Wholesaler Chip Cummins (right), representing wholesaler-distributor Stromquist and Co. Inc. of Smyrna, Ga., gets some building automation control advice at the Honeywell booth from William Walsh, building control specialist. (Photo by Nelson Moy.)
ORLANDO, Fla. - When you capture an AHR Expo Innovation Award, it makes life at the 2005 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) somewhat hectic.

Michael Duty, president and chief executive officer of Invisible Service Technicians LLC (www.istmonitor.com), was not complaining about the constant flow of traffic at his booth on the floor of the Orange County Convention Center. Not at all. The more, the merrier. "It's been unbelievable," said Duty. "I couldn't be more pleased."

Passers-by came to view the Invisible Service Technician (IST) monitor, a new remote monitoring and diagnostic device for light commercial and residential heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems. The new product earned Duty and IST the innovation award in the building automation category.

"The IST monitor is one of the first solutions to provide all of the key operating data that a contractor requires to detect and diagnose developing problems before they cause a failure in the customer's equipment," said Duty.

In simple terms, the system consists of a monitor with 10 sensors and six open sensor inputs, mounted on a customer's heating, cooling, or refrigeration equipment and connected to a phone line.

The system monitors multiple operating parameters and immediately notifies the IST data center if a problem is detected. The online data center, in turn, is designed to alert the servicing contractor and provide the technicians with enough operating data to start diagnosing the developing problem before visiting the customer's site.

According to Duty, his device locks in existing customers for contractors. "It offers the contractor the opportunity to detect equipment problems and to contact the customers before they call a competitor." At the same time, Duty insisted the IST monitor helps attract new, increasingly service-oriented customers.

"It adds not only income from the sale of the system, which has been kept low so that it is affordable to customers, but also an income stream from monitoring revenue shared by Invisible Service Technician with contractors," he said. It also increases the efficiency of service technicians. "He or she already knows what the problem is before being dispatched to do the repair."

Internet Savvy

Elsewhere on the building automation scene,Honeywell(www.honeywell.com) announced the release of a free, Web-based version of its Building Control Workbenchâ„¢, a tool designed to save consulting engineers and other design professionals' time by helping them find Honeywell systems, products, and application data for their building projects "in a matter of seconds."

Like its predecessor, Building Control Workbench 2.0 features "wizards" designed to walk users through a short series of questions related to their projects (application questions about the building systems and how they will be used) and leads them to appropriate offerings. The first version of the software was only available on CD; this latest version is accessible at www.honeywell.com/buildingsolutions.

"It just makes sense that we took this next step," said Michael Taylor, vice president, marketing, Installed Systems. "We are now able to provide updates much faster. When we put the items on a CD, sometimes the information had already changed before we could get the CD out."

The company also introduced its T7350M, a commercial programmable thermostat designed for air-handling units with modulating heating and cooling. The thermostat's features include dehumidification control, easy programmability, and occupancy sensors.

New products Tour Andover Controls (www.tac.com) demonstrated at its booth included the Continuum® bCX1 router/controller series and TAC Vista® 4.3, an enhanced version of its LonWorks® network-based building management software. The bCX1 features increased power, memory, and reliability, according to Lonnie Laue, director of marketing and sales support for Tour Andover Controls.

"The newest series of controllers offers a lower-cost solution that is also easier to use," said Laue. "In addition, the series offers flash memory to store not only the users' operating system, but also the application code. In the event of a long-term power loss beyond battery life, everything is restored automatically when power is returned."

According to Laue, the company designed the controllers for timesaving setup. "Network configuration is done via a standard Web browser. All models feature removable connections for easier installation and servicing," he said. Three models of the bCX1 are available, including controllers designed for the BACnet network protocol.

In addition, the company's latest enhancements to its TAC Vista "provide important benefits to occasional and remote operators and to building occupants, such as office staff and other nonprofessional users," said Laue.

It includes Web station, a Web-based interface to the TAC Vista Server via Intranet or Internet using a standard Web browser. According to Laue, Web station allows users to access alarms, graphics, trend and time charts, and events whether the users are in the building or on the road, or even if they have limited experience with the program.

