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Top Tools for Advanced HVAC Technicians

on February 26, 2020

Nothing is more disappointing to an HVAC technician than his tools not matching his capabilities. One does not work too hard on getting better skills just to be working with basic tools. Advanced skills require advanced equipment. It is not merely uncomfortable but also limiting. Unfortunately, feeling unsatisfied does not stop on you as a technician but it also makes your client feel the same way. This article will tackle the tools that an advance HVAC technician must have.

Here are the tools that are used to service and install not only air conditioning systems but HVAC in general. Most of the time, these tools are supplied by your employer but it is recommended to take an advance check on the tools you will be working with regularly. Studying them once you get a hold of them is way too late. Here are the things you will need to know.

  1. Tubing Cutter

    Most air conditioning systems use copper lines and you will be dealing with them as an HVAC technician. Don’t worry because the tubing cutter is here to be your buddy. Various diameter of tubing or piping is not a problem with its adjustability. The usual process starts with a de-burring tool that will be built into the back of the cutter. Adjust the cutting wheel to fit the copper, the tool is spun around a few times, lastly, make final adjustments. Skipping through this process may damage the copper thus, not recommended. The main goal is to remove any burrs left behind since these small pieces can cause a system to malfunction if they get into the lines. Cutting wheels are usually replaceable since they get dull over time.

    Recommended: RIDGID Tubing Cutter, Model-31632. It is possible to cut a galvanized pipe, PVC, and metallic tube. It can produce seamless rods.

  2. Refrigeration Gauges

    There are many kinds of refrigerants but the most common is R-22 and R-410A. However, it is apparently important to have a tool that could handle more. The basic parts are the manifold, gauges, and hose. Hoses are sometimes sold separately and for jobs that require going through narrow or tight spaces, it is recommended to get a long hose. Lastly, to attach the hoses to the air conditioning system you will be needing the brass fittings. These fittings must be quick release and as required by the law, must be “de minimis”. This is for the main reason of reducing the amount of refrigerant leaked into the environment and to keep you safe. Getting in contact with a significant amount of refrigerant can cause extensive skin damage.

    Recommended: Robinair 48510 R134a. It is an aluminum Manifold Set with 72" Hoses. What makes this unit highly recommended despite the high price and the minor issue on the low gauge is its high-quality connections and bushings. It has a low possibility of leak refrigerant, especially when quickly disconnected. 

  3. Vacuum pump

    Another tool that you or your company should consider spending on great quality is vacuum pump. Basically, it sucks moisture and air out of air conditioning lines. It is important to make sure that no moisture, air, and most importantly no leak should be present before the system can be charged with refrigerants.

    Recommended: ZENY 3.5CFM Single-Stage Vacuum Pump Pros: Pocket-friendly, Oil view window, Easy heat dissipation, Durable, shockproof base, Remains quiet when in use

  4. Refrigerant Scale

    When you are done with the vacuum you are now ready to charge the system with refrigerants. Your company will most probably be providing you a refrigerant scale not just to charge an air conditioning system but also to help you in identifying that the thank you are using for in recovering refrigerants is full.

    Recommended: Robinair TIF9010A Slimline. Pros: Supports all refrigerants. Compact design allows for easy portability. No problem handling the common 30-pound and 50-pound refrigerant cylinders. It provides accurate measurements. It comes with a 24-months guarantee. Cons: Lacks an auto shut-off switch and the battery can be drained of power if user forgets to manually shut it off. Capacity limited to 110 pounds. Rare issue on false reading due to high electrical noise. 
  5. Recovery unit

    Used to recover or remove refrigerants from cooling equipment and air conditioning systems to make sure it does not leak into the environment.

    Recommended: Appion G5TWIN Twin Cylinder Recovery Unit

    What could be more perfect than a compact, lightweight, and most importantly effective tool? It can even meet the demands of commercial refrigerant recovery by just weighing a tiny 26 lbs. Its twin cylinders and twin condensers play an important role in getting the job done really fast.  

    • The crankcase is safe from contamination as it is isolated from the refrigerants.
    • Its effectiveness against different kinds of refrigerants lies mainly on its ability to pump both R410A liquid and vapor, making it more effective against different kinds of refrigerants
    • It also doubles as an exhaust fan
    • It has a 7-inch long 10-blade turbine that rotates at 3000 rpm, giving out 600 cfm of cool air over the two heads and two condensers.
    • It is a little louder than other models, but it does the job very well

    It does not work very well while recovering solvents. One reason for the unit to degrade is Butane. It also deposits metal flakes in the finished product, contaminating it.

  6. Carbon monoxide detector

    Safety cannot be more emphasized in the HVAC industry. This tool is made portable so you can have it with you all the time. It will help you detect dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in the area where you working.

