The winners of the 2022 Innovation Awards competition have been announced and they include products that can be used in every facet of the HVACR industry. The International Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) hosts the annual contest, which identifies 10 different products and technologies that are recognized as being some of the industry’s newest and most innovative offerings.
Winners were selected by a panel of third-party ASHRAE member judges who evaluated each award entry based on its innovative design, creativity, application, and market impact. The winning companies will be featured at the AHR Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January 2022.
“This past year was a challenge for everyone, and in unique ways, the HVACR industry,” said Mark Stevens, show manager of AHR Expo. “Our industry was called to the front lines to put our very best products and technologies to the test. The Innovation Awards purpose is to honor those that are pushing the bar to create innovative solutions to difficult problems. We are thrilled to celebrate this year’s winners and what they bring to the industry, as well as to continue to champion innovation among our professionals.”
Building Automation: iSMA CONTROLLI S.p.A.
The iSMA-B-MAC36NL Hybrid IoT Controller powered by Niagara is an all-in-one, cost-effective solution designed for use in small- (under 5,000 square feet) and medium-sized (5,000 to 50,000 square feet) buildings that do not have a BMS.
The iSMA-B-MAC36NL all-in-one controller has 36 I/O based on iSMA I/O standard Niagara 4 Framework for programming, integration, and visualization, as well as IoT connectivity and security. It is a workstation for the mini-BMS solution with an HDMI output based on the built-in web server and two USB ports that can operate the touch screen or connected mouse and keyboards. The controller has onboard DIP and rotary switches that can be used as a part of the application. There is an optional hardware version with an onboard M-Bus port that enables direct integration and powering of up to 20 M-Bus meters.
“iSMA-B-MAC36NL is the right solution for small and medium buildings that are either new or are being modernized with a new system,” said Pawel Szarmanski, solution marketing manager at iSMA CONTROLLI. “It consists of just one controller and will future-proof buildings with IoT connectivity. Just one device allows building managers to operate DDC control, integrate all existing protocols into one powerful controller, and program it all together. Thanks to HDMI output, it will run and show the visualization without any additional system equipment needed.”
Building owners/managers using the iSMA-B-MAC36NL controller will also receive a complete package of additional software, including Niagara modules and dedicated HDMI service that accelerates installation process of the HMI panel.
“Our Hybrid IoT Controller is the perfect choice for a gas station, restaurant, or store, especially chains of these type of facilities, where there is a demand to create a multi-site integration with real-time data analytics in the cloud,” said Szarmanski.
The Turbocor® VTCA400 oil-free centrifugal compressor is a high-efficiency compressor that features a compact footprint and uses low-GWP refrigerants. This new variable-speed, magnetic bearing centrifugal compressor is designed for use in larger water-cooled chiller systems above 300 tons capacity and is the first compressor offered by Danfoss Turbocor to be optimized for use with R-1233zd, an A1 refrigerant that has a GWP of 1.
Traditional centrifugal compressor designs used in the HVAC industry have incorporated radial-style impellers for compression, which offer high-efficiency levels and have the ability to operate at high pressure ratios. However, one of the disadvantages of these impellers is their large physical size and footprint, which can lead to higher costs and space constraints for the end user.
“The new Turbocor VTCA400 solves this problem by using a patent-pending hybrid compression design that uses a combination mixed flow and radial impellers enabling both high performance and a compact footprint,” said Eddie Rodriguez, aftermarket services manager at Danfoss Turbocor. “In this design, the first stage impeller uses a mixed flow impeller with both axial and radial components, while the second stage impeller uses a radial design. The end result is the most compact oil-free compressor design using R-1233zd in the industry.”
The small, compact compressor design of the VTCA400 reduces the footprint of the chiller and provides the ability to install multiple compressors in a single chiller. Multiple compressor chiller designs provide higher part-load efficiency, built-in redundancy, and the ability to provide more accurate load requirements compared to single compressor designs. The VTCA400 can be installed in either new construction or retrofit installations, and its unique design provides a compact footprint that is about half the physical size and weight of traditional centrifugal compressor designs.
