An anticipated 65,000-plus plumbing-heating-cooling contractors will come together Jan. 22-24 in Chicago for the 2018 AHR Expo, which show management says is already set to be the largest show on record. The event, held at the McCormick Center, brings new products, technologies, educational sessions and networking opportunities to PHC professionals across the country.

“Pre-registration is on a positive trajectory and we are optimistic for an excellent turnout in Chicago,” AHR Expo Show Manager Clay Stevens says. “There will be 12 acres of exhibit space, making the 2018 show the largest ever in AHR Expo history — 7% larger than the previous record.”


What’s new this year

While the format of the show itself is not really changing, there is an increased emphasis on products, technology and education this year, Stevens says.

“There will be more groundbreaking and award-winning new products that are on the cutting edge of energy efficiency, building automation, indoor air quality, environmental responsibility and more,” he says. “There will also be a 10% increase in the number of educational seminars offered in the convention center.”

Manufacturers are bringing their latest, greatest products to AHR and are finding new ways to catch attendees’ attention and keep them engaged.

“We are adding more videos and product animations,” Caleffi Director of Product Management and Technical Support Kevin Freidt says. “Customers like these, and they make for interesting conversations.”

“Daikin’s exhibit will showcase our latest technology and demonstrate how we’re applying innovation to create the most effective solutions for each unique environment,” Daikin Applied Director of Marketing Strategy Julie Carver says. “Attendees will have a chance to speak with Daikin experts and executives on the latest industry trends and technological advancements.”

Uponor plans to showcase more real-life applications this year.

“We will be discussing commercial versus light-commercial structures and how PEX piping systems offer specific solutions in both of these applications,” Uponor Light Commercial Segment Senior Manager Stan Sveen says. “In addition, we will be highlighting our newest BIM content solution with UNIFI Connect, allowing global architectural firms, engineering firms, contractors and operators accurate and efficient access to our Autodesk Revit library of products.”



Industry trends at the Expo

While technology is a major theme at the event, energy efficiency continues to be the No. 1 trend across the board, Stevens says.

“If there were to be one major theme for the products on display, it would be energy use,” he says. “That includes high-efficiency equipment, energy [heat] reclamation, waste heat use, limiting heat loss, renewable energy sources, controls and methods that lead to efficient operation.

“The variety of different types of products on display, if anything, is growing,” Stevens adds. “Products that have been well represented on the show floor in the past will continue to have strong representation in 2018, such as indoor air quality and building automation and controls. Two other product categories that appear to have a growing presence on the show floor are low-GWP [global warming potential] refrigerants and medical facility applications.”

Connectivity will also be a major trend at the 2018 show.

“We see more wireless and web-based electronic products such as ‘smart’ thermostats,” Freidt says.

“We know the integration of the Internet of Things continues to trend for customers,” Carver says. “Solutions that give unprecedented visibility to energy expense make for a compelling business case for our customers.”

The labor shortage and its effect on the industry is also a hot topic at the 2018 AHR Expo.

“We are noticing product trends that are in direct response to mega trends in the industry — labor shortages, energy savings and intelligent solutions,” Sveen says. “We’re seeing products and systems that are making it faster and easier to do things, all while keeping high-performance standards and meeting tight budgets and scheduling deadlines.”



Getting the most out of the show

For first-time attendees and show veterans alike, Stevens says the best way to maximize one’s time is to plan ahead.

“To arrive at the AHR Expo in McCormick Place without any advance planning would be a mistake,” he says. “There is so much to take in — it can be overwhelming. I strongly recommend that every show attendee, prior to their arrival, visit and conduct a search for the products they want to see, exhibitors they want to visit and educational sessions that cover subjects of interest. The free MyShow Planner will create a personal agenda that attendees can take with them to the Show via the Official AHR Expo app or on their laptop.”

Sveen also says having a plan is critical when visiting the show floor.

“Creating a pre-show plan is advised to having the most positive experience,” he says. “First, clarify the challenges your business is facing, then map out the show to focus on those vendors that can best address those challenges. Using the show’s website and app are helpful resources for understanding what is available and making your plans.

“Also, be open to learning something new. Engaged, customer-focused vendors have great insights. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn when you simply ask a question.”

Freidt also suggests planning ahead “so you can see all the vendors you want to see,” and Carver suggests setting some goals before the event.

“It’s helpful to create a plan that reflects the goals you want to accomplish at AHR,” Carver says. “There is so much to see, learn and experience, so thinking in advance ensures you don’t miss out on what matters to your organization.”



What’s next for AHR?

As the AHR Expo continues its steady growth, Stevens says they will work to continue offering “more exhibits, more new products, more innovative technology and more educational opportunities” to all attendees.

