As an HVAC professional, it is your utmost priority to stay on top of your game. That way, you’ll be able to serve your customers better, which will eventually lead you to more successes in the business in the future. And in order to stay on top of your game, there are quite a lot of things that you can and must do. One of these things is to attend an HVAC trade show and/or conference. 

What Is the Difference Between a Trade Show and Conference?

By now, you’re probably wondering what trade shows and conferences are and what exactly makes these two different. To begin with, a trade show — oftentimes known as a trade fair, trade exhibition, or expo — is essentially an exhibition that is organized so that companies in a specific industry can showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services as well as meet with industry partners and customers, study activities of rivals, and examine recent market trends and opportunities.

A conference, on the other hand, is a meeting of people who discuss a topic. For the most part, a conference allows researchers to present results, workshops, and other activities that are related to the field or industry that they specialize in. But sometimes, other events can happen in a conference as well, such as the representatives of the press (print, radio, and television) being present to ask questions and the like. In other words, a conference is a meeting for consultation, education, exchange of information, or discussion with a formal agenda. 

Between these two, the conference is smaller in terms of scale, and for that reason, it is oftentimes integrated into a trade show. In other words, it is highly possible that in every trade show, there is a conference that discusses a specific topic of a field or industry, and anyone is invited to attend. 

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Why Attend a Trade Show or a Conference?

As their definitions have suggested, both a trade show and conference are a great way to meet with other professionals in your respective field. Basically, with these two, not only will you get to learn about the recent developments of the market and technologies, but you will also get the chance to network with potential clients and other important figures in the business. You can even observe the activities of your rivals and see the things they’re doing right. 

Long story short, trade shows and conferences offer so many great opportunities for every kind of HVAC professional. You will get to broaden your knowledge about the HVAC industry while at the same time networking with powerful people who can help your business succeed. It is essentially a win-win situation, and for that reason, it is ideal that you attend as many trade shows and conferences as you possibly can. 

Top HVAC Trade Shows & Conferences in the United States

Luckily for you, HVAC trade shows and conferences happen everywhere in the world. There are quite a ton of these trade shows and conferences in the United States. Here are some of them that you can choose to consider going in the future. 

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HARDI Conference

Website: http://hardiconference.com/

Date: December 7–10, 2019

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

The Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) is the single voice of wholesale distribution within the HVACR industry. HARDI members market, distribute, and support heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration equipment, parts, and supplies. Additionally, HARDI Distributor members serve installation and service/replacement contractors in residential and commercial markets, as well as commercial/industrial and institutional maintenance staff. 

HARDI’s annual conference is organized so as to strengthen the rhythm of the HVACR wholesale industry as a unit. By examining all contributors involved in the industry, the organization will be able to discover significant areas of opportunity to better unite all levels of the supply chain and, in turn, ensure a newfound synchronicity.  While at the conference, attendees have the chance to grow their professional networks and expand their industry knowledge from top experts who provide relevant and unique perspectives. 

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ASHRAE Winter Conference

Website: https://www.ashrae.org/conferences/2020-winter-conference-orlando

Date: February 1–5, 2020

Location: Orlando, Florida

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Winter Conference offers a technical program that is comprised of eight tracks, each selected to represent areas to focus that are common among the ASHRAE membership. The track focus areas include HVAC/R fundamentals and applications, systems and equipment, refrigeration and refrigerants, and other specific topics such as novel approaches to HVAC/R systems and buildings for contemporary concerns and analytical techniques to economically automate buildings. 

In addition to that, the Winter Conference will also feature a strong technical program that includes presentations and discussions on best design practices and standards, incorporation of innovative technologies, and cutting-edge approaches that are applicable to a wide range of buildings-related engineers, architects, and professionals.

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AHR Expo

Website: https://ahrexpo.com/

Date: February 3–5, 2020

Location: Orlando, Florida

The Annual International Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration (AHR) Expo is deemed as the world’s largest HVACR event, attracting the most comprehensive gathering of industry professionals from around the world each year. The trade show provides a unique forum where manufacturers of all sizes and specialties can congregate to share ideas and showcase the future of HVAC/R technology in one setting. In addition to that, OEMs, engineers, contractors, facility operators, architects, educators, and other industry professionals also meet up to explore the latest trends and applications and to cultivate mutually beneficial business relationships.

NAHB International Builders’ Show

Website: https://www.buildersshow.com/Home/default.aspx

Date: January 21–23, 2020

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders’ Show (IBS) is the largest annual light construction show in the world. This show offers more events other than HVAC trade shows. And it also features multiple keynote speakers who address topics, such as best practices for home builders and the myths versus realities of millennial home-buyers. 

