CHICAGO — This year marks the 10th anniversary of the AHR Expo Innovation Awards, which were created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), and Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration (AHR) Expo as a way to recognize the most innovative and useful products that are displayed each year at the expo.

Entries submitted by exhibitors are judged on the basis of innovative design, application, market impact, and value to the HVACR industry and are designed to encourage new product development in 10 major categories. Winners of the 2012 Innovation Awards will be recognized at an awards ceremony during the AHR Expo, and one of the 10 category winners will be selected as the overall winner of the 2012 AHR Expo Product of the Year Award.

Building Automation Award
Geofinity Mfg. Inc.

The ORB heat pump controller is a patent-pending, integrated intelligence system that offers complete operating, monitoring, control, and diagnostics capabilities. It performs the functionality of total system management and reporting through the use of real-time data trending and analysis, whether on-site or via email or website information transfer. The brand-new product can be used in residential, commercial, or institutional applications and can satisfy new construction as well as retrofit project requirements.

“The ORB revolutionizes the future path of product development in HVAC manufacturing by demonstrating the critical nature of direct integration of intelligent controls in equipment for achieving performance optimization and enhanced system features,” said Rick Cox, president. “Smart thermostats and building automation systems claim they control equipment; however, without the direct integration of intelligent controls within the equipment, absolute confidence in system performance and optimization is impossible — the ORB is the answer.”

Cox noted that the ORB is the ultimate diagnostic tool, as it maximizes equipment efficiency and performance, while saving time in troubleshooting and servicing due to its real-time email reporting. “Equipment installation is highly simplified, as all equipment commissioning is performed via the simple, easy-to-understand start-up menu located on the ORB touchscreen. By combining a multitude of internal and external sensors to monitor every possible input and output of the system, the service technician is literally afforded troubleshooting that requires absolutely no tools or system gauges.”
End users benefit from the ORB, said Cox, as it provides real-time calculation of kWh consumption, COP, EER, and CO2 emissions. In addition, with the off-site real-time troubleshooting information provided, the contractor will know what is wrong before reaching the site. “This reduces travel time and allows the service technician to arrive with the necessary parts and tools in hand to solve any issues that can arise.”

Cooling Award
Emerson Climate Technologies

The Copeland Scroll variable speed compressor is a new innovation that achieves 60 percent capacity reduction and nearly 60 percent overspeed capability, resulting in improved system performance. The variable speed compressor is ideal for both residential and light commercial applications where efficiency and load matching are important.

“The Copeland Scroll variable speed compressor is a breakthrough in energy efficiency and comfort for residential heat pumps and air conditioners,” said John Schneider, vice president, variable speed air conditioning business. “By maintaining capacity at low ambient temperatures, systems equipped with Copeland Scroll variable speed compressors deliver hotter supply air, which is a key need for heat pumps. In addition, summer humidity control is significantly improved with up to 60 percent capacity reduction. The Copeland Scroll variable speed compressor also provides diagnostics and protection capabilities to improve ease of service and system reliability.”

The Copeland Scroll variable speed compressor is a new product that is based upon the Copeland Scroll compressor platform. Its technology enhancements include: high-efficiency BPM motor technology, scroll temperature protection, and internal oil pump technology. According to Schneider, Emerson’s patented motor control drive technology powers the BPM motor, improves overall efficiency, and protects the compressor for superior reliability.

“With the growing focus on energy efficiency, the need for variable speed technology is becoming increasingly important,” said Schneider.

“This product will give contractors more performance benefits to offer to homeowners. As part of communicating OEM systems, they are also easy to set up and install.” Homeowners also benefit, he noted, as they can save nearly 40 percent a year on their energy bills versus standard heat pump systems. In addition, with 60 percent overspeed capacity, the variable speed compressor enables heat pumps to deliver hotter supply air even at low ambient temperatures.

Green Building Award
ClimaCool Corp.

The SHC onDemand™ Simultaneous Heating and Cooling system reduces energy consumption and the environmental impact of heating and cooling equipment by harnessing energy that is already being produced but not used. SHC onDemand eliminates the need for separate heating and cooling equipment by giving each module the ability to be used for heating or cooling on demand to precisely match building loads and provide compressor run time equalization.

Primarily used for commercial new construction and retrofit applications, the SHC onDemand has extensive application versatility, noted Ross Miglio, president. “The compact footprint, innate to all ClimaCool modular chillers, maximizes piping flexibility and minimizes operating footprint. Typical applications for this product include education, government, or other facilities where simultaneous heating and cooling are required. This system can also be applied with geothermal equipment (ground or lake loops), cooling towers, or a combination. Both the heat pump and heat recovery models can provide hot water, as high as 135°F with R-410A and up to 165°F utilizing R-134a.”

The SHC onDemand system features an innovative six header design that enables indexing of any module to provide heating or cooling on demand, regardless of position in the bank. Cross counterflow achieves maximum heat transfer in heating and cooling modes and minimizes the operating footprint. The system satisfies heating and cooling demands without the use of intermodule or external header isolation valves, controls, associated logic, piping, or wiring.

