2009 Product of the Year

By Patrick Lynch May 1, 2009
It’s time again to ask you to review the finalists for Consulting-Specifying Engineer’s annual Product of the Year competition, and cast your votes in these 10 categories online:

Electrical distribution
Emergency, on-site, standby power
Fire detection, alarm, notification equipment
Lighting controls
Motors, starters, drives
Networked BAS, energy management systems
Plumbing and water management
Software: Design, modeling, analysis
Test instruments, meters, data loggers


This year marks the Fifth Annual Product of the Year Awards. As in the past, Consulting-Specifying Engineer convened a panel of consulting engineers as judges to determine the finalists. Our judges determined up to five finalists in each category.

In addition to voting in any of the 10 categories, readers also are asked to cast a separate vote for Most Valuable Product among all of this year’s Product of the Year finalists.

We now ask you, our readers, to evaluate the contestants in the pages that follow. Then, go to www.csemag.com/votepoy and vote for the products you feel are best in in their categories. Then cast a separate vote for Most Valuable product for the product you think is the overall winner. Consulting-Specifying Engineer will publish the results in the August issue.


View the full story, and the rest of CSE’s Specifiers Guide, in our monthly digital edition

Electrical distribution

Power cables

Eliminate transients and interference with the SIMTRA line of power cables from Isotec. The cables feature ferrite-barrier technology that allows them to be distributed and installed in the same conduit or in parallel locations with low-voltage audio, video, or network cables. UL-listed for permanent installation, the cables’ ferrite compound provides a barrier within the cable to attenuate surges and transients. The cables’ designed applications include networking, telecommunications, audio and video, fire alarm systems, and lighting control.





Circuit protector

Provide three times the protection with a 200-kA short-circuit current ratingwith the compact circuit protector from Cooper Bussmann. The circuit protector retains a full-voltage rating of 600 Vac and features open-circuit indication, both locally and remotely. The circuit protector is hp-rated for protecting motor circuits and UL 98 disconnect-rated for protecting branchcircuits with a Class CC fuse. Finger-safe to IP20, the circuit protector features positive, visible circuit isolation via the disconnect lever. 





Coordination panel

Meet mandatory 2005 and 2008 NEC overcurrent selective coordination requirements with the LCP coordination panel from Littelfuse. The panel uses Class CC fuses in series with circuit breakers to coordinate the critical loads with upstream circuit protection. Available in 12-, 18-, 24-, 30-, 36-, and 42-circuit panels, the coordination panel features a 200-amp copper bus rating and a maximum 100-k amps SC rating. The panel is available in 120/208-, 120/240-, and 277/480-V ratings.





Poke-thru device

Maintain the fire rating of the floor slab for up to 2 hr with the Evolution series poke-thru device from Wiremold/Legrand. The UL-listed device features anall-metal assembly that allows for easy device access through the spring-loaded, slide cable egress doors. Installed at 6- and 8-in. diameter, core-drilled holes, the device provides more space for receptacles and activations, and it can be recessed below the finished floor level.






Add or relocate electrical outlet plug-in modules anywhere on a raceway with the Starline plug-in raceway from Universal Electric Corp. Insulated, copper-bus bar is pre-installed in the raceway sections. Pre-assembled electrical outlet plug-in modules snap into place on the raceway backplane, and the connection to power is automatically made without a power interruption. An optional datacom channel is available for data, video, and audio applications. The raceway is available in 10-ft sections in 20-, 40-, or 60-amps bus.





Emergency, on-site, standby power

dc power system

Provide backup power for mission-critical applications with the VDC direct connect dc power system from VYCON. Using flywheel technology, the unit provides up to 220 kW of dc power and can be paralleled without a special communications link. The flywheel features a rotational speed range of 18,500 to 36,000 rpm. Compatible with all UPS, the system features a 20-year life and an energy storage system in place of lead -acid backup batteries.






Critical power protection system

House diesel generators, flywheel UPS, generator starting modules, switchgear, and power distribution units in a single container with the PowerHouse critical power protection system from Active Power. Available in a series of formats from 240 to 960 kW, the pre-engineered systems are mobile and battery-less. The systems can be deployed in multiple environments including roof, redundant loading bays, secure compounds, or parking lots.






Battery charger

Maximize starting system reliability with the NRG intelligent engine start battery charger from Stored Energy Systems (SENS). The charger allows users to select or change 130, 208, or 240 Vac input, 12 or 24-V battery, and output settings. The charger features a graphical interface that provides digital metering, NFPA 110 alarms, and a battery fault alarm. The charger’s mean time between failures is one million hours, and it features Seismic Certification per International Building Code 200, 2003, and 2006.





