The recent 65th AHR Expo in Dallas established four new all-time records for Southwest shows. More than 52,000 attendees (35,000 visitors) filled the Dallas Convention Center aisles to see the latest products and technologies on display from 1,951 exhibiting companies covering 397,000 sq. ft.

Of special interest is the fact Trane and Carrier Corp., two major HVAC equipment manufacturers, were in attendance displaying their commercial product lines after several years of absence. On the other hand, Daikin, another of the world’s largest HVAC manufacturers, was noteworthy because of its absence. Daikin’s only presence was made by its most recent acquisition, Goodman Manufacturing, which was there with its Janitrol and Amana product lines.

The Janitrol, Amana and McQuay connection

I was interested in interviewing some Daikin officials because many of you represent the company’s brands and would like to know what to expect as this large Japanese manufacturer assumes the reigns. However, I did interview Goodman’s Gary Clark, who assured me everything is business as usual. Clark explained the company still is operating the Amana HVAC plant in central Tennessee where much of its commercial products are made. The residential products are still coming out of Goodman’s Houston plant. However, apparently there is a plan to move upper management from Tennessee to Texas.

Trane’s 100-year anniversary

Trane was probably the busiest booth at the show. It was a regular traffic jam! Like everyone else at the show, the themes were greater, more powerful digital and wireless electronics, variable-speed drives and variable-flow refrigerant systems.

Familiar faces

LG probably had the most new products to introduce, focusing on systems designed for large residential and commercial buildings. Its Multi-V variable-refrigerant-volume outdoor units, plus matching ducted ceiling-mount indoor units and matching special air-filter units were of particular interest.

WaterFurnace, a manufacturer of geothermal water-source heat pumps, touted its Envision 30-EER system, which earned the Energy Star most-efficient designation for 2012.  

Fujitsu announced its ductless split systems all are set for variable-speed operation. Of particular interest is its RLS2H series and its efficiencies up to 27.2 SEER and 10.3 HSPF, which still can provide heat down to -15° F. Quite a feat for a heat pump!

A new HVACR service tools manufacturer

Probably the biggest spender at the show was startup HVACR tool manufacturer Hilmor. Yes, it’s starting from scratch with big money, a line of well-designed and well-thought-out products, and a full complement of sales and support staff. Expect to hear a lot about this company in the future. Newell Rubbermaid, which also owns Lenox Tools, is its parent company.

What I noted was each of the currently limited line of HVACR service and installation tools was particularly innovative. Its flagship refrigerant manifold product, for example, has both analog and digital readouts. It can provide high- and low-side saturation temperatures for some 39 different refrigerants with an accuracy of 1%. It has a vacuum gauge that reads down to 50 microns and it has temperature-sensing connections to read superheat and subcooling.