World's fair of HVAC products returns to West Coast

Southern California in January. Organizers for the 2004 Air-conditioning Heating Refrigerating Exposition hope the combination proves alluring to engineers, suppliers, contractors and distributors. They're expecting thousands of them to pack California's Anaheim Convention Center for the Jan. 26-28 event.

Organizers say this year's show is already larger than any previous West Coast AHR Expo, with more than 310,000 square feet of exhibit space sold and more than 1,400 displaying companies. The amount of exhibit space reserved to date in Anaheim exceeds the 1998 San Francisco show, organizers said.

"The West Coast region represents a strong HVACR market," said Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Co., which produces and manages the show. "AHR Expo is the only opportunity many of these HVACR professionals will have to see such a vast array of all the latest products and technologies from leading suppliers around the world."

Indeed, more than 200 companies that plan to exhibit are based outside the United States. Most are from Canada, but about 40 are from Europe and almost as many come from the Pacific Rim.

This year's show will include pavilions dedicated to building automation and software. In addition to the pavilions, many of the show's endorsing groups are expected to conduct free educational sessions.

ASHRAE winter meeting

As usual, the ASHRAE will hold its winter meeting during the event. This year, officials say ASHRAE will get "back to the basics" - ventilation, energy-conservation and refrigeration - in its seminars and discussions.

One hundred sessions will be presented during the Jan. 24-28 meeting, with topic such as "green" building and refrigerant leaks.

"In recent years, our technical program has focused on emerging trends and new technology," said Ron Shelton, chairman of the ASHRAE Program Committee, which selects session topics. "While those sessions have been helpful, we have heard from attendees that they want practical, useful information that they can use on a daily basis. This year's program will provide that guidance."

In the area of ventilation and air distribution, a seminar will tackle residential problems with an emphasis on climate-specific solutions. An introduction to ASHRAE's proposed residential indoor air quality standard with discussions on benefits and limitations posed by climate-specific ventilation systems, and strategies for taking advantage of regional characteristics, is planned.

A forum will also focus on residential-filter-drop issues. With the increased use of higher-efficiency air filters in residential and light-commercial applications, some people are reporting problems with higher system pressure, according to ASHRAE officials. Equipment malfunction and premature failure, increased energy consumption and poor indoor air quality, all caused by lower flow rates, will be discussed.

Saving energy

Several sessions on saving energy are planned. A seminar focuses on using air-to-air energy recovery to comply with the society's energy-conservation standard. Proper use of air-to-air energy recovery can contribute to energy efficiency and improved indoor air quality, ASHRAE officials say.

Another seminar will provide an update on the energy crisis in California. It will examine new approaches to energy efficiency, focusing on how groups within California have responded to the rapidly changing energy marketplace.

Sessions on refrigeration are also planned. Recent developments in household refrigerants will be addressed in a seminar covering refrigeration cycles, and compressor and component technologies.

Test methods to ensure refrigerant system chemistry performance will be dealt with in another seminar. The methods study refrigerant, lubricant and system protection devices to determine the overall performance of the system. Test results provide the means for service technicians or project engineers to make better choices during maintenance or design of a new system.

The technical program is comprised of 63 seminars, which are presentations on a central or related topic with no published papers, 11 symposia (presentations with papers on a central subject), 24 open-discussion forums, one technical session (paper presentations), a poster session and a public session. A total of 66 papers will be presented.

Public session

For its Jan. 26 public session, ASHRAE will discuss ways homeowners can save energy. With a colder-than-normal winter forecast for much of the nation, heating bills are expected to soar as homeowners struggle to keep their homes warm and comfortable.

To combat rising costs, the need to save energy becomes more important than ever, according to ASHRAE officials. An effort in communities across the nation to adopt energy efficient building codes is already under way.

"Rising energy costs encourage higher efficiency," said Charles Culp, Ph.D., P.E. "In the past, consumers have shied away from purchasing more energy-efficient equipment and taking more efficient measures due to the initial higher cost. As energy costs continue to increase, homeowners are learning that becoming more energy efficient results in a net cost savings, even when the cost of the higher efficiency equipment is included."

The public session, "Improving Residential HVAC Energy Efficiency," will take place from 3-5 p.m. Jan. 26, at the Anaheim Convention Center. Admission is free, and registration is not required. It is sponsored by ASHRAE's technical committee on residential and small building applications. The session will be moderated by Culp.

The session will focus on achieving energy-efficiency in residential construction for new and existing housing.

"Energy, implementation costs, cost-savings and health benefits related to energy savings measures will be discussed," Culp said. "Homeowners or local contractors will be able to implement many of these energy savings items and save money in the process."

Examples of measures that will be discussed include replacement of air conditioners, which normally last 10 to 15 years.

"When the homeowner replaces the unit, which unit do they use?" Culp asked. "They need to know the relative trade-offs for the payback on high efficiency-units."

Speakers will discuss ways homeowners and small-business owners and contractors can reduce energy costs from 10 percent to 30 percent, such as by sealing cracks, windows and doors, and repairing and sealing ductwork.

Speakers and topics will include:

· "Residential and Light-Commercial Tuneups," presented by John Proctor, P.E., of Proctor Engineering Group in San Rafael, Calif. Obtaining rated efficiency from air conditioners is not automatic. Air-conditioning equipment efficiency is affected by refrigerant charge, refrigerant purity, and airflow from evaporators and condensers. This session will cover diagnosing system inefficiencies and verifiable methods of performing system efficiency improvements.

· "High-Efficiency Air Conditioners," presented by Jim Mullen of Lennox Industries in Carrollton, Texas; and Roy Crawford, Ph.D., of The Trane Co.'s Tyler, Texas, office. Should high-efficiency air conditioners be installed? High-efficiency air conditioners are now a viable option in reducing operating cost and improving comfort, according to many experts. This session will cover the practical implementation issues found in installing, operating and maintaining these units.

· "Impact of House Envelope Changes," presented by Glenn Hourahan, P.E., from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America in Arlington, Va. What energy-efficiency upgrades make sense? Various trade-offs made during new construction and upgrading existing construction impact the performance, comfort and the cost to occupants. This session will cover these factors and address effective trade-offs.

· "Impact of Duct Leakage," hosted by Mark Modera of Carrier Corp.'s Aeroseal division in Piedmont, Calif. Is there any reason to care about duct leakage? Leaks in air-conditioning ducts can adversely impact comfort. This session will cover design, installation, sealing, diagnosing and retrofitting for energy-efficient duct systems.

For an up-to-date list of sessions and the program schedule, write ASHRAE, 1791 Tullie Circle N.E., Atlanta, GA 30329; call (404) 636-8400; fax (404) 321-5478; see on the Internet.

For more information on the AHR Expo, visit