Live from Chicago - EcoPort at the AHR Expo 2024

The OpenADR Alliance learned a lot representing the EcoPort/CTA-2045 interface and testing program at the AHR Expo in Chicago last week. The AHR Expo brings together manufacturers and suppliers of all sizes and specialties to share ideas and showcase the future of HVACR technology.  We shared a booth with LonMark International, a partner focused on building management interfaces who introduced a new building interoperability architecture that encompasses both EcoPort and OpenADR.

 The most encouraging part of the show was seeing several EcoPortTM–certified products on the show floor.

-       Ariston - Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater

-       Rheem – Plug-in Heat Pump Water Heater

-       SkyCentrics – Universal Communications Module

-       Steffes – Universal Communications Module

 Ariston was the latest addition, with two Ariston Thermo models joining their previously certified American Standard and HTP brand models.

Even among OEMs who have not yet submitted for certification, there is a clear trend in the industry of adding communications capability to the water heaters, ranging from CTA-2045 communications modules to proprietary systems that provide consumer-facing applications for their customers to monitor and learn more about their energy efficient systems.  We expect these systems to migrate toward EcoPort-certified systems, especially as electric utilities ramp up demand response and distributed energy programs that treat customer water heaters as a grid resource, with benefits to the customer as well as the utility.

An interesting trend apparent at AHR and emerging since the launch of EcoPort two years ago, is the rapid innovation happening in the smart appliances space. Two EcoPort-certified product developers are among the leaders of this trend, leveraging their EcoPort expertise.  

Steffes was showing a new all-electric heat pump water system specifically designed for multi-family building projects with decarbonization design goals. The system leverages Steffes’ expertise with CTA-2045 and points the way towards continued evolution of connected smart appliances.

SkyCentrics introduced a new product called the SkyBox, an EcoPort-certified Modbus Adapter, which brings EcoPort communications capability to any Modbus or BACnet connected systems.  The product can provide a bridge to grid services for a range of building and commercial hot water systems and even commercial electric vehicle fleet management systems.

Also at AHR, SkyCentrics founder Tristan de Frondeville joined EcoPort business development lead Don Dulchinos for a panel discussion ‘Building Automation Adapts to the Smart Grid’, introducing an audience of over 50 to the origins and capabilities of EcoPort, and how those capabilities are being brought to residential single- and multi-family homes and also commercial buildings.  They were joined from the audience by Geoff Wickes, thought leader on smart appliances from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, and Board member of the OpenADR Alliance, who gave some depth and context to where EcoPort came from and its potential impact on grid services, decarbonization, and economic growth.  

We’re excited about the adoption of EcoPort to date and the clear momentum that was apparent at the AHR Expo 2024.

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