The Infinity® 24 heat pump with Greenspeed® Intelligence is a cutting-edge heating and cooling solution that offers energy efficiency ratings of up to 24 SEER, 15 EER, and 13 HSPF. It also provides a number of features that make servicing the unit easier for technicians.
“The Infinity 24 heat pump takes Carrier’s most advanced technology to the next level,” said Todd Nolte, senior director of product strategy and regulatory, residential HVAC, at Carrier. “Greenspeed intelligence is created by pairing adaptable-speed technology with the Infinity System Control. The unique, variable-speed compressor of this unit allows it to literally adapt its output to the needs of the home. With tiny adjustments between 25% and 100% capacity, it gives the home only the amount of cooling or heating necessary. This allows the system to operate longer at steadier, lower capacities, which promotes incredible energy efficiency and quiet operation with tighter temperature control than standard systems. In addition, the Infinity 24 boasts operating sound as low as 51 decibels.”
The Infinity 24 heat pump is always up to date, as software updates are sent over a Wi-Fi connection, which allows for the most current and optimized operating performance. Plus, many of the routine service checks can be performed by technicians via Bluetooth with the Carrier Service Tech app. The app also includes the fault history of the unit, system parameters, and interactive fault trees. Technicians can use their smart device to confirm if a unit is running at peak performance without opening their tool bag or attaching a set of gauges.
The equipment features two-wire installation, is self-configuring, Infinity Zoning System-capable, and installations can use up to 250 equivalent feet of refrigerant line length. This allows for greater flexibility in unit location because the outdoor unit can be placed farther away from the indoor unit.
Indoor Air Quality: Antrum
AntrumX™ is an IAQ monitoring platform that provides the real-time data needed to ensure the healthiest air quality possible for a building’s occupants, while optimizing ventilation for increased energy savings. The centralized monitoring system uses supply duct static pressure to generate a vacuum and draw air samples from 32 unique locations back to a central monitoring panel for further analysis. The current offering focuses on CO2, RH, TVOC, PM2.5, and PM10.
“The problem AntrumX solves is one of missing information,” said Adam Donovan, president of Antrum. “A traditional monitoring system comprised of space-mounted sensors provides incomplete and often skewed data to the BMS due to the maintenance and calibration challenges inherent to those systems. Our technology provides accurate, actionable, room-level information to the BMS, allowing it to optimize ventilation — not the minimum or the maximum, but the right amount of ventilation. In doing so, the BMS is equipped to better manage IAQ AND save energy without having to choose between the two.”
AntrumX was designed for the commercial building market, both new construction and retrofit applications. The company is also targeting the K-12, higher education, and healthcare markets because facilities in these markets are typically large and complex with regards to their ventilation requirements, and that complexity often increases over time as facilities retrofit and expand. The AntrumX platform is also scalable, easily modified and upgraded as the building changes or new sensing technologies become available.
The overall system has zero moving parts and is comprised of three major components: an air accelerator, a monitoring panel, and a faceplate, all of which are connected using tubing, making installation simple. The panel is commissioned through the Antrum mobile app with no special hardware or software required. With the bulk of the project information loaded into the dashboard during the submittal, the time it takes to commission is minimal.
Plumbing: Franklin Electric/Little Giant
The Inline 1100 SpecPAK Pressure Boosting System connects easily to nearly any commercial, industrial, or multiresidential plumbing configuration to provide an easy-to-size water pressure boosting solution. Contractors simply determine how much water is required to be boosted to the constant pressure output, and the system comes properly packaged.
“The Inline 1100 is a quiet, all-in-one constant water pressure system that contains the pump, motor, and drive in a compact package,” said Brian Blackburn, senior business unit manager – commercial and industrial HVAC at Franklin Electric. “It doesn’t take up valuable floor space or cause disruptive noise. The noticeable benefit is that as water volume needs increase, the pump instantly accelerates to the proper speed to ensure the water pressure stays constant throughout the application. Water users have the water they need at the pressure they desire.”
