Earlier this week, the leading companies and largest global brands in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R) industry descended on Orlando for the annual AHR Expo.
This annual event features the latest HVAC products shaping the industry today. But – contrary to what many think – it’s not all about the companies that are keeping us cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Some of the companies demonstrating their innovative technologies and solutions – including Bradford White – are about making sure that we have hot water.
During this year’s Expo, we sat down with Carl Pinto, Jr., the Senior Director of Marketing Communications at the Bradford White Corporation – one of the leading manufacturers of commercial and residential hot water heaters and boilers – to talk about the trends in hot water heaters and the new technologies being implemented in these often taken-for-granted devices.
During our discussion, Carl talked about how the movement towards smarter and more connected HVAC devices hasn’t skipped over the hot water heater and boiler manufacturers, and how both commercial and residential owners could benefit when these devices become more connected.
Here is what he had to say:
Modern Equipment Manufacturer (MEM): Can you tell our readers about Bradford White? What types of products does the company offer and what market sectors does it serve?
Carl Pinto, Jr.: Bradford White Corporation and its subsidiaries – Bradford White Water Heaters, Laars Heating Systems and Niles Steel Tank – design and manufacture residential and commercial water heaters, volume water heaters, boilers and storage tanks.
MEM: What key technologies and capabilities differentiate Bradford White water heaters from others in the marketplace?
Carl Pinto, Jr.: Bradford White water heaters come with a variety of exclusive features. Here are some examples.
Bradford White’s ICON System is an “intelligent” gas valve that offers advanced temperature control for consistent and accurate water temperature levels, proprietary software for enhanced First Hour Delivery ratings, tighter temperature differentials, and intelligent diagnostics to assist in setup and troubleshooting. That system is available on commercial gas products.
The Bradford White residential gas line features the Defender Safety System, a patented flame arrestor design with ScreenLok Technology. If flammable vapors enter this uniquely designed system and are ignited, any flames present in the chamber will be prevented from traveling backwards through the flame arrestor plate and outside of the water heater, providing added protection.
The company’s patented Hydrojet system is a unique dip tube system where the cold water enters the water heater, and instead of just supplying more water, it stirs the water with a series of flow-altering jet ports. These ports create counter-rotation and dynamic turbulence that effectively blasts sediment into suspension and prevents its accumulation.
MEM: We’ve seen massive changes in equipment manufacturing over the past few years. One change involves devices like water heaters and HVAC equipment becoming smarter and more connected. Is this something Bradford White has looked to embrace in its solutions? If so, how?
Carl Pinto, Jr.: From operation to diagnostics, connectivity is desired by both residential and commercial customers to varying degrees. Bradford White is proactively working on a phased smart solutions approach to address this customer demand, with initial phases to be appear later this year.
MEM: What benefits could smarter, more connected water heaters deliver to residential owners? What about commercial owner/operators?
Carl Pinto, Jr.: The benefits for both residential and commercial water heater owners are similar in that both can monitor the overall performance of their smart appliances and know immediately what type of service might be needed through remote diagnostics. There is also a potential benefit to utilities to use connected water heaters to manage demand response.
From a manufacturer’s perspective, connectivity allows us to get closer to customer and to focus future R&D in the right areas. This is a quickly evolving space with benefits and uses that have yet to be realized.
MEM: In advance of the AHR Expo, we sat down with some of the show organizers, including the show manager, Mark Stevens. One of the hot topics that came up in that discussion was the evolution of HVAC as a Service (HVACaaS). Is there a similar movement to offer hot water as a service? How would that benefit water heater manufacturers? Customers?
Carl Pinto, Jr.: In terms of hot water delivery, it is more likely that water heater manufacturers would partner with other companies in this endeavor versus being the primary source of hot water services.
The advantage of being directly involved or part of the service chain would be having the ability to secure a more direct and real-time understanding of hot water utilization, thus allowing manufacturers to more quickly respond with new products or appropriate product modifications.
MEM: Is this movement towards service offerings something that Bradford White is considering? What does the company – and companies like it – have to do to make “as a service” offerings a reality?
Carl Pinto, Jr.: In our current business model, we are focused on enabling and supporting those who sell and service both residential and commercial hot water appliances. To make the transition from a manufacturer to true hot water service provider would require significant changes ranging from personnel to infrastructure.
MEM:Did the company make any exciting announcements or introduce new products at this year’s AHR Expo?
Carl Pinto, Jr.: Our Niles Steel Tank subsidiary introduces Alloy Works. This new, separate facility provides expanded capabilities for custom stainless steel vessels built to ASME Code standards as well as other specialty products. Niles, as well as Bradford White and Laars also introduced a number of expanded and new products.
To learn more about the exciting new products that Bradford White introduced at this year’s AHR Expo, click HERE. To learn more about the rise of HVACaaS and its impact on the HVAC industry, click HERE to download a complimentary copy of the eBook, “The HVAC as a Service Revolution.”