CHICAGO — Finding ways to create smarter products, while at the same time increasing the ways in which those products can be used, emerged as a key theme in the testing and monitoring sector at the 2015 AHR Expo. Manufacturers are utilizing Wi-Fi capabilities, mobile devices, and multipurpose devices to move testing and monitoring forward in the ever-changing HVAC industry landscape.

All-in-one Tools

“We are building in options and multiple uses for the same instrument,” said Peter Harper, vice president, strategic marketing and brand development, General Tools & Instruments. “Trying to have a tool that has multiple uses and more built-in features is the biggest trend we are seeing. All-in-one is becoming a big thing in testing and monitoring. Also, miniaturizing is becoming popular. Tools are simply getting smaller and less expensive.”

The new Mini-Anemometer/Psychrometer with CFM/CMM & Enthalpy (DAF3009) from General Tools & Instruments was displayed at the AHR Expo and represents this trend. It offers HVACR technicians and contractors the ability to measure eight HVACR-related parameters in one handheld device that is small and light enough for one-handed operation. The DAF3009 can measure all parameters associated with installing, testing, and fine-tuning the performance of an HVACR system. The instrument can also track and calculate the maximum, minimum, and average values recorded over a measurement session. A session begins when the device is powered on and ends five minutes after the final measurement is made (when the Auto Power Off function activates).

David Lax, national sales manager, air conditioning and refrigeration, Spectronics Corp., said the ability to take the absolute best features from different products and combine them into one new and improved product will be critical moving forward, especially in leak-detection and sealer products.

“The sealers that are out there really come in two categories,” said Lax. “Each has good things and each has bad things. The important thing right now is to take the best things that multiple products have to offer and combine them into one product with all of the best features in one place. We are building a better mousetrap, essentially. Our Cool Seal™ A/C Leak Sealer is nonflammable, as we wanted to have something that was a bit different.”

The Cool Seal A/C Leak Sealer seals refrigerant leaks in compressors, condensers, evaporators, O-rings, and hoses, quickly and permanently. Cool Seal seals leaks as large as 0.020 inch (0.5 mm) and can remain safely in the system to guard against future leaks. It’s an economical alternative to expensive parts replacements on older air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Cool Seal meets ASHRAE 97 standard for chemical stability. Its non-polymer, oil-soluble formula is safe for all air conditioning and refrigeration system components, and it works in all popular air conditioning and refrigeration systems, including high-pressure R-410A systems.

The Saveris 2 monitoring and alarming system from Testo Inc. is another product bringing a multitude of features into one device. The product utilizes cloud-based technology allowing information to be stored and accessed remotely, providing users with the ability to be on the other side of the world and still be able to monitor and react to issues. This reduces the pressure on an individual, or team, relieving the need to be constantly on-site to keep measurement values under control.

If temperature or humidity levels fluctuate beyond acceptable levels, an alert is sent by SMS and email to the parties responsible, allowing action to be taken to prevent any loss of product. Data is extracted and stored wirelessly and can be accessed by simply logging on to the secure cloud location, which allows for easy viewing of the information. This process relies on a standard Internet browser, so no special software or configuration is required; Saveris 2 can be accessed via a computer, tablet, or smartphone. When on-site with a Saveris 2 system, users can scan each Saveris loggers’ built-in QR code to take them to the secure cloud page devoted to the logger’s extracted data, which grants users speedy assessments of individual loggers.

Wireless Technology

“Wi-Fi has become a large monitoring trend,” said Brian Morrison, product manager, hilmor. “Making things compatible with phones, tablets, and other devices is quickly gaining in popularity. Anything that can make the technician’s job easier, faster, and more efficient, and allows them to do better quality work, is going to continue to be a trend. The last five years have probably ushered in the most changes for testing and monitoring products, so, right now, we’re trying to utilize those changes by introducing tools designed to help technicians out however we can.”

Fluke is also capitalizing on the multipurpose tool trend. Its Ti90 and Ti95 Infrared Cameras with wireless connectivity are designed for maintenance, troubleshooting, and HVACR technicians, electricians, and facility managers who need to collaborate and share measurements with others on their team. The cameras allow technicians to conduct infrared inspections from a safe distance without compromising accuracy. The 3.5-inch color LCD screen has adjustable brightness for easy viewing in most conditions. An extensive SD memory system, including a removable 8-GB SD memory card or 8-GB wireless SD card, allows technicians who share cameras to simply swap SD cards rather than downloading images onto their PCs before turning the camera over to the next technician.

“We’re going where the future in testing and monitoring is going,” said Toffee Coleman, education program manager, Fluke. “We are creating products that allow maintenance technicians to do their jobs faster, safer, and with more of a team effort. Efficiency is also critical and so is using technology to the best of
your ability.”

As far as monitoring freezers and refrigerators goes, Sensaphone’s new Sentinel system is appropriate for specialized areas such as laboratories, blood banks, medical centers, food storage facilities, and markets. Only one unit is required to monitor up to 12 different environmental and equipment status conditions, including temperature, humidity, water detection, and power failure. When the system detects issues, it instantly sends alerts via phone, text, or email. The Sentinel system stores all sensor readings in the cloud, which protects against data loss and provides unlimited information storage. Multiple devices can be managed from one account using intuitive Web-based management tools. No software is required, so installation, integration, and management are fast and easy.

“This cloud-based monitoring system is ideal for HVACR professionals who work with freezers and refrigerators because it provides an additional layer of assurance those valuable products are safe and secure,” said Dave DeFusco, vice president of engineering, Sensaphone. “Sentinel provides an abundance of inputs per device, making it a cost-effective remote monitoring option.

One of Bacharach Inc.’s latest products, the Fyrite INSIGHT Plus featuring Tune-Rite software, is a step forward in combustion analysis because, the company said, it allows contractors to basically select the appliance they are working on and access pre-programmed setups for that appliance. It makes everything easier for the user. The product has a full-color, vibrant display offering real-time results. It also features user diagnostics and calibration reminders. The Tune-Rite software allows for on-demand help and troubleshooting to ensure an HVAC system is operating in the acceptable range.

Yellow Jacket®, a brand of Ritchie Engineering Co. Inc., has also been actively integrating wireless technology into its products. The ManTooth™ Single Pressure Wireless Digital P/T Gauge connects directly to a smart device through the ManTooth App. The product tests a system without losing refrigerant because no hoses or manifolds are necessary. It wirelessly calculates and displays the system’s actual pressures, temperatures, superheat, and subcooling. The gauge also has a range of up to 400 feet and features a rechargeable lithium polymer battery with 10 hours of battery life.

Publication date: 2/23/2015

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