What 2017 AHR Expo Tells Us About Latest Trends in HVACR Industry

Oct. 11, 2016
Approximately 80 percent of 2017 AHR Expo exhibitors have indicated they will be displaying new or enhanced products, systems, and technologies.

Approximately 80 percent of 2017 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) exhibitors have indicated they will be displaying new or enhanced products, systems, and technologies at the show Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 in Las Vegas.

According to International Exposition Co. (IEC), owner and manager of the AHR Expo, the innovations echo several major trends driven by the growing construction market in North America and abroad, including:

  • Green building as a standard of design, reflected in new ultraefficient equipment, monitoring and sensing tools, and building-information-modeling (BIM) methods.
  • A strong focus on remodeling and renovation, as seen across new product and system solutions designed for installation in smaller and/or logistically challenging existing spaces.
  • Increasing prefabrication/off-site construction methods, reflected in modular equipment with multiple installation configurations and more compact footprints.
  • Skilled-labor shortages, as addressed by several new tools and other resources that streamline mechanical-system installation and repair.

Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

The demand for more energy-efficient air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment will continue into 2017, especially with continued growth in the commercial construction market. Flexible, modular, and ductless cooling solutions, including those with smaller footprints, remain in high demand.

The response from manufacturers to these and other market demands, IEC says, can be seen across numerous innovations that will be on display at the 2017 AHR Expo, including:

  • A premium fluid cooler combining a compact, lightweight footprint with quiet, energy-efficient operation for heat exchange in the variable-refrigerant-flow, geothermal-loop, or economizer functions of a HVAC chiller system.
  • A wall-mounted mini-split ductless heat pump with integrated off-the-shelf WiFi capabilities for residential and light-commercial applications.
  • A series of Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute-certified multiposition air handlers with a high-efficiency multispeed electronically commutated motor designed to provide optimally efficient operation with a range of compatible condensing units.
  • A temperature-initiated adaptive defrost-control solution that can reduce the daily defrost cycles of commercial walk-in coolers and freezers by 40 percent or more. Designed to meet pending U.S. Department of Energy conservation standards, the unit uses smart sensing technology to defrost evaporator coils on demand/only when required.
  • A suite of software modules designed for quick and simplified selection and sizing of outdoor-air heat-recovery and pre-conditioner systems for health-care, hospitality, office, educational, and other commercial-facility HVAC applications.

Building Automation and Control

Demand for data acquisition—and the crucially related controls that perform it—as a means of efficiently employing building-automation- and information-system data remains strong. Software and control-system developers have been hard at work further elevating the power of building automation over the past year, IEC says, and will bring an impressive array of technologies to the market in 2017.

Many solutions have been engineered around BACnet, the data-communication protocol for building-automation and control networks developed under the auspices of ASHRAE. BACnet provides a foundation of consistency and quality that streamlines the integration of building-automation and control systems and has become an internationally recognized standard.

In addition to that for new and more powerful building-automation systems (BAS), demand for BAS solutions that provide specific or niche functionality has grown. BAS designed to perform optimally in certain applications (e.g., critical environments), with specific mechanical equipment or in targeted types of construction (e.g., retrofit), are becoming welcome additions to the landscape of choices in building automation and controls.

Numerous new and evolved building-automation solutions will be exhibited at the 2017 AHR Expo, including:

  • A WiFi-enabled wireless thermostat providing system-level communication via BACnet. The thermostat communicates with end devices via EnOcean and features a tri-color LED display and numerous options for key layout and design.
  • A full-performance insulated-gate-bipolar-transistor variable frequency drive equipped with 200 steps of customizable logic and permanent-magnet-AC-motor control providing multi-rated specification solutions for virtually all AC-drive applications.
  • A powerful BACnet building controller and BACnet operator display providing an array of high-resolution, visually appealing, and easily navigated graphical interfaces.
  • A BACnet-enabled uninterruptible power supply for backup power control of critical HVACR equipment.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

With the construction industry rebounding, a matured understanding of and approach to green building has been cultivated. Building products and practices offering energy-efficient and sustainable benefits have become widely applied, with above-and-beyond solutions falling into new categories of ultraefficiency and disruptive technology.

Several new advancements that contribute to greater efficiency and sustainability will be found on the 2017 AHR Expo floor, including:

  • A user-friendly energy-savings estimation tool for quick payback calculations and accurate/streamlined air-curtain selection.
  • A reflective insulation and puncture-resistant vapor barrier for under-slab/concrete use that provides exceptional thermal value and a strong permanent barrier prohibiting infiltration of vapor and radon. Composed of a single layer of reflective sheet, it is laminated between two additional layers of ultra-strong polyethylene bubble (with up to 140 psi).
  • An energy-saving additive for hydronic heating systems employing a “nanofluid” technology that substantially increases heat-transfer properties and can result in up to 20-percent energy savings.


