CHICAGO — The industry’s most innovative technologies will take center stage later this month when the winners of the 2015 Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration (AHR) Expo Innovation Awards proudly display their products at HVAC’s biggest event of the year.

Representing all major segments of the HVACR marketplace, the winning entries were honored in 10 categories as the most innovative new products among the thousands that will be displayed at the Jan. 26-28 event in Chicago. The winning products were selected from numerous entries by a panel of judges consisting of ASHRAE members, who evaluated the products based on innovation, application, value to the user, and market impact.

Winners of the 2015 Innovation Awards will be recognized at an awards ceremony at the AHR Expo.

Building Automation Award: American Auto-Matrix

The AspectFT Web-enabled building automation system (BAS) allows users seamless access to their building data through common and convenient Web technologies, including Microsoft Outlook, Twitter, RSS feeds, email, and more. The HTML5 user interface allows users to obtain information such as trends, set points, and other vital data from the BAS on the fly via a Web-enabled computer, smartphone, or tablet.

“AspectFT is a BAS platform that ‘auto-magically’ creates an HTML5 UI for accessing trends, set points, and other valuable data via a computer or smart device without additional plug-ins or engineering time,” said Derek Duffill, general manager. “This is a complete solution for powerful facility monitoring and effective energy management, all while leveraging everyday technology to integrate facilities with everyday life.”

Through standard building protocols, including BACnet and Modbus, AspectFT allows contractors and engineers to specify, install, and maintain facilities of any size and scale. The intuitive programming tool, AspectFT-Studio, provides simulation and live-mode development, pre-configured applications to speed up engineering and deployment, and a comprehensive embedded graphics library to help successfully engineer projects of any size, both locally and remotely.

AspectFT is a viable solution for both new construction and retrofit installations, and multiple hardware options are available for any size facility, including hospitals, college universities, museums, government facilities, and more. The BAS can also push facility data to the cloud-based SaaS, Voya™ Xplor, delivering centralized energy monitoring, analytics, and management, which proactively reduces energy consumption.

Cooling: Southwire Co. LLC

The EZ-In™ Mini-Split Cable makes mini-split installations easier and more efficient as it supplies both power and communication, thus eliminating the use of conduit or cable trays and the need to run two cables through a junction box when installing mini-split units. Installations will be up to code, helping contractors save time and money by eliminating extra materials and increasing installation efficiency.

Designed for indoor or outdoor use, the cable may be used in residential and commercial applications. “A common task for a mini-split system is to get hot and cold air to a finished basement or garage,” said Jeff Watts, vice president of HVAC sales. “To do this, the cable will have to go from the outdoor unit to the indoor unit, and it may also need to be exposed inside the dwelling, going to an interior room. The EZ-In Mini-Split Cable can make the transition from outdoor to indoor and comply with all National Electrical Code (NEC) regulations.”

Green Building: Danfoss

The Turbocor VTT (Variable Twin Turbo) Series are oil-free, variable-speed, magnetic bearing centrifugal compressors that improve both full- and part-load efficiency. The compressors enable chiller manufacturers to meet ASHRAE 90.1-2015 efficiency standards by Path A and Path B.

Intended for commercial air conditioning or process cooling applications that require a high-efficiency solution, the VTT compressors are ideal for new water-cooled chillers with nominal capacity ranges of 200-350 tons for voltage applications between 380-460 V, as well as 575 V. These compressors also feature IntraFlow™ technology, which improves compressor efficiency and provides an extended stable operating range while simplifying capacity control.

“The VTT Series of compressors enables chiller manufacturers to bring the benefits of oil-free, variable-speed, magnetic-bearing technology to larger capacity chillers while using new IntraFlow technology to deliver best-in-class full- and part-load efficiencies,” said Frank D. Ford, director of product management. “This technology, combined with other innovations, provides highly reliable operation without the cost and complexity of inlet guide vanes or variable-geometry diffusers.”

The VTT Series of compressors reduces maintenance costs by eliminating the need for servicing refrigerant oil or repairing systems with chronic lubrication problems. The compressors also include newly developed control electronics capable of communicating via USB, Ethernet, and wireless networks, and they are capable of downloading firmware and configuration updates remotely without requiring any hardware exchanges.

