Apologies to Paul Simon, but when I looked at the long list of design ideas I compiled while at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, I thought I’d try to mention 50 of them—a nice round num
2016 Top 100 Products: Mechanical, Electrical, Home Tech
Products from DuPont, GE, GoConex, ICC, In-O-Vate, Kwikset, LiftMaster, MiTek, Mr. Beams, Navien, Nest, Noritz, Panasonic, Rinnai, SoftPlan.
To see products in the other 2016 Top 100 categories, click here.
Wireless Switch / Goconex
Because it isn’t physically attached to a home's structure, GoConex’s wireless electrical switch is faster and simpler to install and provides added flexibility in where the switch can be installed. The lack of wires means that a switch can be moved without the need to touch wires or cut drywall. The wireless switch reduces building-material and vapor-barrier penetrations and also provides users with the option of controlling one or multiple switches from any GoConex wireless switch.
Dryer Wall Vent / In-o-Vate Technologies
Manufactured from heavy-gauge steel that’s galvanized and powder coated, the Dryer Wall Vent from In-O-Vate Technologies is built for durability and won’t chip, crack, or deteriorate. Its clean lines, smooth finish, and low profile don’t detract from exterior aesthetics, and the vent is engineered for a quick, accurate fit. The Dryer Wall Vent exceeds all requirements for safe dryer venting, the company says, and has large, clear openings and a lighter damper, yielding lab-proven, zero back pressure, and ensuring that the termination doesn’t hamper exhaust performance.
LED Fan / Panasonic
Panasonic’s Energy Star–certified WhisperRecessed LED fan is UL listed for tub/shower enclosures and offers quiet operation. The 80 cfm fan exhausts indoor moisture, pollutants, and allergens while its recessed adjustable LED bulb’s positioning and deeper lamp regression minimize glare. The warm-white dimmable LED lamp lasts up to five times longer than CFLs and uses up to 20 percent less energy. A built-in damper prevents backdraft.
Ventilation Fan / Panasonic
By incorporating a unique Veri-Boost feature to ensure optimal performance without compromising style, the EcoVent Energy Star–rated fan from Panasonic delivers airflow while offering a smaller grille size that blends into the ceiling and doesn’t detract from the room’s aesthetics. EcoVent provides verification assurance and can be used to comply with airflow requirements for installed performance per ASHRAE 62.2 and Energy Star for Homes 3.0, among others.
Ventalation Systems / Panasonic
A well-designed ventilation system saves energy, controls moisture, and improves the durability of the home. Panasonic offers a range of cost-effective ventilation solutions to help builders meet code and lower their homes’ HERS Index scores, including the WhisperGreen Select, Whisper Recessed LED, EcoVent, Whisper Comfort, WhisperValue, and the Select Cycler whole-house ventilation system (shown).
Ventilation Fan / Panasonic
For homeowners who want to replace an existing fan from below the ceiling, the Energy Star–rated WhisperFit EZ is a good option that lets users utilize the existing duct. The product is easy to install and its 5 5/8-inch housing fits most ceilings. The FV-08-11VFM5 model has a motion sensor with a 20-minute off-delay timer that activates the fan when someone enters the room. The line has a Pick-A-Flow speed selector so users can adjust the ventilation (80 or 110 cfm).
Smart Lock / Kwikset
To satisfy consumer demand for both convenience and security, the Kevo smart lock by Kwikset is a Bluetooth-enabled deadbolt that gives homeowners the ability to unlock the door using their smartphone; send electronic keys (eKeys) to family, friends, and service people; and receive notifications whenever someone enters or exits the door. By simply installing Kevo and downloading the mobile app, your smartphone becomes your key. Kevo is now available on Apple iOS and select Android 5.0 Lollipop devices.
Ventilation Fan / Panasonic
The WhisperGreen Select ventilation fan from Panasonic includes several features that allow for greater customization and easier installation: the built-in Pick-A-Flow speed selector lets users choose the amount of airflow (50, 80, or 110 cfm); Plug ‘N Play modules help installers comply with the latest codes by providing up to three extra features they can pick from to meet a variety of ventilation applications; an installation bracket with articulating joints allows the fan to be precisely positioned; and SmartFlow technology senses the amount of resistance in the duct run, automatically adjusting the fan speed to deliver optimal cfm output.
LED Lighting / GE
The Bright Stik LED is a sleek new shape in LED lighting that consumers can enjoy at an affordable $4 per bulb. The Bright Stick offers a 15,000-hour rated life and, says the manufacturer, lasts 50 percent longer while using 20 percent less energy than compact fluorescent bulbs, and lasts 15 percent longer and uses 80 percent less energy than incandescent/halogen bulbs. Bright Stik is available with a CRI rating of 80 and a color temperature of 2,850K, and does not contain lead or mercury.
