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“We’re going to see ... A2L product onboarded in scale, en mass, to the market a lot sooner than we might have thought two or three years ago.”
-Talbot Gee, HARDI CEO

With more than 150 product and technology presentations, more than 280 educational sessions, and more than 1,700 exhibits planned, the 2023 AHR Expo in Atlanta will offer plenty to keep HVACR distribution professionals engaged for three days next month.

The new year brings the 2023 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) energy efficiency minimums for air conditioners and heat pumps, and also brings the industry closer to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-mandated phase-down of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants and the greater introduction of A2L refrigerants with lower global-warming potential (GWP).

The phasedown, which was authorized by the federal American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, calls for a 40% reduction in the supply of HFCs in 2024. Talbot Gee, the CEO of Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International, or HARDI, said that target date should have distributors particularly interested in the coming regulatory scheme.

“Code adoption has been much, much faster and (in) many more states than most people had originally anticipated,” Gee said recently. “And the dropoff in HFC allowances is so extreme in 2024 that we think we’re going to see ... A2L product onboarded in scale, en mass, to the market a lot sooner than we might have thought two or three years ago.”

The Expo should give visitors a sense of what A2L-compatible systems will look like, Gee said.


Continuing Education

The Expo will have an educational session focused on the refrigerant transition from 3-4 p.m. Tuesday, February 7, in Room B315 at the GWCC. Jennifer Butsch, director of regulatory affairs at Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions, will offer an update on the status of regulations and discuss strategies for achieving HFC phasedowns and adopting lower-GWP refrigerants.

Chris Forth, vice president of codes, standards, and environmental affairs at Johnson Controls Inc., will also address the subject during his talk from 9-10 a.m. February 7, also in Room B315. In addition to the refrigerant transition, Forth will discuss the 2023 DOE efficiency minimums, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes a host of tax and rebate incentives to promote electrification, energy-efficient HVAC products, and energy-saving retrofits in buildings.

“Our goal for the AHR Expo is always to share knowledge and to support our network of dealers and distributors,” said David Budzinski, president, Global Residential and Light Commercial at JCI.

Other educational sessions that should appeal to distributors include:

  • The State of the Industry panel discussion, 10-11 a.m. February 7 in the GCCC’s Auditorium C102, featuring Gee and five other industry leaders.
    The State of the Industry is a popular AHR Expo event; this year’s panel also features Dominick Guarino, CEO at the National Comfort Institute (NCI); Farooq Mehboob, president of American Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE); Stephen Yurek, the Air Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) president and CEO; Bryan Orr, founder of the HVAC School; and Chuck White, vice president of regulatory affairs at the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors National Association (PHCC-NA).
  • A discussion on industry communications entitled “Communication Across the Supply Chain: Mapping the Channel and Flow of Information,” scheduled for 2:30-3:30 p.m. Monday, February 6, in Auditorium C102. The panelists are Zachary Perge, vice president for distribution strategies at HARDI; Francis Dietz, vice president for public affairs at AHRI; and Rich Schuster, co-founder of the podcast “The HVAC Jerks.”
  • A look at the IRA’s HVAC-related incentives and the opportunities they mean for the industry, 1:30-2:30 p.m. February 6 in Room B312. Samantha Slater, AHRI’s senior vice president of government affairs, will be the speaker.


Technology and Products

Major manufacturers exhibiting at the Expo are planning to highlight products that meet the new efficiency standards and are compatible with lower-GWP refrigerants.

At Rheem, director of project management Jeff Goss said his company is ready for the changes with its Endeavor line of products, including split and packaged air conditioners and heat pumps, which will be displayed in Atlanta.

Distributors at AHR Expo.

STEP RIGHT UP: With more than 1,700 exhibits planned for this year’s Expo in Atlanta, distributors should find plenty of new products to peruse on the show floor. (Staff photo)

Distributors at AHR Expo.

IT’S GETTING REAL: The three-day show offers breakout sessions, product and technology presentations, and hundreds of displays of interest to HVACR distributors. (Staff photo)

“We redesigned them from the ground up to create our most energy efficient, reliable, capable, and sustainable lineup ever,” said Goss. “Distributors will find our smaller footprint a good thing — more room for more equipment.” The Endeavor line also includes air handlers and natural-gas furnaces.

Carrier will introduce its AquaSnap 30RC air-cooled scroll chiller, which is equipped for an A2L refrigerant, R-32. The 30RC models will be available in sizes ranging from 60 to 150 tons.

“With the development of the 30RC air-cooled chiller line, we continue our commitment of providing customers with the latest low refrigerant requirements to comply with pending 2024 requirements, while improving efficiency and keeping the flexibility and high efficiency we already offer,” said Meredith Emmerich, vice president, North America Carrier Commercial HVAC.

Smart, connected HVAC control technology will be prominent at the Expo, too.

  • Automated Logic, Carrier’s automation solutions brand, will showcase its new WebCTRL Cloud building automation system, which can host and maintain a building automation server in the cloud.
    “With WebCTRL Cloud, we are transforming building automation for the digital age by providing customers with an opportunity to save energy, keep occupants comfortable, and save money by replacing upfront expenditure and support costs with convenient periodic subscriptions,” said Mead Rusert, president of Automated Logic.
  • Trane will offer details about its Trane Link technology, which is designed to simplify the installation, commissioning, and remote monitoring of its variable-speed HVAC systems. Trane Link, a Gold winner in the 2022 ACHR NEWS Dealer Design Awards, had a limited rollout last spring and became more widely available in December.