Fire detection, alarm, notification equipment

Fire detector

Detect fires with the advanced multicriteria fire detector from System Sensor. With a carbon monoxide sensing cell, infrared sensor, photoelectric smoke sensor, and thermal sensor all in one device, the detector uses algorithms to interpret signals from each sensor to monitor every product of combustion. It features six levels of sensitivity, twin LED indicators with 360-degree visibility, a built-in test switch, and automatic drift compensation of smoke sensor and CO cell.





Evacuation system

Provide on-site monitoring and control of voice and notification appliances with the Local Operating Console from Gamewell-FCI ‘s E3 series of expandable emergency evacuation systems. The console delivers intelligible emergency and evacuation information in real time via prerecorded messages, live voice paging, text messages, and firefighter phones. The console features supervised Style 7 wiring, configuration for up to 64 network nodes, and architecture based on ARCnet.





Alarm display

Assess alarm situations with the Precise Touch interface from Fike. Designed for use in public locations, the interface allows users to zoom in and out of building floor plans and view active alarms, trouble conditions, water supplies, evacuation and access routes, and utility shut-offs. The system generates activity reports and automatically alerts personnel via e-mail when alarms are triggered. The display features a touchscreen operation, one-touch priority filters, native drawing files from AutoCAD, standard symbol sets, and one-touch device detail.





Fire suppression system

Extinguish fires without using toxic chemicals with the Vortex fire suppression system from Victaulic. The system deploys a suspension of nitrogen and water, and can be used in sealed or open spaces. Positioned in pendent or sidewall configurations, the system emitters release water droplets less than 103.





Smoke detector

Convert multiple installation footprints to accommodate multiple mounting options with the InnovairFlex duct smoke detector line from System Sensor. The smoke detector features a temperature range of -4 to 158 F, a noncondensing humidity range of 0% to 95%, and an air velocity rating from 100 ft/min to 4,000 ft/min. The detector’s plug-in sampling tubes can be installed from the front or back without tools, and the






Boiler control system

Control a boiler system that uses both condensing and noncondensing boilers with the Mini-MOD-CNC from Heat-Timer Corp. The system automatically matches noncondensing boiler operation and condensing boiler operation to make the combined system more efficient. The system also controls modulating and staging boilers, as condensing boilers have modulating burners and noncondensing boilers have staging or on/off burners. The system operates high-mass boilers during peak loads and condensing boilers at part load to increase efficiency.






Dispersion panel

Combine tubes with condensate management with the Ultra-sorb steam dispersion panel from DRI-STEEM. The panel uses dispersion tubes to reduce condensate production, heat gain, and wasted energy. It uses the heat and pressure of existing boiler steam to vaporize dispersion-generated condensate. Ultra-sorb panel returns an equal volume of pressurized condensate to the boiler and does not waste condensate to the drain. Available in 12-x-12-in. to 144-x-144-in. models, the panel features a steam capacity up to 1,610 lb/hr.





Modulating boiler

Match fluctuating loads to minimize boiler cycling and eliminate temperature overshoot with the Benchmark 1.5 low NOx condensing, fully modulating boiler from AERCO. Designed for projects requiring 75,000 to 1.5 million Btu/hr, the boiler’s stainless steel heat exchanger, unit controller, and air/fuel delivery system provide 20:1 turndown. Measuring 79 in. x 28 in. x 36 in., the boiler connects to the BAS via a Modbus communications protocol. It also features a constant setpoint, indoor/outdoor reset schedule, and a 4 to 20 mA signal.










Water heater

Recover waste heat and make it available for space heating and hot water with the scroll-compressor Templifier water heater from McQuay. The water heaters range from 500 to 3,000 Btu and can heat water up to 160 F. The heater’s hermetic scroll compressors feature low-sound levels and use R-134a refrigerant. The heater integrates with BAS by using either BACnet, LonTalk, or Modbus open standard protocols, and a hot-gas bypass allows unit operation down to 10% of full-load capacity.





Refrigerant zoning system

Cool or heat up to 50 zones with CITY MULTI variable refrigerant zoning systems from Mitsubishi Electric HVAC. The outdoor units feature a single inverter-driven compressor, an operating sound of 58 to 65 dB, and the ability to cool the temperature to 13 F. The system’s two-pipe heat recovery operation is a function of the Branch Circuit Controller, which directs refrigerant flow between the indoor and outdoor units. The system is available in wall-mounted, ceiling-recessed, ceiling-suspended, concealed-ducted, floor-standing, and vertical positions.