Heating: Mitsubishi Electric US Cooling and Heating Division

The Hyper-Heating Inverter™ (H2i®) MXZ multi-zone outdoor unit for residential applications is the newest addition to Mitsubishi’s family of cold climate heat pumps. These units offer efficiencies up to 19 SEER and 13.5 HSPF, and a single multi-zone outdoor unit is capable of connecting to up to eight indoor units, making the system an ideal solution for whole-home cooling and heating.

“Historically, heat pumps have been ineffective at heating in cold climate conditions,” said Mike Smith, senior marketing manager — residential products. “The H2i MXZ multi-zone makes it possible to effectively heat and cool not only a room, but an entire home in areas of the country where it was previously thought impossible — in
areas like the upper Midwest and parts of New England. This system features 100 percent heating capacity at 5°F and is guaranteed operation down to minus 13°F, one of the highest performance capabilities on the market.”

The H2i MXZ multi-zone system can be installed in both new construction and retrofit applications, and panels are easy to remove to reveal the components for service. Fault codes can be displayed on the remote controller and multi controller circuit board in the unit for accurate and fast diagnostics.

The systems are compatible with indoor units featuring Mitsubishi Electric’s i-see Sensor™ 3-D heat imaging technology, which automatically scans a room for humans in order to provide the right amount of conditioned air. System control options include hand-held remotes and wireless wall-mounted controllers that communicate with the indoor units via RedLINK® radio frequency technology. The system can also be smart-device-controlled through the RedLINK Internet Gateway.

IAQ: Koch Filter Corp.

The DuraMAX 4vs-16 is a rigid, extended-surface air filter engineered to provide maximum performance and prolonged filter life cycles. This high-efficiency synthetic media minipleat filter features a MERV 16 performance rating and low resistance to airflow.

The rugged composition of synthetic media makes this filter an ideal choice for high-velocity or high-moisture systems, including commercial, industrial, and hospital/pharmaceutical environments; gas turbine air intakes; and gun ranges.

“One of the main advantages of the DuraMAX 4vS-16 is that it has a MERV 16 rating while most comparable v-style filters range from MERV 11 to 15,” said Kevin Sulzer, marketing manager. “The lightweight, rigid plastic construction, coupled with 200 square feet of media, make it a better choice than the steel box filters that are less environmentally friendly.”

This lightweight construction also reduces shipping costs, and its all-plastic construction makes it easier to handle than the heavier steel cell box filters. The higher dust-holding capacity afforded by the minipleat design ensures an extended life cycle, fewer filter changes, and reduced disposal costs for a lower overall cost of ownership.

Plumbing: Navien Inc.

The NPE-S Series condensing gas tankless water heater offers endless hot water with one of the highest-rated energy factors (EF) available in a domestic water heating appliance. With dual stainless steel heat exchangers and water ways, along with robust waterway components and an advanced burner system, these water heaters offer high efficiency, consistent operation, and long life expectancy.

“With a high combustion efficiency, the flow rates of the NPE-S tankless per Btu input are exceptional,” said Brian Fenske, specialty channel sales manager.

“Add in the extremely high EF rating, and contractors and end users can be assured that, with standby and cycle uses measured, the system offers outstanding overall efficiency.”

The water heater is designed for use in commercial and residential applications, both new construction and retrofit. When used in commercial applications, such as a wash-down or cleaning operation, the appropriate unit will ensure adequate and continuous hot water at the temperature needed. For residential applications, end users will appreciate the consistent temperature and endless hot water, especially in homes with constant or high demand requirements.

Refrigeration: KeepRite Refrigeration

The Limitrol+ floating head pressure control system reduces compressor energy consumption and run time and lowers environmental impact through reduced refrigerant use. Its electronically commutated motor (ECM) technology further saves energy and reduces electrical requirements while offering stable system performance in lower ambients. “What makes Limitrol+ unique is its ability to intelligently respond to ambient conditions to float head pressure without sacrificing system performance at lower temperatures,” said John Murray, executive vice president. “The system combines variable-speed ECM technology, condenser portioning, and various system modifications to provide the ultimate in performance and control, resulting in an ability to function in cold ambient conditions.”

Limitrol+ is available as a factory-installed option on most KeepRite units, and all the head pressure control set points are preprogrammed, so contractors don’t have to worry about setting any head pressure controls.

