ECR International introduced the freewatt system, which spokesman Kurt Doiron said provides heat and also generates electricity.

CHICAGO - New furnaces that were showcased at the 2009 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) seemed to feature smaller footprints and quieter operation. Others on display highlighted multi-fuel use and back-up generators to ensure uninterrupted - and energy efficient - operation.

Central Boiler( highlighted its new Maxim Model M250 outdoor wood pellet and corn furnace. The furnace can be installed up to 500 feet away from a house and works with any existing heating system. A water jacket surrounds the furnace firebox, and heated water is circulated to the home or building through insulated underground tubes. Heat is conveyed to the structure’s forced-air furnace or hydronic system through heat exchangers or direct circulation. The M250 features a large top loading hopper door that is lockable and allows easy access for filling. The furnace is over 92 percent efficient and can heat an entire home as well as provide domestic hot water.

ECR International( introduced the freewatt system, which provides heat and also generates electricity. The freewatt system is comprised of a Honda MCHP power module, a 95 percent efficient ECR furnace or boiler, a communicating thermostat, a HI module, and system control module. Spokesman Kurt Doiron stated that when heat is needed, the freewatt thermostat signals the controller, which then engages the Honda engine-generator to produce the first 12,000 Btu of heat. As a result, 1.2 kilowatts of electric power are cogenerated by the freewatt system. When heating demand is greater than what the initial stage of heat can provide, the computer signals the furnace or boiler module to supplement the engine’s heat output, matching the heat load requirement.

Johnson Controls Inc.( featured its redesigned York® Affinity™ 33-inch, variable-speed modulating gas furnace with an electronically commutated motor (ECM). The furnace achieves up to 98 percent Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). In redesigning the furnace line to the 33-inch size, Johnson Controls reduced the units’ height by 7 inches and incorporated a variety of features, making the furnace the ideal solution for applications where space is limited, including closets, attics, and basements with a low ceiling. Plus, operation of the Affinity is quiet - as low as 47 decibels (dB).

Napoleon Heating and Air Conditioning( displayed its new dual-fuel, hot-air furnace, which uses fuels made from biomass products (e.g., corn or pellets) to economically heat residential and commercial buildings. The 80 percent efficient furnace uses renewable and sustainable energy resources and is greenhouse gas neutral. The furnace is designed and built to heat structures through a forced-air duct system. Representative Roger Gripton said that any wall thermostat can be used to control the fuel-feed system in order to provide constant temperature. The 10-cubic-foot hopper provides continuous heat for five to seven days on a single loading. When the fuel is low, the controller flashes and a low fuel buzzer indicates the need to refuel.

Nordyne( featured its new iQ Drive modulating furnace, which can modulate between 15-100 percent of capacity to exactly meet a home’s heating demands. It reevaluates the heating load every 60 seconds and adjusts its modulation accordingly, maintaining very tight temperature control. This technology is available in the Maytag, Frigidaire, Tappan, NuTone, and Westinghouse brands and can work with any split system air conditioner. The iQ Drive controller offers complete system monitoring, service notifications, error codes, and onboard diagnostics saving the contractor time on service calls. In addition, the controller allows the iQ furnace to modulate down to as low as 15 percent of capacity.

Publication date:02/16/2009