With a record crowd filling up a record amount of floor space, the 2017 AHR Expo will go down as the biggest expo ever, officials said.

Total attendance for the Jan. 30-Feb. 1 show at the Las Vegas Convention Center was 68,615 — 7,000 more than came to Chicago in 2015, the previous expo record. It was 15,000 more people than came to Las Vegas for the expo in 2011, which was the first time it visited Sin City.

“We are beyond proud to see evidence that the AHR Expo continues to grow in both attendance and size, as well as in alignment with the HVACR industry at large,” said Clay Stevens, president of the International Exposition Co., which manages the expo. “It’s such an exciting time for the industry right now, and that was prominently reflected in the level of enthusiasm and the wide scope of ingenuity seen on the 2017 show floor in Las Vegas. We look forward to our continued production of this premier platform for HVACR innovation, idea exchange and business development, and specifically to our 2018 show in Chicago.”

Booth space at the expo took up 500,159 square feet, which was 14,000 more square footage than was sold at 2015 Chicago show at McCormick Place, the previous record site. There were 1,968 exhibitors, including 259 first-time exhibitors.

A first-time attendee was Felix Santos of Miami-based All Air Solutions. He liked what he saw.

“This was my first time attending AHR Expo and I had an amazing experience,” Santos said. “I was impressed by the well-organized nature of the Show overall, as well as the knowledgeable booth staff. Our main goal in attending the AHR Expo was to see what’s new in contractor tools, but the actual benefit went way beyond this. I enjoyed a variety of valuable presentations, found some great networking opportunities, and was even able to interact with our competitors. I’m new to the industry, and can see right away that this is the place to be. I’ll definitely attend the show next year in Chicago.”

Another contractor, John Hynak, owner of Hynak A/C & Refrigeration in Moscow, Pennsylvania, said he appreciated the amenities of the show’s host city.

“I’ll be honest, this was my first time in Vegas, so it was great to combine work and fun and be able to bring my wife along,” Hynak said. “There was a great deal to see on the show floor, and those manufacturers providing tool demonstrations in their booths really stood out to me. The mix of sales reps and engineers staffing the booths was also really helpful. “

Hynak said he left the show floor occasionally to check out the educational seminars offered by industry associations.

“I was able to take advantage of several educational classes during the week, including ‘How to Grow Debt-Free While Generating Cash,’ and ‘Business UN-Complicated! Create the Business and Life You Want,’ he said. “I’d say, without a doubt, that this year’s AHR Expo was such an incredibly beneficial and enjoyable experience all-around.”

Many of the longtime expo exhibitors said they were impressed as well.

“We’ve been AHR Expo exhibitors for many years now, and there was a noticeable advantage to us in its location in Las Vegas for 2017,” said key account manager Chris Pence of Fireye Inc., based in Derry, New Hampshire. “This is the only show at which our company exhibits each year, so it’s important we maximize our reach in as many ways as possible. Vegas provided a lively and unique venue for us to meet many of our customers face-to-face. They expect us to be at AHR Expo, and we feel like we were able to be here in a big way this year, in part thanks to the regional location of the show.”

Trane, one of the biggest names in the HVAC market, brought a huge staff to Las Vegas to work the company’s booth.

“Introducing new products is one of the most important components of our exhibition strategy at AHR Expo,” Kevin Stamets, a Trane marketing director based in North Carolina. “We had 120 people from Trane working this year’s booth, and we needed every one of them. Attendance was strong, and booth traffic was steady.”

From HVAC systems to software

The  2017 AHR Expo drew HVAC construction  and sheet metal works companies, industry associations, contractors, engineers, distributors, facility managers and media professionals from all 50 states and more than 160 countries around the globe. But the stars of the show — and the reason many from the industry were there in the first place — were the 760 different types of products on display throughout the convention facility’s north and central halls.

Exhibitors at this year’s show featured the latest products in categories like HVAC systems, equipment and components; energy and facility management; building automation; indoor air quality; and much, much more. Here are some product highlights.

Centerville, Ohio-based Aeroseal featured its duct-sealing technology that seals ductwork from the inside using a patented, nontoxic aerosol mist. The company said use of the product reduces energy usage and improves indoor air quality. Aeroseal also recently announced it now has a presence in all 50 states.

Rotobrush International gave booth visitors an up-close look at the BrushBeast, a portable and compact duct-cleaning machine that company officials said is designed to handle heavy buildup within air duct systems. The Grapevine, Texas, company also said the machine offers a 90 percent increase in vacuum power.

