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Gold medal. RP 351 Press Tool.
Ridge Tool Co. (RIDGID)
RP 351 Press Tool

The Gold award in the Electronic Tools category goes to RIDGID for its RP 351 Press Tool, which gives HVAC professionals a new tool option for making quality presses, quickly and efficiently, with decreased strain on the body.

The RP 351 operates with an advanced brushless motor requiring no scheduled maintenance. It features 360° swivel that and LED lights to let users see and access tight spaces in low- and no-light areas. It comes with a SlimGrip handle for enhanced balance and control, and weighs only about 8 pounds with battery.

“We're really excited about the 351 because it's the first time our standard press tools have gone in-line,” said Joe Devries, product manager for press connections. “As far as grip goes, the design is a little bit more agile and versatile. It's really great when you're working in a tight space or somewhere that has really low lighting, because it kind of does both — it lights up the area as well as shows you where you need to go with the tool.”

The RP 351 is ideal for making connections on carbon steel, copper, PEX, and stainless-steel pipe on residential, commercial, and industrial jobs. It is compatible with the full line of RIDGID standard series jaws and rings. Options include ½ – 4-inch ProPress for copper and stainless steel, ½ – 2-inch PureFlow for PEX, and ½ – 2-inch MegaPress for carbon steel. It also pairs with the RIDGID Press Booster for 2½ -inch, 3-inch, and 4-inch carbon steel; the StrutSlayr Strut Shear Head; and the Press Snap Soil Pipe Cutter.

The tool’s 18V battery platform includes chargers for on-the-go battery charging including a 12V car charger cord that is compatible with vehicles. It also pairs with the RIDGID Link app to track tool usage, service needs, battery life, and last known location.

“The wide range of pipe and sizes is a great benefit for extra versatility,” noted one of the DDA judges.

More than three years of research went into the design of the RP 351 Press Tool, including surveys, focus groups, and job site visits.

“It’s in-line, not a pistol-grip, and it rotates all the way around. Definitely gets into tight spaces,” said plumber Omar Harris. “The LED light helps out a lot. Sometimes I end up using it as a flashlight.”

Recently he was working in a building where a landscaping worker hit a water line outside.

“We couldn’t shut it off,” he said. “It wasn’t holding the water, so of course you can’t sweat. The RP 351 was very helpful because we could press a 2-inch ball valve on and were able to shut off the water, even though I still had water coming out of the copper pipe. Otherwise we would have had to wait for the city to turn it off in a different location, and that would have been like a three-hour wait.”

M18 Force Logic Press Tool Kit.
Milwaukee Tool
M18 Force Logic Press Tool Kit w/ One-Key with 3/4"- to 7/8" Streamline ACR Jaws

Silver went to Milwaukee Tool for its M18 Force Logic Press Tool Kit w/ One-Key with ¼”-7/8” Streamline ACR Jaws. The press delivers flame-free HVACR connections, eliminating nitrogen purges, down time waiting for hot work permits, and the need for silver solder.

As the industry’s first press tool with remote tracking, management, and lockout, One-Key allows for logging and uploading data from every press via the desktop or mobile app. The press tool features an in-line design and brushless motor, enabling more run-time per charge and faster cycle times.

Connections often need to be made overhead or in tight spaces. The tool’s inline design allows technicians to make ¼-inch to 1-1/8-inch ACR connections anywhere they can fit their arm. It also allows users to press with one hand.

The tool has ½-inch to 4-inch capacity, depending on material, and is compatible with over 20 unique fitting systems. Auto-cycle and a green light indicator ensure a full press every time, and the pre-press battery check prevents the tool from starting a press it can’t complete.

The product development team took prototypes to contractors on jobsites to evaluate which features were working well and which needed improvement.

“Truly a game-changing product for labor savings and the ability to reduce technician error,” wrote a DDA contractor judge.

Infrared Sensor Leak Detector, DR82.
Fieldpiece Instruments Inc.
Infrared Sensor Leak Detector, DR82

Fieldpiece Instruments, Inc. took home Bronze for the Infrared Sensor Leak Detector, DR82, which can sniff out leaks at <0.03 oz/yr — or 20 times more sensitive than soap bubbles.

The DR82 is designed to help technicians not only demonstrate the presence of a leak, but also accurately and quickly pinpoint the leak’s exact location. It senses and alerts to increasing concentrations of refrigerant, which helps technicians solve problems quickly and prevent call-backs.

DR82 triggers on all HFC, CFC, HCFC, HFO and blends but doesn’t trigger on oil or moisture. As oil is frequently found on the line set, this reduces false positives. It also senses change in refrigerant levels and can work in contaminated environments. The sensors are fast-acting and last up to 10 years. It holds a charge for up to 10 hours and can be used while charging. The IR sensor maintains its highest level of sensitivity, allowing the DR82 to find small leaks throughout the entire sensor life. The sensitivity does not degrade over time.