Software: Fluke Corp.

The Fluke Connect™ app allows HVACR technicians to capture, store, and share data across their entire team without leaving the field. It provides instant access to data and measurements from smartphones to review images, check reports, spot trends, and more, helping teams to get their jobs done better and faster.

Designed for use in commercial applications, the app allows technicians to AutoRecord™ measurements and infrared images to Fluke Cloud™ storage from wherever they’re working, granting everyone on the team with a smartphone and the app access to the data. ShareLive™ video calls allow technicians to share measurements with other team members in real time, get approvals for repairs, or get questions answered without leaving the field. EquipmentLog™ history allows technicians to assign measurements to specific equipment, creating a cloud-based history of test measurement data for easy access during both troubleshooting and reliability maintenance. And TrendIt™ enables technicians to instantly graph data, helping to identify trends and quickly make informed decisions.

“Perhaps one of the biggest breakthroughs with this app is the ability to capture all three legs of three-phase power —amps or volts — simultaneously to a specific asset record in EquipmentLog history, rather than having to reconstruct it from three single-phase measurements,” said Leah Friberg, global education, content development, and public affairs manager. “Technicians can visualize all three measurements in TrendIt graphs versus time to quickly identify trends and catch intermittent problems to head-off potential trouble. Modules can stay connected and record data for limited periods of time while technicians work on something else.”

Tools and Instruments: Parker Hannifin Corp. — Sporlan Division

The Smart Service Tool Kit is designed to help evaluate the performance of most refrigeration and air conditioning systems. Its compact, wire-free sensors offer real-time pressure and temperature measurement, while its free, easy-to-use smartphone app automatically calculates and displays system superheat and subcooling anywhere within Bluetooth range. Pressures, temperatures, superheat, and subcooling can be recorded to a .csv file, which can then be exported from a mobile device, providing proof of work.

“This tool kit makes service calls easier for contractors because they no longer need to carry a lot of diagnostic equipment on-site,” said Matthew Wehmeyer, product manager — electronics. “Hoses are no longer necessary to diagnose system performance, greatly reducing refrigerant loss, which allows the tools to be used with multiple refrigerants without fear of cross contamination. The app eliminates the need to write down the system data and then manually crunch the numbers to calculate superheat and subcooling.”

Being wire-free increases the contractor’s mobility, and each sensor contains its own Bluetooth radio, eliminating the need to be wired to another device. All of the sensors are dust- tight and protected against low-pressure water jets. The app has the ability to monitor, record, and export data.

Ventilation: Coolerado Corp.

The Coolerado ERV50 energy recovery and super cooling system uses innovative heat exchanging technology — the Maisotsenko Cycle — to take the energy contained in the building’s exhausted air to super cool, pressurize, dehumidify, and preheat the outdoor air coming into the building for needed ventilation. The ERV can be installed separately or in series with a rooftop unit.

The ERV features summer enthalpy recovery effectiveness ranging from 70 to more than 200 percent at full flow, and winter heat recovery effectiveness of 70 percent at full flow. In the summer, it goes beyond ventilation tempering to provide super cooling and dehumidification without the use of compressors or chemical refrigerants. It also provides positive internal pressurization to keep heat and humidity from infiltrating the building.

“The ERV50 is a great solution when high ventilation rates and comfort cooling and heating are needed,” said Leo Alvarez, product and marketing manager. “The ERV50 is easy to install and service with only a water filter and a few air filters to periodically change. The unit does not have a sump or associated maintenance, and there is no need for wheel balancing, clean up, or re-sealing to prevent air cross-contamination.”

The ERV is ready for installation on custom commercial roof curbs, and it comes with a factory-installed insulated plenum and a stainless steel skirt for a convenient connection to the curb. The ERV unit offers simple access to the air filters, motor assembly, and controls for easy preventive maintenance, and the units are modular in design so they can be installed flush next to each other. Units are BACnet-ready and compatible with most building automation systems.

On Stage

The 2015 Product of the Year will be presented at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27, in New Product and Technology Theater A. All visitors and exhibitors are welcome to attend. The annual competition is sponsored by ASHRAE; Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI); and the AHR Expo.

Publication date: 1/12/2015

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