to Mike Walker, product manager, commercial rooftops, Lennox Industries, the ability to customize the Humiditrol de-humidification system’s operation allows the customer to create a solution specific to their situation. “Changing the relative humidity setpoint and deadband, outdoor air reheat options, and Humiditrol dehumidification system operation parameters is critical to help ensure the best possible performance for the given application.”

The Humiditrol dehumidification system comes factory installed on L Series and S-Class rooftop units. The Integrated Modular Controller has a variety of preset Humiditrol system operating parameters for guaranteed performance. Wiring a humidity sensor to the unit allows the unit to start humidity control operation without extensive field installation or setup.

For customers who want to customize the Humiditrol dehumidification system’s operation, the Integrated Modular Controller features a three digit LED display and push button functionality to change setpoints, deadbands, and a variety of operating characteristics. The simplicity of the mechanical system along with a variety of diagnostic information available from the Integrated Modular Controller makes this option easy to service.


Danfoss Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

Refrigeration Award Winner: Danfoss Refrigeration and Air Conditioning’s ICF valve

The ICF valve station allows industrial refrigeration installers to complete projects faster and with less labor. Its single one-piece body provides ports for up to six function device modules that are configured specifically for a customer’s application and shipped to a jobsite as a complete subassembly, ready for installation into the jobsite piping or into the OEM’s products.

The modular function inserts that can be mounted on an ICF body include stop valves, strainers, solenoid valves, check valves, combination stop-check valves, and motorized or hand expansion valves. The ICF body also offers side ports for sight glasses, temperature or pressure sensors, pressure gauges, and a side exit for a drain or bypass.

Once specified, the ICF valve station is delivered fully assembled and ready to be installed with two welds. The new design features socket weld connections up to 1½ inches and components that can be individually removed for service or replacement without dissembling the entire valve station and without any welding.

The ICF valve station features a high-design working pressure of 754 psi and a low-minimum working temperature of -76°F. It is suitable for use with R-717, all common HFC refrigerants, and CO2. Standard features include zinc chromate corrosion protection and stainless steel trim.

The ICF valve station is being introduced at the AHR Expo, but it is available through Danfoss distributors. “The main benefit is that the ICF valve station allows industrial refrigeration installers to complete projects faster and with less labor,” said Brian Davis, vice president, industrial refrigeration, Danfoss. “In addition, the product underscores Danfoss’ commitment to developing innovative solutions to help customers meet the challenges of energy efficiency and environmental responsibility.”

Software Award Winner: HVAC Solution’s Pro 4.0, Design and Modeling Software. (Click on the image for an enlarged view.)


HVAC Solution

HVAC Solution Pro 4.0, design and modeling software performs the necessary calculations to design air, hydronic, and steam systems. The product can be used for commercial and residential markets, allowing professionals to create schematic drawings, schedules, and bills of materials to design and build HVAC systems.

To use the software, a user simply drags and drops intelligent HVAC objects on the screen and connects them into flow diagrams and systems. After systems are created and calculations completed, the program will automatically select equipment from the industry, e.g., Taco, Spirax Sarco, Evapco, Watts, Smith, RBI, Fulton, Twin City, Hurst, Ruskin, and TCS Fan coils, and prepare schedules for contract documents.

The software was introduced in 2001, and Joe Simmons, vice president of business development, HVAC Solution, stated that over 6,000 registered users utilize the software. “This product is one-of-a-kind. There is not any software that does what HVAC Solution does. Using our software can reduce errors and increase profits.”

Simmons noted that HVAC Solution allows a user to look at all the “what ifs” and see the results in seconds. For example, what if glycol is used? What effect will it have on piping, pumps, boilers, etc.? What if a 40-degree delta T is used? What effect will that have on pipe and pump sizes? With a click of a button, all the equipment can be selected and a bill of materials created for cost estimation.

“Our product is revolutionizing building design,” said Simmons. “Designers can now have automatic head loss and static pressure calculations, automatic pipe and duct sizing, and full psychometric calculations all linked together with a click of a button.”


Newport Electronics

Tools Award Winner: Newport Electronics’ iSE

The Newport iSE enables Web-based remote surveillance of environmental conditions including temperature, humidity, and dew point in critical HVAC applications such as computer server rooms, clean rooms, laboratories, museums, warehouses or any unoccupied facility.

This brand-new product for HVAC applications incorporates the award-winning Web-based Newport iServer technology in industrial process control instrumentation. The Newport iSE will be introduced at the AHR Expo and will be in stock for immediate shipment from Newport sales and service facilities and distributors worldwide.

The Newport iSE is a “virtual chart recorder” that records up to four years of temperature and humidity data on a removable flash card that the HVAC professional can review as needed. The environmental conditions can then be remotely monitored over the Internet with no special software, just a Web browser. The Newport iSE serves active Web pages that display and graph temperature, relative humidity, and dew point in real time. It will automatically send alarms by e-mail and text message cell phones.

Installation requires no special training or tools, and the device connects to any Ethernet network with standard cable and plugs. The power supply plugs into any a/c outlet (110-230 vac). The Newport iSE protects valuable equipment, inventory, and infrastructure in unattended rooms or facilities. A power failure, security breach, and other conditions will trigger alarms before a problem becomes a disaster.

Ventilation Award Winner: Broan-Nutone LLC’s Ultra Silent Humidity Sensing Fan


Broan-NuTone LLC

The Broan® Ultra Silent™ Humidity Sensing Fan Series features Sensaire® technology, which senses increases in moisture at the ceiling and automatically exhausts the moisture, turning off once the room’s normal humidity level is reached. Since it’s never necessary to turn on the fan, Broan Ultra Silent is ideal for problem areas in residential, institutional, and light-commercial applications. The exclusive Sensaire technology is a perfect solution for high-traffic bathrooms, or a kid’s bathroom, states the company.

Ultra Silent fans are designed to be used in conjunction with a 6-inch duct, which is being increasingly recommended by experts and important standards such as ASHRAE 62.2. Designed for easy installation and HVI-certified for performance claims, the fans and fan-light-nightlights are UL listed for use over bathtubs and showers when connected to a GFCI-protected branch circuit. Just beneath the drop-down grille are easy-to-adjust sensitivity and run-time controls. Choose the preference, set with a screwdriver, and forget it, or override the sensor at the touch of a switch.

Lynn Mantha, product manager, Broan-NuTone stated that the fans, which were introduced in October 2006, are an automated solution to fight excess humidity and mold. “Our humidity sensing fans turn on and off automatically to help prevent cosmetic and structural problems associated with excess moisture. Humidity sensing fans are ideal for anyone who leaves the house before humidity is properly vented.”

Homeowners and property managers will appreciate the fact that Broan’s humidity-sensing fans are automatic - once there is a rapid rise in humidity within the room, the fan will automatically turn on to exhaust excess moisture and turn off once the job is done.

The fan and fan-light-nightlight units feature 110 cfm, 0.9 Sones, six-inch ducting, and a three-year warranty.

Two fan-light-nightlight models are available - the QTXE110SFLT features a 42-watt fluorescent bulb, which makes it Energy-Star qualified and California Title 24-compliant; the QTX110SL features a standard 100-watt bulb. Both models feature a 4-watt nightlight.

Publication date:01/15/2007