Miglio added that SHC onDemand is a sustainable, renewable, and practical design that provides lower installation cost, easier maintenance, true redundancy, lower operating sound levels, and maximum energy efficiency. “By using the SHC onDemand system, end users can reduce energy costs by 50 percent or more, with significantly decreased total cost of ownership when compared to conventional heating/cooling central plants. Additionally, the SHC onDemand helps contribute up to 28 LEED points.”

Heating Award
Enerconcept Technologies Inc.

The Lubi™ solar air collector is a wall of roof-mounted solar air preheaters that is coupled to a ventilation system via ductwork. It preheats outside air by about 20˚ to 80˚F, depending on airflow, and can either be installed upstream of a roof-mounted gas-fired make-up air unit, or as a stand-alone with a make-up air fan and a mixing box for recirculating indoor air.

The Lubi solar air collector is a new product that is designed for new or retrofit industrial and institutional applications. A typical application involves the collector, a mixing box, a fan, fabric duct suspended from the ceiling, and controls. In cold climates, it heats the incoming outside air for free and destratifies the air temperature within the building. Depending on design parameters, it will cover between 15 and 50 percent of the fresh air heating load of the building. In warmer climates, it can be used to preheat combustion air, process heat, or in drying processes that use hot air.

Compared to other building-mounted solar air heaters, the Lubi solar air collector is transparent and aesthetically pleasing, noted Christian Vachon, P.E., M.Sc., president. “The Lubi collector has aluminum frames, and prior to its creation, the only choices were dark colored metals, which were hard to apply in many places. The design will please architects, and building professionals will appreciate its quick return on investment, usually within five years.”

The Lubi solar air collector is 20 to 58 percent more efficient (depending on color) than any competing product, and the solar peak efficiency reaches 81 percent, which is close to physical limits, said Vachon. “It can easily be installed by any HVAC contractor, and it is easy to integrate into the HVAC system. It has no moving parts, no maintenance, no chance of freezing, and no chance of overheating.”

IAQ Award
E+E Elektronik GbmH

The EE245 wireless transmitter features a combination of high-end sensors for humidity, temperature, and CO2. Designed for commercial applications, the EE245 is often installed for indoor air control in office buildings, museums, and warehouses.

The transmitter is easy to install and can be configured with any commercially available web browser — no additional software is required. The relative humidity and CO2 modules can be changed for maintenance purposes. The company noted that end users will appreciate the transmitter’s elegant housing with optional display that provides local indication. In addition, end users will save time and money by eliminating expensive wiring, while gaining flexibility in the selection of appropriate measurement locations.

Plumbing Award
Rheem Manufacturing Co.

The XR90 Extreme Recovery 29-gallon residential gas water heater heats water 42 percent faster than a standard 50-gallon gas water heater. It has a first hour rating (FHR) of 90 gallons, meaning homeowners get three times the amount of hot water in an hour than what the tank actually holds (standard 40-gallon gas water heaters have an FHR of 67 gallons). Once the XR90 has been depleted of its available hot water, the unit can be ready with 90 gallons of available hot water in 29 minutes.

The XR90 is a new, first-of-its-kind water heater, said Peter Reynolds, vice president and general manager, Rheem Water Heating Division. “It is unique to the marketplace, as no other 29-gallon gas water heater available today can provide more hot water, faster than a standard 50-gallon gas water heater. What’s more, the product’s engineering is unlike any other standard, gas, tank-type water heater.”

The XR90 leverages a proprietary baffle and flue design, which retains the burner’s heat longer, said Reynolds, so it is able to transfer more heat to the stored water, as the byproducts of the combustion process are drawn through the flue. The XR90 does this with a 110-vac, fan-assisted draft inducer, connected to a standard household outlet. The inducer is designed to work with a standard 3-inch or 4-inch, double-wall B vent, usually the venting that is already in place in the home.

Contractors will find the XR90 to be easy to install, noted Reynolds, as its height is 65.56 inches, but the diameter is only 17.75 inches. “The slimmer profile facilitates locating the unit in tight-fitting spaces, such as attics, utility closets and garages, as well as basement mechanical rooms. One-man installation is a practical reality, with an installer-friendly shipping weight of only 136 pounds.”

Refrigeration Award
Emerson Climate Technologies

The Copeland Scroll® K5 refrigeration compressor is designed for large refrigeration applications (7.5 to 15 hp) and can be used for low and medium temperature applications, in both stand-alone and parallel systems. The K5 can typically be found in supermarket and industrial applications, and while it can be applied as a retrofit solution, it is predominantly used on new equipment.

A refrigeration system powered by the new K5 compressor has the potential to reduce refrigeration-related energy expenses by up to 10 percent, noted Mitch Knapke, market manager — food retail, Refrigeration Division. “The K5 incorporates two important features that deliver significant system efficiency advantages. The first is variable volume ratio technology, which optimizes low condensing performance. The second is enhanced vapor injection capability for maximum capacity at low set points without having to add more or larger compressors.”

