ORLANDO, Fla. - Maybe it was the location - central Florida - the sunshine or just  the optimism of the HVAC industry, but organizers and many exhibitors were happy with this year’s AHR Expo.

The D-Max 1.2E spiral tube former is demonstrated by Jerry Cunningham of ISM Machinery Inc.

ORLANDO, Fla. - Maybe it was the location - central Florida - the sunshine or just  the optimism of the HVAC industry, but organizers and many exhibitors were happy with this year’s AHR Expo.

The expo returned to the Orange County Convention Center Jan. 25-27 for the first time in five years and if any exhibitors had concerns that the recession would keep attendance down, that seemed to quickly dissipate.

A total of around 44,000 people, including visitors and booth staff, come to this year’s event, a little less than the estimated attendance in 2005, the last year the show came to Orlando. But in a time when many conventions are experiencing double-digit declines, exhibitors were satisfied.

“We’ve been impressed so far,” said Steve Junge, president of Lattner Boiler Co. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “We were a bit pessimistic, but first-day traffic is really steady. There also seems to be a lot of international visitors.”

Junge was interviewed Jan. 25.

Lou Laroche, national sales manager for Airtec, said he was “happy as can be” with the show.

“We’re introducing a new product and have received more leads so far than we did all of last year - and last year was a good show,” Laroche said.

The 2009 show took place in Chicago.

CertainTeed air-handling products manager Ken Forsythe stands next to a roll of the company’s ToughGard T and ToughGard R, which features up to 75 percent recycled content.

Lots of new things

As always, the AHR Expo offered plenty for contractors and anybody interested in what’s new in the HVAC and sheet metal industries. Out of the thousands of products shown, here is a look at some of the many new or improved products on display that might be of most interest.

Software companyTrimble used the show to debut a new version of its MEP Field software for mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors. Officials say Trimble MEP 2.0 is the first designed to allow contractors to take digital computer-aided drafting or building information modeling files into the field, making layout of ductwork, pipe and conduit easier. The need for rework is reduced, increasing productivity, officials say.

Duro Dyne Corp. was promoting its DuroZone remote-control damper with wireless control. The model WRCD uses the remote control to incrementally open and close volume dampers, ensuring occupants’ comfort. It installs between the lay-in diffuser and supply duct to regulate airflow. The company also showed off its cable-operated damper, which allows users to simply push or pull on a wire to change damper blade position.

Lombard, Ill.’s Pate Co.showed off its ventilators, including its gravity ventilator. The units are made of heavy-gauge aluminum. Intake hoods have a 2-1 ratio (hood to throat). Exhaust hoods have a 1-1 ratio. Optional features include insulation, insect screens and stainless steel.

Malco Products Inc. showed off several items, including its Max2000 aviation snips. They come with a narrowed grip opening to accommodate large or small hands and ensure cutting length, the company’s premium Max2000 blades and an upgraded, no-hang-up latch.

The D-Max 1.2E is a new automatic spiral duct machine from ISM Machinery Inc., based in Grayslake, Ill. It can make spiral ductwork up to 18-gauge thick in speeds of 235 feet per minute. The machine is powered by a frequency-drive electric motor and features an “on the fly” slitting device to ensure quiet, accurate cuts without burrs, sparks or loud noise. A compact design makes transportation and setup easier.

Sumner Manufacturing Co. Inc. showed its series 2414 contractor lift. Ideal for HVAC contractors, it is a compact 12-foot lift with a maximum capacity of 400 pounds. Using one-piece construction, it has no loose pieces and is easily operated and moved by one person, and fits in most vans and sport-utility vehicles.

M&M Manufacturing Co.promoted its DucTite line, which it calls “the new standard in factory-sealed fittings.” The energy-efficient products include reducers, Wye branches, insulators and other fittings.

CertainTeed officials were explaining the benefits of the company’s ToughGard T, a textile duct liner. The acoustical liner offers better water and airflow resistance and meets code requirements, officials said. Made of textile-type, 75 percent-recycled glass fibers, it also features an anti-microbial coating to inhibit mold growth.

