Consulting-Specifying Engineer’s 2009 Products of the Year

By Patrick Lynch, Associate Editor August 1, 2009

Consulting-Specifying Engineer ( CSE ) is proud to announce the winners of its 2009 Product of the Year competition. These products, which were introduced or refined in 2008, were first submitted for the competition by their manufacturers. A panel of judges (all professional engineers who regular design and specify HVAC, electrical, fire protection, and plumbing systems) selected up to five finalists in each of 10 categories. The finalists were published in the May issue and CSE subscribers voted online at to determine gold, silver, and bronze winners, as well as the Most Valuable Product (MVP) among all finalists. Votes were screened for unfair voting practices to ensure accurate representation of product choice.

The annual reader-choice Product of the Year awards were created to provide CSE readers with information about the top new products in their fields. "Vendors used to come to engineering companies to help engineers apply products in their designs," said judge Anil Ahuja of CCJM Engineers Ltd., Chicago. "Now, competitions like this will help promote the product and make the product available."

This year’s competition reflected the new challenges of nonresidential construction in a tough economy. "Sustainability issues for energy, water, and materials are growing," said Michael Ivanovich, editor-in-chief of CSE . "Flexibility, modularity, efficiency, and durability seemed to be factors shared by many of this year’s winners."

These trends were reflected in the MVP selection of Design Master Plumbing software.

"Software offerings reflected the increasing acceptance and popularity of BIM," said judge Larry Wilson of Environmental Systems Design Inc., Chicago. "Products also seem to have more intelligence embedded in them in terms of self-diagnosis, monitoring, controlling, and reporting."

Construction and operating budgets may be under stress, but innovative new technologies and products are striving to provide the consulting-specifying engineer with practical and cost-efficient means to an end. Thank you to all the manufacturers who participated in this year’s competition, and congratulations to those who received awards.

Electrical distribution

GOLD: Circuit protector

Provide three times the protection with a 200-kA short-circuit current rating with 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 horsepower-rated for protecting motor circuits and UL 98 disconnect-rated for protecting branch circuits with a Class CC fuse. Finger-safe to IP20, the circuit protector features positive, visible circuit isolation via the disconnect lever.

SILVER: 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 an all-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.

BRONZE: Raceway

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

GOLD: 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.

SILVER: 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.

BRONZE: 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.

Fire detection, alarm, notification equipment

GOLD: 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.

SILVER: 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 10

BRONZE: 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


GOLD: 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 down 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.

SILVER: 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.

BRONZE: 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.

Lighting controls

GOLD: 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.

SILVER: Panelboard

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.

BRONZE: Ballast

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

GOLD: Softstarter

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.

SILVER: 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

BRONZE: 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.

Networked BAS, energy management systems


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.


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.

BRONZE: 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.

Plumbing and water management

GOLD: 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

SILVER: 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.

BRONZE: Showerhead

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.

Software: Design, modeling, analysis

GOLD: 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.

SILVER: 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.

BRONZE: 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.

Test instruments, meters, data loggers

GOLD: 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.

SILVER: 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.

BRONZE: 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.