Wow! Talk about an onslaught of testing and monitoring products. The Testing and Monitoring Products category had by far the largest number of entries inThe News'first-ever Dealer Design Awards.

That's one reason why Emerson Climate Technologies (St. Louis) should be proud for coming away with the gold award for its Comfort Alertâ„¢ Diagnostics, the company's monitoring and analyzing system for residential cooling systems.

"This can be a great diagnostic tool in problem situations to prevent further problems for customers," stated one contractor-judge.

In truth, most judges made very few comments on their respective score sheets, but the scores they gave to the Comfort Alert Diagnostics did the talking for them.

"Comfort Alert improves technician service accuracy and increases productivity," wrote Emerson Climate Technologies in its entry form. "Studies at an HVAC testing facility showed that Comfort Alert improves service technician diagnostic accuracy by 60 percent, and allows the technician to make one to two more calls per day. The result is reduced callbacks and faster service."

Reduced callbacks? Faster service? No wonder the product caught the eyes of the judges.

In the race for second, the Amprobe® HVAC Digital Clamp-on Multimeter from Advanced Test Products (ATP), Division of SPX Corp. (Miramar, Fla.), took the silver medal. It edged out the Yellow Jacket® Micro LED UV Leak Detection Kit, manufactured by Ritchie Engineering Company Inc. (Bloomington, Minn.).

The Comfort Alert was designed to easily install in the electrical box of residential outdoor units. According to its manufacturer, Emerson Climate Technologies, when faults are detected, a flashing light indicates the fault code.

Gold Winner

In submitting their entry, Emerson provided some glowing testimonials from contractors concerning the Comfort Alert Diagnostics, including one from Steve Miles of Jerry Kelly Heating and Cooling. "What more could you ask for than something that is self-diagnosing," stated Miles. "It saves me time when I'm doing a repair and makes more money for me."

The company said its product is "the first technology of its kind" for residential cooling systems. By monitoring and analyzing data on system performance, Comfort Alert is designed to guide the technician "more quickly and accurately to the root cause of a problem."

The product installs in the electrical box of residential outdoor units. When faults are detected, a flashing light communicates the fault code.

"Research shows that the two major issues facing contractors are: (1) improving the skills of service technicians to reduce callbacks, and (2) improving productivity to address the shortage of skilled technicians, especially in peak season," wrote Emerson. "Comfort Alert was designed with contractor input to address these needs and improve homeowner satisfaction."

The key technology innovation, said Emerson, is using the Copeland Scroll compressor as a sensor. By understanding compressor protection behavior in relationship to system demand, the company said the product could identify electrical and system-related faults without external sensors.

"Comfort Alert creates a completely new category of monitoring technology available to the contractor," stated Emerson. "Traditional diagnostic tools are expensive and complex. Comfort Alert pinpoints problems and communicates faults to the service technician at the point of service.

"Comfort Alert can also communicate directly to the thermostat to alert homeowners when a problem occurs, and generate a service call for the contractor. In fact, new thermostats have been developed to work with Comfort Alert. The new Active Protection thermostat from White-Rodgers can automatically shut down the compressor if a severe compressor-damaging problem is detected."

In a recent study, the company said 77 percent of the participating contractors in its survey showed that they could offer additional value to the homeowner by selling units equipped with Comfort Alert.

"Homeowners get peace of mind knowing contractors will solve problems quickly and accurately, and, in some cases, provide improved reliability of their HVAC investment," said Emerson.

For more information on the Comfort Alert Diagnostics, visit

The Amprobe HVAC Digital Clamp-on Multimeter features a dual display, which permits simultaneous reading of amperage and voltage.

Silver Winner

The Amprobe HVAC Digital Clamp-on Multimeter (Model ACD-14) is a hand tool with multiple functions. It earned a lot of compliments from the contractor-judges. Most were enthused about the dual display and simultaneous functions of the clamp-on meter. The tool gives contractors the ability to measure and read amperage and voltage simultaneously, noted Fabio Yonezawa, senior product manager for SPX Corp./Advanced Test Products.

"Dual reading of amps and volts is great," stated one News contractor-judge, while another cited the many uses for dual display.

"The ACD-14 creates a one-tool-in-the-pocket concept, allowing HVACR contractors to carry fewer tools, with digital functions and economically priced," wrote Yonezawa. "The rubber ribs give the safe and ergometric design. A lifetime warranty assures the quality and durability of the ACD-14."

The fact it has a limited lifetime warranty was frosting on the cake for the contractor-judges.

"It is an excellent cost/benefit for contractors," said Yonezawa.

To find out more regarding the Amprobe ACD-14 Tech Clamp, go to

Whether the system runs continuously or part-time, the dye solution in the Yellow Jacket Micro LED UV Leak Detection Kit is ready in the system 24 hours a day to help find even the smallest leaks with the lightweight Micro LED UV lamp, said manufacturer Ritchie Engineering.

Bronze Winner

One contractor-judge listed all of his favorite features regarding the Yellow Jacket Micro LED UV Leak Detection Kit. In his comment section, he noted the following: "Lifetime warranty ... small size ... ultra-high UV lights to do all dyes. Nice product."

That brief description certainly sums up the high points of the third-place winner.

"You can use this high visibility lamp with fluorescent dye to spot all common leaks on all A/C systems," wrote Mary Jo Gentry, marketing communications manager for Ritchie Engineering, in the material she sent to The News. "Individual reflectors surround and focus on each of the five LEDs, which are recessed for protection in the stainless steel head."

According to the company, the complete kit includes fluorescent dye in an "easy-to-use injector," an adapter hose, the pocket-sized lamp, and a case. "There isn't a more complete, compact, high-quality, or affordable UV leak detection kit in this category," stated Gentry.

To use the kit, a contractor/technician starts by injecting the dye solution into the system. There is no need to steam or clean the area before scanning, said the company.

Once the solution circulates, the beam of the UV lamp is designed to pinpoint the leak with a glow, "even leaks as small as 1/4 ounce per year and better," said the manufacturer.

To find out more about the Yellow Jacket Micro LED UV Leak Detection Kit, visit

Honorable Mention

Receiving honorable mention from the contractor-judges were the TIF ZX-1 Heated Pentode™ Refrigerant Leak Detector (Model TIF ZX-1) from Advanced Test Products (ATP), Division of SPX Corp. (Miramar, Fla.); the TIF 8600 Carbon Dioxide and Ventilation Rate Monitor (Model TIF 8600) from Advanced Test Products (ATP), Division of SPX Corp. (Miramar, Fla.); the Validator Smart Fire/Smoke Damper System from Ruskin Manufacturing Co. (Kansas City, Mo.); HVAC Service Assistant (Model A7075A1000 – Enhanced 2004 Software Version 3.0) from Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions (Golden Valley, Minn.); HeatManager (Model 7512) from R.W. Beckett Corp. (Elyria, Ohio); and the Multi Function Instrument (Model MFM300) from Cooper-Atkins Corp. (Middlefield, Conn.).

Publication date: 07/19/2004