At the Loytec (www.loytec.com) booth, the company introduced its L-IP family of integrators designed to link LonWorks networks with Ethernet/IP networks "at an affordable price and with a simple installation." According to the company, L-IP "transparently routes packets from LonWorks networks over Ethernet/IP channels based on the two open standards, ANSI/EIA-709 (LonTalk®) and CEA/EIA-852 (LonTalk over IP)." The company said L-IP can also connect LonWorks networks over the Internet "with a secure and reliable communication path."

Staefa Control System, a brand from Siemens Building Technologies, billed its Talon open protocol building control system as “the next generation HVAC control systems.”

More Controls

Siemens Building Technologies(www.sbt.siemens.com) introduced its Q-Series family of rh/temperature outdoor air sensors. The sensors fit a variety of applications in both new and retrofit installations, relative humidity only or combination humidity and temperature. All versions are offered with different control signal options, with either 0-10-V. or 4-20-mA signal outputs. Three temperature ranges are available, depending upon application.

Staefa Control System (www.staefa.com), a brand from Siemens Building Technologies, touted its Talon® open protocol building control system, dubbed "the next generation HVAC control system." According to the company, this system combines the system level applications, network management, and programming tools to optimize open systems facility management. Its applications can run seamlessly with LonWorks, BACnet, Modbus, EIB, and legacy protocols, the company said.

Tridium (www.tridium.com) announced that it has standardized the QNX® Neutrino® RTOS and QNX Momentics® development suite for QNX Software System's flagship Niagara AX Framework platform. QNX Neutrino will be the sole operating system to power the company's full product line, including JACE embedded controllers and Niagara OEM runtimes.

By making the strategic decision to standardize QNX Neutrino, Tridium said it can now provide customers with enhanced real-time control, "greater reliability, and support for advanced Web services at the device level, while accelerating software development to deliver new versions of Niagara Framework to market quicker."

FieldServer Technologies (www.fieldserver.com) introduced several products at the expo, such as its FS-B3510 FieldServer, designed to bring together its driver library with the latest in gateway design. According to the company, there is plenty of connectivity; it has four serial ports, two 10/100 Base T Ethernet ports, plus a LonWorks port. It also has dual Ethernet ports, 1,000-point capacity, and a DIN rail-mounting option.

Circon Systems Corp. (www.circon.com) pointed out its new APC-300 access point controller interfaces with standard Wiegand proximity identification devices up to 128 bits, with or without individual access user PIN verification. It said the APC-300 makes intelligent decisions independently of the host PC, for up to 10,000 access users.

Control Products (www.controlproducts.com) introduced the FA-1-CCA, designed to monitor temperature from a remote location, such as a cabin or summer home. The FA-1-CCA calls three phone numbers if the temperature drops or power fails at the remote location. According to the company, one can remotely check the temperature and power status from any phone in the world.

The new Setra Systems 260 pressure transducers from Setra (www.setra.com) are designed to sense differential or gauge (static) pressure and convert this pressure difference to a proportional electrical output for field-selectable unidirectional or bidirectional pressure ranges. The 260 Series is offered with field-selectable high-level analog outputs of 1-5, 0-5, and 0-10 VDC, or 4-20 mA.

ASI Controls (www.asicontrols.com) noted two new products in its stable: the ASIC/1-6000 and the ASIC/2 controllers. The ASIC/1-6000 is an integrated VAV controller/actuator. It can be used with electric heat or hot water valve reheat and fan-powered boxes. The company said this controller is suitable for pressure-independent and pressure-dependent applications.

On the other hand, its ASIC/2 controllers are designed to be flexible. The company said they can be configured to meet HVAC control application specifications. Configurable controllers can be applied to equipment such as built-up air handlers, chillers, boilers, and pumping stations.

Chris Collins demonstrates Tour Andover Controls’ new TAC Vista 4.3, an enhanced version of its LonWorks network-based building management software.

Different Marketing Approaches

WhileKMC Controls(www.kmccontrols.com) did not necessarily have new product announcements, it did amuse the crowd with its "Bob the Snowman" mascot, which appeared at its booth from time to time. It's all part of the company's new ad campaign in celebration of its 35th anniversary.