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HVACR Educators and Trainers Conference

Website: https://www.escogroup.org/hvac/nhetc/

Date: March 23–25, 2020

Location: South Point Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

The HVAC Educators and Trainers Conference is one of the premier HVAC conferences for industry educators and trainers. And at this conference, attendees will get to learn all about using emerging technologies in the classroom, improving student outcomes, and incorporating the latest regulatory updates into the curriculum. This conference is open to anyone in the industry who is interested in hearing directly from industry-leading manufacturers and subject matter experts about the latest in HVAC/R technologies and instructional techniques. 

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MCAA Annual Convention

Website: http://mcaaconvention.org/

Date: March 15–19, 2020

Location: Grand Wailea Resort and Spa, Maui, Hawaii

The Annual Convention of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) usually includes company principals, middle and upper management, and local association executives. This convention will host incredible speakers, educational seminars, entertainment, networking opportunities, and social events that will allow attendees to see the latest products and technologies. Attendees will also gain new insights and knowledge about how their businesses can grow with products and services that cut costs, save time, and reduce errors. 

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ACCA 2020 Annual Conference

Website: https://www.accaconference.com/

Date: March 16–18, 2020

Location: St. Louis Union Station Hotel Curio, St. Louis, Missouri

A must-attend event for HVAC professionals, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) focuses on exhibitions and seminars with practical, hands-on solutions that its attendees can use immediately. Moreover, the conference will also focus on collaboration with ACCA’s partners at the national, state, and local levels. With that said, in 2020, there will reportedly be 120 exhibitors, 59 experts who will share information and ideas, and over 45 learning sessions. 

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GLOBALCON

Website: http://www.globalconevent.com/

Date: March 21–22, 2020

Location: Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts 

Presented by the Association of Energy Engineers, GLOBALCON is designed specifically to facilitate those seeking to expand their knowledge of fast-moving developments in the energy field. Aside from that, the event also caters to those who want to explore promising new technologies, compare energy supply options, and learn about innovative and cost-conscious project implementation strategies. 

Furthermore, the GLOBALCON Expo will emphasize four critical areas of leading-edge technology and related services. These four areas are 1) energy management, HVAC, and smart building systems, 2) renewables, alternative energy, and onsite generation, 3) lighting efficiency and integrated energy solutions, and 4) plant and facilities management. 

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AHRI Spring Meeting

Website: http://www.ahrinet.org/News-Events/Meetings-and-Events

Date: May 18–20, 2020

Location: Marriott Marquis, Washington, D.C.

The Spring Meeting is one of the 6 HVAC events that the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) presents annually. In particular, the Spring Meeting offers industry leaders an opportunity to gather to address industry-wide issues. Basically, there will be a forum in the event where industry leaders discuss the most pressing issues that companies and professionals in the HVAC field have faced. 

ASHRAE Annual Conference

Website: https://www.ashrae.org/conferences/2020-annual-conference-austin-texas

Date: June 27–July 1, 2020

Location: Austin, Texas.

Just like the Winter Conference, the ASHRAE Annual Conference also offers a technical program that is comprised of eight tracks that represent areas of focus that are common among the ASHRAE members. But in addition to these eight tracks, the conference also has a mini track. 

The focus areas for this conference include fundamentals and applications, HVAC/R systems and equipment, research summit, and professional development. There will also be other specific topics, such as grid-interactive efficient built environment, multifamily and residential buildings, resilient buildings and communities, zero energy buildings and communities, as well as opportunities and challenges and a building myths mini-track. 

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Takeaway: Interested in Attending an HVAC Trade Show or Conference in the United States?

Simply put, both a trade show and conference are two different events where all kinds of professionals in the HVAC meet up and discuss everything about the industry. The primary differences between these two mainly lie in the scope of the topic coverage as well as the size of the actual event. 

Generally speaking, conferences tend to be smaller and more concentrated as they actually have a formal agenda of sharing only researches and workshops. Meanwhile, trade shows are bigger because they attract businesses and other professionals to showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services as well as meet with industry partners and customers, study activities of rivals, and examine recent market trends and opportunities. That is why, more often than not, some conferences can be found to be a part of a trade show, though of course oftentimes, conferences can happen on their own. 

Their differences aside, both trade shows and conferences offer so many benefits to HVAC professionals. For one thing, they will get to learn a lot about the current state of the industry as well as its future growth. And for another, they will also get the opportunity to network with the important people in the industry. Because of that, attending at least one trade show or conference a year is a must for HVAC professionals. 

Luckily, there are a lot of these conferences and trade shows. The United States has a ton of these. The ones mentioned above are also some of the ones that you should check out. So, look through each of the events mentioned above and narrow them down to the ones that you like. Then, when the time comes, attend the events so that you will broaden your knowledge about the industry while also getting the right connections that will help you in your business growth.

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