The system’s Inline 1100 constant pressure pumps are quiet, compact, self-contained, and versatile. Powered by water-cooled motors, the system delivers quieter operation versus traditional air-cooled motors. Its self-contained design delivers a plug and play solution with Franklin Electric pressure boosting pumps and is part of a complete package centered around easy installation, operation, and durability.
The system’s unique wall-mount design, at 14.5 inches deep, accommodates virtually all mechanical room sizes and fits through standard doorways for worry-free specifications. The system features all stainless components for corrosion resistance and uncompromised water quality; electrical design with multiple fuses to prevent surge damage to control electronics; and flexibility to add pump modules so the system can grow to accommodate new or unexpected water demands.
“The ability to expand the system is a foundational and distinctive benefit,” said Blackburn. “Both the suction and discharge headers are sized to accommodate the flow rate from the maximum speed of four pumps. Quick and easy disconnects to the main panel allow customers to disconnect each pump individually with minimal system disruption.”
Refrigeration: ebm-papst Inc.
The brand new AxiEco 630-910mm axial fans have air performance curves with a maximum pressure of over 700 Pa. This exceeds existing axial fan designs, while at the same time lowering the overall noise level and providing impressive static peak efficiencies of well over 50%. The axial fan range consists of three new sizes with impeller diameters of 630, 800 and 910 mm (24, 31, and 35 inches), with a maximum airflow of more than 25,000 m³/h of free air.
“The driving force behind these fans are the high-efficiency GreenTech EC motors, which meet the high requirements of efficiency class IE5,” said Lou Moffa, market manager of commercial refrigeration at ebm-papst. “The integrated power electronics drive system has a wide power range from 500 W to 8 kW and is available in different voltage versions with 200 V, 400 V, and even 575 V. Furthermore, it has a configurable control interface and a serial ModBus-RTU interface to control and monitor the fan. This allows operating data to be collected, including speed, power consumption, and operating hours to be read out.”
The high power density of the fans provides a high air performance on a footprint comparable with standard axial fans in that size. As a result, higher cooling capacities are possible in the same installation space. The pressure increase of over 700 Pa allows the fans to be used in applications with high back pressures. In combination with the square wall plate and guard grille, the AxiEco 630-910mm fan system is a real plug and play solution.
The fans are available to OEMs for both commercial and retrofit applications and can be used in large format evaporators, a/c and refrigeration condensers, heat pumps, blast freezers, ventilation applications, and any other applications where a high pressure axial fan would be beneficial.
Software: Bluon Inc.
Bluon is a free mobile app for HVAC technicians that combines a database of over 45,000 models — each with original manuals, technical specifications, controls, and soon, specific replacement parts — with tools, training, and 24/7 live technical support. With over 80,000 members (and growing), the app has become the largest and fastest growing community in HVAC.
“Bluon is the first scalable solution that is directly aimed at solving the skilled labor shortage that continues to plague the HVACR industry, by making technicians far more productive and efficient,” said Peter Capuciati, chairman and CEO of Bluon. “Built primarily for technicians who service residential and light commercial equipment, Bluon is the only platform that focuses on the massive amount of existing equipment operating in the field that continues to require service. The platform supports equipment that is 30-plus years old with its database and live tech support.”
Before Bluon’s support platform, service techs spent hours searching for the right product manuals, wiring diagrams, or service instructions — if they could find that information at all, said Capuciati. With Bluon, technicians can now easily identify the unit they are working on, see the manuals and relevant product information, and get real help from real technicians 24/7. Soon, they will be able to pick out the parts they need for each job by looking up the specific unit and sending that order directly to their local distributor. They will also be shown the additional parts needed to make a repair and stock the truck as well.
“Bluon solves so many of the inefficiencies in the industry, enabling technicians to complete more jobs per day,” said Capuciati. “This, in turn, leads to more purchases being made with their local distributors. When technicians can do their jobs effectively and efficiently, all industry players win.”
