Innovative Products For HVAC Contractors

August 18, 2004
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Every year, new and improved products flood the HVACR market. These run the gamut from new air conditioning and heating systems to innovative tools and software. All promise to make someone's life easier, whether it's the contractor's, service technician's, office personnel's, or end user's.

The products highlighted here are just a few of the items that are new and/or improved for the industry. (For more information about any of these products, please contact the company.)

The phones include a GPS receiver, so the location of the worker is captured along with the time sheet and job status information with Xora’s GPS TimeTrack.

Xora GPS TimeTrack

Keeping track of field staff is a challenge for any company. Xora Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.) is offering its "GPS TimeTrack" to help solve this problem for HVAC companies.

Ananth Rani, vice president of products and services for Xora, said that for less than $12 per worker per month, the service makes it easier to find and communicate with mobile workers, thus eliminating the pain of managing field service activities.

"GPS TimeTrack runs on GPS-enabled mobile phones," he explained. "Installation and repair technicians use the phones to clock in and out from the field. They can also use the Xora application on the phones to record project information, such as job numbers and work performed."

Because the phones include a GPS receiver, the location of the worker is captured, along with time sheet and job status information. All of the data can be viewed over the Internet by the HVAC company's office staff in the form of maps and business reports.

The company said the benefits include real-time field staff location information; the ability to identify and dispatch the nearest workers; accurate measurement of tasks completed and job stop and start times; timesheets and overtime management validation; reduced phone tag between mobile workers and the office dispatcher; billing dispute resolution and proof of visit information; and mileage tracking.

"In general, Xora GPS TimeTrack enables HVAC companies to be more efficient, both in the office and in the field," said Rani. "These factors are important to help a company maintain its competitive advantage, deliver excellent customer service, and improve bottom-line results."

For more information, call 650-314-6460 or visit www.xora.com.

The Digital Refrigeration System Analyzer automatically calculates saturation temperatures for 22 refrigerants.

Refrigeration System Analyzers

Modern air conditioning and refrigeration systems demand sophisticated procedures for proper servicing. Today's field technicians have complex jobs, especially given the variety of refrigerants they are likely to encounter. Each refrigerant has different pressure-temperature characteristics, which is why Digi-Cool (Duncan, British Columbia, Canada) is offering its Digital Refrigeration System Analyzer (DRSA).

"It is widely recommended that technicians verify superheat to ensure compressors operate well when stressed by the elements. This is especially true for newer refrigerants like R-410A," said Doug Lockhart, president of Digi-Cool. "Subcooling is also important to verify to ensure the condenser is performing as designed."

The DRSA is designed to take these important measurements easily and accurately. According to the manufacturer, the tool automatically calculates saturation temperatures for 22 refrigerants based on detected pressures. Combined with the reading from the pipe temperature probe, it displays system superheat and subcooling continuously, the company said.

Using the analyzer, technicians and business owners can expect to save work time and improve accuracy in both routine charging and repair work.

The analyzer also is designed to find faults that may be difficult to detect with traditional tools. According to Lockhart, the DRSA can spot a thermal expansion valve that hunts slowly and fluctuates over several psi, which may be difficult to spot using needle gauges or purely digital pressure gauges.

"Except for small pressure pulses, small amounts of liquid floodback that stress compressors may not show many symptoms, and fluid-filled gauges may dampen and hide these pulses. The DRSA is designed to show these and all other pressure symptoms clearly, allowing quick and accurate diagnostics," said Lockhart.

Designed to replace the analog gauges on most service manifolds, the analyzers are easy to handle, said the company. The manufacturer said the DRSA is built for typical field (ab)use, including withstanding impacts, typical oils, and acids.

For more information, call 866-511-2665 or visit www.digi-cool.com.

Exquisite Heat

John Cockerill, inventor and developer of Exquisite Heat (Pleasantville, N.Y.), has been thinking about improving heat distribution, comfort, and economy for years. In fact, he's been pondering the situation since 1979, when a product came out that was designed to save fuel by means of adjusting boiler temperatures through the use of an outside temperature reset device.

"In 1991, I researched the effects of adjusting hot water boiler aquastat temperature-limit settings under different outside temperatures and discovered the need to circulate the water longer in order to satisfy the thermostat within the heated place," said Cockerill.

"It was difficult to adjust the aquastat precisely for the best comfort and economy, as the weather effect changed every hour."

To compensate, Cockerill said he would make adjustments upward and downward at varying temperatures, but the adjustments were impossible to make with accuracy and precision.

The problem: how to circulate water in the heating system approximately 50 percent of the time in order to achieve even comfort, as well as how to adjust the boiler temperature to meet that need with the least amount of fire time for minimum fuel use.

In 1995 he determined that all the necessary information about heat loss and comfort was available from thermostat demand. Analyzing the demand would indicate the needed boiler output. If the thermostat could be analyzed for activity every second over a period of time, the actual demand ratio could be established - but there was still a need to use this information to adjust the boiler output temperature.

"By monitoring the boiler temperature, software could be developed for a microcontroller to combine the results of the thermostat analysis with the control of the boiler," noted Cockerill.

"As the analysis results change each hour, minor hourly adjustments in boiler operating temperature could closely meet the thermostat's ideal demand ratio continuously over time as heat loss from the building changes over time."

The result is Exquisite Heat, which is designed to evaluate Btu requirements by using thermostat information over time and comparing it to a constant to adjust source Btu output. It is available for all heating and cooling applications and can be retrofitted to current systems or installed in new ones.

Cockerill said benefits include higher circulation of the exact Btu supply, minimizing waste and discomfort associated with less-than-precise temperatures.

For more information, visit www.exqheat.com.

Publication date: 08/23/2004

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