"One of the primary messages here is, ‘We're different,'" said Jon Hilberg, vice president of sales for KMC. "Let's face it, in many respects all manufacturers provide similar products and solutions to the industry. We have an open system solution. So do they. We have Web-based software. So do they. But in terms of customer response and customer relationships, we can, and do, differentiate ourselves. Bob will help deliver that message."

EDC International Inc. (www.edcinternational.com) touted its new low ambient controller, Model LAC-2/1. The company said this electronic controller is for outdoor fans on heat pumps and cooling-only air conditioners. By controlling the speed of the fan in changing ambient temperatures, the company said its electronic controller "brings benefits to all air conditioning installations." The product is designed to help prevent freeze-up of indoor coils, shorten compressor run times, and improve SEER.

Meanwhile, KwiKool (www.kwikool.com) said its KM1000 Climate Monitor "is the most affordable and effective solution for monitoring server room environments." It is a rack-mounted, Web- or network-accessible device.

Advantech (www.advantech.com/ia) showcased its new controller, the BAS-2520. The BAS-2000 Series controller is a standalone "with the concept of typical direct digital controller in building automation systems." For example, it is designed with universal I/O, wall-mounting thin case, and "is also an embedded building automation control algorithm for HVAC," the company said.

Cimetrics (www.cimetrics.com) featured its BACnet Explorer XML, which can be connected to any BACnet network. It is designed to automatically display a listing of all BACnet devices. Submeters contain a listing of objects within each device and the current values of the properties within each object.

Cyrus Technologies (www.cyrustech.net) said it will release its new Cyrus Poweredâ„¢ platform and Hosted ControlsSM application in the second quarter of this year. According to the manufacturer, Cyrus Powered and Hosted Controls will provide "a comprehensive Web-based application that brings micro-environmental control to tenants and enterprise systems."

Sidebar: New Zoning Opportunities Presented

ORLANDO, Fla. - Even though there was not an abundance of new zoning products introduced at the 2005 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo), those that were on display were noteworthy.

Emerson Climate Technologies (www.gotoemerson.com) introduced its White-Rodgers ComfortPlusâ„¢ zoning system. According to the company, the system creates separate comfort zones throughout the home using one heating-cooling system.

"Maintaining consistent temperatures throughout the house can be challenging with one system and one centrally located thermostat," said Ron Miles, vice president of sales and marketing - distribution. "The White-Rodgers ComfortPlus Zoning System eliminates these temperature fluctuations by providing conditioned air only where it is needed. In doing so, the zoning system helps homeowners to feel more comfortable and increases the energy efficiency of their home."

The system combines a separate programmable thermostat for as many zones as needed, as well as a central control panel. The system is designed to deliver conditioned air to the specific zone that is calling for it, rather than to areas that are not in use.

Zone-A-Trol (www.zoneatrol.com) made a splash with its new Retro-Roundâ„¢ slip-in round dampers with plug-and-play motors. According to president Richard Foster, the company's insertable zone dampers feature a state-of-the-art motor actuator that allows the installer to just plug in the motor. The DC-powered motor can be wired using standard telephone wire with RJ11 plugs, said Foster. A 25-foot cable is supplied with each damper as is a splitter, allowing multiple dampers (up to 10) to be controlled from a single zone. The motor also has a two-color LED that lights green when the damper is open and red when the damper is closed.

To install, Foster said one has to cut a 1-inch-wide slot the diameter of the damper, lengthwise along the duct. Then slide the damper into the duct and secure with sheet metal screws provided with the damper. Once installed, the damper is wired by plugging in the wire that comes with the damper, back at the plug-and-play module that is required at the zone panel.

Zone-A-Trol also introduced its Mastertrolâ„¢ zoning panels. Its push-in wiring blocks are designed to eliminate the need to screw in each wire. A pushdown button is designed to allow the wire to enter the terminal; release the button and the wire is secured in place, explained Foster.

Arzel Zoning Technology Inc. (www.arzelzoning.com) introduced its modulating bypass control, adjustable from 0.05 to 0.5 inches water column pressure.

Jackson Systems (www.jacksonsystems.com) featured its Retro Damperâ„¢, another round damper for zone control. It also displayed its Zone Oneâ„¢ control damper assembly, designed to solve overheating and overcooling problems. It can be used to control a single room, or by using a number of dampers, zone multiple rooms.

- Mark Skaer

Publication date: 02/28/2005