2013 AHR Trade Show Report

Ray Hicks, President, CO2Meter.com

I spent three days at the 2013 AHR Expo in Dallas last month. This trade show is billed as the biggest air-conditioning, heating and refrigerating exposition in the world. Here are some of my notes from the show:

What was New? 

I didn’t see anything that could be called a “new concept.” Instead, most products were the result of improvements and evolution.

For example, Tongdy had very nice Zigbee subsystem that has a well thought out subnet 802.15 (ZigBee) to 802.1 (Ethernet). System set up was clean, with little or no knowledge required. 

One technology that caught my attention was networked low-power energy harvesting devices. For example, GSS has a COZIR low-power sensor system that virtually powers itself. But this year’s new twist was using energy harvesting as backup power for line operated controls. Companies were demonstrating prototypes, but the overall excitement is still fairly low. Perhaps next year.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is still in a class by itself, and look like a problem for every other traditional thermostat manufacturer. 

Still No Connectivity Standard

Like last year, the HVAC control aisles were filled with manufacturers touting BACNET, Ocean Net, ZigBee and other proprietary variants of Ethernet over WIFI in an attempt to seek an application niche. These competing schemes use technical jargon to confuse the market, and delay implementation. Why can’t they learn from the credit card companies? Visa and Master Card can compete over price and service because credit cards became ubiquitous once they had agreed on a data format for the mag stripe. 

Final Thoughts

There continues to be a growing number of products for green environments – both office and residential. 

There were many more Chinese companies than last year, including Tongdy, a new product line that we represent.

All in all, the 2013 AHR Expo was definitely larger and much better attended than last year’s show in Chicago. This may mean we’ve finally turned the corner, and can look forward to continued growth in the HVAC industry. 

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