NEW YORK - Nine companies have been named as winners of the sixth annual AHR Expo Innovation Awards. All nine companies will be recognized at the awards ceremony at the Javits Convention Center on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 1 p.m. in the New Product Technology Theater A, located in Hall 1D on Level 1. Winners will also receive placards to display at their booths during the show, as well as an etched crystal award to be displayed at their company’s headquarters.

The awards are jointly sponsored by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE); the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI); and International Exposition Company (IEC), producers and organizers of the AHR Expo.

“We’re very proud of the impact the awards have on the HVACR industry,” said Clay Stevens, president of IEC, Show Producers and Managers. “In addition to calling attention to how companies can turn technology into useful products, it provides scholarships to young people who want to enter the industry.”

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. A panel of judges consisting of ASHRAE members selected for their exceptional knowledge of the industry and its products reviewed and evaluated all submissions. Product entries were judged for innovation, application, value to user, and market impact.

Building Automation Winner: AccuValve; Tek-Air Systems

Building Automation Award

Tek-Air Systems Inc.

The AccuValve™ by Accutrol LLC is an airflow control valve used in labs and critical environments for accurate air flow measurement and control. This new product for commercial applications incorporates Vortek air flow measurement and is used in labs for pressurization control, fume hood exhaust control, and supply and exhaust airflow tracking for tight room control.

The AccuValve is different than other products on the market, said general manager Tom Checksfield, because it measures airflow for true closed loop valve control.

“The AccuValve also operates at a very low pressure drop so it can be used for low pressure drop design and static pressure reset strategies. It really allows users to fine-tune their environments.”

While most other valves were designed to be pneumatic and then converted to electric, the AccuValve was designed for electric operation from the beginning. Its unique design offers fast response time, and unlike a conventional blade damper with a center shaft and full open rotation of 90 degrees, the AccuValve has two control surfaces that modulate through 45 degrees.

There are no straight duct runs required before or after the valve, making its application very simple. The design also provides large turndown capability, allowing a large range of applications. Engineers and contractors will like the AccuValve, said Checksfield, because all the parts are accessible from the front of the valve, simplifying installation requirements.

The AccuValve works well in a green or sustainable design, as it requires less fan energy, so the size of the air handler can be minimized. The smaller fan requirement also reduces operational costs of the building in which it is installed.

Cooling Award Winner: 23 SEER air conditioner with iQ Drive; Westinghouse

Cooling Award


The 23 SEER air conditioner with iQ Drive™ is an ultra-efficient system available with a compatible air handler, or furnace and coil. The system features fully variable speed compressor technology and variable speed indoor and outdoor motors and provides variable cooling capacity as needed modulating over a 5°F temperature range.

The system operates near the nominal rated capacity at the thermostat setpoint and modulates as the temperature difference between setpoint and room temperature changes. The system may run at additional 18 percent capacity to provide rapid cooling, and a built-in humidity control activates humidifier equipment (if supplied) and reduces blower speed if indoor relative humidity is greater than setpoint (default set at 60 percent).

“The iQ Drive provides the highest level of efficiency available to a consumer in a split-system air conditioner as well as unprecedented humidity control and the industry’s lowest noise levels, for total home comfort,” said Allan Reifel, vice president of research and development, Nordyne. “The system continuously monitors and modulates capacity to match the cooling requirements and provides an industry leading 23 SEER operating efficiency.”

The air conditioner is designed to make servicing easier for the contractor, with access panels provided to all controls and the compressor from the side of the unit. A removable top grille assembly allows for ease of service from the top without disconnecting the fan motor leads. The heavy-duty brushless motor requires no maintenance and is completely protected from rain and snow.

“iQ Drive introduced cutting-edge, electronic-speed control technology to the U.S. unitary residential air conditioning market,” said Reifel. “The inverter-driven compressor system has established an industry standard other manufacturers will strive to achieve in the near future.”

Green Building Award Winner: Evergreen 23XRV; Carrier

Green Building Award

Carrier Corp.

Evergreen 23XRV with Foxfire Technology (300 to 550 ton) is the industry’s first and only water-cooled screw chiller that comes equipped with a variable-frequency drive (VFD), which means the robust operation of a screw compressor is combined with extremely efficient variable speed performance. The chiller can be applied in both new and retrofit processes, and comfort cooling applications. It is typically placed in demanding applications where robust, flexible operation and efficiency are highly valued.

The Evergreen 23XRV with Foxfire Technology is unique from all other water-cooled chillers because it provides unprecedented flexibility and efficiency simultaneously,” said Tom Franaszek, product business manager.

