LAS VEGAS — Day 2 of AHR Expo was a very productive day for the staff of CONTRACTOR — the editors visited booths to find out what are the most innovative products on the market in 2017 (here’s a rundown of a few of our favorite products), and we attended the Radiant Professionals Alliance’s (RPA) reception too.  

At the Adey booth the MagnaClean Professional2 was showcased, featuring a unique, patented magnetic and non-magnetic filtration system that, within minutes of installation, begins to capture and remove virtually all of the suspended iron oxide that collects in hydronic heating systems.

As the popularity of high-performance circulators and boilers increases, the very characteristics that are responsible for that increased level of performance are bringing a new problem to the forefront: iron oxide sludge, also called magnetite. This black sludge, an unavoidable result of oxidation inside untreated hydronic systems, is wreaking havoc in the form of expensive breakdowns and repairs. Consumers as well as contractors are looking for answers.

“Contractors know there’s a problem,” said Tom Tonkins, director of U.S. Business Development for Adey Professional Heating Solutions. “Since the introduction into the North American market of high-efficiency boilers and ECM pumps, both of which have narrow waterways, there has been a significant increase in pump and boiler failures. When contractors service a system, it is evident, in most cases, that iron oxide is present.”

And it is not just collecting in the system — it is causing damage. In fact, according to Neil Watson, Adey global technical director, “nearly 70 percent of circulator pumps returned to pump manufacturers fail due to iron oxide and other water quality issues. Data also show that over 95 percent of debris in hydronic heating systems is made up of iron oxide.”

What is it about new generation high-performance equipment that makes it more susceptible to sludge?

“The new ECM pumps, which have variable speed motors for higher efficiency, have magnets in them… and magnets love magnetite,” explained Tonkins.

As the magnets pull iron oxide into the circulator, even very small quantities can foul the rotor mechanism. Compounding the problem are the narrower waterways that are now the standard in boilers — smaller-diameter pipes increase efficiency, but clog easily as sludge accumulates. Over time, system efficiency is dramatically reduced, operating costs increase, and expensive damage can result.

Designed for ¾-inch copper and 1-inch NPT iron pipework, the MagnaClean Professional2 is ideal for residential applications. The MagnaClean Professional2 is a compact unit that is easily fitted on the return pipe to the boiler/circulator, via rapid-fit connectors. It can be installed in minutes, and can be serviced even faster, due to the unit’s quick-release trigger, low-profile drain valve, and built-in air vent.

“It’s a beautifully simple device,” said Tonkins. “There are no moving parts. The inlet and outlet are shaped to force a cyclonic-like flow around the magnet, which captures the sludge.”

By removing magnetic and non-magnetic debris, MagnaClean Professional2 not only extends the operational life of the system, but also offers benefits that save money and time for installers and homeowners.

At the Johnson Controls booth, the new Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Smart Gateway provides unprecedented control for network management centers. Offering fast, simple integration into the Metasys building automation system (BAS) or any other BACnet BAS, the small, yet powerful gateway brings data into a BAS for comprehensive control of the entire system. Data is organized and available on-demand from any connected device.

The VRF Smart Gateway works over Ethernet to discover all data points from VRF indoor and outdoor units, and makes the data available for every component across the entire system through the Metasys BAS. This comprehensive point data provides greater diagnostic capabilities and system control. Data is automatically structured and organized during the integration process, eliminating the time and costs associated with formatting. Information is displayed using familiar Metasys BAS conventions. Device and point names, graphics and summaries are uniform and consistent with other system data. Additionally, all Metasys BAS capabilities, including the Metasys user interface and offline configuration, are available for VRF systems. The user interface features a global search, schedules and reporting.

Seamless integration with the Metasys BAS means the entire system is accessible and controllable through the BAS interface. In addition, Wi-Fi accessibility enables communication settings to be configured and data monitored and controlled 24/7 from a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

The next-generation VRF product line will feature multiple technology advancements. Outdoor units will offer improved performance, additional module sizes and greater efficiency. Indoor units will include several sizes of multi-port change-over boxes, improved static pressure performance for ducted units, and new capacities for several style units. In addition, VRF controls will offer new features with new functionality.

The innovations built into the VRF Smart Gateway and next-generation systems will enable engineers and mechanical contractors to design, install and integrate Johnson Controls VRF systems with greater flexibility and more options, and at a lower overall system cost.

Also during the show, Haier Ductless Air launched its new product lines. The company showcased a broad array of solutions from mini splits, multi-splits, professional series, VRF to water heaters.

Haier continues to innovate when it comes to our air quality solutions giving our customers more options than ever," said Nick Shin, vice president and business unit leader, Haier Ductless Air. "The AHR Expo will serve as a launch for a number of new solutions including the expansion of our light commercial portfolio with new mini VRF product and the addition of the Pro Series to our successful FlexFit Series."

Some of the new products unveiled include:

  • A new easy installation USB Wi-Fi module as an option for the existing Arctic & FlexFit Series and the new FlexFit Pro high wall models.
  • The Flexfit Pro Series is perfect for light commercial uses. The FlexFit Pro series offers a numbers of options to make installation and inventory easy. Powered by a single outdoor unit yet able to set different temperatures in different spaces via separate indoor units. Available from 24,000 BTU to 48,000 BTU. The 24K unit is interchangeable with single or multi-zone units.
  • The Mini VRF bridges the gap between the small multi-zone residential applications to multi-zone light commercial needs. Mini-VRF can have up to 9 indoor units with 9 zones of temperature control and comfort. With a 984 ft. refrigerant line length, multi-story applications and large building application is now possible. 

RPA reception

The RPA reception took place the evening of January 31st at the Westgate. During the event Mark Eatherton, RPA executive director awarded Johnny White Jr., Chairman & CEO of Taco Comfort Solutions, the RPA’s Lifetime Achievement award.

Robert Bean, industry leading expert on building sciences, indoor environmental quality, energy, and radiant-based HVAC systems, was also presented Canadian Hydronics Council’s Award of Merit during the reception.