Tools and Test Instruments for Technicians

March 8, 2001
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Inficon says its new Whisper ultrasonic leak detector can detect ultrasound at 40.5 kHz, which makes it suitable for detecting leaks in noisy environments.


ATLANTA, GA — This year’s AHR Expo had no shortage of test instruments and tools on display. Several manufacturers gave technicians and contractors a glimpse at new and improved products that will make working in the field easier and more efficient.

Inficon (East Syracuse, NY) had a few improved products as well as some brand new ones on display. Two familiar products are the Tek-Mate portable leak detector and the D-Tek refrigerant leak detector. According to Peggy Smith, inside salesperson, the inner workings of these two leak detectors have not changed. The only difference in the products has been a “face-lift” to make them more ergonomic.

These leak detectors are now joined by the company’s latest, the Whisper Ultrasonic leak detector. This new tool not only detects ultrasonic waves, but also refrigerant leaks, leaks in natural gas, LPG leaks, leaks in vacuum systems, and propane storage leaks, as well as line set leaks in foundations and walls.

Inficon also says that the Whisper unit’s internal noise control allows a technician to use it in noisy environments, such as mechanical rooms and around operating chillers. “The biggest benefit is that it detects sounds at 40.5 kHz,” said Smith.

Inficon’s Shark vacuum pump has not yet hit the American market, but will be introduced in the United Kingdom some time in March. Javac Vacuum & Refrigeration Process Technology of Australia developed this pump, which is in the shape of a shark. According to Andrew Davies, managing director of Javac, the unusual design of the pump is for ergonomic purposes.

Davies says that the Shark has several benefits. The pump not only has a creative design, but is said to be more efficient for the technician and has higher performance capabilities. The Shark is a two-stage, 6-cfm vacuum pump that Inficon says can go from atmosphere to 20 microns faster than other pumps.



Spectronics has introduced its TLK-100GS leak detection kit, which includes a UV light and fluorescent dyes.

UV Leak Detectors

New leak detector technology was also presented by Uniweld (Fort Lauderdale, FL). The company gave demonstrations of its new LeakTracer, which allows technicians to find refrigerant leaks with the use of a ultraviolet (UV) light. The LeakTracer kit comes complete with dyes, a swivel UV lamp, an injection gun, safety glasses, and more.

To use this detector, a technician connects the anti-blowback hose fitting to either a low- or high-side service valve of a refrigeration system. Next, the technician injects the UV dye into the refrigeration system while it is under pressure.

The swivel light, which also comes with a portable rechargeable battery pack, is used to search for leaks. When the fluorescent dye is exposed to the UV lamp, the leak source will glow either a bright yellow or green.

According to Dave Foster of Uniweld products, the LeakTracer kit is cleaner and easier to use than alternate methods, and its Limited Pointer Flutter™ and No Pointer Flutter® gauges are easier to read.

Spectronics (Westbury, NY) also has a new UV leak detector on the market. The Spectroline® TLK-100GS leak detection kit for air conditioning and refrigeration systems comes with the company’s Titan™ TL-100/12 UV/Blue leak-detection lamp.

The Titan lamp is powered with a portable 12-V battery pack and has no warm-up time. The light can be immediately turned on and used, the company says.

The kit also includes Glo-Stick® capsules prefilled with fluorescent dye, two bleed valves, fluorescence-enhancing glasses, a bottle of Glo-Away™ dye cleaner, and more.



Noncontact Thermometers

Raytek (Santa Cruz, CA), a manufacturer of infrared temperature measurement instruments, displayed some of its new noncontact thermometers. According to Raytek product manager Ken Pomper, noncontact thermometers are catching on in many industries, including hvacr.

“A lot of technicians use it to avoid hauling around a ladder,” he said. “You just aim at the ceiling.”

The MX Close Precision noncontact thermometer was introduced last year and has built a reputation for providing accurate measurements of small target areas. The MXCF can measure the appropriate temperature of a region without background temperatures interfering, the company says.

The MXCF has a temperature range of -20° to 1,600°F and 1% accuracy, says the company. The MXCF also features an audible/ visible high/low alarm, backlit display, low-battery indicator, and an automatic off feature.

Pomper says that the MX models also have a new software program. The thermometer can record data and later display and graph it on a computer. The data can also be graphed in real time if desired.

The company also displayed its series of Raynger ST Noncontact Thermometers. The series comes in four different models.



New Equipment

Testo (Flanders, NJ), a manufacturer of test instruments and monitors, has developed some new products that will expand on the company’s current product lines.