Sustainable Solutions: Enginuity Power Systems
The E|ONE micro-combined heat and power system is a new appliance that efficiently delivers on-demand electricity, hot water, and heat to a residence. Featuring a design for easy integration, the initial market consists of the 80 million homes in the United States that are currently using natural gas and propane; in addition to the 600,000 new natural gas homes being constructed annually.
To use the system, homeowners simply need to replace their gas hot water heater with Enginuity’s E|ONE system. By running a low-voltage cable to the same kind of transfer switch needed for solar, the homeowner is off the grid. Since the E|ONE is capable of making more power than the home or business requires, the additional power can be sold back to the grid, generating income for the E|ONE's owner.
According to the company, there are a few distributed energy systems currently on the market, but they’re either too big or too expensive to really work from a logistical or economic perspective. Enginuity’s E|ONE is the first private generation system that looks at private generation from the perspective of an appliance: it is easy to install, easy to maintain, and reasonable to buy, according to the company.
Tools & Instruments: Fluke Corp.
The 378 FC Non-Contact True-RMS Clamp Meter was designed to be a faster, safer way to take voltage and current measurements. Used primarily in commercial and industrial applications, the clamp meter uses FieldSense™ technology to allow technicians to measure voltage and current with the clamp jaw, all without using test leads. This means technicians can make faster measurements, while remaining safer by reducing the need to touch live wires. The 378 FC also allows technicians to quickly and easily make three-phase voltage and current measurements, while offering the ability to identify power quality issues with a power quality indicator.
“The 378 FC is another great example of how Fluke continues to lead the industry in terms of safety, innovation, and ease-of-use,” said Sean Silvey, product application specialist at Fluke. “Fluke paved the way with the introduction of the T6 Electrical Tester, the first Fluke tool to use FieldSense technology, and the 378 FC continues that tradition of allowing technicians to safely measure voltage and current without test leads. The ability to quickly measure three-phase voltage and current also means that technicians can now do more while carrying less.”
The 378 FC Clamp Meter is easy to use. Simply rotate the function dial to the FieldSense position, use the black test lead and connect to a ground, and begin making voltage and current measurements with the clamp jaw. Both readings will be displayed on the screen simultaneously so users can record your results and move on to the next measurement.
“The clamp meter will allow contractors, engineers, and technicians to quickly measure and analyze HVACR equipment, giving them the ability to quickly provide solutions to their customers on new installations as well as currently operating equipment,” said Silvey.
The new InspirAIR Fresh is a high-efficiency energy recovery ventilator (ERV) that quietly delivers fresh outdoor air with MERV 8 filtration and over 75% heat exchange efficiency. Designed around a new counterflow enthalpic core and EC motors that automatically adjust to changes in pressure and air pollutants, the InspirAIR Fresh provides occupants with optimal IAQ and comfort.
“The InspirAIR Fresh represents a leap forward for in-suite ventilation in multi-unit residential buildings,” said Raef Taktak, business line manager, H/ERV, Aldes North America. “The InspirAIR Fresh offers quiet energy-recovery performance, while putting the emphasis on filtration and healthy air. Filters are easily exchangeable by opening the front access panel, and residents have a choice of MERV 8 or MERV 13, while maintaining the same amount of airflow. With a low-profile design and no drain required, this ERV can be installed anywhere on concrete slab ceilings while leaving plenty of headroom for residents.”
With ASHRAE 90.1/2019 set to be adopted by code authorities over the coming years, the InspirAIR Fresh fulfills all requirements for balanced mechanical ventilation in multi-unit residential buildings, with a focus on the occupants’ IAQ and comfort. The InspirAIR Fresh also provides a new alternative on the market for Passive House US (PHIUS) projects.
“The InspirAIR Fresh raises the bar for traditional residential ERVs, which have until now been uniquely focused on efficiency,” said Taktak. “By making MERV 8 filtration the standard and MERV 13 optional (as already required in California), Aldes is positioning in-suite ventilation as a must for health and well-being. Property developers are coming to realize that better IAQ is a big selling point for buyers and are looking for premium solutions to offer them.”