A need for smaller-footprint products and products that can be integrated into existing spaces has cultivated a great deal of ingenuity among heating-product manufacturers. Among many new heating-equipment developments to be exhibited are:

  • A firetube condensing boiler with an ultracompact footprint and a heat exchanger capable of capturing up to 99 percent of embodied energy in combustion gases while water is intelligently directed through engineered flow paths, enhancing heat transfer and overall unit durability.
  • A WiFi-enabled thermostat designed to support radiant-floor-heating applications with precise temperature control, an optional floor sensor for enhanced protection of floor coverings and overall occupant comfort, and a seven-day, four-event programmable schedule accessed from an easy-to-use mobile application.
  • A stainless-steel heat exchanger and finned tubes for applications in which high anti-corrosion performance and high heat-level transferring efficiency are required.
  • An electric wall heater featuring automatic two-stage heating that uses the lowest wattage required to heat a space. Combining a sleek, modern architectural design with fan-only and timer modes and a remote control for easy operation, the heater enables occupants to select from a range of wattage options and tailor output to specific heating requirements (up to 4,500 W).

Indoor-Air Quality (IAQ)

Awareness of the role of IAQ in promoting comfortable and healthy indoor spaces has grown. Some of the latest IAQ solutions—addressing issues from air-particulate management to emissions detection to fresh-air intake to general air exchange—will be seen for the first time at the 2017 AHR Expo, including:

  • A WiFi-enabled particulate-matter sensor capable of detecting 10-, 2.5-, and 1-micrometer air particulate that is easily installed on any Web-enabled device, provides readings in real time through a dedicated online portal, and is ideal for use in applications such as cleanrooms, operation theaters, pollution control, and the monitoring of coal dust, construction dust, and diesel particulate.
  • The industry’s first self-cleaning, maintenance-free cold-plasma air purifier, which is capable of reducing total volatile organic compounds and particulate while eliminating pathogens. With a rated capacity of 0 to 4,800 cfm, it can accept universal voltage input from 18 VAC to 260 VAC. Its weatherproof outer casing enables installation either inside or outdoors.
  • A multiparameter environmental meter engineered for both walk-through surveys and trend logging in increments of hours, days, weeks, and/or months. Ideal for use in IAQ, industrial hygiene, facility management, HVACR, and other environmental applications, the device efficiently and reliably captures data, displays measurements, documents conditions, and generates a variety of reports.

Instruments and Controls

Instrumentation and related controls remain key to the success of in-field mechanical-systems personnel—from ensuring reliable long-term equipment operation to monitoring and troubleshooting equipment functions.

Whether integrated within a larger product or system or used independently, HVACR instruments and controls are now relied on in greater and more crucial ways, particularly as mechanical equipment becomes more technically sophisticated.

A selection of new instruments and controls to be exhibited at the 2017 AHR Expo includes:

  • A compact-footprint ignition control for next-generation gas-fired appliances that provides internal regulated DC power supplies, high energy spark, and digital communications for operating mode and fault status.
  • A 128-channel-input gas detector with flexible analog/digital/wireless-transmitter combinations, data logging, a touchscreen display, an alarm, four single-pole-double-throw relays, an extensive password-protected menu, and enhanced logic control.
  • The industry’s first data logger to record and transmit carbon-dioxide (CO2) data wirelessly to mobile devices via Bluetooth technology, setting a new standard for CO2 monitoring by allowing easier access to hard-to-reach critical monitoring spaces.
  • A calorimetric flow sensor to measure and monitor flow velocities of aqueous media, operating without any moving parts and featuring a color-changing LED display (to indicate thresholds), analog or switching output, nominal pressure up to 25 bar, and simple startup with a micro USB interface and optional setup program.


The development of plumbing products and systems has remained important as related products and systems, industry codes and standards, and general construction methods become ever more complex.

New solutions spanning the gamut from valve and pumping systems to piping and fittings will be found throughout the 2017 AHR Expo and include:

  • UL-classified lead-free metal-hose connectors and Canadian Registration Number-approved rubber expansion joints, metal expansion joints, and seismic connectors.
  • The industry’s first stainless-steel press fittings for Schedule 10 to Schedule 40 piping systems, providing a reliable connection with grip and separator rings and available with either an EPDM sealing element (for chilled-water and compressed-air applications) or FKM sealing element (for chemical and high-temperature applications up to 200 psi).
  • An advanced lead-free automatic shut-off valve package, with a quarter-turn electric actuator matched to a lead-free, full-port, direct-mount ball valve for compact and reliable automatic flow control.