The Testo 325 Series of combustion analyzers have been available in both the 325-1 and 325-2 models. The company has now added the 325-3 and 325-I to the series.

The new 325-2 Carbon Mon-oxide Analyzer can detect CO, draft, pressure, and differential temperature. The analyzer also has an infrared printer for on-site printing with date, time, and analyzer serial number.

The 325-I Single-Gas Analyzer comes in four separate models, each with a different measuring capability. The instruments can measure CO (high concentrations), CO (low concentrations), NO, or SO2. Also, for a limited time, Testo is offering its 325-3 Deluxe kit. The kit includes Advanced CO Analyzer, Flue Gas Probe, two thermocouples, service case, IR printer, and spare printer paper.

Finally, Testo has developed the 315-2 Ambient CO Meter. This device measures and records carbon monoxide concentrations in the air. For advanced users a flue gas adapter is available.

Alnor Instrument Company (Skokie, IL) also has a new test instrument ready to hit the market at the end of this month. The company will introduce its RVA+. According to Alnor, this rotating vane instrument can measure true air velocity and does not require density correction factors to be applied to readings.

The RVA+ also has a swivel head which allows a technician to read the LCD display at any angle. Also, the instrument displays volume readings and reads temperature and velocity simultaneously. The company is also preparing to release its RVD model in the next six months.



Amprobe's KWIK-I-E Probe has several benefits including a graph that can record measurements in amps and volts.

Sidebar: ATP Launches New Products After Merger

It was official on July 1, 2000. TIF Instruments, Amprobe, and Promax consolidated to become a single company known as Advanced Test Products (ATP). Each brand has its own specialty line of hvacr tools, but now each can be found under one company and with one collective name.

The same was true at the 2001 AHR Expo, where the ATP booth showcased not only the merger of each of these product lines, but the new developments and improvements of each.

Contractors and technicians will be seeing some new products and some products with new and improved features.

ECONOMY MULTIMETERS

More improvements in look and convenience come for the Amprobe line of economy multimeters. The new multimeters are models AM-33 and AM-34. These models differ from the previous multimeters because they are said to have a more modern and up-to-date design and look. Each model has auto ranging, a data hold, and auto power off. Each also selects the most accurate range, stores reading on the display to view at a later time, and shuts off if it is not in use to preserve the battery. Both models are sold with a carrying case.

As for the difference, the AM-33 model, also called the Intelligent Digital Multimeter, has an auto selection of dc, ac, volt, or resistance. The AM-33 also has a continuity feature, an auto power off with power resume, and an auto selection (volts/resistance).

The AM-34, or Auto Ranging Digital Multimeter, has a one rotary switch operation, a diode & continuity test, and an auto power off.

LEAK DETECTORS

ATP also has a number of new leak detectors on the market. One of the newest is the Amprobe Model ULD-300 Ultrasonic Leak Detector. The ULD-300 is a more compact detector and only weighs 5.6 oz. It can also be used for testing the air-tightness in cars and houses, for pre-pressure testing of vessels, and for finding leaks in ductwork when it is combined with the Amprobe UT-300.

This specific leak detector can detect many kinds of pressurized leaks regardless of type, such as CFCs, HFCs, and nitrogen.

ATP says that the ULD-300 can detect ultrasonic noise created by gas movement. Also, according to ATP, this specific product is unique because it is unaffected by contaminants. When the ULD-300 is used with Parabola PB-1, background noise is reduced, says the company, enabling the device to pick up more accurate readings and eliminate false alarms.

More recently, TIF introduced its X line of refrigerant leak detectors. There are three such models and each has a microprocessor controlled circuit with Advanced Digital Signal Processing and each detects all halogenated refrigerants. Also, the three models have a one-touch reset, optional reference leak source, and constant and cordless power indication.

The TIFXP-1 model has seven levels of sensitivity adjustment to provide an increase of up to 64 times. It also has a battery-test function with true voltage indication and a mute feature which can silence an audible alarm.

The TIFAX-1 model has a six-segment visual leak size indicator, a true mechanical pump which provides positive airflow through the sensing tip, and high- and low-sensitivity levels. The TIFXL-1 only differs with its single switch control.

NONCONTACT PROBE

Finally, another new product to be displayed at the ATP booth was the Amprobe Model K-1 (KWIK-I-E) Non-contact Volt/Amp Probe. With its length at only 7 in. and its weight at only 3 oz, the probe can easily be carried in a tool pouch or in a pocket.

More importantly, the probe features a bar graph that displays the reading of a live ac line in either amps or volts. Also, the range can be switched from high to low, and can be operated without stripping or breaking wires.

Publication date: 03/08/2001

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