Lighting controls


Meet regulatory needs including spill control, emergency egress, and energy efficiency with the McGraw-Edison Talon architectural area luminaire from Cooper Lighting. The luminaire’s optical design features 14 high-efficiency, field-rotatable optical systems that rotate in 90-degree increments. The luminaire consumes less than 15 W of electricity and features color rending of 80 nominal color rendition indexand warm-white-color temperature of 3045 K nominal. The device’s rated lifecycle is 50,000 hr.







Integrate whole-building light control system into a commercial BAS with Powerlink lighting control panelboards with BACnet from Square D. The controllers integrate into the BACnet BAS via Ethernet (BACnet/IP) and the LAN, which allows the BAS’s front-end software to communicate with each controller. The controllers can also connect to a BAS controller via an RS-485 network. The controller monitors status points, supports baud rates up to 76.8 K, and can control or override by input, zone, or breaker.





Occupancy sensors

Detect motion and keep lights on in occupied spaces with wireless occupancy sensors from Leviton. The sensors feature an automatic shutoff time that is user-programmable. An integrated solar cell powers the sensors from ambient room light, and the cell can store up 48 hr worth of power when no ambient light is available. The sensors require no additional wiring and communicate with the wall switch receiver and self-powered remote switch via wireless technology.





Lighting housing platform

The IRIS square aperture downlights from Cooper Lighting feature a housing platform design that allows the fixture to accept a range of lamp modules and optical elements, which yield various light distributions including open downlight, adjustable/accent, wall-wash, and lens/shower applications. The fixtures also feature translating center beam optics, which ensures glare-free performance at all angles. The housing platform meets the ASTM-E283 requirements for restricted airflow, and the adjustable collar can rotate






Allow for local control of energy management systems and external control via the Internet of networked managed systems with Demand Control Lighting (DCL) controls from Universal Lighting Technologies. The ballasts’ wireless control technology receives commands without the need for extra control wires. They feature program start technology, total harmonic distortion less than 10%, and universal input voltage. The ballasts are available in 2-lamp F54T5HO ballast and 2-, 3-, and 4-lamp ballasts for F32T8 lamps.





Motors, starters, drives

Motor protection kit

Provide shaft grounding for ac-electric-induction motors controlled or operated by pulse width modulation variable frequency drives with the AEGIS SGR split-ring bearing protection kits from Electro Static Technology. The kit grounds harmful currents, which extends motor life. The kit’s V-grooved mounting adaptor can be field-installed on any NEMA or IEC frame motor—even those with shaft shoulders, slingers, and end-bell protrusions—without disconnecting coupled equipment.





Motor management system

Protect and manage motor systems from motor malfunctions with the TeSys T motor management system from Schneider Electric. The system consists of a multifunction protection device that is separate from the automation system, and an operator control unit for reading and modification of monitored parameters. The system’s expansion module measures voltage and logic inputs, and supports up to five fieldbus types—Ethernet, Modbus, CANopen, DeviceNet, and Profibus—without any auxiliary modules or communication gateways.






Provide reduced voltage starting with the PST extreme series softstarters from ABB. The starters provide short circuit protection, redundant electronic overload, emergency start bypass, torque control, and a door interlocked disconnect handle that is NEMA 4 rated. The UL 508A Label starter features three vibration-resistant, LED-type pilot lights, and the starter is suitable for service entrance 3-wire. The starters are built and tested to 500% rated current for up to 30 sec.





Electronic bypass

Monitor motor amps, volts, kilowatts, and other information with the E-Clipse Bypass from ABB. The UL-listed 100 kAIC capable bypass features IBC 2006 Seismic Certification, single-phase protection, system proof-of-flow, and no transfer to bypass on motor ground fault. Available in UL Type 1, UL Type 12, or NEMA 3R enclosure, the bypass uses both a service switch that disconnects the drive for service and a main disconnect switch or circuit breaker.





