Uncommon Tools Take Top Prizes

July 13, 2009
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HVAC technicians don’t often wield hammers and nails, but to qualify as a fundamental tool in their daily arsenal demands quality. Core Enterprises Inc.’s Accutools eL-720 carbon dioxide leak detector; Zebra Instruments’ Variable Speed Zebra VZ-7 in-line electronic diagnostic tool for variable-speed motors; and JB Industries’ Supernova micron gauge earned a gold, silver, and bronze place, respectively, in The NEWS’ sixth annual Dealer Design Awards’ Tools category.

Gold Winner: The Accutools eL-720 Carbon Dioxide Leak Detector from Core Enterprises Inc. is ergonomically designed for hand-held use.


The Accutools eL-720 carbon dioxide leak detector from Core Enterprises Inc. utilizes patent-pending infrared gas detection techniques to quickly and accurately locate small CO2 leaks. Its long-life sensor can detect concentrations of CO2 as small as 400 ppm over ambient CO2 levels, and provides both audible and visual indication - via six LEDs - of the relative leak size. According to the company, its high selectivity eliminates false alarms.

The tool is ergonomically designed for hand-held use, weighs 15 ounces, and operates for 20 hours on four standard “AA” alkaline batteries. It features a 10 second warm-up time, self-calibration with a manual reset for zeroing into large leaks, instantaneous detection, and two levels of sensitivity - 400 ppm and 4,000 ppm - all through single-button operation.

“Short warm up time is helpful and 400-4,000 ppm is a nice range,” said one contractor judge. “A digital/visual display is also positive and long battery life is a plus when used during the busy season.”

Applications include CO2 refrigeration service; carbonated beverage delivery systems, wineries, breweries, bakeries; bulk CO2 manufacturing; distribution; and service; general leak detection (using CO2 as a test gas); and more.

It is delivered complete and ready to use, batteries included. A rugged blow-mold carrying case protects the instrument during transport. Single-button operation, automatic calibration, and fast warm-up assist in simplifying the leak detection process. No regular maintenance is required, and the long-lived sensor can be replaced if necessary.

Silver Winner (below): Zebra Instruments’ Variable Speed Zebra VZ-7 includes two instructional DVDs with purchase.


Zebra Instruments’ Variable Speed Zebra VZ-7 is an in-line electronic diagnostic tool for variable-speed (ECM) motors. Typically applied in a residential or commercial furnace or air handler, the tool plugs in between the circuit board and blower motor. There are four switches and microprocessor-controlled testing.

One of the judges pointed out that, “This is a tool that truly is different from any on the market and represents what the Dealer Design Awards are all about. Something for technology that is just coming into significant use in our industry.”

Two DVDs are included with purchase. One, taught by a professional HVAC instructor, is a short course on variable-speed motors in general, and the other explains how to use the tool to diagnose problems in variable-speed systems.

It comes with a rugged, durable hinged case that stores cables and a quick reference card is printed on the inside of the case cover.

Bronze Winner: JB Industries’ Supernova has a large, easy-to-read display and a lengthy flexible cord for hard-to-reach areas.


JB Industries’ Supernova is a sensitive and accurate micron gauge for the HVAC industry, said the company. It allows a service technician to be certain when an a/c or refrigeration system is properly evacuated and free of air and moisture. The device has a large, easy-to-read display and an easy hook up brass fitting is connected to the display with a lengthy flexible cord for hard-to-reach areas. The unit also features user programmable features such as alarming, backlights, and auto shutoff. Users can customize the unit to match their work habits.

Supernova allows the user to select from a variety of unit measurements such as Microns, PSI, In. Hg, Pascal, Torr, mTorr, and mbar. It will measure in increments of microns of which there are 25,400 in a single inch of Hg., and accurately measures from 12,000 microns down to 10 microns.

“This is an impressive and useful tool,” said a judge. “Seems to have the right features to make it stand out from the others. Being easy to read is the big feature, especially in difficult weather conditions, and the alarm feature provides an incremental benefit as well.”

The unit is factory-calibrated and requires no additional calibration. The service tech need only attach the gauge to the system with the standard ¼-inch SAE fitting and observe the reading. If the sensor becomes contaminated, it can be cleaned with simple alcohol.

2009 Honorees: Tools

Core Enterprises Inc.
Accutools eL-720 Carbon Dioxide Leak Detector

Zebra Instruments
Variable Speed Zebra VZ-7

JB Industries

Lujan USA
The PODLight V2

JB Industries
Braze-Rite Adapter BRZ-1000

Publication date: 07/13/09

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