The 2023 AHR Expo was successfully held from February 6 to 8 at Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, the United States. The three-day event attracted a total of almost 42,800 attendees.
As the world emerges from the pandemic, at this year’s AHR Expo, nearly 1,800 global heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration ( HVAC&R) manufacturers gathered. Air conditioning brands such as Daikin Group, Fujitsu General, GCHV, Gree, Haier/GE Appliances, Hisense, Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning, Lennox, LG, Midea, Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US (METUS), Rheem, Samsung, TCL, and TICA/Smardt presented various new products such as ductless air conditioners, ducted air conditioners, and heat pumps.
In addition, ventilation brands such as ebm-papst, Panasonic Eco Systems, and Ziehl-Abegg, key component brands such as Danfoss Dorin, Emerson, GMCC&Welling, Highly, Kulthorn Kirby/ Bristol, SWEP, and Tecumseh, refrigerant brands such as Arkema, Chemours, and Honeywell, control brands such as Belimo, CAREL, Saginomiya, Sanhua, and Siemens, and boiler brands such as Miura and Rinnai livened up the exhibition with a huge variety of products.
Trends Identified from Exhibits Incentives Fuel the Heat Pump Market
As decarbonization activities targeting the achievement of carbon neutrality by 2050 progress around the world, the deployment of heat pumps is accelerating. In the United States, where the AHR Expo was held, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) came into effect in 2022 to incite homeowners to make energy-efficiency upgrades to their homes, including the installation of high-efficiency heating, cooling, and water-heating equipment such as heat pumps. At a state level, California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Washington, etc. have set the goal of dissemination of heat pumps as a trump card for a decarbonized society and have introduced various promotional measures. In addition, the Biden administration decided to allocate US$ 500 million under the Defense Production Act for domestic production of heat pumps. In the future, there is a possibility that measures to promote the introduction of heat pumps, including the incentive system, will be further strengthened.
Aiming to expand sales in the U.S. market, which is full of new possibilities, various manufacturers exhibited heat pumps at this year’s AHR Expo. Among them, air-to-water (ATW) heat pump systems for hot water production were conspicuous, and models for a wide range of applications encompassing residential, commercial, and industrial applications were displayed. Among the manufacturers who were determined to swiftly break into the U.S. market, there were some which brought models with European specifications to the exhibition venue. Hybrid ATW heat pumps, jointly developed by boiler manufacturers and air conditioner manufacturers, were exhibited too. An unprecedented number of ATW heat pumps filled the venue, giving a glimpse of the ATW heat pump boom.
In addition to ATW heat pumps, major manufacturers of variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems debuted many new products with enhanced heat pump functions. New products with an improved heat pump function were on show, including window units that can be easily installed by users.
New Efficiency Standards Expand the HVAC Market
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) introduced new M1 testing procedures for HVAC systems and demands a seasonal energy efficiency ratio 2 (SEER2) equipment rating from January 1, 2023. Many manufacturers have developed even higher performance products reflecting sophisticated engineering and unveiled these products at AHR Expo. Inverters, one of the representative energy-efficient technologies, are now used not only in ductless air conditioners, but also in unitary systems. Major compressor manufacturers also promoted inverter models for these wide ranges of systems.
Data Centers Drive Oil-free Compressor Demand
Oil-free compressor technology is attracting attention and demand for air conditioning of data centers, which are rapidly expanding on a global scale, is growing. Following Danfoss, Emerson also developed a new oil-free centrifugal compressor, which was a Cooling Category finalist of the 2023 AHR Innovation Product Awards.
Ductless split types are expanding their share of the U.S. room air conditioner (RAC) market, and R32 lower global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant has started to become a major trend, as reflected in exhibits.
Moreover, certain manufacturers from Japan, China, and South Korea claim that they are also ready to adopt R454B to address refrigerant replacement for mini-splits in North America. At the same time, Carrier and other U.S. manufacturers have decided to adopt R454B in unitary systems, and Chinese and South Korean original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) seem to be following suit. A major U.S. refrigerant manufacturer believes that these two refrigerants will continue to share the minisplit and unitary markets for the time being. To address this trend, compressor manufacturers are developing models that can handle both types of refrigerants.
Among heat pumps and refrigeration equipment, the number of products that are compatible with natural refrigerants such as propane (R290) and CO2, which are carving out a rising share of the market in Europe, increased. Meanwhile, the main refrigerant for VRFs continues to be R32, and the number of products using R32 for window units is increasing.
IT & Digital Transformation
At this year’s AHR Expo, there were many booths that used digital technology to make their exhibits more attractive, and the HVAC&R-related Podcast Pavilions stood out. Many software companies, including Google, also exhibited. AHR Expo itself seemed to pioneering evolution towards digital transformation.
Post time: Feb-28-2023