PMgets a glimpse into the future of American heating possibilities.

Energy-efficient marble fireplace. Photo credit: Messe Frankfurt / Pietro Sutera

I’m sure you all notice that by day three at American trade shows the foot traffic peters out, and early booth break-downs are the norm. Not at ISH. On this my last day at the Frankfurt show, aisles were still full and hallways connecting the exhibit buildings were stocked with slow-moving crowds still looking to enjoy the event.

Thursday began for me with a press event hosted by Germany-based Viessmann. It was translated into English through the use of handy headphones (it felt like attending a U.N. committee meeting). Here I learned about the company’s financial status (solid), hopes for the future (many), and latest product offerings (amazing).

Viessmann's panel of executives lay it all out on the table.

The panel of Viessmann execs declared that regenerative systems and condensing equipment is still the hot market. Increased laws, updated guidelines and frequent subsidies have kept this market not only afloat, but riding a rapid toward further efficiency. CEO Peter Schenk reminded the filled room of journalists that (in Germany) nearly 36 million aged heating units will need to be replaced by 2020 to meet specified guidelines. He shed light on the trend that these uncertain/unsecure economic times will lead homeowners to find more solace within the home, and that a comfortable home will be paramount. “The trick will be convincing building owners that an investment in modern heating equipment makes sense,” he told the room.

The most amazing thing introduced by the panel were it’s latest innovations, such as co-generational heating systems that use fuel-cell technology, and gas, wall-mounted systems featuring sterling motors. However these products are just now being field-tested and won’t be available until at least 2011! It was simply unfounded for me to hear such an open announcement of the future of heating (Viessmann actually announced that these prototype units will be the follow-up technology to today’s condensing units). We Americans keep things close to the chest, so to hear such an announcement was simply exciting … something to watch.

“We see major developments in the heating sector,” the panel said to explain why they were making such announcements. “We’re not telling you to wait, we’re saying we’re not going to stop.” [Note: There were some tough questions for the panel from the European journalists attending this event "

Meanwhile, Back At Messe "

Yesterday was the Bath Experience, but today is all Heating Halles, beginning with Halle 6 where the air was, shall we say, more manly. Yes, there was a perfume of the working man in these aisles, for this was where the installation exhibits were located and the European plumbers were in full force.

Plastic pipe booths far outnumbered copper ones, and there were plenty of tool demonstrations to keep attendees busy. In terms of entertainment, however, Uponor’s booth won the award for uniqueness. They featured a unicyclist juggler who performed to music often found in dance clubs (he was very impressive). And the sheer size of the company’s booth was just crazy! “Uponor On Tour” took up a significant portion of the show floor, and wrapped around a hospitality area where visitors could grab a beer and some finger foods.

There were also new products at the Uponor booth, including radiant cooling ceiling panels called The Comfort-Panel. “Kühlt, Heist, Passt!” the literature boasts (“Cools, Heats, Fits!”). I’m afraid I can’t translate much past that, except that these look like drop-ceiling panels yet are filled with all the connections needed to create a radiantly cooled room.

Something else new from Uponor was press technology for its multi-layer composite pipe. No beveling or calibrating, it joints up to 30 percent faster than conventional methods. This means less tools plumbers need in their toolbox, and a quick/secure fit for pipe and fitting.

Let’s talk about “wärmepumpen” for a moment now. Heat pumps were very prominent at ISH, as they were at this year’s ASHRAE show in Chicago. Companies concentrated on maximizing heat, cooling and power from the earth, regardless of the water’s excellence. Brine water heat pumps especially caught my eye. Some of the murkiest, low-quality water can still be used to both heat and cool buildings "

Atmova solar roof panels

Even though I met with Viessmann that morning, I couldn’t help noticing their colossal booth, which was filled with items currently on the market. Its Vitocal 300-G features a two-stage brine/water heat pump with a master/slave combination. The Vitocal 350-A was a dual-mode heating system with air/water heat pump and performed solar DHW with a flat plate collector. It had a communication interface for remote controlling and monitoring via a mobile phone.

Speaking of solar,Atmovais a Swiss manufacturer of copper alloy roof panels that combine esthetics and modern heat extraction. The tiles were beautiful "

Wilo's Geniax decentralizes pumping

And John Siegenthaler was right, pumps are shrinking!Wilo’s Geniax is designed to decentralize pumping. It will save 20 percent on operating energy, and is one of the smallest pumps I’ve ever seen. They’re meant to be placed at the radiator, so there is little if any waste. “A central control unit with state-of-the-art computer technology recognises the heat demand of individual rooms and supplies the radiators by means of miniature pumps. The conventional ‘supply-oriented heating’ with one central pump is replaced by a ‘demand-oriented heating’; pumping will only take place if heat is required,” the company explains. Geniax is available first for the German market, but Wilo will be expanding it soon.

Lincar heating stove

Taking the advice of Rich, John and Robert when I met them in Halle 8, I headed on to the one of my last stops at ISH Frankfurt "

Final Thoughts

My solo excursion overseas has been a marvelous time. I would like to give a big thank-you to the folks at Messe Frankfurt for letting me attend, and for producing a show worth writing three-plus blogs about! What I most took away from this experience as an American Fool in Germany was the cultural devotion to minimizing waste: From the single waste-paper basket in the hotel room, to the paying for bread and butter on the dinner table "