Software has become a part of nearly every facet of the HVACR landscape, enabling functions related to mechanical equipment and system design, setup, performance, and troubleshooting.

As construction activity remains on the rise, software’s role has become even more important in providing tools that optimize business management and bridge the gap of sophistication between mechanical equipment and those who install and service it.

The 2017 AHR Expo will provide concrete examples of new and powerful software solutions across all areas of the HVACR industry, including:

  • A fleet-management driver terminal software package combining best-in-class navigation and fleet technology, delivering a fully customizable platform that accommodates job dispatching, inventory tracking, driver coaching, arrive-on-time alerts, and real-time data logging and transfer—all in-vehicle/from the road.
  • A cloud-based and offline construction-management solution for recording activities, including daily logs, punch lists, safety observations, inspections, defect management, and commissioning—all from a mobile device.
  • A software bundle for facilitating thermal and energy analysis of buildings by integrating a 3D building model in the OPEN BIM workflow via the IFC4 standard, provides thermal-load calculation of buildings according to the Radiant Time Series Method, calculates the energy demand and consumption of air-conditioning and ventilation equipment, and enables creation of virtual mechanical-system designs.
  • A Web portal and corresponding mobile application designed to function as a “virtual back office” for coordinating the responsibilities of National Maintenance Organizations and their service subcontractors. The online tool organizes common critical data while reducing paperwork, expediting contract management, and streamlining billing.

Tools and Contractor Supplies

Facing greater demand for their labor as construction activity becomes more robust, mechanical contractors are seeking tools and supplies that can streamline functions and deliver genuine on-the-job time savings.

Having forecasted this demand, several 2017 AHR Expo exhibitors have developed tools and supplies to answer the charge, including:

  • A seven-in-one hand tool featuring a unique tip that switches from 1/4-in. to 5/16-in. magnetic hex sizes and includes a Schrader/Core extractor, No. 2 Phillips and 1/4-in. slotted driver tips, and a non-magnetic 3/8-in. nut driver.
  • An intelligent roll-grooving tool for 4-in. to 60-in. Schedule 10 to 40 carbon-steel pipe that references groove and pipe-specification material test reports and measures four critical dimensions to ensure grooves are within specification.
  • A balancing instrument that measures volumetric airflow from HVACR-system diffusers, grills, and registers and provides the industry’s first airflow-balancing-function method of projecting the optimal flow setpoint for individual diffusers while balancing a mechanical system.
  • The industry’s first brushless press tool. With a small, lightweight, in-line design, it delivers exceptional access to tight spaces and intelligent auto-cycle and pre-press battery-check functions that promote accuracy and reliability.

Ventilation Equipment

Ventilation remains a popular focus among HVACR manufacturers, particularly in respect to the IAQ movement and widespread efforts to improve indoor comfort and health. With IAQ mandates now part of evolving building codes and standards, innovative ventilation products and systems that meet these parameters are being developed at a rapid pace.

Products that provide ease of installation, particularly in retrofit and limited-space applications, and elevated levels of energy efficiency are being seen as cutting-edge ventilation developments for 2017. Examples include:

  • A replacement modular high-rise fan-coil unit designed for fast, minimally invasive installation in retrofit applications where space is at a premium.
  • An energy-recovery ventilator designed for smaller spaces within larger multiunit buildings and delivering high heat-recovery performance and an economizer mode.
  • A radial fan system for electronics cooling and controlled domestic ventilation providing up to 10 percent more efficiency than comparable existing products.


Innovation and creativity among 2017 AHR Expo exhibitors extends into numerous additional categories, IEC says, with products, technologies, services, and other resources, including:

  • A fully heat-shrinkable, EN 489-certified joint casing designed to provide water-tight sealing and protection against failed field joints in pre-insulated piping-system installations.
  • The new American National Standards Institute-approved “AABC National Standards for Total System Balance, 7th Edition” manual, which provides minimum standards for total system balance while assisting design professionals in achieving design intent, supplying a better understanding of a test-and-balance (TAB) agency’s required scope of work, and ensuring the execution of proper methods and procedures in the TAB process.
  • A portable, easy-to-use collaring machine for stainless-steel tube and pipe applications.

For more information and to register for the 2017 AHR Expo, go to