LAS VEGAS — Hydronics manufacturers are striving to introduce equipment that is more energy efficient yet encompasses intelligent, simple controls. Many companies showcased their solutions on the 2017 AHR Expo show floor.


Whether driven by government intervention or the desire to achieve cost savings, efficiency continues to be a buzzword in the hydronics market.

Bell & Gossett (B&G) recently introduced its Part Load Efficiency Value (PLEV), a new pump selection criteria that helps building and HVAC system designers select and compare pumps to maximize efficiencies while reducing energy and operational costs. PLEV is a calculation that represents the efficiency of a centrifugal pump at partial flow rates and can be used to gauge true pump performance within a hydronic system.

“Proper system design is critical in increasing pump reliability and overall system performance,” said Kyle DelPiano, market development manager, southeast territory, Xylem Inc. “By matching equipment more precisely to actual system demands, pumps will use less power and require less maintenance, which lowers life-cycle costs and extends equipment life. PLEV can also be used to accurately compare pumps from different manufacturers to identify overall operational efficiency. The 30 percent TDH, or calculated minimum control head within the equipment schedule along with specifications, will ensure a fair apples-to-apples comparison.”

Grundfos Pumps Corp. showcased several pressure-boosting pumps at its booth in Las Vegas to foster awareness of the company’s multifaceted pumping solutions.

“Our theme this year is booster pumps,” said Rebecca Terry, content marketing specialist, Grundfos. “We aimed to educate attendees regarding the many compact, intelligent, and energy-efficient pressure-boosting systems we offered.”

On display was the company’s SCALA2, a fully integrated domestic booster pump designed to boost water pressure from city mains, shallow wells, and storage tanks serving residential buildings with up to three floors and eight taps. Its intelligent pump-control sensor compares measured and desired water pressures and adjusts pump speed accordingly, which ensures a perfect water pressure through the system.

“With the new SCALA2 water booster pump, homeowners will have perfect, steady water pressure, even if the shower is on, the kitchen faucet is running, and the car is being washed outside,” said Kirk Vigil, director of national accounts, Grundfos. “It will only take a technician a few minutes to install, but it’ll boost the comfort in the home for years and years.”

According to Chuck O’ Donnell, director of marketing, Laars Heating Systems Co., synchronizing the modulation of a boiler’s firing rate to a variable-speed pump’s rate results in optimal performance and operational efficiency based on a building’s heat-demand profile.

“We encourage installers to explain this to owners as they will see reduced operational costs and longer boiler and pump life when key equipment operates in the ‘sweet spot’ for most of the heating season,” he said.

At the AHR Expo, Taco Comfort Solutions launched its 0015e3, a three-setting, electronically commutated motor (ECM)-powered circulator. The 0015e3 offers contractors the durability, efficiency, and simplicity of other Taco ECM circulators in three easy settings. The circulator is ideal for hydronic systems zoned with circulators or zone valves and provides three maximum-feet-of-head-pressure settings to match system requirements — low (5 feet), medium (10 feet), or high (18 feet) with a maximum flow of 16 gallons per minute (gpm).

Among the innovative features that make the 0015e3 reliable and easy to install, Taco’s BIO Barrier® protects the pump from system contaminants, especially black iron oxide that otherwise tends to collect around strong ECM magnets. Also, SureStart™, which automatically unblocks a locked rotor and purges air from the circulator, is included. Additionally, the 0015e3 is double-insulated, which eliminates the need for a ground wire.

Due to its energy-saving ECM design, the circulator qualifies for most state, regional, and utility efficiency incentive programs. An integral flow check is included, and both two-bolt or two-way flange models are available.

“Our focus this year is high-efficiency comfort and Taco family support,” said Ken Watson, marketing and brand manager. “That underscores our commitment to not only provide high-efficiency products and controls, but the tools and education to increase efficiency and productivity of our customers to our design software, selection apps, and training.”


The shift to integrate increasingly sophisticated controls into residential and commercial circulators and pumps supports the industry’s push toward improvements in energy efficiency and comfort.

“This trend allows contractors to positively influence the purchase decision, particularly if they are well versed in control technology and capabilities and the resulting energy efficiencies,” said Brent Ross, global director of configured building equipment, Armstrong Fluid Technology. “By choosing the circulator or pump solution with the right control capabilities, circulator and pump installation and startup can be made substantially easier and faster.

“But the biggest opportunity is in energy upgrades that convert older, fixed-speed circulators to use variable-speed circulators with automated controls,” continued Ross.

Armstrong has invested heavily in the development of advanced controls to support energy-efficient operation. These features have been incorporated into the company’s new Compass H circulator and Design Envelope pumps.

“The Compass H circulator features a Quadratic Sensorless flow control algorithm and auto adjustment that intelligently responds to system demand and operates at the least possible energy,” Ross said. “It also accepts 0- to 10-V DC external controls so it can accept flow adjustment signals from most modern boilers.

“The Compass H’s Design Envelope technology improves its efficiency, and if the circulator responds to flow control signals from the boiler and allows the boiler to operate more efficiently, then it’s a double win,” Ross said.

A focus on integrated electronics in pumps will continue in 2017. This focus will provide pump operators and engineers with more precise and detailed data as business owners are increasingly turning to building operators to lower their energy costs and environmental impacts.

