NEW YORK — Encompassing a broad cross-section of the HVACR marketplace, the winners of this year’s AHR Expo Innovation awards feature everything from a hybrid electric heat pump water heater to a high-performance metric motor. The winning entries were selected in 10 categories and represent the most innovative products among the thousands that will be displayed at the AHR Expo. A panel of judges made up of introduced members evaluated the products submitted based on innovation, application, value to the user, and market impact. Winners of the 2014 Innovation awards will be recognized at an awards ceremony at the AHR Expo on Jan. 22.

Building Automation Award: Belimo Aircontrols (USA)

The Belimo Energy Valve™ is a pressure independent valve that optimizes, documents, and proves water coil performance. The two-way pressure independent valve uses the Electronic Pressure Independent Valve (EPIV) platform to measure the coil energy using an embedded electromagnetic flow sensor, water supply, and return temperature sensors.

Used primarily in commercial applications, the Energy Valve uses the Delta T Manager™ algorithm to monitor coil performance and optimize the available energy of the coil. The Energy Valve has standard analog signal and feedback wiring and communicates data to the DDC system via BACnet MS/TP, BACnet IP, and TCP/IP. The actuator stores all the coil performance data, such as Delta T and energy usage, for 13 months, and all the coil performance data, stored trends, and control functions can be sent to the building automation system (BAS) via the data network.

The Energy Valve provides plant power savings without significant building mechanical or control system design changes, said Lisa Hickey, manager, marketing communications. “By eliminating low Delta-T in a coil, pump capacity is reduced, optimizing chiller efficiency and performance. Other benefits include improved commissioning, better system maintenance, green certifications (EAc5: Measurement and Verification under LEED), more effective control, and smaller equipment. There is no other product like it on the market.”

The Energy Valve is available in sizes ranging 2.5-6 inches, with ½-2-inch sizes, due to be released in April.

Cooling Award: Emerson Climate Technologies

The Next Generation Copeland Scroll™ variable-speed compressor product line offers breakthrough efficiency, enhanced comfort, and proven reliability in residential and commercial HVAC systems, said Brandy Powell, vice president, variable speed, air conditioning business.

“The value of this product line is the breakthrough efficiency: saving homeowners up to 40 percent on energy costs; superior comfort: low turndown for humidity control and 60 percent overspeed for hot air supply; and demonstrated reliability enhanced by integrated Copeland Scroll compressor electronics,” said Powell.

In residential systems, the variable-speed compressor technology can help systems achieve cooling efficiency of 25-plus SEER and heating efficiency of 13-plus HSPF. The commercial product line offers a speed range of 1,500-7,000 rpm, which Powell said is optimal for light load efficiency and dehumidification. In addition, the reliability of these compressors is enhanced with the integration of CoreSense technology.

“Using the proven Copeland Scroll compressor that contractors trust, Emerson’s variable-speed technology enables system manufacturers to achieve new levels of system performance,” said Powell. “It also features integrated electronics that add improved system protection, reliability, and ease of maintenance.”

Green Building Award: Lafert North America

Targeting commercial applications that demand high dynamic performances, High Performance Metric Motors offer superior efficiency, said Sean Hickey, president. “The HPI/HPS Series incorporates rare earth, surface-mounted permanent magnets to a specially skewed rotor to drastically increase efficiency while simultaneously reducing size.”

The HPI/HPS-enhanced power/weight ratio results in significant frame size reductions, speedy installation, and weight reduction of up to 50 percent, added Hickey. “In addition, these motors offer power ratings of 0.75-40 hp, speeds of 1,500-4,500 revolutions per minute (rpm), and metric frame sizes of 71-132 millimeters. Other features include integral construction (HPI range) or stand-alone drive (HPS range); IP55 degree of protection for the whole range; and simple setup and integration, resulting in a fast installation.”

The motors are offered in OEM applications, but with their standard IEC frames, they can also be used in retrofit situations. Besides commercial applications, the motors can also be used in industrial applications such as food processing, tile processing, packaging, pumping, ventilation systems, wood working, and wind turbines.

Heating Award: WaterFurnace Intl. Inc.

