Jim Wheeler 2018-03-05 00:45:05
AHR Expo: New equipment technology Why have I attended every AHR Expo since 1984? Because I am interested in seeing all the great, new ideas that either will or won’t impact our industry, and this year wasn’t a disappointment to me. Yes, I walked endless miles over the three days I was there (Oh my aching feet and legs) and saw innumerable things that made me wonder if there could really be a market for them. I saw far too many (usually Chinese or Korean) companies just trying to get the attention of American equipment manufacturers with their parts and pieces, but I also saw a lot of good stuff that I’m sure you would be interested in as well. To start off, I saw the futur e of our industry! No, it didn’t come from one of the huge foreign or domestic equipment manufacturers, rather I spotted it in a little booth that was a bit hard to find. However, there emblazoned across the front of a prototype gas-pack rooftop unit were two signs advertising 30-SEER cooling and 200%- AFUE heating! Impossible? Yep! So I went up and asked the people if they weren’t being a bit too boastful. And this is what I found out: They had combined a gas furnace with a heat pump that uses all the high-efficiency bells and whistles and all the energy recovery we are aware of (and a few things that were new to me) to build a unit that is now under testing in Minnesota and being reviewed by the DOE. And according to them, it is exceeding their great numbers. No, it isn’t for sale yet. It just shows what still is possible through technology, so I’ll leave it at that. Getting back to reality (but still pie-in-the-sky), one of the larger offshore equipment manufacturers had another great idea on display (but it’s still in the idea stage) where it attached an infrared camera to a ceiling-mount air handler, which it could use to not only detect the presence of a person in a room, but also to sense the ambient temperature around him/ her and then automatically adjust the unit’s diffuser louvers to send conditioned air to the area where the person is standing or sitting. Of course, pie-in-the-sky is just that until it makes such a product available. But less pie-in-the-sky is a great idea I saw at the Samsung booth where it was touting its wind-free line of air handlers for commercial and residential applications. Wind-free? Yes, Samsung apparently applied this technology across its line of products where a damper closes off the main discharge air stream whenever the room temperature reaches within 1 1/2° F of setpoint and from there the air is diverted through hundreds of small holes on the face of the diffuser, which allows air to trickle into the space rather than blow, so there is no cold draft. And finally the folks at Daikin had a ceiling-mount air handler that was advertised as having a self-cleaning air filter, which sounded pretty strange (and impossible) to me. So, I asked. And what I found out is the filter doesn’t really clean itself, rather the system provides an alarm whenever the filter starts to get clogged and it has a special port in the front where you connect a vacuum-cleaner hose that then sucks the dust from the filter. Yes, a good idea and a great innovation! JIM WHEELER is an award-winning journalist who has worked in various positions in the HVACR industry since the early 1970s. His articles have been appearing every month since October 1986. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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