Ridgid’s Model R845 cordless circular saw is now available as a stand-alone unit.
ORLANDO, Fla. - Upwards of 90,000 housing professionals, including home and apartment architects, product manufacturers, and those involved in every aspect of residential and light construction, descended on Orlando Jan. 13-16 for the International Builders' Show (IBS).

Sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders, the event included more than 1,600 exhibitors spread across more than 1.5 million square feet of space - the equivalent of more than 40 football fields. On display was everything from access controls to work gloves. There were plenty of HVAC manufacturers on hand, and plenty of products sure to catch the eye of a contractor.

Makita introduced a new line of high-powered generators.

Ventilation, Filtration, Indoor Air Quality

Patrick Nielsen, ventilation fan product manager for Broan (www.broan.com), said his company's new QT Series of bathroom fans is the industry's quietest. "With five styles and a variety of cfm levels to choose from, there's bound to be a ventilation solution designed to fit every home's ventilation needs," said Nielsen. He noted that all of Broan's fans and combination fan-lights are made to slip into a common housing size, meaning installers can install the housing and choose the model after the drywall and painting work is complete.

Fantech (www.fantech.net) showcased its new DM3000P HEPA filtration unit, the newest addition to its line of indoor air quality (IAQ) products. The system's compact design and duct-mount connection is designed to make it easy to install "and an affordable alternative to portable filtration units," said the company.

The unit installs directly on the return air duct of the home's forced-air furnace or air handler. The integrated airflow switch is designed to energize the unit any time the furnace or air handler operates. The company said it cleans the total volume of air in an average 2,200-square-foot house once each hour.

Gas appliance venting was a focus at the booth of Selkirk (www.selkirkinc.com). The Metalbestos® Model DWC double-wall flexible gas vent connector is designed for use with listed gas-fired appliances equipped with draft hoods and other appliances listed for use with Type B gas vent. Model DWC is an air-insulated, double-wall connector system with comparable insulating value to Type B gas vent, said the manufacturer. Its double-wall construction is designed to provide added strength and durability in addition to reducing the condensation potential.

Broan’s QT Series bathroom fans and lights are designed to be quiet and energy efficient.

Comfortable Homes

Panasonic (www.panasonic.com) introduced its ductless mini-split air conditioners. Features include a one-touch air filter, odor-removing function, removable (and washable) panel, airflow direction control, and selection of operational modes.

A solar refreshing filter (SRF) is designed to absorb and de-odorize tobacco smoke and other hidden contaminants, according to the company. The separate outdoor unit can be placed up to 82 feet away using a connecting pipe.

Nuheat (www.nuheat.com) showcased its latest electric radiant floor warming systems and Energy Star®-qualified programmable floor sensing thermostat. Designed for both of its 110-volt and 220-volt electric radiant mats, the new thermostat features a backlit display, one-touch comfort settings, and a built-in safety device. According to Nu-heat, its heating mats are comprised of evenly spaced electrical resistance wires and enclosed in a thin (1/8-inch), durable fabric.

Heatilator (www.heatilator.com) said its FreshAir Fireplaceâ„¢ is the only open-hearth design fireplace that actually improves indoor air quality and increases heating efficiency by up to 80 percent.

Unlike other direct-vent gas fireplaces, the FreshAir Fireplace is totally open. The company said the unit features a patented design "that allows fresh air to be mixed with heated air from inside the house, dramatically improving indoor air quality." The unit uses a patented heat recovery ventilator that heats incoming fresh air with the combustion heat that is normally exhausted up the chimney flue.

Nextel and Motorola offer Direct Talk, a backup, off-network, walkie-talkie service for use when customers are outside network coverage areas.

Water Heaters

State Water Heaters (www.statewaterheaters.com) showcased its Select® power direct-vent water heater. The company said this model could be vented either vertically or horizontally. A two-pipe "closed combustion" system is designed to allow for combined horizontal and vertical venting and air intake runs up to 45 feet, the manufacturer said. Its tank capacities range from 40 to 75 gallons with recovery rates of 41 to 72 gallons per hour and Btu inputs of 40,000 to 70,000.

Takagi (www.takagi.com) highlighted its Flash T-H1 tankless water heater. According to the manufacturer, it is capable of handling not only domestic water heating, but radiant heating as well. The company said the unit offers high efficiency and is an excellent choice for commercial applications.