“Although the core value of the show that attracts an ever-growing number of attendees hasn’t changed, its size and scope has grown considerably — by 34% — since the 2013 event,” Stevens says. “More short courses and seminars are being offered to meet the need to understand basic equipment as well as high-tech products and their applications.”

Over the last five years, interest in the growing array of products on display has expanded visitor attendance by more than 15%, Stevens adds.

“The continuing growth of the AHR Expo is indicative of a strong PHC industry that is constantly developing new and innovative products that will meet tomorrow’s needs by creating healthier and more comfortable indoor spaces using less energy and without sacrificing our environment.”

Carver anticipates the show will only continue to grow as manufacturers capitalize on the opportunity to interact directly with customers and key stakeholders.

“The Expo attracts more companies and innovators, which is engaging the industry in new conversations and opening up the opportunity to explore what’s beyond traditional HVAC,” she adds.

The success of the show emphasizes the importance of in-person interaction in an increasingly digital world, Sveen says.

“At a time when so much information is available online, we are pleased to see attendance continuing to grow and engagement stronger than ever at the AHR Expo,” he says. “It’s encouraging to know that people still want to engage with vendors, and that building relationships is still important.

The 2018 AHR Expo will be held Jan. 22-24 at McCormick Place in Chicago. For registration and additional information regarding the 2018 AHR Expo, visit


Education Sessions

The 2018 AHR Expo will feature more educational sessions than ever. Here’s what attendees can choose from.


Free Sessions

More than 70 of the free one- and two-hour sessions will be presented by experts from prominent industry-leading organizations. Sessions have been designed to allow for easy integration of valuable education time into attendees’ overall Show agendas.

General industry-wide focus:

  • Building Automation Systems 101
  • Radiant Cooling in the Windy City
  • Global Trends in HVAC


  • Cooling Tower Fundamentals
  • The Future of Building Automation — Data at the Open Intelligent Edge
  • Health Impacts of Indoor Air Quality


  • The Future of the Billable Hour, by Women in HVACR
  • Solving Moisture Mysteries with a Psychrometric Chart
  • Solve Hidden Maintenance Issues Using Testing and Balancing


Continuing education

The 2018 AHR Expo will incorporate many opportunities for attendees to participate in ASHRAE Learning Institute (ALI) continuing education courses. A total of 20 courses will be offered prior to and during the 2018 AHR Expo coming to Chicago in January. All courses are approved for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) toward maintaining P.E. licensure. Advance registration and fee payment is required and can be completed by visiting ASHRAE’s registration.

Each full-day course will earn attendees six Professional Development Hours (PDHs)/Learning Units (LUs) or 0.6 CEUs, and half-day courses earn attendees three PDHs. Topics include the fundamentals of the commissioning process, complying with requirements of ASHRAE standards, laboratory design basics and beyond, optimizing indoor environments and more.



Several review sessions and exams will be available to 2018 AHR Expo attendees, including:

  • NAFA Certified Air Filter Specialist (CAFS) Testing and 2-Hour Tutorial; NCT Testing;
  • AABC Commissioning Group (ACG) CxA Workshop and Exam;
  • HVAC Review and NATE (North American Technician Excellence) Testing; and
  • ASHRAE Certification Exams.

Registration and a fee are required for all review sessions and exams.


New product and technology theater product presentations

In addition, attendees can see what’s new from the industry’s leading companies in the New Product and Technology Showcase Presentations offered by exhibitors. With no cost and no reservation required, more than 100 20-minute product presentations will be delivered in rapid-fire succession in special theaters on the exhibit floor.

The Showcase provides an efficient way to learn about the latest developments from the industry’s leading technology providers.

Two AHR Expo Innovation Award winners — Spartan Bioscience and Triatek — as well as 11 finalists will give presentations on their new technologies:

  • BELIMO (Building Automation);
  • Caleffi Hydronic Solutions (Plumbing);
  • CAREL Industries S.p.A. (Refrigeration);
  • Cielo WiGle (Building Automation);
  • Cleaver-Brooks (Heating);
  • Coolfront Technologies (Software);
  • GrayWolf Sensing Solutions (Tools & Instruments);
  • International Wastewater Systems (Green Building);
  • Johnson Controls (Cooling & Heating);
  • Spartan Bioscience (IAQ); and
  • Triatek (Ventilation).

A complete list of 2018 AHR Expo educational opportunities can be found at


2018 innovation award winners

This year’s AHR Expo Innovation Awards winners were selected by a panel of third-party ASHRAE member judges who evaluated all award entries based on innovative design, creativity, application, value and market impact. The AHR Expo will also announce the winner of the highly-anticipated Product of the Year Award during the event.