Power supplies

Designed for 24 V dc control applications, the PSG series of power supplies from Eaton Corp. includes eight DIN-rail mounted power supplies with varying input and output ratings, which range from 2.5 to 20 amps. The unit features an operating temperature range of 68 to 167 F and a mean time between failures of up to 800,000 hr. LEDs reduce troubleshooting time, and the power boost of 1





Temperature monitor

Monitor ideal heating and cooling setpoints and indicate poor internal environments with the Environmental Index from Automated Logic Corp. Expressed as a percentage, the index is accessible via a browser and is shown on an analog gauge, with the red segments indicating poor environments and the green segments indicating positive environments. The monitor also factors in relative humidity and CO2 contaminants; and each zone, area, floor, and building can be calculated, weighted for importance, trended, and reported.






Link BACnet, LonTalk, Modbus, and other open-protocol devices into a single control system with the TALON BACnet BAS from Siemens Building Technologies. The system’s array of integration drivers enable HVAC system management as well as integrated control of security, fire, lighting systems, and building operator management capabilities. The wireless system’s central-view workstation allows the operator to monitor equipment, schedule and modify operations, run reports, and link to other workstations.





Load balancing software

Set and maintain energy usage within a facility with the Dynamic load balancing software application from Convia Inc. The smart-building platform integrates infrastructure and technology applications, including HVAC, security, audio/video, and occupancy and daylight harvesting sensors and lights into one system. Users key in target energy thresholds and set prioritized power zones and equipment based on need. The software allows facilities to comply with utility demand response programs and qualify for tax credits up to $1.80/sq ft.





Wireless submeters

Monitor commercial properties with two-way wireless communication and interval data collection by using the Class 2100 wireless meter from E-Mon. The three-phase wireless submeter uses a 15-min interval data recording of real-time kW demand and kW/hr consumption. Optional wireless modules interface gas, water, and third-party electric socket meters into the wireless automatic meter-reading network using 915 MHz self-configuring/repairing mesh communications. The meters meet ANSI C12.1/C12.16 accuracy standards.





BAS meter

Designed for BAS, the V-Class Modbus meter from E-Mon allows users to benchmark energy-usage data, monitor usage trends, bill tenants, and allocate costs. The meter features a direct-read 8-digit LCD of cumulative kWh, a current sensor installation diagnostic indicator, and RS-232/RS-485 and Ethernet communication options. The meter’s 0 to 2 V, output split-core current sensors allow for accurate remote mounting of current sensors from 2,000 ft away from the meter without power interruption.





Plumbing and water management

Connection system

Rated up to 300 psi, the QuickVic rigid coupling for copper tubing from Victaulic features proprietary-grade EHP gasket material for performance in temperatures from -30 to 250 F. Designed for joining 2- to 4-in. copper tubing, the coupling’s angled-bolt-pad design enables metal-to-metal assembly that provides visual confirmation of installation. The connection system features couplings, fittings, valves, and accessories for





Condensing boiler

Meet the needs for space heating and domestic hot water in a single application with the ModCon commercial condensing boiler from Heat Transfer Products. The boiler features a high-grade Inconel, load-matching gas burner with a 5:1 turndown ratio. The direct-vent sealed-combustion boilers can be stacked two at a time, to double capacity. The boiler’s gasket-less heat exchanger is constructed of 316L stainless steel and includes a 150-psi relief valve. Its built-in electronic staging allows control of up to seven units from one central unit.






Contribute toward a building’s LEED certification in the Water Use Reduction category with the Water Saving showerhead from Cleveland Faucet Group. The showerhead flows at a rate of 1.75 gpm, which is 30% less than the industry standard 2.5 gpm. The showerhead features an optimized spray pattern that helps preserve the full flow of water. The showerhead is certified to CSE B125.1 and ASME A112.18.1, and is IAPMO Green Listed.





Tubing expansion kit

Eliminate added labor and costs associated with building an expansion joint with the 2-in. AQUAPEX tubing expansion joint kit from Uponor. The kit includes one preformed expansion loop, two brass elbows, and four ProPEX rings. Purchasing the kit is 44% less expensive than purchasing the individual components that are needed for on-site construction of an expansion joint.






Low-flow urinal

Save more than 30,000 gal of water per year over a standard urinal sensor flush with the EcoVantage Nano Pint Urinal System from Zurn Industries. The urinal uses 1/8-gal per flush and is designed to retrofit 4-bolt pattern urinals with no work behind the finished wall. It features a pressure-compensating internal flow regulator and 2-in. iron-pipe-size outlet flange and rubber gasket with integral trap. The urinal passes all ASME A112.19.2-2003 urinal performance tests, and the battery provides a 200,000 flush-cycle life.