The 7 Series 700A11 variable-capacity residential geothermal unit offers outstanding energy efficiency, said Laura Harris, marketing specialist, with an EER of 41 and a coefficient of performance (COP) of 5.3. The 700A11 utilizes WaterFurnace’s variable-capacity technology, a soft-start variable-capacity compressor, in concert with a variable-speed ECM blower and variable-speed loop pump. This allows the unit to scale output to exactly the level needed rather than the high or low speeds found in other systems. The unit can ramp down to 20 percent of normal operation for ultra-efficient conditioning or up to 130 percent output using SuperBoost™, for periods when extra cooling is needed. The capacity range can even eliminate the need for auxiliary heat.

The 7 Series also utilizes Aurora communicating controls, which allow for direct communication among components and continuous optimized operation of the system. With the Aurora Interface Diagnostic (AID) Tool, a contractor can plug into an external port to troubleshoot the unit without opening the cabinet. Performance monitoring is also available and provides actual capacity and performance information to the contractor via the AID Tool. “True energy monitoring capabilities, extended hot water generation control, and integration with the IntelliZone2 zoning system are also benefits to both the contractor and the homeowner,” said Harris.

IAQ Award: Neptronic

The SKD Direct Steam Injection Humidifier featuring X-Stream™ technology is designed for applications where clean, low-pressure steam is available, such as hospitals, museums, laboratories, universities, and airports. It features a factory-configured electronic steam controller for managing operating sequences; an insulated re-evaporator for drain-free operation; and X-Stream technology, which combines a double-wall 304 stainless steel steam distributor system with encapsulated Armacell UT/Solaflex™ foam insulation for high efficiency.

“By integrating high-efficiency components with patent-pending condensate recuperation design and an advanced controller featuring factory-developed application specific software, the unique SKD reduces wasted energy by 85 percent, prevents condensate ejection, and offers time-saving installation and troubleshooting features,” said Luis Melgares, regional sales manager.

The SKD humidifier system, introduced in February 2013, integrates a preconfigured electronic steam controller for each humidifier that can be integrated into BAS that support BACnet or Modbus communication. Other features include automatic temperature sensor adjustment; large LCD with intuitive menu; and centralized wiring for all sensors, valves, and humidity controls.

“While payback varies depending on the application, site, energy costs, etc., energy savings will pay back the difference invested in approximately 15 months,” said Melgares. “Neptronic is ready to help calculate payback.”

Plumbing Award: Rheem Mfg. Co.

The Prestige™ Series hybrid electric heat pump water heater features an Energy Factor (EF) of 2.45, which is the most efficient water heater that Rheem has ever developed, said Bryan Collar, senior product manager.

The system features a full-color, backlit touch-screen control that provides homeowners service alerts as well as detailed text-based diagnostic information for the contractor; compatibility with EcoNet™, an exclusive technology that enables Rheem heating, cooling, and water heating products to communicate with each other on one network; and dry-fire protection, which shuts down a water heater when it is not full of water.

Designed for residential applications, the Prestige Series can be used in both retrofit and new construction scenarios. “It’s a great replacement option because the unit has a 21-inch diameter, which means it will fit easily through access doors or other narrow spots,” said Collar.

“The installation process is nearly the same as any standard electric water heater, except contractors need to take into account that it requires a condensate drain due to the inclusion of heat pump technology. The system can be installed in places like garages, attics, basements, and even smaller enclosed areas, as long as the space has louvered doors to provide adequate airflow.”

Refrigeration Award: Danfoss

The Adap-Kool® System Manager — AK-SM 800 Series is designed to meet the specific needs of supermarkets and other commercial food retail locations by enabling optimum operation and transparency of supermarket control systems, thus providing store owners with new opportunities for energy savings and protection against food loss.

Accessible via standard Web browsers and mobile devices, the System Manager offers users the option to obtain real-time system COP readouts for continual optimum efficiency, said Peter Dee, sales director, North America, electronic controllers and services. “The system features a full Web interface for remote monitoring and data management, as well as immediate clear and precise notification of alarms throughout the store(s). A mobile app is available for service personnel, allowing maximum flexibility.”

