WESTPORT, Conn. — Taco, Inc.’s SmartPlug Instant Hot Water Control was announced as the 2017 AHR Expo Innovation Award Product of the Year yesterday at the Show’s Innovation Awards ceremony in Las Vegas. The product, which also secured a win in the Innovation Awards’ plumbing category, allows for easy installation onto existing domestic hot water recirculation pump systems, to more efficiently manage on-demand hot water delivery. “Winning an AHR Expo Innovation Award is a great achievement,” said Wil VandeWiel, president and CEO of Taco, Inc. “The winning products in all the categories will define the markets in the next decade, where innovation, sustainability and energy management will be key drivers.

“For Taco Comfort Solutions, to be recognized as part of this illustrious group of toptier companies, is a confirmation of the new strategic direction we started a couple of years ago,” he continued. “Being awarded Product of the Year is a very important milestone for our company, and a great achievement by all of our employees. We thank the AHR Expo for all it does to move the industry forward.”

“The AHR Expo Innovation Awards competition is a chance to publicly acknowledge the hard work companies contribute toward the future of the industry,” said Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Company, the Show’s producer. “We congratulate Taco for being recognized as 2017’s Product of the Year, and extend further congratulations to all 10 winners for displaying exceptional utility, ingenuity and efficiency in their respective product categories. We look forward to seeing what’s next, as AHR Expo’s exhibitors continue to innovate through the coming year.”

Taco’s 115-volt SmartPlug Instant Hot Water Control features technology to learn and record a homeowner’s hot water usage pattern, and employ the resulting data to operate a home’s hot water recirculation pump precisely when hot water is typically required. While hot water recirculation pumps typically run continuously or are controlled with an aquastat or timer, SmartPlug provides fully automatic and self-adjusting pump operation – only when hot water is desired. Usage patterns are monitored and recorded on a daily and weekly basis, with the SmartPlug system regularly refreshing data and adjusting any changes to hot water usage patterns. The result is a significant increase in water heater operational efficiency, promoting a simple yet notable way to save on residential energy costs. All 2017 AHR Expo Innovation Award winners were selected by a panel of thirdparty ASHRAE member judges who evaluated each entry based on innovative design, creativity, application, value and market impact.

The complete list of 2017 AHR Expo Innovation Award winners includes:

Building Automation

Company: Danfoss (www.danfoss.us)

Innovation: Danfoss Enterprise Services


Company: Daikin Applied (www.daikinapplied.com)

Innovation: Pathfinder® Air-cooled Screw Chillers with Variable Volume Ratio

(VVR) Technology

Green Building

Company: Carrier (carrier.com/commercial)

Innovation: Dual Stage Relief Economizer (DSRE)


Company: Noritz America (www.noritz.com)

Innovation: Noritz CB Combi Boiler

Indoor Air Quality

Company: Nortec Humidity (www.humidity.com)

Innovation: Nortec GS Series - CS Model (Nortec GS CS) Humidifier


Company: Taco, Inc. (www.tacocomfort.com)

Innovation: SmartPlug Instant Hot Water Control


Company: Danfoss (www.danfoss.us)

Innovation: Danfoss CTM (Electrical Controlled Transcritical Multi Ejector)


Company: Nidec Motor Corporation / U.S. MOTORS® (www.usmotors.com)

Innovation: Rescue Select Programming App

Tools & Instruments

Company: PEXOLOGY, Inc. (www.pexgun.com)

Innovation: PEXGUN


Company: Titus (www.titus-hvac.com)

Innovation: Helios Digital Diffuser

All AHR Expo exhibitors are eligible to submit for the annual Innovation Awards competition. Submission guidelines are sent to exhibiting companies approximately six months preceding each Show. Products, systems and technologies submitted must be new (launched following the close of the previous year’s Show) and planned for display at the upcoming year’s Show. In addition to a nominal entry fee, submitting exhibitors are asked to provide a brief (75-word maximum) description of how their product, system or technology excels in the areas of application, innovation, value and market impact.

For more information on the 2017 AHR Expo or the Innovation Awards competition, please visit ahrexpo.com. Specific questions regarding Innovation Awards submissions can be emailed to expoawards@ashrae.org.