Software: Design, modeling, analysis

Load design and analysis software

Establish the peak cooling and heating loads during the planning stage with the TRACE 700 Version 6.2 from Trane. The software allows the user to choose from eight load-simulation methodologies, including heat balance-based RTS. It features predefined weather profiles to represent climate, and accounts for daylighting and process loads. The software simulates control strategies such as temperature or static pressure setpoint reset, optimum start/stop conditions, night purge, and humidification.





Plumbing software

Assist plumbing designers in drafting plumbing plans with Design Master Plumbing software from Design Master Software. The software program runs in AutoCAD, and the drafting uses automatic linetype selection, pipe breaks, and fitting insertion. Isometric diagrams generate from the plan-view pipe layout, and changes made to the layout are automatically updated in the isometric diagram. The software coordinates pipe risers between floors and links multiple drawing files together in order to track pipe locations, sizes, and flow values.





Arc flash advisor software

Make real-time assessments of changing arc flash hazards with the Paladin real-time arc flash advisor from EDSA Micro Corp. The software program maintains an uninterrupted, 360-degree view of the facility’s operations to watch for potential arc flash hazards. Workers can access the software’s live platform to receive recommendations on appropriate safety procedures and protective equipment based on IEEE 1584 and NFPA 70E standards of protection.





Compliance software

Save and edit electrical panel design and graphically display the circuit components that have been entered with the OSCAR Version 2.0 short-circuit current rating (SCCR) compliance software from Cooper Bussmann. The process allows designers to comply with UL and NEC equipment-marking requirements. The graphical interface allows users to select from preloaded component templates for common circuit types, and the weakest link feature highlights the component that is limiting the SCCR rating.





HVAC system software

Compare HVAC systems, such as packaged rooftop units, built-up central air handlers, and fan coils during the schematic-design stage with version 4.40 of the E20-II hourly analysis program software from United Technologies. The software features energy and climate analysis, load calculation, system reports, and air system analysis. The program asks the user energy model questions and then performs a LEED EA Credit 1 analysis.





Test instruments, meters, data loggers

Distance meter

Measure distances up to 200 ft using laser technology with the 416D laser distance meter from Fluke. The meter provides the user with an accuracy ofp to 10 measurements.





Thermal imager

Recognize image details and better identify problems in electrical and HVAC equipment with Fluke’s Ti25 thermal imager featuring IR Fusion technology. The imager features picture-in-picture viewing, the ability to record and save voice comments with each image taken, and on-screen emissivity correction. The thermal imagers are IP54-rated to withstand water and dust, and a widescreen, full-color LCD displays a temperature range of -4 to 662 F. The imagers include a 2 GB SD memory card that stores 3,000 basic infrared images.





Diagnostic testing instrument

Verify that wiring and peripheral devices are installed correctly, before system wiring is connected to the fire alarm control panel, with the TrueSTART from SimplexGrinnell. The instrument scans all of the addressable fire alarm system devices to identify problems such as ground faults, shorted wiring, or incorrect or duplicate addressing. The instrument’s LCD displays information on equipment status and sends a signal to the device’s address, which lights a LED to indicate maintenance is required.





Power quality meter

View a picture of energy use and power quality from any metered point in a power distribution network with the Nexus 1500 meter from Electro Industries/GaugeTech. The meter features 10 MHz resolution transient capture for high-performance waveform recording and 1 GB of storage memory for logging and recording of power quality. The meter’s dual 100BaseT Ethernet communications allows the user selectable access to multiple networks, and the 256-color touchscreen provides user interface for viewing data.





Thermal imager

Identify problem areas in building envelope, restoration and remediation, inspection, and roofing applications and begin analysis with the TiR1 thermal imager from Fluke. The imager features IR Fusion technology that integrates infrared and visible light images in full-screen or picture-in-picture views. The IP54-rated imagers can withstand a drop of 6.5 ft, measure temperature within a range of -4 to 212 F, and store 3,000 infrared images or 1,200 full radiometric infrared and linked visual images.







“Most Valuable Product” Hall of Fame

Each year, Consulting-Specifying Engineer readers have the opportunity to vote for the Most Valuable Product (MVP) in the Product of the Year competition. The MVP is the product that receives the most votes from our readers at www.csemag.com/votepoy .

The previous MVP award winners are:

2005 : Most Valuable Product: Bi-fuel standby generator from Generac

2006 : Most Valuable Product: Ultra-low harmonic drive from ABB

2007 : Most Valuable Product: Ultra-flush toilet from Gerber

2008 : Most Valuable Product: Digital Precise Air Controller (D-PAC) from AAON