ORLANDO, Fla. — As more states across the U.S. adopt stricter, tighter building codes, fresh air is becoming a commodity. Building professionals and consumers are aware of this and the HVAC industry is offering solutions that focus on the addition and subtraction of air into sealed spaces.
TIGHTER BUILDING CODES
Building codes are changing all over the country and creating a certain amount of uncertainty, according to Chris Chase, product marketing manager for air cleaners, thermostats, and zone comfort controls, Aprilaire.
“Homes used to be ventilated because they were built very leaky, so air infiltrated all over the place,” Chase said. “As time has progressed, energy conservation has become more important, and homes have been built tighter. As states begin to adopt more restrictive building codes, builders are unsure of what to do.”
Aprilaire introduced its Model 8191 and 8192 whole-home ventilators with dehumidification at the AHR Expo. The units have the ability to adjust the desired amount of ventilation and set a humidity limit, removing moisture from the outdoor air before entering the living space. A temperature limit prevents ventilation during the hottest parts of the day and automatically compensates by increasing ventilation during cooler periods. The units are Energy Star-certified, meet the 2012 and 2015 International Residential Code (IRC) and the 2012 and 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), and feature built-in digital controls with display.
“Awareness of ventilation is becoming very important,” Chase said. “Everybody knows when a house is built new, products in there, such as drywall and carpet, are going to off gas. Everyone is concerned about VOCs [volatile organic compounds], and fresh-air ventilation helps reduce that.”
Rita Carbone-Lawson, national sales manager for Delta Products Corp., agrees that building codes are driving the market.
“Many of today’s homes are airtight and highly insulated, which can have a negative impact on air quality,” she said. “Proper bathroom ventilation is essential for improved IAQ. Increasingly, stricter building code requirements, such as ASHRAE 62.2, Energy Star, and California Title 24, are being implemented across the country. These regulations are driving the demand for high-performance fans. Lastly, contemporary fans with innovative dc motor technology are required to meet the demands of today’s consumers who have a high level of interest in owning a quiet fan, conserving energy, saving money, and using LED lighting to improve their quality of life.”
Delta Products featured its new Breez Ventilation Systems lineup at the AHR Expo, including the Breez Recessed 80 CFM Fan with LED Light & Nightlight, Breez Integrity 70 CFM Fan with Bluetooth speaker, Breez Professional 300 CFM Fan, Breez GreenBuilder 100 CFM Fan with Humidity Sensor, and the Breez Slim 70 CFM Fan with Humidity Sensor. All the fans are Energy Star-qualified with dc motor technology. The Breez GreenBuilder and Breez Slim both feature an LED indicator light to show humidity sensor and full speed modes as well as a humidity-sensing mode to turn the fan on automatically.
“These new fans are extremely quiet with long-lasting dc brushless motors that conserve energy and save money,” said Carbone-Lawson. “Enhanced feature options, such as Bluetooth speakers, humidity sensors, and decorative LED lighting, all improve consumers’ quality of life. Today’s consumer can enjoy peace of mind, quality, performance, and reliability from Delta.”
According to Patricia Monks, product manager, ventilation group, Panasonic Corp. of North America, the industry has moved from exhaust to balanced ventilation, especially in certain regions, such as the North Central U.S.
“There’s a trend of widespread usage of sustainable technologies, such as dc motors and LED lighting as well as a transition from just vent fans to whole-house ventilation systems,” Monks said.
Panasonic featured its new whole-house mechanical ventilation solution, the SelectCycler™ System, at the AHR Expo. The SelectCycler meets ASHRAE 62.2 standards and offers a cost-effective solution for meeting ventilation codes and minimizing a building’s Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index. The system also features a powered-open/close damper that alleviates damper chatter, WhisperGreen Select™ controls to provide supplemental ventilation as needed, and two operational modes to help a home achieve the lowest cost per HERS point for either supply or balanced ventilation strategies. The SelectCycler also works in tandem with a spot exhaust fan to achieve hybrid supply or balanced ventilation.
“The system fits with the trend of high-performance and total HVAC solutions and systems that comply with all the latest green building codes and standards. The focus is moving from IAQ to indoor environmental quality [IEQ], said Monks.”
Belimo Americas displayed its new line of residential applications with select actuators, round damper assemblies, and innovative pressure bypass damper control. The complete product offering includes a standard zone damper assembly, premium zone damper assembly, induct zone damper assembly, induct zone damper actuator, and the pressure bypass damper assembly. Belimo Residential offers factory-installed 4- to 20-inch round damper assemblies; standard, premium, in-duct, or pressure bypass assemblies; and one-button setup on pressure bypass damper assemblies for time-saving installations.