Non-sheet metal products from Thermaduct and Kingspan Insulation were also on display at the show. Perrysburg, Ohio-based Thermaduct had samples of its pre-insulated outdoor ductwork for visitors to look at and hold. Company officials said its pre-engineered, fiber-free phenolic duct system offers high R-values and low air leakage.

Across the aisle, Kingspan, which has its U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, featured its indoor pre-insulated phenolic duct system known as Kingspan KoolDuct. KoolDuct has been used in other parts of the world for more than 20 years, but reached the U.S. HVAC market in 2001 after receiving its UL 181 listing, company officials said.

Charlotte Hall, Maryland-based Production Products Inc. offered demos of its HVAC and sheet metal machinery and had a wide array of its products on display at its booth, including plasma cutting machines and tables, roll-forming equipment, duct assembly tools and more.

MFM Building Products Corp., which celebrated its 55th anniversary in 2016, was featuring its FlexClad sealing system. The Coshocton, Ohio-based manufacturer said FlexClad is a water- and weather-resistant, pre-fabricated, self-adhering, sheet-type protective membrane for pipe and duct applications. The product’s top surface is a UV-resistant embossed aluminum that reflects heat from the sun and can help reduce energy costs, officials said.

Topcon Positioning Systems showcased its Topcon LN-100 for easy building information modeling layout. The Livermore, California-based company also featured its GLS-2000 laser scanner for 3-D information and its GT series robotic Total Station for building layout and as-built projects.

Alan Manufacturing Inc. highlighted a number of products at its booth, including its Wireless Zone Control Damper, which company officials said allows HVAC technicians to install affordable zoning to customers. Once the damper is installed, the technician just has to plug it in. The Wooster, Ohio-based company also discussed its manual cable damper systems, its Radio Frequency Zone Control System, and its duct silencer and sound attenuator.

Sturgis, Michigan-based Midwest Tool had quite a few of its snips, cutters and other HVAC-related hand tools on display at its booth. Its Glide-Tech Forged Offset Aviation Snip, for example, is made of hot drop-forged molybdenum alloy steel for strength and durability. The company also featured its upright aviation snips for easy cutting in confined or overhead spaces, and its Nopeus Industrial Profile Shear for cutting profile material, spiral duct or wire mesh, among other sheet metal tools.

At the Kanomax USA booth, Mike Aleksich, Kanomax USA’s national sales manager, was on hand to answer questions and offer demonstrations of the company’s Duct Airflow Leakage Tester Model 6900. The new model offers test results in either positive or negative setting, while delivering plus or minus 10 inches of water gauge pressure in the duct. The tester also features an easy-to-read monitor and is designed based on SMACNA guidelines.

Elgen Manufacturing Co. was excited to demonstrate the strength of its Two Way Gripper, a steel cable handing system designed to make suspended ductwork easier to install.

Trimble, which acquired content service provider Building Data in 2016, including its Building Data managed content and SysQue software solutions, featured the latest products for contractors and engineers that are further connecting the physical and digital worlds.

The company offered demonstrations of the Microsoft HoloLens, a holographic computing platform that allows the user to see holograms in the real world. Trimble also showcased its estimating software products, such as AutoBid Mechanical and Accubid Enterprise as well as its computer-aided design software for building information modeling.

Vicon Machinery/Plasma Automation Inc. was hard to miss with its characteristic bright-red carpet. The HVAC and sheet metal machinery manufacturer’s show floor was full of Vicon employees who were demonstrating the company’s plasma and liner cutting, duct fabricating, and rollformer machines, among others. 

Carrier unveiled a number of new products at the expo, such as the new AquaEdge 19DV centrifugal chiller with Greenspeed intelligence. The chiller allows for remote diagnostics and notifications, and uses a low global warming-potential refrigerant, company officials said.

The company also announced the release of its new variable-refrigerant-flow two-pipe heat pump and heat recovery systems, which it says are the most compact 20-ton units in the industry.

DMI Cos. showed HVAC products, such as dampers, duct fittings, clamps and indoor air quality equipment, from four of its companies, including Linx Industries, GreenSeam Industries, Aire Technologies and Ductmate Industries.

Linx introduced a new product, ProCoat, its name for a line of coated HVAC duct. It was popular among those who visited the DMI booth, officials said.

“AHR visitors were immediately attracted to the high quality of the finish, and many commented on possible applications of such an aesthetically pleasing product,” said Clay Witcher, the company’s business development manager.

