Although this year’s International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas drew a third fewer attendees than last year’s, the show still saw the introduction of a range of innovative products as the industry tries to make itself more environmentally friendly. - Aleksandr Bierig

Sleeker handrail
Kohler introduced an integrated shower handrail that avoids the bleak institutional look of most grab bars. The Belay is recessed into the wall, creating an easily manageable gripping surface that blends into the clean lines of a bath or shower. It comes in one, two, or three wall configurations in standard 30'' or 54'' lengths that can be cut down to size. Finishes are etched or polished silver, etched or matte nickel, and bronze. Kohler, Kohler, Wis.

[Reader Service: April 2009 #217]


Innovative venting
Jenn-Air introduced two new takes on kitchen ventilation at the show. The company claims to have introduced the industry’s first ductless downdraft stove top, which uses a powerful filter to capture smoke and steam without requiring the major construction of adding ductwork, so it can be installed almost anywhere, including high-rise apartments and condos. The company also debuted a sleek, wall-mounted perimetric vent hood that pulls air in around its picture-framelike glass surface (shown). It is made from a high-gloss, angled panel, with stainless-steel trim. Jenn-Air, Benton Harbor, Mich.

[Reader Service: April 2009 #218]


Space-saving panel
ECO-heater’s electric panel unit provides a safer and greener version of a space heater, according to the manufacturer. The 231⁄4'' wall-mounted square uses convection technology (90 percent from the panel back and 10 percent from the front) to heat a room up to 10' x 12' without fans, warming the cold air pulled through its bottom vent. ECO-heater claims the device uses 75 percent less energy than conventional space heaters. ECO-heater, Alexandria, Va.

[Reader Service: April 2009 #220]


Flexible heating
In response to volatile oil prices, Harman, a division of Heath & Home Technologies, has created the HydroFlex60 wood pellet boiler.

The compact device is designed to work in conjunction with existing furnaces and hot water heaters, allowing homeowners to adjust the amount of heating capacity the boiler takes on. According to Harman, this can save up to $1,500 a year in heating costs, if oil prices return to the high levels seen in 2008. Harman, Halifax, Penn.

[Reader Service: April 2009 #219]

Disappearing act
The new NanaWall VSW65 is a sliding glass door system that allows an exterior wall to open completely to its surroundings. The VSW65 achieves a streamlined appearance through its use of a single-track sliding system, where panels can be stored in a pocket closet or next to the opened area. The wood-framed doors are custom-designed to the size and number of panels needed, with a maximum size of 4' x 9' 10''. NanaWall, Mill Valley, Calif.

[Reader Service: April 2009 #222]

Solar-powered entry light
Exterior entryway lighting can be achieved easily and off the grid with ODL’s Solar Entry Light (shown). A solar panel collects enough energy during daylight hours to power four bright LEDs for up to 12 hours of continuous use. The light can be easily installed for any number of entry locations — front door, garage entry, or on a child’s playhouse. ODL also introduced a solar-powered dimmer for its Tubular Skylight. The dimmer allows users to control the amount of natural light let in, and is charged by a solar panel inside the skylight. ODL, Zeeland, Mich.

[Reader Service: April 2009 #221]