NEW YORK - Tools are a necessity in the HVAC industry, and the tool manufacturers at the 2008 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) showcased new tools that were “better, smaller, brighter, lighter, safer, and easier.”

Considering the tight spots, dark places, unpredictable jobsites, and tangled messes technicians often find themselves in; this year’s tool offerings endeavored to not only make the tech’s job easier, but to also make the technician more efficient, saving contractors and customers time and money.


Coleman Cable Inc.( presented multiple tools in its booth, including the Cord Runner™. It is an inline extension cord that has three evenly-spaced outlets along the cord, instead of just one at the end. Each outlet has a power indicator light and a cover that helps keep out water and dust. Available in six-, 25-, and 50-foot lengths, the green or bright yellow cords come in 12- and 14- gauge and are outdoor rated for extreme conditions.

The company also added to its LED work light line. The TwistBrite™ is an LED work light with a flexible neck that allows the light to be positioned in multiple ways. The bulb has a life expectancy of 50,000 hours and it operates on three AA batteries. The light also has a PVC-coated magnet on the base for quick attachment to many metal surfaces.

Jerry Rig LLC( displayed its effort to improve safety with the Jerry Rig. This product consists of two black handles and two long straps used to secure and carry diverse HVAC units. The hauling system allows technicians to carry square or round objects up and down stairs without having to bend over. According to the company, it is also helpful in avoiding gouged walls and marked floors that are often caused by truck dollies.

Klein Tools Inc.( released 33 new SKUs designed specifically for the HVAC market. The hand tools, available in multiple sizes, include: tube cutters, tube flaring/swaging tools, tube benders, seaming/folding tools, crimping tools, cutting/notching tools, duct stretching/slitting tools, hammers, and sheet metal accessories and fasteners. To inform the public of its new offerings, the company created a new, 28-page HVAC miniature pocket-sized catalog, complete with color photos.

New tools weren’t the only attraction at Lenox’s booth. NASCAR driver Jeff Burton announced the company’s Extra Mile Heroes Program and answered attendees’ racing questions.

Lenox®( introduced two new products during the show. The Mobile Torch System, used to extend the reach and access in any job situation is ideal for crawl spaces, attics, cabinets, and more, said the company. The torch has an all brass regulator, a 12.5-foot hose with metal strain relief, an AP handle, and a self-igniting swirl flame air propane/MAPP® tip. A case is also available for this unit. It stores and transports two gas cylinders, solder, tools, and accessories. It also has an integrated hose wrap and tip holder.

The company offered a new Bi-Metal Utility Bit as well. This bi-metal technology fuses two “premium steels together.” Optimized for cordless drilling, these bits have three cutting edges, can be sharpened, and are designed to perform in virtually all materials and applications. According to the company, these bits cut through nails without breaking or slowing down. They come in three- and five-piece kits ranging in sizes from 5/8 to 1-3/8 inches.

Malco Products Inc.( showed off its new UC1 Pex Tubing Uncoiler. This tool, designed for hydronic in-floor radiant heating layout, accommodates all types of PEX tubing, including 1,000 feet of 3/8- to 1/2-inch tubing or 500 feet of 5/8- to 1-inch tubing. The entire unit stores in a steel-reinforced plastic case measuring 40 by 17 by 5 inches and weighs 50 pounds.

The open case serves as the unit’s base and it requires no tools to assemble. According to the company, a heavy-duty turntable supports a full coil of PEX, a rotating eyelet arm allows tubing to be pulled off in any direction, and the factory-adjusted tension prevents backlash and spreading of tubing coil off of the turntable. An optional wheel and handle kit is also available.

Ridge Tool Co.( brought fresh ideas to the pressing tool arena with its new Ridgid® RP 330 Pressing Tool and ProPress® Rings. Offered in a corded or battery version, the RP 330 has a 270-degree jaw rotation and a flattened top, permitting more accessibility in confined areas.

Indicator and troubleshooting lights indicate the tools performance to the end user, who also receives an audible signal when the pressing cycle is complete. It presses 1/2- to 4-inch joints and is compatible with all standard Ridgid pressing jaws.

New ProPress rings allow users even greater access in tighter spaces. The swivel design with 180-degree rotation yields the ability to make presses when working near ceilings or floors. The patented swivel actuators permit the tool to connect to the ring at almost any angle.

Ridgid also introduced its new XF45 and XF50 Quick Acting Vices. Made of forged steel, the vice uniquely offers a quick action trigger located under the adjustable jaw. This trigger allows the user to make vise adjustments by flipping the trigger and sliding the jaw to the desired position. The hand crank is then used for minor adjustments.

According to the company, the patented jaw alignment system provides precise clamping and longer service life. It is available in 4-1/2- and 5-inch sizes and comes with a lifetime warranty.

TerraLUX LED Lighting Solutions( featured the TLE-300 at its booth. This 600 lumen LED light bulb replaces the standard incandescent bulb in Maglite® D cell flashlights, effectively converting it into the brightest LED flashlight available, said the company. It is comprised of three Luxeon® K2 “flip chip” high-powered LEDs. According to the manufacturer, the light output on the TLE-300 is greater than a conventional 50-W MR-16 halogen light.

Publication date:02/18/2008