Instruments Go Infrared and Digital

February 18, 2008
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Dan Prusia (left), Western regional sales manager, HVACR, tools, and equipment, for SPX Corp., shows off the Robinair 11910 low pressure gauge to an expo attendee.

NEW YORK - When it comes to test instruments and monitors, there are two words to remember: infrared and digital. It’s the way diagnostic tools are headed, based upon what manufacturers introduced at the 2008 Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo).

Testo (www.testo.com) and Fluke (www.fluke.com) both introduced new thermal imagers, each operating with infrared technology. The testo 880 Series is available in three models, all of which feature a sharp, 3.5-inch full-screen display. A joystick operates screen menus, and a lightweight and balanced ergonomic design “makes field operation easy,” said Testo president Marko Bruinsma, who passed around the new tool to the trade media at a press conference inside Javits Convention Center.

The 880-3, a top-of-the-line model, includes an integrated digital camera and motorized focusing for single-handed operation. An accessory kit for the 880-3 includes a telephoto lens, sunshield for the display, two-port external battery charger, and an extra battery. A rugged carrying case is included with every imager.

At the Fluke booth, manager of public relations Larry Wilson showed the ins and outs of the new Fluke Ti25 and Ti10, along with the new TiR1 and TiR. All models incorporate IR Fusion®, a patent-pending technology that integrates infrared and visual (visible light) images in full screen or picture-in-picture views, designed for enhanced problem detection and analysis.

“IR Fusion helps users recognize image details and better identify problem areas by quickly scrolling through the different viewing modes,” said Wilson. He called it “the only thermal imager available today in this format and price range that incorporates this capability in both the camera and in the software.”

The Ti25 and Ti10 imagers are earmarked for industrial HVACR troubleshooting and maintenance applications. Both are tested to withstand a drop of 6.5 feet and are rated to withstand water and dust. According to Wilson, the Ti25 has a temperature measurement range of -20° to 350°C; the Ti10 ranges from -20° to 250°.

The TiR1 and TiR imagers for building diagnostic applications feature the ability to record and save voice comments with every image taken (TiR1 only), a three-button menu designed for intuitive operation and navigation with the push of a thumb, and on-screen emissivity correction (TiR1 only).

Fluke also introduced four other instruments:

• The VR1710 Voltage Quality Recorder is designed to help maintenance and facilities management maintain power quality. It pinpoints the root causes of voltage problems by recording data specified by a user-selected average period on voltage trends, dropouts, and power quality parameters, including RMS average, transients, flicker, and harmonics (up to the 32nd).

• The 289 True-RMS Industrial Logging Multimeter is designed to diagnose problems in electronics, power distribution, and electromechanical equipment.

• The 353 and 355 True-RMS Clamp Meters feature an extra-wide jaw to enable users to clamp around large or multiple conductors typically found with significant power loads, such as the service entrance of large pumps or sizeable facilities.

• The 566 and 568 thermometers both feature broad infrared (IR) temperature measurement functionality, on-screen menu system, and a dot-matrix display designed to enable users to take even complex measurements quickly and from great distances.

THERMOMETERS, PUMPS, TEMPERATURE READERS

Amprobe (www.amprobe.com) introduced its THWD-3, a relative humidity (rh) temperature reader that uses a precision capacitance sensor to deliver accurate performance “with long-term stability.” This instrument is designed to measure the full range of rh (0-100 percent) and features an exceptionally wide ambient temperature measurement range (-4° to 140°F).

Also introduced is the TH-3, which includes all the features of the THWD-3 except the ability to measure wet bulb and dew point. Both instruments come complete with soft carrying case, sensor cover, battery (installed), and manual.

Amprobe also introduced the ACDC-100 and ACDC-100 TRMS digital clamp-ons, described as “fully functional clamp meters with simplified interfaces and easy-to-read, oversized display screens to help technicians get their work done quickly and easily.” Both models feature auto and manual ranging, relative zero mode, Max capture for in-rush current measurements, auto power off, data hold, diode test, audible continuity, and a “third hand” test probe holder. The ACDC-100 TRMS features true RMS measurements and a backlit display.

Finally, the manufacturer introduced its DM-II Plus power quality recorder, a kit with PC download capabilities that records a broad spectrum of power quality parameters. The kit includes the recorder, three current transducers, and four cables and alligator clips in a rugged carrying case. The DM-II Plus can measure harmonics, voltage anomalies (sags and surges), and offers data storage memory and a large display. Readings and charts can be viewed on the recorder’s LCD screen or downloaded to a PC using Microsoft Windows-compatible software included in the kit.

Appion Inc. (www.appioninc.com) introduced its TEZ 8, an 8-cfm vacuum pump. Unlike other oil-cooled pumps, the company said its air-cooled pump operates by a custom, high-speed turbine fan blasting cooling air over the entire assembly. Features include an advanced anti-suckback technology to prevent oil backup, the clearly visible Monitor Tube with a cleanable debris filter screen, and remote exhaust removal through a standard fitting for garden-style hoses.