Chris Van Rite (left), vice president of sales at M&M Manufacturing Co., and marketing manager Bob Cherveny, holds a DucTite Wye fitting.

Plasma Automation Inc.has launched a cutting system for spiral ductwork under the Vicon brand, which includes the company’s ViSoft cutting software. The machine cuts duct from 4 to 60 inches round in gauges from 26 to 16. It can trim, miter and make tap connections on the end of round duct. The machine cuts holes, slots and other shapes into spiral duct to attach branches and registers.

Sheet Metal Connectors Inc.of Minneapolis showed its Safety Seal line of fittings, made from galvanized steel. They feature a double-legged gasket to ensure an airtight fit when put into spiral duct. The products have been pressure tested and meet the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association’s standards for leakage class No. 3.

The Leak Detective, an updated test station for use in HVAC duct systems, was the newest product fromMcGill Airflow LLC on display. It uses calibrated flow meters instead of orifice plates to measure air leakage. Venturi tubes have been matched with new components and put in a self-contained test station on wheels.

Design Polymerics of Fountain Valley, Calif., launched its DP Covers, a line of protective, reusable plastic covers with an elastic band made to keep moisture, dust, debris or paint out of ducts.

Doug Gudenburr (center) talks with attendees about GreenSeam Plus, the newest product from Ductmate Industries.

GreenSeam Plus, a self-sealing snap-lock pipe, is the newest product from Pennsylvania’s Ductmate Industries Inc.It comes with a proprietary co-polymer gasket that once put together, requires no additional seals along longitudinal seams or transverse joints. Designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building standards, it works with low-pressure commercial or residential ductwork.

QSteel 2009 is the newest addition for Quickduct CAD fromShop Data Systems Inc.QSteel is a light-steel application for the HVAC detailer who needs “a little extra,” according to Shop Data officials. It allows users to simultaneously create structural steel shapes and duct in the same drawings. No need to wait for the detailer to provide 3-D drawings. QSteel requires the installation of Quickduct CAD and is part of the AutoCAD platform.

Engel Industriesis offering the patent-pending Swing Blade insulation cutting system on its machines. Along with AP Coilflex duct liner from Armacell, officials say it is aimed at contractors concerned about indoor air quality issues.

The Swing Blade is designed for cutting non-fibrous foam insulation and standard fiberglass insulation. It uses a hardened, waved cutting edge for slicing through the foam and not pinching or chopping it off. It requires less power and ensures the knife stays sharp.

AP Coilflex liner is mold resistant, fiber free and blocks noise.

Trumpf Inc.’s power tool division showed what it calls the world’s smallest and lightest battery shear - the TruTool S 130. Made for users of thin sheet, it weighs 3 pounds with battery. It cuts at up to 23 feet per minute.

Sonic XP duct liner, which features Ecose technology, is the newest product fromKnauf Insulation. The product is a mat-faced, flexible insulation bonded with Ecose, which is made of renewable materials instead of petroleum-based products. The tightly bonded mat gives the airstream a smooth, yet tough surface that resists tearing.

Elgen Manufacturingwas offering its AE-88 Duct Butter, a fiberglass edge coating to repair insulation. Easy to apply and quick drying, it is tack free, flexible and durable, Elgen officials say.

Officials hand out Innovation Awards

Danfoss’ Performer VSD was named Product of the Year in the eighth annual AHR Expo Innovation Awards.

In addition, products from Daikin AC, Samsung and DuraSystems Barriers were among the nine companies named as other winners.

The companies and their products were recognized Jan. 26 at an awards ceremony.

A panel of judges, made up of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers members, evaluated all submissions. Product entries were judged for innovation, application, user value and market impact. The $11,000 in entry fees from the 2010 competition was given to the Jacksonville (Fla.) Police Athletic League to defray the cost of installing a new HVAC control system.

“We are extremely pleased with the wide range and high quality of product submissions we received for the eighth year of the award program,” said Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Co., which produces and manages the AHR Expo. “It is a pleasure to recognize and honor manufacturers that have excelled in turning technology into useful and efficient products.”

