Every year at the AHR Expo, I’m always interested in the many new tools, meters and gauges I see. I often wonder where there could be a market for many of them because some are so specialized and so expensive.
Of course, the cost may not be a major consideration to large corporations or engineering firms, but in our business the people who buy the most tools are the service techs, and unless they are for some special purpose, they have to pay for the gadgets themselves and price usually is an issue.
One of the tools I really was impressed with is more a series of sensors from iManifold that ties into a free download program that can tell you anything you might wish to know about the operation of a cooling system, including its current Btu/h output! Yes, it measures the outdoor temperature, the coil temperatures, the air flow, the superheat, the subcooling and more.
Also in Las Vegas, REHAU asked me to come by and look at its new line of compression-sleeve fittings for plumbing systems. The main thing the company touted is the statement its fittings are 100% leak-proof.
Later I was asked to come by the Greenlee booth to look at its new hand-held battery-operated “Gorilla Press,” which also is made to crimp compression-sleeve fittings.
Of course, these tools and sleeves are made to seal copper pipes for domestic and HVAC water systems. I asked the folks at Greenlee if it would ever be possible to come up with a sleeve and compression tool that would eliminate the need for brazing HVACR refrigerant lines? That’s when they told me to go by the Parker booth to look at the new ZoomLock braze-free fittings for refrigerants. I was impressed!
I like the idea of joining copper pipes to each other, to equipment and to filter-driers without brazing because it is faster, safer and it creates no internal contaminants that can break free and block metering devices or harm the compressor. In my personal opinion, this is an extremely important new innovation. Parker’s braze-free fittings come in sizes from 1/4-in. to 1 1/8-in., and are said to be able to handle pressures above 2,000 psig. However, they can’t be used to connect reversing valves because the connections are a bit too tight to accommodate the tool (too bad).
One of the more intriguing tool companies I’ve seen over the past several years is the fairly new hilmor group. I say hilmor is new because the brand name is new, not the company. And what I’ve noticed is it has been coming up with innovative new features for some very common hand tools, at least three or four of which it introduces at every show.
What I was immediately impressed with as I walked up to the hilmor booth this year is something very simple, but such a great idea. hilmor introduced a new vacuum pump that comes with a shoulder strap for carrying. In addition, it also provided a wide mouth to fill the oil reserve as well as an angled bottom next to the drain for easy oil replacement. Two other items, an improved core-removal tool with a strong magnet to firmly hold onto the core and a digital torque wrench also have a lot of promise.
There you have it. There’s never a shortage of new tools, gauges and motors at AHR Expo and this year was no different.