    Recommended: Fieldpiece SCM4 carbon monoxide detector. It has a very fast reaction time and measures CO in parts per million (ppm). The SCM4 quickly responds to changes in CO levels in real-time. You can move around and watch the display then finally find the area of highest concentration to find the CO source. Here are some more features:

    • Field-replaceable CO sensor is easy to install, lasts approximately two years and comes pre-calibrated
    • Calibrate to ambient quickly with ZERO button
    • Audio and visual alarms (with MUTE function)
    • Alarm rate increases with more carbon monoxide concentration
    • Bright-blue backlit dual-display perfect for dark spaces
    • Magnetic hanger for hands-free testing
    • To save battery, it has Auto Power Off that is easy to disable
    • Battery check displaying the % of battery life left

  7. Portable Digital thermometer

    Measuring the HVAC system’s output temperature is one of the keys to proper operation and customer satisfaction.

    Recommended: UEi Test Instruments PDT650
    Its extended temperature range, folding temperature probe, built-in magnetic mount, and a large easy-to-read display make UEi Test Instruments PDT650 a highly versatile product. It provides accurate and reliable measurements, even in exacting environments. The varied application of this thermometer makes it perfect for not only HVAC but any areas where temperature monitoring is crucial. Its built-in magnetic mount adds to its portability. In addition, it can easily fit in your pocket when folded and still be able to give accurate readings.

  8. Core Removal Tool

    This tool makes it possible for technicians to remove damaged cores in the service line even when the system is fully charged. The core removal tool does not require releasing refrigerants for this task.

    Recommended: Appion MGAVCT 1/4" Standard Vacuum-Rated Valve Core Removal Tool. Its ability to remove restrictive access valve cores for high-speed recovery and evacuation is praiseworthy. It is proud of its advanced design made to prevent leaks in vacuums. In addition, its MegaGrip core tip minimizes lost cores.

  9. Nitrogen regulator

    When purging and testing air conditioners and refrigeration systems, HVAC technicians would need a professional tool to serve as a pressure control valve. That tool is called a nitrogen regulator.

    Recommended: Uniweld RHP800

    This tool is one of the sturdiest and most reliable gas pressure controllers on the market. Its double-stage valve mechanism allows easy control of gas flow while the nitrogen regulator is connected. On top of that, its high-contrast 2-inch gauges are quite easy to read, even when the lighting and access to the outlet are limited. As a precaution, the maximum delivery pressure can reach 800 PSI before it becomes unstable. Thus, it is highly recommended to use the regulator with systems that operate at 650-750 PSI. The brass pistons of the diaphragm are not only perfect for air conditioning but for refrigerator systems and pressure testing as well. What's more, the brass T-shaped handle makes it easier to control the gas pressure without any sudden hikes that can potentially damage the gas system. Lastly, the pressure controller is protected by special rubber gauge boots that prevent the gauges from bending. Strong, accurate, and extremely reliable, these are the core aspects that make Uniweld RHP800 one of the top gas control devices available on the market today.

  10. Leak detector

    This tool is your ever-ready help in finding refrigerant leaks quickly and easily.

    Recommended: Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector - SRL8
    It is one of the most reliable leak detectors available. All CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs, and other refrigerant blends can easily be detected by this tool. The best thing about this product is its practical sensor that recognizes moisture such as condensation and oil and shuts down the unit, thus avoiding damage. This leak detector is lightweight but heavyweight in functions. In comparison to UV dye detection, Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector- SRL8 is much faster and equally accurate. It comes with a mute button for those who want to work in peace and does not like much attention while working. Otherwise, you would find the visual leak alert a great feature. You can turn on this feature and alert the homeowner once you find the leak. Not to mention that its rechargeable battery can cover a 15-hour work before it needed to be charged.

  11. Psychrometer

    Its main functions are measuring and rating the airflow, air mixtures, and relative humidity of air exiting a supply register.  This gives an HVAC technician the information if the heating and cooling equipment is functioning correctly.

    Recommended: Preciva Digital Psychrometer. It is highly recommended by many. Open room measurements in the office, laboratory, planting field, factory, etc. are ideal matches for this tool. Not only that, if you have tools that are easy to rust, then monitoring the relative humidity of the room with this tool is pretty helpful. There are also other things that it can measure such as humidity meter, temperature meter, wet bulb temperature, and dewpoint temperature. It comes with little buttons but they are pretty much user-friendly. With its screen equipped with a backlight, you are able to use it in dim ambient light and in bright light as well. It just simply requires a 9-volt battery to run all the systems properly. Overall this Preciva digital psychrometer is a wise choice for those who only need a simple and affordable tool to do the job. if you need the simple one and charges you only a small amount of money.