The AK-SM 800 Series features improved monitoring capabilities that help users improve and maintain energy use through set point management and benchmarking. Adaptive suction pressure optimization ensures maximum operating efficiency in every display case and reduces energy consumption by 10-15 percent without compromising food safety. The System Manager can also be integrated into stores that utilize heat reclaim technology, as well as systems that operate a variety of refrigerants, including natural refrigerants like CO2.

“Built-in demand response capabilities can help a supermarket take advantage of incentives programs sponsored by its local utility, while significantly reducing energy costs at the same time,” said Dee.

Software Award: HVAC Solution Inc.

Revit/HVAC Solution is a schematic simulation tool that can be used to determine and size many of the HVAC components used in Revit Projects. It can also serve as a guide to help connect Revit objects in the right order.

“This software was developed by consulting engineers for consulting engineers, so it works the way they think,” said Joe Simmons, vice president of business development. “They can start off their project by choosing our Windows-based drag-and-drop technology to lay out the project, or they can begin by using one of our numerous wizards. Basically, just answer the questions in order to build air, hydronic hot and chilled water, steam, and control systems.”

Intelligent objects and systems allow users to run what if scenarios and perform all the necessary HVAC system calculations. Once systems are created and calculated, equipment can be automatically selected from many of the manufacturers in the HVAC industry. When equipment capacities have been determined, the schedules and schematics can be imported into Revit using the new Revit/HVAC Solution add-in feature. The design data can also be transferred to the shared parameters of a Revit Family instance.

Released in July 2013, Revit/HVAC Solution is easy to use, saves time, reduces errors, and is the only product of its kind on the market, said Simmons. “You can go from a concept to a completed project in just a few easy steps.”

Tools + Instruments Award: Imperial

Using a smartphone or tablet as a user interface, the iManifold™ leverages smart-device processing power, communications, GPS, and other inherent features to make the process of troubleshooting, charging, reporting, servicing, and assessing equipment performance easier than ever before, said Jim Bergmann, new product development manager. “In addition, being able to separate the instrument from the display with a 1,000-foot range allows the technician to be where they need to be without being tied to the gauge set.”

The powerful and easy-to-use app features onboard diagnostics that allow an entry-level technician to be as productive as a seasoned veteran, said Bergmann, and remote communications allow a service manager, factory support, or other field support representative to see the readings on the iManifold in real time and offer service advice. “It’s like cloning the abilities of your tech support to multiple techs at the same time. Add to that the large number of accessories, including the wireless probes with up to a half-mile range, and it’s easy to see that no other product has the capability and functionality of this unique offering.”

Featuring an intuitive user interface, and high-precision durable sensors and reporting, the iManifold offers remote connectivity and support through screen sharing, data, audio, picture, and video, as well as onboard diagnostics to get problems solved fast. Designed for use in virtually all HVACR applications, the iManifold is expected to be available in March 2014.

Ventilation Award: Big Ass Fans

The Haiku® ceiling fan maximizes comfort while minimizing energy consumption in commercial and residential spaces. Exceeding Energy Star requirements by 450 percent and offering seven unique speed settings, Haiku provides the correct amount of airflow for any space or season. In the summer, Haiku can be turned to a higher speed to increase effective cooling, and its Whoosh® mode, a proprietary algorithm that simulates natural breezes, makes users feel up to 40 percent cooler than constant airflow. In the winter, Haiku can be put on a low speed to push hot air off the ceiling and save energy without creating a draft.

Clunky, noisy, and inelegant, the ceiling fan hadn’t changed for more than a century, said Megan Browning, public relations associate. “The Haiku looks different because it is different, with revolutionary technology hiding inside the seamless fit and finish at its center. Haiku’s advanced technology offers twice the efficiency of ceiling fan motors, and its state-of-the-art electronics include seven speeds, a sleep timer, and the exclusive Whoosh mode.”

Haiku’s airfoils connect directly to the center of the fan and feature an aerodynamic profile for smooth and silent airflow. Handcrafted of five layers of sustainable bamboo or durable glass-infused matrix composite, Haiku’s Thin Sheet™ airfoils are held to the highest standards, said Browning, and airfoils undergo multiple quality inspections and a 13-step hand-balancing process to ensure no fan will ever rattle or wobble.

Publication date: 1/6/2014 

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