Rinnai (www.foreverhotwater.com) unveiled the newest edition to its tankless heater family: the first digital control pad, which the company said will not only manage your hot water temperature, but also automatically preset showers and fill tubs - and bring you news, weather, and music - all with the touch of a button. Each water heater is accompanied by a digital control pad that allows a user to set the temperature limits on hot water usage to prevent burning or scalding. The newest controller looks like a stainless steel, flat-screen television monitor. On these screens, you can watch TV and listen to FM radio, as well as control your water heater, said the company.

Heatilator’s FreshAir direct-vent gas fireplace features an open-hearth design.

High-Tech Homes

Eaton Electrical Inc. (www.eaton.com) developed Home Hearbeatâ„¢, a home awareness system designed to enable consumers to monitor and receive updates on a broad range of household devices and systems. While the current version does not incorporate motion sensors, gas detection sensors, or temperature sensors, a company spokesperson said those features would be added in a soon-to-be-announced upgrade.

The current version has sensors for water, water shutoff valve, reminder/timer, open/close, power, and attention. The wireless, plug-and-use system is designed to install in just minutes, and its Home Keyâ„¢ is designed to allow homeowners an all-in-one glimpse at the status and condition of their homes.

HAI (www.homeauto.com) used the show to display its HAI lighting controls products and its Omni integrated automation and security controller. The Omni family of products is designed to coordinate security, temperature, and lighting. The system can be accessed and controlled from a telephone or via the Internet, including outbound telephone calls or e-mails from the system based on a programmed event, the company said.

The Omni family of products from HAI is designed to coordinate security, temperature, and lighting. The system can be accessed and controlled from a telephone or over the Internet.

Backup Power, Tools

ASCO Power Technologies (www.ascopower.com) offered its backup power technology for residential and light commercial applications. A typical backup power installation includes a fully integrated power transfer load center with automatic transfer switch, distribution panel board, and surge suppression. The transfer switch is compatible with all manufacturers' engine-generators. ASCO, a member of Emerson Network Power, said its systems are available to be installed by HVAC contractors.

Makita (www.makitatools.com), the manufacturer of power tools and accessories, introduced a new line of high-powered generators. Models G2800L and G4300L feature EX Series engines, which the company said are "the first in the industrial air-cooled engine market to utilize high-performance, chain-driven overhead cam (OHC) technology." The company said the generators have fewer moving parts, resulting in quieter operation.

There are times that an HVACR contractor needs a circular saw while on the job, and Ridgid (www.ridgid.com) said it has just the one. Originally available only in the 3-piece and 4-piece combo kits, the cordless saw (Model R845) is now available as a stand-alone unit.

The company said the R845 produces "consistent, high levels of torque to take on the hardest wood and wood-like material." The R845's 6-1/2-inch carbide-tipped blade can cut a 45-degree bevel through a two-by-four in a single pass, said the company.

Rinnai’s digital control pad is designed to manage hot water temperature, automatically preset showers and fill tubs, and allow the user to watch TV or listen to the radio.

On The Road

Manufacturers at the show didn't limit their focus to products for the home. Dodge (www.dodge.com/commercial/sprinter) said its Sprinter is the perfect vehicle for any contractor. It is available in three models, with three wheel-bases and two roof heights.

The company's brochure states: "Sprinter was designed in every respect to answer virtually any need for any commercial concerns, for companies that range from plumbing, electrical, and HVAC contractors (who often need complete, mobile workstations) to delivery services (who need practical, adaptable interior space)." Some of its features include low rear step-in height and optional steps, as well as a driver's side sliding door.

Knaack Manufacturing Co. (www.knaack.com) introduced its Weather Guard® Vehicle Solutions™ software, which is designed to help contractors and vehicle outfitters to design van storage solutions. The Web-based software tool allows users to custom-design work vans with shelving, cabinets, racks, and accessories. The 3-D software produces simple-to-use interactive graphics designed to help the user visualize the custom design prior to purchase. Once the van design is finalized, the end user can print the design drawings and the corresponding list of materials needed, said the company.

Nextel Communications Inc. and Motorola (www.motorola.com) announced the availability of Direct Talkâ„¢. This is a service designed to provide a backup, off-network, walkie-talkie service for use when customers are outside the Nextel network coverage areas. The service is only available on the Motorola i315 and i325 from Nextel, and is designed to provide a range of up to six miles. Nextel said it is the first national carrier to offer this type of off-network service integrated directly into a cellular handset.

Publication date: 01/31/2005