“The positive displacement compressor can overcome the same amount of lift (head pressure) at any speed. Therefore the chiller can provide an extremely large operating range and at the same time provide extremely efficient performance at any point within that operating range. This gives the owner, engineer, and contractor maximum application flexibility and energy efficiency.”

That flexibility provides engineers with more universal solutions and fewer site-specific changes and may open the door for new system solutions not previously possible. The Evergreen 23XRV with Foxfire Technology has a small footprint, is easy to disassemble, and the condenser doubles as a refrigerant storage tank, making it both easy to install and service. Furthermore, it is completely field serviceable and uses chlorine-free R-134a. In addition, building owners can rest easy knowing that the chiller can accommodate significant changes in weather, building load, and operating conditions, said the company.

Heating Award Winner: Acadia; Hallowell International

Heating Award

Hallowell International

The Acadia™ is an energy-efficient, eco-friendly, air-source heat pump that can keep a home’s indoor temperatures steadily comfortable even when outdoor temperatures reach as low as -30°F. The Acadia features the patented Opti-Cycle™ technology, which allows for efficient and effective operation as the temperatures fall.

There is nothing else like the Acadia on the market, said Duane A. Hallowell, president and CEO. “It contains revolutionary patented technology that has changed the industry. The Acadia cuts home heating and cooling costs by up to 70 percent, lessening dependence on fossil fuels and helping consumers have a smaller carbon footprint. Additionally, the system is composed of industry standard components that HVAC installers are already using in the field.”

The Acadia was formally launched in October 2007, and the split system heat pump can be installed in both new construction and retrofit projects. The system is paired with a multiposition air handler, which allows for installation in a variety of applications. While most Acadia units are installed in residential buildings, the system has been used in light commercial applications as well.

Unlike geothermal technology, there is no digging or trenching required during installation, however the Acadia is just as energy efficient as geothermal technology and costs approximately one-third less according to the manufacturer. Hallowell adds that the Acadia is affordable to install and requires minimal upkeep. “As a combined heating and cooling system, consumers need to invest in a single unit, rather than a heating system plus an air conditioner,” he said.

IAQ Award Winner: Humiditrol; Lennox International

IAQ Award

Lennox International

The Humiditrol® dehumidification system, which is designed for use with both air conditioning and heat pump systems, provides humidity removal without overcooling the space in one integrated, easy-to-use system.

The Humiditrol system is used in both commercial and residential applications and can be used in new or retrofit systems. It was designed to be matched with three-phase S-Class™ and T-Class™ 3- to 5-ton R-410A commercial air conditioning or heat pump split systems. The system is especially useful in climates or locations where humidity is a concern and seasonal temperatures can be mild but humid. Under these conditions, a typical HVAC system does not remove enough moisture to reach a personal comfortable level or desired indoor air quality humidity level.

“The Humiditrol system makes it easier than ever to improve humidity levels and reduce the spread of allergens,” said Jeff Hartnett, product manager for commercial split systems.

“High humidity levels, rather than room temperature, activate the dehumidification cycle to help improve indoor air quality without overcooling. Removing moisture successfully helps businesses control the growth of mold, mildew, and dust mites, and improve overall comfort levels which can lead to improved productivity levels.”

This system is easy to install when it is added to a Lennox split system, noted Hartnett, requiring only the addition of a thermostat that can monitor and control humidity and a Lennox variable-speed furnace or air handler. No additional sensors or controls are needed.

“With this system, engineers and contractors are able to give their customers excellent control over their humidity and comfort, as well as seven-day programming capability for up to four time periods per day, thanks to the inclusion of the ComfortSense™ control.”

Refrigeration Award Winner: Copeland SystemPro condensing unit; Emerson Climate Technologies

Refrigeration Award

Emerson Climate Technologies

Copeland® SystemPro® condensing unit is a fractional horsepower unit that comes with factory pre-installed, pre-sealed and factory-tested system protection devices (EK filter drier and HMI moisture indicator). It is ideal for use in refrigeration applications such as reach-in cases, food prep tables, and under-counter units where space is limited.

These condensing units significantly reduce the amount of on-site supplies, materials, tube prepping, and brazing necessary for contractors during installation. Unlike other condensing units, which require four braze joints for installation, the Copeland SystemPro requires only one. This feature preserves the integrity of the entire unit while saving the contractor time and materials. And, because the filter drier and moisture indicator braze joints are factory installed, sealed, and tested, fewer leak inspections are needed.

“The Copeland SystemPro condensing unit provides the contractor a solution for tight, troubled areas where brazing is difficult,” said Bob Labbett, vice president of marketing for distribution services.

