Taco's SmartPlug Wins AHR Expo Product of the Year Award

The patented SmartPlug upgrades a hot water recirculation system to a “smart” system.

Taco Comfort Solutions earned top honors as its SmartPlug Instant Hot Water Control was named the Product of the Year during the 2017 AHR Expo Innovation Awards ceremony on Jan. 31, held in conjunction with this year’s trade show in Las Vegas.

The SmartPlug had already picked up the 2017 AHR Expo Innovation Award for the plumbing category, following rigorous review by a panel of third-party ASHRAE experts.     

According to Taco, a hot water recirculating system can save homeowners a significant amount of water – up to 12,000 gallons per year. But continuously running circulators and improperly programmed timers can waste energy by operating the circulator and water heater at times when hot water isn’t needed.

The patented SmartPlug upgrades a hot water recirculation system to a “smart” system. SmartPlug technology makes any corded circulator up to 94 percent more energy efficient by learning hot water usage patterns and delivering hot water when it’s needed.  This increases hot water comfort, reduces energy use and helps to extend the life of the water heater.

Installation is quick and easy.  There’s no programming or use of timers or aquastats.  Installers simply plug the SmartPlug into a 110V outlet, and then plug the circulator power cord into the SmartPlug.

Using a sensor that mounts to the hot water supply pipe, the SmartPlug then learns the daily hot water usage pattern in a home or business and adjusts the circulator run time to deliver hot water when needed.  When usage patterns change, the SmartPlug adjusts run time automatically.

The SmartPlug also includes a “pulse” mode option that continuously cycles the circulator on for 5 minutes, then off for 10 minutes, as well as a “vacation” mode that shuts the circulator off after 36 hours of no hot water use.  While in vacation mode, the SmartPlug’s exercise function cycles the pump for 10 seconds every seven days to prevent corrosion or scale build up.

“The innovative and creative product development demonstrated by this year’s award winners has served to confirm the HVACR Industry’s ongoing vitality and forward thinking,” said Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Company. “It is exciting to see all the emerging technologies that are bringing about better and better solutions to the challenges we face,”

All of this year’s 2017 AHR Expo Innovation Award winners were in the running for the Product of the Year Award. In addition, to Taco, here is a list of this year’s Innovation Award winners:

Building Automation


Danfoss Enterprise Services


Daikin Applied

PathfinderAir-cooled Screw Chillers with Variable Volume Ratio (VVR) Technology

Green Building


Dual Stage Relief Economizer (DSRE)


Noritz America

Noritz CB Combi Boiler

Indoor Air Quality

Nortec Humidity

Nortec GS Series - CS Model Humidifier



Danfoss CTM (Electrical Controlled Transcritical Multi Ejector)


Nidec Motor Corporation/U.S. MOTORS

Rescue Select Programming App

Tools & Instruments





Helios Digital Diffuser

“We congratulate those who have been recognized as 2017’s pioneers from across all areas of the industry, by proving there is always more to be achieved, and farther to be propelled, when it comes to HVACR innovation,” Stevens said. “This is the spirit that makes each year’s competition so fresh and exciting, and is what we are proud to see, year after year, as a cornerstone of inspiration for the HVACR industry’s ongoing creativity and advancement.”

In addition to the winners recognized at the award ceremony, a check in the amount of $22,500 was presented to Opportunity Village, a non-profit organization serving children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The proceeds from award submissions are collected each year and donated to an organization for HVACR upgrades. The donation will go toward upgrades for the three existing facilities and one new build for Opportunity Village.



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