If you’ve ever worked as an HVACR technician(I have), you’ll probably appreciate some of the new and interesting service tools I saw at the AHR Expo earlier this year. And there were many.

Let’s start with hilmor. This innovative company that just recently entered our industry in a huge way really knows the needs of the service tech and this year the newest ideas come in the form of service hand tools.

There are so many, but I’ll pick just a couple here that I like the best from this vast new line. What really impressed me was hilmor’s new Ratcheting 9-in-1 Multi-Tool. Yes, it’s a rubber-handled ratcheting small blade/large blade standard and Phillips screwdriver that includes some bits and a valve core remover, yet it’s still the size of a standard screwdriver.

I also enjoyed (and lust for) hilmor’s Quick-Adjusting Tongue and Groove Plier. It’s what I would call “channel locks without the channels” because the adjustment set point is wherever you choose to set it, so there never is a setting that is “too wide” and a next that is “too close.”

Another new product I noticed in my extensive miles of walking through Chicago’s enormous McCormick Place comes from Supco and its ATP1 Attic Pro Utility Lift. A young fireman who saw a similar device being used by his fire department to lift people from low and deep places developed it and realized this is the perfect tool for raising such things as heavy air handlers into attic access ports. It is a cable winch that bolts into a roof truss that has a hand crank.

Also, from Creative Products of SWFL, I noticed the Knock Out fan blade removal tool. If you’ve ever had to pry, twist, cut or burn a fan blade from a corroded motor shaft, you’ll realize what a great idea this is. It has an aluminum body that bolts to the fan hub and a striking pin with a narrow end (so you don’t flatten the end of the motor shaft) that you insert though the body as you’re holding the rubber grip. You then hit it with a hammer to free the blade.

An electronic device from UEI Test Instruments I particularly like is the DHT35 Digital Psychrometer. Listing for somewhere around $75, it reads dry-bulb and wet-bulb temperatures, has a long, narrow shaft for insertion into ducts, a magnetic mount for mounting on grilles and it requires no water. Did you know if you read the air handler entering and leaving wet-bulb temperature and can approximate the airflow in cfm (avg. 400 cfm/ton), you can calculate the cooling Btu output ([Btu/hr.] = 4.5 x CFM x [H1 – H2])? Yes, there is a need!

And lastly, something that is sorely needed but priced a bit high (retailing at $100 each) comes from the German company WEH called ACR Connectors. They are small copper devices you leave connected to the ends of refrigerant manifold hoses, which quick-couple to the equipment cooling service ports. And if you’ve never tried to make this connection by screwing the hose connections to the service ports as R-410A liquid refrigerant is quick-freezing your fingertips, you’ve never really experienced true excitement (or pain).