Ashcroft (www.ashcroft.com) displayed one rather-new development, the Weksler® universal “adjust-angle” glass thermometer. It is rated at ±1 percent accuracy and is available with either a 7- or 9-inch scale. It sports a 360 degree case and stem rotation and large graduations are designed to make it easy to read in nearly all types of installations. Other standard features include a high impact, lightweight Valox® V-shaped black case, a protective glass front, and blue spirit fill that eliminates the use of mercury.

Larry Wilson, manager of public relations for Fluke, shows off the company’s new Ti10 Thermal Imager, designed to withstand harsh work environments and provide a thermal imaging solution for everyday troubleshooting and maintenance of HVACR equipment.

LEAK DETECTORS, PROBES, AND MULTIMETERS

Bacharach (www.bacharach-inc.com) touted two new instruments, its industrial refrigerant leak detector (H25-IR) and combustion analyzer (PCA2). The refrigerant leak detector uses IR technology and can be used for low-level detection and leak rate qualifications of CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs, and halogen gas compounds.

The PCA2 is a commercial-grade, handheld combustion and emissions analyzer for on-demand or semi-continuous sampling of light industrial, institutional, commercial, and residential furnaces, boilers, and other appliances. It directly measures and displays flue gas oxygen, carbon monoxide, stack temperature, draft, differential pressure, combustion air temperature, and optionally measures and displays nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.

EdgeTech (www.edgetech.com) featured its new HTPB Series of humidity probes. The instruments offer a variety of measurement parameters: rh, temperature, dew point, pressure, and more. The probes are adaptable for most applications, including high temperature and high pressure “while maintaining precision accuracy,” said the company.

E Instruments Group LLC (www.einstrumentsgroup.com) introduced seven new instruments, including the Mini MMX II digital multimeter. The company describes it as a complete multimeter with temperature capabilities. Also new is the Mini Comfort, a portable, rugged multifunctional environmental tool that measures sound level, light, temperature, and humidity.

Also new is the MicroRay Pro, a noncontact infrared thermometer. It is capable of a -22° to 93°F temperature range and has adjustable emissivity. Meanwhile, the new Btu 3000+ is a multifunctional instrument, marketed as “10 instruments in one.” It is a portable combustion analyzer, portable emissions analyzer, built-in differential thermometer, built-in manometer, draft meter, CO leak detector, gas pipeline leak and pressure decay tester, combustible gas leak detector, ionization/current flame tester, and a data logging and test record database.

Rounding out the new introductions are the Btu 1000 portable combustion analyzer, the Btu 2000+ portable combustion analyzer, and the MicroRay HVAC++, a noncontact IR thermometer that measures humidity, surface temperature, and ambient temperature. The company said the Btu 1000 is “ideal for servicing and maintenance purposes of HVAC professionals, including boilers, heaters, and other residential and/or commercial applications.” The Btu 2000+ is designed to monitor O2, CO, CO2, excess air, and efficiency in residential or light commercial boiler and/or burner applications.

Russell Harju, product manager for Fieldpiece, walks through the company’s new HVAC Guide, a guided probe tester. The instrument is designed to lead field technicians step-by-step through the most common HVAC tests, including target evaporator exit temp, superheat, subcooling, and combustion analysis.

MEASURING AND TESTING

Extech Instruments (www.extech.com) featured its 42515–T wide-range IR thermometer with Type K input. Storing up to 20 readings and capable of measuring both noncontact and contact temperature, the thermometer is designed to deliver a wide temperature range for IR measurements from -58° to 1,472°F, as well as the Type K thermocouple measurements from -58° to 2,498°.

Emissivity is manually adjustable, and the bright backlit LCD was designed to provide easy-to-read measurements and programming parameters. Also included is an adjustable high-low alarm to alert the user visually and audibly when temperature exceeds programmed limits.

The company also displayed its new TP200 K thermocouple sensor pipe clamp, designed to provide additional hands-free superheat/subcooling temperature measurement without the use of tape or Velcro® by using a spring-loaded jaw for a secure grip on pipes from 1/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter.

It also showed its new TK430-IR Industrial Troubleshooting Kit. Extech said it assembled this convenient, portable system to address all the electrical testing needs for installation and repair of electrical systems, HVAC equipment, and large appliances. Included in the kit is an EX430 true RMS autoranging digital multimeter, an MA200 400A ac clamp meter, a 42510 mini IR thermometer, a 40130 noncontact voltage detector, a set of CAT III-1000V test leads, a Type K thermocouple bead probe, a Type K banana input adaptor, a multimeter hanging strap, and batteries.

Lastly, it announced the availability of its Heavy Duty Series of instruments, comprised of four separate devices: the HD700/HD750, HD500, HD300 and HD200, most with optional IR thermometer capabilities “that are ideal for making noncontact temperature measurements for unsafe or hard-to-reach areas.” For instance, the HD200, a differential thermometer data logger and IR thermometer, is designed to allow users to take differential temperature readings with dual Type K thermocouple probes, as well as noncontact surface temperature measurements using an optional IR thermometer probe.