“The integration of motors and controls in self-contained systems means the pumps themselves provide information about power consumption and other key indicators,” said DelPiano. “The users of the pumps can continuously monitor them to determine if a pump is operating efficiently or if preventive maintenance is needed.”

With the increased use of variable-speed drives, many building owners are choosing to retrofit existing systems to incorporate energy-saving components that will improve efficiency and lower operating costs, added DelPiano.

“To ensure energy-efficiency goals are achieved, contractors need to stay up to date on products and technologies and understand how to properly integrate them into current systems.”


High-efficiency boilers often have narrow waterways and heat exchangers that can be prone to blockage by sludge and debris if they are installed on old pipework systems that have not been flushed out.

Additionally, variable-speed motors inside ECM pumps have strong magnets inside them, which can attract magnetite, also called iron oxide. The combination of high-efficiency boilers with narrow waterways and ECM pumps with magnets may add up to potential multiple failure points, where iron-oxide sludge and nonmagnetic debris, such as lime-scale, can collect and cause potentially expensive damage if installed on old systems.

To that end, Adey Innovation LLP has introduced a five-step best-practice system process that, along with the required formulas and equipment for implementing the process, is designed to clean and protect hydronic systems for maximum efficiency, reduced emissions, and cost savings. The process starts by cleaning the system with Adey’s MC3+™ Cleaner. Next, flush the system with MagnaCleanse™, install a MagnaClean™ filter, add Adey’s MC1+™ Protector to inhibit the formation of sludge, and, finally, test the water quality with an Adey Engineer’s test kit.

“Performing this five-step process makes contractors more valuable to customers and generates additional revenue in the form of service contracts — annual visits to check the boiler’s operation, check the filter, remove any magnetite and, if required, add inhibitor,” said Tom Tonkins, business development director, Adey Innovation LLP. “Homeowners also benefit from the resulting increase in system efficiency, which in turn reduces energy costs and extends the life of the boiler and circulator.”

Adey introduced its MagnaClean magnetic filters to the U.S. market in the fall of 2016. Currently, the company’s residential/light commercial line includes filters in four sizes to suit any installation, including the MagnaClean Micro2™ for ¾-inch NPT pipework, the MagnaClean Professional2™ for 1-inch piping, and the MagnaClean Professional2XP™ for 1 ¼-inch piping for single-family residences. For multifamily or large residential applications, the company offers the MagnaClean Dual XP™ for 1 ½-inch NPT connection. The Adey commercial line, the ASME-rated MagnaClean Commercial™, encompasses filters in five sizes, including 2-, 3-, 4-, 6-, and 8-inch flange sizes.

“MagnaClean filters, regardless of size, feature high-grade neodymium magnets to target and remove iron-oxide sludge,” Tonkins said. “There are no moving parts and no effects on system operation. The inlet and outlet of the filter are shaped to force a cyclonic flow of system water around the magnet assembly, which allows significant first-pass capture and then ongoing retention of sludge.

Rehau introduced its EVERLOC+ compression-sleeve fitting system at AHR Expo 2017. Designed for use with RAUPEX® UV shield PEXa pipe in potable water applications, EVERLOC+ features both polymer and lead-free brass fittings in diameters up to 2 inches as well as the EVERLOC+ power tool, powered by the DeWalt 12V MAX* battery platform.

“Rehau has been intensely devoted to the design and development of EVERLOC+, and we are excited to offer a system that sets a new precedent for plumbing installations,” said Mike Dietrich, vice president of the building solutions division at Rehau. “EVERLOC+ is a polymer and lead-free brass fitting solution, based on our proven and highly secure compression-sleeve technology that is also fast, convenient, and cost-effective.”

EVERLOC+ connections are made using a two-step expansion and compression process, both performed by the EVERLOC+ power tool, which is specifically designed for assembling EVERLOC+ fittings. First, the pipe is expanded, then the sleeve is actively compressed over the pipe and fitting for a secure connection that is immediately ready for pressure testing.

“EVERLOC+ is uniquely designed for speed, control, and security with one consistent technique that eliminates many of the complications that can occur during plumbing installations,” said Jonathan Bittenbender, engineering director in the building solutions division at Rehau. “The EVERLOC+ fitting features four sealing edges and a textured PEXa compression sleeve that grips tightly for added security. In addition, EVERLOC+ can be installed in any temperature and all types of weather. Two expansions and one compression are all that’s ever needed, which offers contractors a big advantage.”

Viega LLC introduced its line of Viega ProPress® Zero Lead™ Ball Valve press x hose thread for copper fittings.

The bronze ball valves are full port and designed for potable water applications. The ball valves are available in ½- and ¾-inch press sizes and ¾-inch hose sizes. Other features include a lockable metal handle, stainless steel ball, and ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) sealing element.

The Viega ProPress for copper systems is available in more than 600 fitting configurations in sizes ranging ½-4 inches. The patented Smart Connect® feature, available only from Viega, provides installers with added confidence in their ability to ensure the integrity of connections.

“With the addition of the ProPress Zero Lead Ball Valves, Viega continues to be a leader in the number of copper offerings it provides to customers,” said Derek Bower, director, product management, metal systems at Viega. “ProPress has many approved press fitting applications, and we look forward to developing more innovative products for the copper fittings market.”  

Publication date: 2/27/2017

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