In addition, the K5 is the first refrigeration Scroll product to have advanced onboard electronics, via CoreSense™ technology. CoreSense provides diagnostics, protection, and communication capabilities to enhance system performance and safeguard the end user’s investment. The technology allows contractors to easily diagnose compressor issues, either on-site or remotely, reducing system downtime and unnecessary callbacks.

“The combination of the overwhelming energy efficiency advantages, the proven mechanical advantages of the Copeland Scroll platform — simple construction, low noise levels, and reliability — integrated onboard diagnostics, and the fact that there is no competitive scroll design in this horsepower range, makes the K5 a potential game-changer in the refrigeration industry,” said Reynolds.

Software Award
Emerson Climate Technologies

The HVACR Mobile Toolbox is designed to give HVACR contractors on-the-go access to tools and resources that will help them do their jobs quickly and more profitably. The Mobile Toolbox currently includes the following free mobile applications, with additional apps in development:

HVACR Fault Finder for electronics and compressor troubleshooting; Emerson PTPro for pressure and temperature conversion; Emerson X-Check, a cross-reference database for valves, controls, and system protectors; White-Rodgers mobile provides product replacement information for thermostats, gas valves, and HVAC controls; Emerson e-Saver calculates the annual cost savings of high efficiency systems; and Copeland X-Ref, a compressor cross reference.

“Emerson’s collection of mobile applications is designed to help contractors find solutions to common issues in the field quickly and easily,” said Scott Lanzer, manager — account sales and business development, Aftermarket Air Conditioning Business. “These free apps are developed specifically for HVACR contractors and include information that contractors would typically need to reference on a computer or in a book. Each app is designed to help contractors access information in the field quickly and conveniently.”

Emerson plans to continue adding apps to the Mobile Toolbox, creating a resource for contractors who are increasingly relying on smartphones during their business day. “As the demographics of contractors shift and demand continues to grow for trained technicians, tools like mobile apps will help a new generation of HVACR contractors stay current on advancements in the industry,” said Lanzer.

Tools and Instruments Award
Fluke Corp.

The Fluke TiR1 thermal imager is an affordable and complete thermal imaging solution that is optimized for building envelope, restoration and remediation, inspection, and roofing applications. The TR1 and TiR1 are designed to make the use of thermal imaging affordable and effective for day-to-day use by building diagnostics, HVACR, and IAQ professionals.

The TiR1 incorporates IR Fusion®, a patent-pending technology that integrates infrared and visual (visible light) images in full screen or picture-in-picture views for enhanced problem detection and analysis. IR-Fusion helps users recognize image details and better identify problem areas by quickly scrolling through the different viewing modes. “As the only thermal imagers available today in this format and price range that incorporate this capability in both the camera and in the software, it’s an affordable and easy solution for helping users quickly identify potential problem areas and begin analysis in the field,” said Leah Friberg, public relations manager.

The rugged TiR1 is tested to withstand a drop of 6.5 feet and is IP54 rated to withstand water and dust. With a widescreen, full-color LCD display, optimized thermal sensitivity, and a temperature measurement range of -20˚C to 100˚C, the thermal imager is suitable for most building diagnostics applications, allowing users to operate from a safe distance and still see small temperature differences.

Fluke SmartView™ software (with free software upgrades for the life of the product) is included with each thermal imager. This modular suite of tools for viewing, annotating, editing, and analyzing infrared images fully supports Fluke IR Fusion technology, enabling users to edit images in five viewing modes and generate customizable, professional-looking reports in a few steps.

“The ability to fuse images on-camera and optimize images in real time, combined with an exclusive on-screen, laser pointing indicator, improves primary target identification, enhances issue locating efficiency, and offers a tremendous advantage in reporting clarity,” noted Friberg.

Ventilation Award
Melink Corp.

Intelli-Hood® is designed for demand control ventilation in commercial kitchens, such as those in hotels, universities, restaurants, and supermarkets. Measuring temperature, steam, and smoke in the hood, Intelli-Hood adjusts the fan speed accordingly to save both fan energy and conditioned air. While most other demand control ventilation systems run at 80 percent minimum speed, Intelli-Hood operates at a minimum speed of 10 to 50 percent. During actual cooking, the speed increases as needed up to 100 percent until smoke and vapors are removed, keeping the ambient temperature comfortable.

“Intelli-Hood is different because it measures effluent (steam and smoke) as well as temperature — other systems only look at temperature,” said Steve Melink, president. “It automatically adjusts the fan speeds based on the needs of the chef and, as a result, does not run 100 percent all day, wasting energy and conditioned air. Intelli-Hood has true, quantifiable energy savings results, with a typical ROI being one to three years, depending on the application.”

Intelli-Hood can be installed in new construction or easily retrofitted, as no new hood is needed — it can fit into existing hoods. This allows customers to reduce their energy usage without remodeling the entire kitchen, said Melink. “They lower their operating costs and create more sustainable buildings with retrofitting their kitchens — so overall, we save them a lot of money. In addition, Intelli-Hood provides a quieter and more comfortable kitchen for employees, as well as removes odors, which results in a better environment for customers.”

Publication date: 01/09/2012