One of the fascinating aspects of visiting the ISH trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, every two years is to see products, brands and technologies we have yet to see in the United States, or will never see. This can be frustrating, too, sort of like walking the length of the massive Messe Frankfurt fairgrounds to attend a press conference on a topic that interests you only to discover it is being presented in German.

This marks my sixth visit to ISH since 1995, and the first that I missed the opening day of the show. I landed in Frankfurt early in the morning of March 11, the second day of ISH. My show ticket bought me free passage on Frankfurt's excellent public transportation system, which took me from the airport via train to ISH.

Although a couple exhibitors later would tell me that attendance was off a little on the first day, people packed the booths, aisles and escalators on the second day. So unlike many U.S. trade shows I attend, most of the ISH-goers are dressed in work clothes, ranging in age from the teens to late middle age.

Upon arrival, I headed for the booths of companies with names familiar to U.S. plumbing and heating professionals situated in ISH’s 11 exhibition halls. These include Kohler Co., Fluidmaster, Aquatherm, Viega, Xylem, Bosch, Wilo, Caleffi, Viessmann, TOTO, Grundfos and Falcon Waterfree Technologies.

Among models not available in the United States, Kohler is showing toilets with odor control and integrated bidet functionality such as Veil and Karing. A number of tubs and faucets produced for European markets are on display as well.

Odor control technology also is built into urinals on display in Falcon’s booth. The company is demonstrating “the best of both worlds” with a hybrid product for European markets featuring a mechanical valve and another for the United States with a velocity cartridge.

The Bosch booth, one of them anyway, is showing boilers produced under the Junkers brand. The condensing gas wall-hung models feature some of the technologies available in U.S. models with the Bosch brand.

 This year’s ISH theme is divided into two general areas: the combination of efficient heating and air-conditioning technology with renewable energies and bathroom design and sanitation technology, which includes the bathroom of the future. The show runs through March 14.