LED Spotlights / Mr. Beams
Using radio frequency connectivity, multiple Mr. Beams LED Spotlights with NetBright technology can be linked into one network. The battery-operated spotlights are wireless and feature a motion sensor that turns off after 30 seconds of inactivity, making the lights ideal for security and safety applications. The spotlight gives off 200 lumens of light and each set of D-cell batteries provides up to 5,000 activations. The lights are equipped with four channels to create separate networks. Up to 50 spotlights can be connected to each channel within one NetBright network while operating at a range of 200 feet.
Wireless Charging Surface / Dupont
The Corian Charging Surface in select versions of DuPont countertops charges a mobile phone or tablet using a transmitter under the countertop. By wirelessly transferring energy to a receiver within or attached to the smart device, users simply place their mobile device on the charging spot to commence charging. Nearly all smart devices can be charged with a charging ring from Duracell Powermat, but charging cases also are available, and some devices already have wireless charging capability built in. Local distributors can be found at corian.com/powerup.
Smart-Home Products / Nest
Nest is recruiting Nest Pros by offering training, tools, and professional pricing to those interested in selling and installing products such as the 3rd Generation Nest Learning Thermostat. The portfolio also includes the Nest Protect, a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm that speaks when there is a problem and sends alerts to a resident’s phone via the Nest app if they’re not home, and Nest Cam, a-tripod-mount-with-magnet security camera with 24/7 live streaming night vision, digital zoom, and motion and sound detection that sends alerts to the homeowner’s phone.
Wiring Enclosures and Outlets / ICC
ICC is a manufacturer of residential and commercial copper and fiber structured cabling products such as wiring enclosures and outlets. The 30-year-old company’s midrange products designed for condos, town homes, and single-family production-built houses include wiring enclosure combos, each with eight phone ports, six video ports, eight Category 6 data ports (model K), a door or cover, and mounting hardware.
Tankless Water Heater / Noritz
The NRCP line of residential tankless water heaters from Noritz has a circulating pump inside. This setup keeps hot water close to the outlet, which minimizes the wait for warm or hot water and the waste of unused potable water. The recirculation system can be programmed to operate only when needed via a digital display on the front of the water heater. The auto setting lets the system learn the household’s water-usage routines so it can automatically control the recirculation loop activation times.
Tankless Water Heater / Rinnai
Rinnai expanded the Ultra Series line of condensing tankless water heaters with the RUR98i and RUR98e. These RUR models feature recirculation, with or without a dedicated recirculation line. Recirculation, which shortens the wait time for hot water, is provided by thermal bypass technology that includes an integrated pump, internal bypass line, and thermal bypass valve.
3-D Software / Mitek
MiTek’s Sapphire software allows users to create 3-D models to collaboratively manage the design-and-estimating processes and create buildable homes with predictable costs. Using Sapphire Structure’s 3-D modeling, builders can design, optimize, and build a structure, while improving cycle time, efficiency, and the bottom line. Files can be shared with customers, improving the communication of the design process. Sapphire Viewer is used to review models in Plan and 3-D views, isolate items in the model, examine elevation drawings, and print layout sheets.
Garage Door Opener / Liftmaster
The MyQ-enabled garage door opener gives users the ability to control a door from anywhere with a smartphone, tablet, or computer via the free MyQ app. The garage door openers include battery backup and a quiet DC motor belt-drive system. The system gives home builders upsell opportunities and improved reliability, cutting down on callbacks.
Design Software / Softplan
SoftPlan 2014 residential design software includes a 64-bit memory model and improved three-dimensional output, which allows users to generate large, detailed renderings. It offers simplified drawing commands, extensive customization tools, and advanced BIM automation. This version also contains plan sets for printing, interior elevations, and other new enhancements, and symbol libraries. SoftPlan 2014 also has SoftPlan+, a subscription service for cloud-based SoftPlan access with technical support and upgrades.
Tankless Water Heater / Navien
Navien Premium Efficiency (NPE) tankless water heaters come in four output sizes, with or without built-in recirculation. NPE-A (Advanced) features ComfortFlow recirculation, with a pump and buffer tank and six pump control options. NPE-S (Standard) tops the Energy Star rating list with up to 0.99 EF (energy factor). All sizes have dual stainless steel heat exchangers and come with a 15-year residential warranty.
Dryer Vent Box / In-O-Vate Technologies
In-O-Vate produces five models of recessed dryer vent box that are installed in the wall behind a dryer. The U.S.-made Dryerbox is deep-drawn and molded, made from 22-gauge aluminized steel and weighing nearly five pounds. The recessed box allows the dryer to be placed flush against the wall, which gives the laundry room more floor space. The setup also protects the exhaust hose from getting crushed by the dryer or damaged or broken during the completion of construction.