Fieldpiece (www.fieldpiece.com) touted its new HVAC Guide, labeled as a guided probe tester. Company president Rey Harju called it “the most exciting product I have ever introduced.” In his estimation, “It makes the HVAC tech’s job easier, faster, better. It makes every HVAC tech a super tech.”

The handheld instrument is designed to lead field techs step by step through the most common HVAC tests, including target evaporator exit temperature, superheat, subcooling, and combustion analysis. The tester can store up to 200 tests that can be downloaded to a PC for customer tracking and data organization. Each set of test data contains a customer ID and a time stamp.

General Tools and Instruments (www.generaltools.com) introduced four test instruments. Its handheld carbon monoxide meter, the DC0 1001, features a new electromechanical CO sensor with three points of autocalibration.

A new natural gas detector, the NGD268, is designed to provide a quick response to combustion gas leaks. Its refrigerant leak detector, RLD380L, uses a newly developed semiconductor sensor, “which is extremely sensitive to a wide variety of general refrigerants.” Features include a microprocessor control with advanced digital signal processing. Also new is its DCS1500 video borescope system, a portable, handheld borescope system with monitor, camera, and video. It takes still photos along with video in real time.

Kanomax USA (www.kanomax-usa.com) displayed its new hand-held condensation particle counter, Model 3800. This tool is good for indoor air quality investigation, it said. It has a concentration range of 0 to 1,000 particles/cubic meter, programmable data logging capabilities, and it’s simple to download the data into a computer via a USB.

Rigid Tool Co. (www.rigid.com) featured its new Micro CG-100 combustible gas sniffer, designed to identify the presence of combustible gases. It can detect methane, propane, butane, ammonia, carbon monoxide, and many other common combustible gases. Its 16-inch probe hose accesses hard-to-reach spaces.

AWARD WINNER

Omega Engineering (www.omega.com) and Newport Electronics (www.newportus.com) were awarded the 2008 AHR Innovation award for instruments and tools. The new zSeries Wireless Sensor System is designed to provide Web-based monitoring and control of temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure in critical HVACR applications. The wireless “End Devices’” mount discretely on the wall in clean rooms, labs, museums, computer server rooms, warehouses, and remote facilities. Up to 32 wireless sensors transmit to a coordinator that serves Web pages over a LAN or the Internet.

The End Devices transmit up to 300 feet (without obstructions) to a “coordinator” connected directly to an Ethernet network and the Internet. The wireless system complies with IEEE 802.15.4 operating at 2.4GHz. The device can trigger an alarm if variables go above or below a set point that the user determines. The alarms can be sent by e-mail to a single user or to a group distribution list, including text messages to Internet enabled cell phones and PDAs.

Other new announcements from Omega Engineering:

• Newport CTXL-TRH, a temperature/rh chart recorder, is designed with a temperature range of 2° to 120°F, and a humidity range of 2-98 percent, it said. The CTXL has a dual backlit LCD that displays two inputs in real time. The charted data are stored in the nonvolatile memory that can be downloaded to a PC at a later time. This provides an electronic copy of the charted data.

• The iBTHX is a new transmitter designed to monitor and record barometric pressure, temperature, rh, and a dew point over an Ethernet network or the Internet with no special software except a Web browser. The transmitter serves Active Web Pages to display real-time readings, display charts of barometric pressure, temperature, and humidity, or log data in standard data formats for use in a spreadsheet or data acquisition program such as Excel or Visual Basic.

• Newport iTH Series instruments are designed to monitor and control both temperature and rh. All meters and controllers in the series are “high quality, highly accurate instruments featuring Newport’s award-winning iSeries Embedded Ethernet technology,” said the company.

MANIFOLD AND MORE INFRARED

Robinair (www.robinairhvac.com) expanded the coverage of its popular Two Way Standard Side Wheel Manifold. New models feature gauges that measure various combinations of the most common refrigerants found in the HVACR systems. Designed for accuracy and ease of use, the products feature universal gauges protected with Lexan™ lenses. Improved face seal valves are designed to provide a tighter seal, less wear, and improve flow.

UEi (www.ueitest.com) featured several new products, including its DM3838B and DM384 HVAC multimeters. Its new EasyView Display™ upgrade “makes the extra large 4,000-count display simple in dark work environments or bright sunlight.” Range and function indicators help provide more on-screen information.

Its new CLM100B digital cable-length meter is designed to measure spooled cable wire. The MM100 moisture meter is designed to measure moisture levels in wood and hardened building materials. The company said its new ATTPC pipe clamp adaptor works with any meter using K-type thermocouple inputs, and the 550B digital pocket thermometer offers “all the required features and ranges needed for today’s HVAC applications.” The new HVACKit combines the most popular test instruments in one kit, including its Phoenix II DL279 clamp meter, CH2 hook, and the INF 155 infrared thermometer.

Weiss Instruments (www.weissinstruments.com) displayed its new infrared thermometer, the IR921, with 9:1 ratio, laser pointer, and pistol grip design.

Publication date: 02/18/2008

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