The 2012 AHR Expo was filled with intriguing products.

The Security Webb by A/C Soultions.

Throughout the AHR Expo you’ll find many small companies with just one product that is a great idea but might never get noticed any other way.

For example, two young guys were there displaying their Tape Master, which is very similar to an automatic taping device for boxes, but is designed to roll foil tape quickly and evenly on duct joints. What a great idea, and it automatically removes the backing! For more information, look at the site for Supreme Industries

There were also a couple of guys out of Florida (A/C Solutions) who were displaying another unique and timely solution, the Security Webb. Understand that with the price of copper approaching $5 per pound, there are more and more thefts of A/C units for their metal. What these folks have come up with is a cable tie-down with an alarm that you mount around the outdoor unit. And with a suggested retail price of $250, it is also very affordable.

A BluVac vacuum gauge from SUPCO.

And then there was the idea from a company called Contractor Tech, which is just a simple jumper cable with magnets on either end. What is it used for? Service techs will find it handy to check the operation of HVAC units from the thermostat subbase. Rather than loosening the screws to make wire contacts, this cable makes direct magnetic contact to the screws.

Of course, there were several larger companies with new products that piqued my interest. Some representatives from SUPCO displayed a family of new types of vacuum gauges calledBluVacthat are amazingly accurate and affordable. They read from 0 to 25,000 microns with -0.1 micron resolution. They have a calibration self-test, can be field-calibrated with no special equipment required and they have an automatic oil contamination sensor. In addition, they include a vacuum leak-rate sensor to indicate when there are still small amounts of moisture in the compressor oil, or when there’s a leak.

The LED Cordless Task Light from CCI.

FromBacharachI noted a hand-held electronic gauge that analyzes refrigerant 22 while it is still in the HVACR system! Called the R*22id, it identifies, verifies and checks the quality of R22 in HVACR systems and tanks with a simple “Pass” or “Fail” indicator. It uses a small plastic hose with a port connector to bleed a small amount of refrigerant through the device where it is checked. Not cheap, but not that expensive either. The contractor price I was told is about $500.

Of course, light-emitting diodes seem to be changing the world of lighting as we know it. I remember, back when I was a teenager interested in the field of electronics, reading a magazine article that said, “Someday we may be able to create a crystal that oscillates at the speed of light.” I remember thinking, “Yeah, when pigs fly in flocks.” Well, I guess a large herd just flew over because LEDs are everywhere.

A new LED-operated flashlight fromCCI, called the LED Cordless Task Light, really caught my attention. Operating off just three AAA cells, this combination flashlight, laser pointer and area task light puts out some 32 lumens at 7 watts. It can operate up to about six hours before the batteries need to be replaced. It is 8 3/4 in. long, has an aluminum body with an anti-roll design and incorporates a heavy magnet for hands-free operation.

The R*22id from Bacharach.

I guess this product isn’t new, but it’s still a great idea that many are unaware of. It’s a device fromRawal Devicesthat can be installed aftermarket in condensing units to efficiently reduce their capacity. Why would anyone want to do that? The answer is to reduce indoor humidity when the cooling unit is oversized, or to match an outdoor unit to an undersized evaporator. The contractor cost, I was told, is about $500, not cheap but a viable option to changing out the whole system.

And finally, I really liked the Wide Range IR Thermometer from General Tools & Instruments, not because of its features or because infrared thermometers are anything new, but because the contractor price is just about $75, and that makes it affordable for most service technicians!