“By having system protection devices installed and tested at the factory, this product reduces on-site installation time, giving the contractor more time in their day for service calls and installs. In addition, the faster installation time with this product also enhances the contractor’s reputation because it reduces system downtime for the end user, saving the end user money.”

The wholesaler also benefits from reduced costs and fewer warranty claims, said Labbett, and Copeland SystemPro condensing units offer increased equipment reliability and reduced business disruption and equipment downtime for the foodservice operator.

Software Award Winner: Estimation Digital Takeoff software; Maxwell Systems

Software Award

Maxwell Systems Inc.

Estimation Digital Takeoff software enables an estimator to perform a takeoff electronically, making the final bid faster and more accurate. The software can be used by residential, commercial, or any kind of subcontractor on new construction or retrofits. It can be used whenever an estimator needs to perform a takeoff, typically in the process of creating a bid for a potential customer.

“With its superior accuracy, Estimation Digital Takeoff helps estimators get their job done correctly the first time,” said Karl Rajotte, director of projects and controls. “In addition, since digital takeoff utilizes digital plans, it eliminates the costs associated with printing paper plans.”

Another benefit is that the View Revisions feature quickly identifies last minute changes that the contractor receives from architects or engineers. Estimators also gain the ability to graphically make edits to existing takeoffs, whether additions, deletions, or even applying factors based on job conditions. The program is easily installed either from a disc or a download from the company’s Website. Updates to the program are acquired in a similar fashion.

The software is available to all current and future Estimation product line customers.

Tools and Instruments Award Winner: zSeries wireless sensor system; Omega Engineering

Tools and Instruments Award

Omega Engineering

The new zSeries wireless sensor system provides Web-based monitoring of temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure in critical HVAC and refrigeration applications. The compact wireless end devices mount discreetly on the wall in clean rooms, laboratories, and any remote facility. The end devices transmit up to 300 feet (without obstructions) to a coordinator connected directly to an Ethernet network and the Internet. The wireless system complies with IEEE 802.15.4 operating at 2.4GHz.

The system is ideal for retrofit applications, noted Steve Hollander, general manager of the Santa Ana engineering center, as the wireless sensors can be located where it’s prohibitively expensive or impossible to run wires. “The savings in installing a wireless sensor system (vs. a wired) is particularly obvious in existing construction where the cost of running wires is significantly more than during new construction.”

The zSeries system is inexpensive, simple to install and maintain, and it doesn’t require a proprietary software application: A user can monitor and log data from any computer with a Web browser on a LAN or the Internet. The zSeries system serves Java applets to display real-time readings and charts of temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure. The user can also log data in standard data formats for a spreadsheet or data acquisition program such as Excel or Visual Basic. Omega offers a free and simple program for logging data to Excel.

The system can trigger an alarm if variables go above or below a set point that the user determines. The alarm can be sent by e-mail to a single user or to a group distribution list, including text messages to Internet-enabled cell phones and PDAs.

Ventilation Award Winner: EC axial fan; ebm-papst

Ventilation Award

ebm-papst Inc.

The five-blade EC axial fan with winglets is available from 500 mm to 910 mm in diameter (5,000 – 20,000 cfm) and can be used in any commercial application in which a large volume of air is required to flow against a relatively low resistance. Available mounting options make it suitable as an exhaust fan, cooling fan for condensers and transformers, or even as a duct fan.

A feature the company has dubbed a “winglet” creates a type of labyrinth seal between the blade tips and venturi. The addition of these winglets - combined with a blade number decrease from seven to five blades - resulted in a 10 percent aerodynamic efficiency gain and as much as a 14 dBa sound reduction without the need for tighter tip clearance or serrated trailing edges.

“The EC axial fan series was designed to provide variable air flow based on system demand without the inefficiencies or additional equipment typically required to accomplish this with axial fans driven by AC motors,” said Dr. Jürgen Schöne, research and development manager. “The efficiency improvement and substantial sound reduction resulting from the five-blade winglet design has increased the benefit of using this product.”

This product includes many user and service friendly features including choice of configuration (fan only, fan with guard, fan with full nozzle, etc.); wide voltage range; frequency independent; soft start for low inrush current; long life, maintenance-free ball bearings; and integrated overload and locked rotor protection. The end user will also benefit from using this product, said Schöne, as it has a long life, is very energy efficient, has a low noise signature, and is maintenance-free.

Sidebar: 2008 Awards Presentation

The Innovation Awards ceremony will take place at the Javits Convention Center on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 1 p.m. in the New Product Technology Theater A, located in Hall 1D on Level 1.

Publication date:01/07/2008