“We’re introducing it as a balancing solution that’s used for solving problems in the home, such as over-ventilating rooms,” said Christopher Jones, manager of new business development, Belimo. “We are doing this over near field communications (NFC), using an app to create balance to the damper before it’s installed. We’re basically offsetting labor costs by doing it through software, so the installation of a bypass is 100 percent accurate and complete. You can’t go wrong, and you can’t make a mistake. It gets the contractor on and off the job quicker with remote diagnostic capabilities. ”
Industrial and commercial spaces are seeing more use of high volume low speed (HVLS) ceiling fans, noted John Alexander, CEO of Hunter Fan Co.
“These fans, when properly applied, have shown to increase the comfort and productivity of workers while substantially reducing HVAC costs,” he said.
Hunter Fan recently expanded into the industrial and commercial market by launching its new division, Hunter Industrial. It’s debut product, the Titan Industrial Fan, was displayed at the AHR Expo. The TITAN fan comes in five different sizes, varying from a 14- to 24-foot blade span with a diameter of 288 inches.
The Direct Drive ECM (electronically commuted motor) on the Titan fan allows for a more efficient, lightweight product. Due to its lightweight design, it can be lifted by just one installer with no additional lift equipment required. The lubricated bearings are ‘lubricated for life,’ meaning the fan requires less maintenance and has a longer life. The fan also features fewer fan blades, generating airflow with better aerodynamics, and a touchscreen user interface that allows users to integrate with their building management system (BMS) through industry-standard protocols.
“The TITAN is the next evolutionary step in the HVLS market,” said Alexander. “Our proprietary design provides easier and cheaper installation, reduced weights, and improved efficiency. All this adds up to comfort and increased productivity for our customers and a lower total cost of ownership.”
Smart controls and connectivity is another trend in the ventilation market, according to John Tudor, new construction sales manager, Big Ass Solutions.
“The trend is being able to control everything in the space — not just heat or air conditioning,” Tudor said. “A good example is looking at the air temperature, surface temperature, and dew point and using an algorithm to speed up or slow down the fan to mitigate a possible condensation event. When you think about the smart home, I’m walking into a room and my fan turns on and my light turns on. It’s also an energy saver. We’re trying to translate that to the smart business.”
Big Ass Solutions displayed its new Powerfoil X3.0 industrial fan, optimized to provide more airflow and a larger coverage area. The fan’s aerodynamic design features the patented, purpose-built NitroSeal Drive gearbox for maximum durability and cool operation. Nitrogen-filled and hermetically sealed to create the ideal internal environment, the gearbox keeps contaminants out for zero maintenance. The fan also features a patent pending hub system with machine-cut precision components for a uniform load distribution that promotes overall longevity and durability; an onboard variable frequency drive (VFD) that virtually eliminates radio frequency interface (RFI) and electromagnetic interface (EMI) noise; and a fully sealed drive enclosure to ensure maximum durability, resist corrosion, and reduce heat buildup for a longer life.
The company also displayed its new L-Series Haiku fan for the residential market. The L-Series features 10 speed settings — seven speeds, Sleep Mode, Whoosh® Mode, and timer; an integrated LED light with 16 brightness settings; a silent dc motor; and a universal wall mount for flat or sloped ceilings. The fan is also available with SenseME technology and exceeds Energy Star fan efficiency requirements by 400 percent, costing less than $5 a year to operate.
“The important piece to all of this is people don’t have to think about it because it’s hands-off. You set the preferences, leave it, and the controls do all of the work. To a business, that means less time messing with the controls. You don’t have 20 controllers throughout the facility, and you don’t have employees messing with your environment. It’s one less thing they have to worry about.”
Energy savings is driving the innovation of new technology, noted James Hall, CEO of Triatek.
“It’s all about enhanced levels of control over the room and the devices and being able to measure the performance of these rooms,” Hall said. “Ensuring levels of safety while reducing energy costs is going to continue to drive the market.”
Triatek, which focuses on critical environments, such as hospitals and laboratories, introduced its Smart Actuator for Venturi Air Valves at the AHR Expo. The actuator features a quiet, brushless motor; cycle count tracking that provides predictive analytics about the actuator and valve to facility managers; a non-contact position sensor; fast- and standard-acting options; and fail-safe options, including fail open, fail close, and fail in last position.
“The actuator works with our controllers, so we can do predictive analytics,” Hall said. “It communicates with us, and we can provide users with critical information on how it’s performing. And, now, we’re making decisions on how much air to put into a room based on actual performance and what’s actually happening rather than a pre-existing standard, which is a default position. Right now, often times, the awareness of an actuator failure comes from it failing — it’s worn out or it’s been there for a number of years — and, now, you’ve got a crisis situation. You’ve got to replace it urgently. Being able to communicate and knowing what’s going on with that actuator means we can tell you when it’s running too much and when it’s starting to reach the end of its expected life cycle, so you have the opportunity to replace it rather than wait for a failure.”
Consumer awareness and the desire to consume energy is becoming an important trait in the ventilation market, according to Ray Schaffart, marketing and sales support manager, Modine Mfg. Co.
