Attending trade shows both large and small have always been an integral part of keeping our business abreast of changes within the PHVAC industry. Our employees knew that upon my return, there would be new innovative products joining the tried and true offerings we provided for our customers. Another absolutely essential icing-on-the-cake benefit is getting to know the incredible folks behind the products, developing friendships and establishing insider contacts that allowed me to bypass the typically slow chain of communications without that insider knowledge.
This year’s AHR Expo had just under 1,800 exhibitors spread out over more than 486,000 square feet and nearly 43,000 people in attendance! My feet are just now beginning to forgive me. In addition to the exhibitors, there were seminars, podcasts and an exceptional education track. There was definitely a buzz among visitors with a level of excitement not seen since the pre-COVID days.
Where are the most bacteria found in public and private restrooms? The sink faucets and oddly enough, hands-free infrared faucets, presented the most germs and bacteria in a study done by John’s Hopkins Hospital. Yikes!
As I have noted during previous visits to the AHRI trade show, there is always one gotcha product that jumps out to capture my rapt attention. Throughout the hundreds of manufacturer booths, one theme emerged: Heating domestic hot water by a seemingly endless array of methods. More on that in future columns, but while being given a personal tour of the Intellihot booth by “Sri” Sridhar Deivasigman, the CEO and co-founder of Intellihot, we rounded a corner in the booth and came upon the Legionator point-of-use instantaneous electric tankless water heater. By injecting ozone into the outgoing heated water, bacteria — like Legionella that cause Legionnaires’ Disease and Pontiac Fever —are terminated! And not just those present in the hot water, but also throughout piping from the Legionator to the faucet, the internal waterways inside the faucet and even in the aerator too. Sri also noted the ozone injected into the water stream dissipates rapidly, minimizing any concerns regarding breathing in ozone gas, which can be an irritant for lungs. Ozone gas has been proven to be a most excellent method for terminating bacteria.
My first encounter with injecting ozone gas into water was way back when we had a large exterior hot tub. Injecting ozone kept us from creating a bacteria stew by effectively killing the bacteria and virus bugs that naturally thrive in hot tubs, and, as an added bonus, also breaks down body oils and biodegradables found in hot tubs. The injected ozone helped to maintain good, desirable water quality for those relaxing soaks under starry skies.
What’s old is new: In 1840, German-Swiss chemist Christian Friedrich Schönbein discovered a new gas and named it ozone, from the Greek word ozone (meaning: to smell), because of its odor. In 1900, the French city of Nice installed an ozone injection system for water mains disinfection. Meanwhile, the rest of the world utilized chlorine to treat potable water distribution systems. Utilizing ozone to disinfect potable water is 3,000 times faster than chlorine and it is chemical-free!
The Intellihot booth was packed with Wow! products. Sri delved into their larger commercial DHW (domestic hot water) heat pump (yes, I said heat pump!) tankless water heater products. Although certainly not the only manufacturer exhibiting at AHR showcasing heat pumps for DHW production, the Intellihot heat pump DHW products are built with the ultimate in serviceability incorporated, which appealed to my mechanical contractor side. Each of the heat pump modules are easy to replace, if needed, and there is no need to be licensed for handling refrigerants because each heat pump module is self-contained. Simply disconnect the wiring harness plug, the waterside quick disconnects, and swap out for a new module. Built-in wheels allow you to scoot each module around with ease.
No worries about flammable refrigerants either because the Intellihot heat pump tankless water heaters use CO2 that has an extremely low GWP (global warming potential) of just 1 (one!). By comparison, R410a has a GWP of 2,088. For larger DHW demands, up to four Intellihot DHW tankless heat pump water heaters can be cascaded together without needing to designate one as the master control module. The use of cellular technology improves communication so that you, the contractor, can monitor each module and provide improved customer service. Wi-Fi allows each Intellihot water heater to “talk” with its cascaded partners, ensuring equal run time and output to meet varying DHW demands.
Legionella freely discussed! Instead of sweeping bacterial amplification issues under the rug, Intellihot has met the challenge of supplying healthier DHW by confronting the issue head-on. I’ve written extensively about bacterial amplification in the past, so it was a welcome surprise to encounter a DHW manufacturer who has embraced the issues and developed reliable solutions enabling you to provide safer DHW systems for your customers. This is accomplished by having the heat pump modules target a “thermal battery,” which is a tank filled with a water/glycol solution. Potable water passes through a heat exchanger minimizing bacterial amplification risks while also eliminating scaling issues often encountered with tankless water heaters and provides precise potable hot water delivery temperatures.
Intellihot has tankless gas water heaters too! From small wall-hung to 3-million Btu/h floor models and an incredible turndown ratio of 100:1 that provides 96% thermal efficiency and precise temperature control that eliminates a need for mixing valves while minimizing liability for mechanical contractors and building owners. The iQ-series gas-fired model on display included contractor-friendly serviceability that was clearly intentional. The controls rack swings out of the way and all four sides are easily removable, granting access to all components under the hood.
Intimidated by sizing DHW systems? No worries! Intellihot has an app for that too. TelliSize can be downloaded from Google Play or the Apple App Store.
Connectivity was another theme that ran through virtually all products on display throughout AHR. The ability to monitor products, run diagnostic programs, and clearly see what, if any, parts should be replaced during regularly scheduled maintenance is a dramatic improvement that greatly benefits mechanical contractors.