Danfoss officials thanked expo organizers for the award.

“We are proud to receive this award because it is welcome proof of the continuing Danfoss commitment to energy efficiency achieved through engineering innovation,” said Stephen Gugliotta, director of sales for Danfoss’ air-conditioning division.

The other winners were:

Building Automation Award: The WBT900 fromAIC-Wireless.

The WBT900 is a device that enables a BACnet controls network to become wireless. It enables wireless communications between buildings, sites or equipment when local infrastructure won’t allow it or can’t be accessed.

The WBT900 comes preprogrammed from the factory and is ready to install.

Cooling Award: The Micro Channel Evaporator fromDelphi.

The Micro Channel Evaporator is specially designed to perform both cooling and heating functions for residential and commercial applications. These applications can include residential air conditioning/heating (indoor units); commercial cooling/heating applications (rooftop units); refrigeration applications, including retail food storage and bottle cooling; and heating units.

Green Building Award: The Performer VSD  fromDanfoss Inc.

The Performer VSD integrates a variable-speed scroll compressor, drive and control electronics for electronic expansion valve, a condenser fan and a reversing valve. The cost-efficient, green home HVAC product is engineered for the highest efficiency with ducted systems.

The Performer VSD is being tested in the market and will be available in the second quarter of 2010.

Heating Award:Daikin AC(Americas) Inc.’s VRV III-C heat pump system.

The VRV III-C is designed to allow for individual control of rooms or zones, giving the control back to the user or building manager. It is designed for applications in which high energy efficiency, compact units, and low sound levels are desired, such as office buildings, hotels, schools, retail, hospitals, and multitenant residential buildings. It will be available in June 2010.

IAQ Award:Samsung Electronics’Virus Doctor.

The Virus Doctor with “Super Plasma Ion” technology is designed to effectively eliminate 99.99 percent of the airborne influenza A virus subtype H1N1 - also known as swine flu - within 20 minutes of use. In addition to other health benefits, the company said its test results show that the Virus Doctor with SPi technology could help prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus from person to person by removing the airborne virus, officials say.

The Virus Doctor with SPi technology is currently used in selected Samsung air conditioners as well as its air purifiers, humidifiers, and other products for automobile or medical applications.

Refrigeration Award: The 3C condenser fromMuller Industries North America.

The 3C condenser is a recyclable condenser that uses both air-cooled and water-cooled technologies. This facilitates lower system design condensing temperatures in order to increase the overall energy efficiency of the refrigeration system, reducing the system’s carbon footprint by lowering indirect emissions associated with generating electricity. The 3C Condenser is primarily used in supermarkets and cold storage warehouses.

Software Award:AEC Design Group’sArtrA O&M.

The ArtrA O&M allows contractors and owner/operators to use 3-D models as the graphic interface to access all types of documentation and data to more effectively manage operations and maintenance. Intended for the commercial market, a user can use the program to search for an item - a specific air handler unit for example - then ArtrA O&M will zoom in to locate the object in the 3-D model and show a list of any information related to it.

Tools and Instruments Award: Cool Gel fromLA-CO Industries Inc.

Cool Gel heat barrier spray is a clear, nontoxic, nonstaining gel that protects rubber, plastic and painted and finished surfaces during soldering, brazing or welding by acting as a barrier between the surfaces being worked on and the heat from a torch. Cool Gel can be used in a variety of HVAC applications, including commercial rooftop repair, residential furnace repair, commercial refrigeration repair and installation, and commercial refrigeration valves and wiring.

Ventilation Award:DuraSystems Barriers Inc.’s DuraDuct HP.

DuraDuct HP is a fire- and blast-resistant certified duct system rated for two-hour fire resistance. It has also been independently tested to achieve a blast resistance rating of 29 psi.

The DuraDuct HP system is designed for use in commercial, institutional and industrial markets and is ideal for retrofit projects due to its slim profile and space saving ability, company officials say.