“There’s a basic understanding of the importance of ventilation and how DOAS [dedicated outdoor air systems] work. You can go to a restaurant in Florida or Atlanta in the summertime and its 60°F in there because the managers have the air conditioning running at full load because of all the humidity. By the time it strips the humidity, it’s putting 60° air in the room. When you have a DOAS system, you have a reheat coil, so it pulls all that humidity out but uses the condenser line to reheat that air back up to at least 70°. Awareness is the biggest thing we’re seeing.”
Modine featured its Atherion packaged rooftop ventilation system at the AHR Expo, which features several enhancements, including a Coastal Coat paint package to protect against the corrosive effects of salt-laden air for coastal regions, an advanced high-temperature startup algorithm to ensure smooth startup, reduced stress on refrigerant systems and reliability during high ambient startup, a remote user interface option to increase ease of unit interrogation while decreasing risk of shock and arc flash, and a 600-mbh furnace on the C cabinet in 15-30 ton units.
Tom Rice, director of sales, desiccant wheel products (DWP), Semco LLC, said ASHRAE standards in particular are driving the ventilation market.
“ASHRAE 170 now has a higher percentage of outside air for patient rooms,” he explained. “They have not changed the quantity, but it will make AHUs more difficult to control. Previously, it was six air changes per hour in the patient room with two air changes of outside air [30 percent], now, it’s four air changes, meaning the ventilation requirement is now at 50 percent. I expect this to have a big impact on smaller hospital-type applications, where people try to utilize DX rooftop units to do the cooling. They are designed to handle 30 percent sufficiently, but more than 30 percent becomes a significant control problem. Either DOAS will have to be implemented, custom rooftop units will need to be installed, or energy recovery will need to be added.”
Semco featured its new Ascendant system, which utilizes solid desiccant dehumidification along with traditional cooling and heating to achieve lower supply dew point than can be achieved by standard systems. The product was an AHR Innovation Award winner in the IAQ category.
“The Ascendant does not require the use of energy recovery, but it is an option,” Rice said. “It can treat outside air and deliver the conditions dry enough to eliminate the humidity load. This means three-quarters of the space loads are being satisfied by one device. This approach — decoupling the latent load — is efficient as the space device does not have to be oversized or run for a lengthy period of time to ensure moisture removal. Instead, the space devices only have to come on to satisfy a temperature set point. Once that set point is satisfied, the space device can shut off. By having the ability to handle up to 100 percent outside air, the Ascendant — with or without energy recovery — can satisfy all of the ventilation scenarios indicated above. By doing it energy efficiently [not having to over-cool and reheat like standard rooftop units], the control of the equipment allows the owner or operator to have confidence that the IAQ and ventilation are being provided to the occupant regardless of the ventilation conditions that are coming in.”
Titus HVAC also featured its new Helios digital diffuser, which is powered by both ambient light and direct sunlight. The variable air volume (VAV) diffuser can be used with thermostats and is completely wireless, enabling maximum comfort, greater efficiency, and simplified installation. Typically, VAV diffusers must be connected to an outside power source, such as a building’s power supply, leading to decreased energy efficiency. Beyond the energy losses, the connections create headaches for contractors, because they also require cables and cords that complicate and hinder system installations. Helios eliminates both of those issues because it’s wireless and is equipped with a solar cell that can be charged by ambient light and direct sunlight.
“The Helios is great for individual comfort, as well,” said Jenny Abney Sivie, director of advanced business development, Titus HVAC. “Everyone who has a thermostat will be able to provide personalized comfort in the space. And, you can set a minimum, so there is always fresh air in the space. You want to make people in the building comfortable, and a lot of that has to do with air quality. There have been so many studies — fresh air helps make students more alert and reduces illnesses — all of that stuff is really going to start coming out now. People were starting to understand it a few years ago, but then we had the recession, and they didn’t want to spend money on it. So, now that the economy is back, we’re going to start seeing more of that.”
Verifiable performance to ensure the proper amount of ventilation is the biggest trend Dave Garvin, product manager for Nortek Global HVAC, said he is seeing in the industry.
“We’re all marching along, trying to make sure we have the right volume of air and the right quality of air in the space for health reasons,” he said. “With the introduction of the new AHRI Test Standard 920, the definition of ventilation efficiency has morphed, and the industry’s going to have to get a handle on what that means. The efficiency is no longer IEER or EER, it’s really how much water is removed from the air by the amount of power used to do that. With that said, with the test standard that was developed, ASHRAE is going to have to associate an efficiency number we will all meet, and that hasn’t been done yet. The whole industry is waiting for ASHRAE to say, ‘With this new standard of testing, here’s the magic number everyone has to meet.’ That’s what’s on everyone’s mind. We understand what we’re supposed to do — we’re looking at efficiency and defining what it means. And, as a result, we’re transforming the industry.”
Publication date: 2/22/2016