Product information overload is a common ailment post AHR Expo. Exhibitors and attendees alike spend hours sorting through notes and ideas that come from the nitty-gritty observation of tools, components, and equipment function. Who can deny the convenience of pre-drilled connection holes for ductwork, or the power of the massive chillers almost magically placed on the show floor overnight? There are innovations and inventions hidden in every nook and cranny, and I can rarely make it through a show without watching a round of laser cutting or having my picture taken with some curiously-constructed character. It’s intoxicating, and I absolutely love it.

Just as exciting as studying the details of innovative technology is taking some time to drool over the sexy lines and flashy features visible to the naked eye. For example, who caught a glimpse of those hot-looking compressors at the component manufacturer’s booth? Who else saw the sleek new set of Made in the U.S.A. saw blades and cutting tools next to the National Comfort Institute booth in the last — or was it the first — aisle of the show floor? Ok, so it wasn’t the International Auto Show with slick wheels and Hot Shine by the gallons, but this year’s AHR Expo brought the design and function of HVAC tools and equipment to a new level.

Part of the show’s yearly quest is to determine which entered products are Innovation Award winners, culminating with the announcement of the Product of the Year on Tuesday afternoon. Congratulations to the Danfoss CO2 Adaptive Liquid Management (CALM) Solution. It is not just the naming of the award winners though that makes this competition special — it is the commitment of the entrants to push the envelope of HVAC to new heights and creative adaptations.



One of the trends I picked up during the AHR Expo is that product designers are starting to take further advantage of some of the five senses in their product designs. That doesn’t mean they had a refrigerant smelling session or a POE oil tasting on the schedule — it means that where possible, new cues are being given to technicians that they have correctly completed a task. For example, there were several items on the floor that made distinct sounds when they were locked in or correctly placed on a unit. This didn’t happen as a byproduct of overall equipment manufacture, but it was specifically created with the intention of further verifying that a task was done correctly. Sight has always been a large part of the HVACR trade, but new indicators are also being designed to take the guesswork out of installations, service, and maintenance. I would bet that in the coming years, more audio and visual indicators will be developed.



Now that we all have had a taste of what is available to the industry this year, it is time for product creators to keep working with and designing new elements for the HVACR contractor and technician in the field. First, let me thank you on their behalf for every function that saves them time and money. Second, let me thank you for the safety measures that are considered in the design of HVACR products. Finally, let me invite you to bring your HVACR product to another long-standing competition of excellence: The ACHR NEWS’ 2020 Dealer Design Awards. This prestigious awards program showcases the most innovative products that can be conveniently installed, maintained, and serviced. There are 14 product categories ranging from unitary equipment to hand tools and encompasses everything in between. Products entered into the competition must have been introduced to the market after January 1, 2019 and must be available to the market no later than April 30, 2020.

What are you waiting for? Go to and get started. The early bird deadline is March 25, and the final deadline is April 8, 2020. Don’t miss the opportunity to share the best designs and products available in the HVACR industry.