Attendees had the chance to feel ProCoat’s smooth exterior and test its durability.

“Seeing the customers engage with the product was sensational,” Witcher said. “We encourage engineers to spread the word and specify ProCoat.”

At the K-Flex USA booth, company officials offered a look at its Insul-Sheet, a flexible, closed-cell elastomeric sheet insulation product that can conserve energy and prevent condensation on large pipes, ducts and other HVAC equipment. Insul-Sheet is non-porous, non-fibrous, and resists mold, fungal and bacteria growth, officials said.

The company also featured its K-Flex Clad Jacketing products and K-Fit factory-fabricated fittings, which complement Insul-Sheet and its other flexible, closed-cell foam elastomeric insulation products.

Mestek Machinery and its family of companies — Lockformer, Engel Industries, Iowa Precision, Lion, Roto-Die and spiral duct brand ISM by Lockformer — had its metal-forming machinery on display for the fabrication of HVAC and sheet metal ductwork and fittings, including the Vulcan 1000 Plus by Lockformer, a plasma cutting table that company officials said offers the fastest cutting, positioning and traversing times in the industry.

The company’s Pro-Fabriduct manufacturing system was a finalist in the tools and instruments category for the 2017 AHR Expo Innovation Awards competition.

Hilmor company spokespeople said they’re launching 15 new products in 2017, and the company unveiled several of them at the expo. Hilmor’s new digital adjustable torque wrench features a digital screen that displays torque value while tightening. The wrench’s indicator LED lights and buzzer increase intensity as the specified torque value is reached.

Hilmor also showed its vacuum pump, which features a hands-free design with built-in, durable hoist points on the handle and is compatible with the company’s carrying strap. The new pumps can pull a system down to 25 microns, company officials said. The dual-stage pumps are available in 3, 5 and 9 CFM models.

Arzel Zoning Technology introduced its Haven Zoning System to booth visitors. Haven, company reps said, is the world’s first completely wireless, energy-harvesting zoning system. The system can be controlled and programmed by the contractor and via smartphone.

At the Carlisle HVAC Products booth, company reps showed its Top Line Set Wrap, a new addition to its line-set protection lineup. The wrap membrane is designed to be used in place of coatings and provides UV resistance and protection against damage caused by moisture, landscaping operations, equipment maintenance and insects.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based Armacell LLC featured its line of fiber-free, mold-resistant, closed-cell foam insulation for air-handling and chilled water systems. The company’s new large ID AP Armaflex pipe insulation eliminates the need to piece sheet material around large piping, company reps said.

Doby Verrolec highlighted its selection of cable suspension systems, most notably its DobyGrip SpaceSaver, which allows for the suspension of ductwork in spaces where installation height is restricted.  Company reps said it reduces the minimum height required to install the duct by about 50 percent because the cable lock is positioned tightly against the top of the duct.

Ecco Manufacturing had various products for the HVAC, sheet metal and roofing construction industries on display, including its Dynamic Air Diffuser. The diffuser, which also acts as a ceiling fan, requires no electricity, instead using the forced air from HVAC units in buildings.

Airflow from the attached ductwork flows through the diffuser’s hub and out the engineered linear slots of the fan blades.

Various cutters, dampers and sheet metal tools were on display at the Malco Products booth. The Annandale, Minnesota, company also showed its Model C5A2 TurboCrimper Impact, a power-assisted crimper that works on multiple types, sizes and thicknesses of round duct.

Company officials at Norlok Technology said its new Surelok III Clinching Machine is faster, smoother, quieter and uses less air than previous models. The machine is made of stainless steel and offers a two-minute changeover for efficient operation and production.

DuctSox Corp. showed its directionally adjustable air-displacement system, DataSox. Built for data centers, DataSox’s adjustable nozzles allow for higher wattage server targeting in commercial and institutional applications, company officials said.

Ruskin officials were excited about the company’s Dynamic Fire Damper, DFD-LP.

Ruskin says the DFD-LP is the only low-profile integral frame-sleeve high-performance dynamic fire damper in the HVAC construction industry. Rated for dual-direction airflow, it can be installed vertically in walls or horizontally in masonry floors.

Sumner Manufacturing Co.’s Series 2600 Contractor Lift was featured among the company’s other product offerings. The lift has a 1,100-pound load capacity and is available in 10- or 15-foot heights.

For more information on products shown at the expo, visit www.ahrexpo.com