The winners and finalists are:

Building Automation. Winner: Setra Systems for the Setra FLEX, a complete room monitoring and control solution. Finalists: BELIMO Americas (6-way Electronic Pressure Independent Valve); Cielo WiGle (Breez: Smart Controller for Ductless Air-conditioning Systems); and Emerson (Site Supervisor facility control platform).

Cooling. Winner: Emerson for its Copeland Scroll, a two-stage compressor. Finalists: Delta Cooling Towers (Delta Anti-Microbial Cooling Tower); Johnson Controls (YORK Affinity YXV 20 SEER Variable Capacity Air Conditioner); and ZIEHL-ABEGG (ZAvblue centrifugal fan).

Green Building. Winner: Danfoss for its Turbocor TTH/TGH High Lift Compressor, a compressor optimized for air-cooled chiller and heat recovery applications. Finalists: International Wastewater Systems (PIRANHA HC thermal energy recovery hot water production system); Nexus Valve (Pressure Step Deaerator); Regal (NovaMAX Motor - 600 rpm); and Smardt Chiller Group (Smardt Solar Integrated Chiller, or SSiC).

Heating. Winner: Calefactio for The ONE, a three-in-one expansion tank, air separator and dirt separator. Finalists: Cleaver-Brooks (Cleaver-Brooks ClearFire-CE hydronic boiler); Johnson Controls (YORK Affinity YZV 20 SEER Variable Capacity Heat Pump); and WaterFurnace Intl. (Versatec Variable Speed water source/geothermal heat pump).

Indoor Air Quality. Winner: Spartan Bioscience for its Spartan Legionella Detection System, the world’s first on-site Legionella DNA test to prevent outbreaks. Finalists: AAF Flanders (Sensor360 filtration monitor); Addison (Linear Capacity, Dedicated Outdoor Air System); and Johnson Controls (GLAS smart thermostat).

Plumbing. Winner: AquaMotion for Aqua-Flash, an under-sink hot water recirculation system. Finalists: Caleffi Hydronic Solutions (LEGIOMIX electronic mixing valve with disinfection) and John Guest USA (JG ProLock twist-to-lock fitting system).

Refrigeration. Winner: Chemours for its Opteon XP44 Refrigerant (R-452A), a non-ozone-depleting, low-GWP, HFO-based refrigerant replacement for R-404A/507. Finalists: CAREL INDUSTRIES S.p.A. (HEEZ control and management solution) and Emerson (Fractional horsepower low-temperature Copeland Scroll compressor).

Software. Winner: Regal for its Browning Toolbox Technician Motor Efficiency Calculator for Apple and Android platforms. Finalists: Coolfront Technologies (Coolfront Mobile flat rate pricing app); LG Electronics USA (LG Air Conditioning Technical Solution, or LATS, Revit drawing plug-in); and SuperCool Slide Rule (SuperCool HVAC app).

Tools and Instruments. Winner: Fluke Corp.’s Fluke T6 Electrical Tester, an electrical tester that takes simultaneous voltage and current measurements without test leads. Finalists: GrayWolf Sensing Solutions (DirectSense II Smart Probes/Sensor); Milwaukee Tool (102 x 77 Spot Infrared Imager); and SuperCool Slide Rule (Line-set Saver cleaning device).

Ventilation. Winner: Triatek for the Stable Vortex II Fume Hood, a dynamic, low-flow, high-performance fume hood that protects chemists from harmful dusts and vapors during experiments. Finalists: Regal (UlteMAX Axial PM Motor); Titus (TJD, OMNI diffuser) and ZIEHL-ABEGG (ZAbluefin bionic high-efficiency impeller).

For more information regarding the AHR Expo Innovation Awards, visit


AHR’s charitable impact

Each year, the AHR Expo donates the entry fees from the Innovation Awards competition to a charitable organization within the region where the show is being held. This year, the AHR Expo is donating $20,700 from its Innovation Awards program to the Chicago Lighthouse, a non-profit organization serving the blind, visually impaired, disabled and veteran communities with comprehensive vision care and support services.

“We are delighted to have been named the recipient of this generous donation from the AHR Expo,” Lighthouse President and CEO Dr. Janet Szlyk says. “We look forward to using the funds to help update the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in our 60-plus-year-old headquarters building in Chicago.”

Founded in 1906, the Lighthouse has pioneered a range of programs for over 110 years to help its clients lead richer, more independent lives. The Chicago Lighthouse serves more than 67,000 people each year and provides many direct program services to clients throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.



This article was originally titled “2018 AHR Expo will be ‘largest ever’” in the January 2018 print edition of Plumbing & Mechanical.