HVAC Tools are becoming an important and efficient part for technical engineer
One reason the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry continues to be such a great career choice is that nothing can replace the knowledge and hands-on skills of a good service technician.
But as we talked about in a recent blog, technology is an increasingly important aspect of the HVAC job. That’s why there is a growing list of software apps for smart devices that can improve HVAC service technician productivity and increase customer satisfaction.
This week, we take a look at some of the top HVAC apps designed to help technicians in the field get the job done quickly and efficiently.
HVAC apps for beginners and quick reference
If you are new to HVAC, there are a number of apps created with you in mind.
For example, the Complete HVAC Dictionary offers definitions for more than 3,000 terms related to HVAC. This practical reference tool is easy to use and available for free download on Android devices. (We recently learned that this app, while still available and useful, is no longer supported by its developer. Here’s another source for HVAC terms: Glossary of HVAC Terms.)
A free app called HVAC School provides a library of information to supplement on-the-job training or trade school classes. Available for both Android and Apple operating systems, the app offers:
- Technical articles on HVAC theory and technical tips from industry professionals
- Podcasts that provide insights into the job of HVAC service technicians
- An integrated calculator that helps you practice working with important HVAC formulas
The HVAC School app is also useful for experienced technicians who want to refresh any skills, check what’s new in the industry, or just see what other HVAC pros have to say.
HVAC apps for refrigerant calculations
Long-time HVAC technicians get to know the requirements of different refrigerants like the back of their hand. But for new technicians — or when experienced techs need to work with a new refrigerant — a refrigerant calculator app comes in handy.
One of the most popular HVAC apps is HVAC BUDDY, a diagnostic tool and refrigerant calculator that includes information for more than 100 coolants (and the list continues to grow). Using HVAC Buddy with pressure gauges and a thermometer, a service technician can enter the refrigerant, pressure, and temperature to instantly calculate the proper refrigerant charge.
The HVAC Buddy not only determines the superheat, subcooling, and airflow targets, but also displays the difference between the targets and the actual measurements to help diagnose and adjust the system. The app, which is available for both Apple iOS and Android, also provides tools for creating system status reports.
Among the free HVAC apps for Apple and Android is one called Ref Tools. It provides instant pressure-to-temperature conversions for a growing list of traditional and natural refrigerants, based on National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) verified properties.
Ref Tools also offers a range of information for each refrigerant, including Global Warming Potential (GWP), Ozone Depleting Potential (ODP), class, oil type, chemical blend, and CAS number.
HVAC apps for design and installation
There are a number of apps that are useful in the design and installation of HVAC systems. For example, a software company called MultiEducator offers a group of “formulator” apps for electrical, carpentry, and plumbing professionals, including tools for HVAC technicians.
MultiEducator’s Plumbing Formulator provides more than 120 formulas that are helpful for plumbers and HVAC system installers. In addition to various calculations related to pumps, pipes, water flow, and water heaters, the app provides HVAC formulas for determining:
Length of pipe
- Building heat loss
- Fresh air in a room
- Water chilling load
- Cooling load (L per ton)
- Coefficient of performance (COP)
- Water required
- Final temperature when water is mixed
There are also helpful HVAC apps for tasks such as system sizing. For example, Duct Calculator Elite allows technicians to calculate duct size, velocity, pressure drop, and flow rate on their Android or Apple device. This app offers a range of settings, allowing an HVAC pro to get custom results using a choice of variables:
- Dimensional units (in, cm, mm)
- Airflow units (cu ft per minute, cu ft per second, cu m per second, L per second)
- Velocity units (ft per second, ft per minute, m per second)
- Pressure loss units (in of water per 100 ft, pascals per meter)
- Duct materials (PVC pipe, galvanized steel, aluminum, concrete, flexible metallic, and more)
- Air temperature units (F, C, K)
- Elevation units (ft, m)
The Duct Calculator Elite also eliminates the “slider” controls used in many such tools, in favor of the ability to enter exact figures. That makes the calculator precise and easier to use.
For technicians who work with heating, cooling, solar, and radiant systems, HyTools is an app that simplifies hydronic level calculations and conversions for system balancing, pressurizing, and radiator controls. This free calculator for Android and Apple can be used for product and pipe sizing, as well as unit conversion, flow, Dp, power, and valve sizing and presetting calculations.
HVAC apps for troubleshooting support
For times when you’re on the job and need to diagnose issues with the compressor for air conditioning and refrigeration systems, HVAC apps include a free troubleshooting tool called HVACR Fault Finder.
Available for both Android and Apple devices, the app uses the equipment’s electronic module code to provide access to an interactive troubleshooting guide. It lets you browse and take advantage of features such as:
- Common troubleshooting tips and tricks
- Flowcharts for diagnosing system errors
- Module LED descriptions
- Product specifications and manuals
- Applications engineering guides
- How-to videos
The iManifold app calculates HVACR system performance and dynamically troubleshoots problems in the system in real time. A technician simply inputs live system data and can customize specification options according to the equipment.
For documenting service and repair work in the field, the free CompanyCam app uses GPS technology to organize images in real time. A technician can share a photo with a colleague to consult about a problem — or take before and after pictures to create a visual record of the job as part of the customer’s service history.
HVAC apps for time and info management
There are HVAC apps to help with estimating, invoicing, scheduling, and other non-technical tasks that technicians in the field must often handle.
For instance, Joist’s Contractor Estimating and Invoicing Tool is a free multifunction app that helps technicians calculate and deliver a professional-looking estimate while at the customer site. The cloud-based app works from any device and can store labor rates, material costs, and any other fees needed to estimate or bill a job.
You can send the estimate or invoice directly from the app, saving time and eliminating paperwork back at the office. You can attach photos to document problems for the customer. And, the app is compatible with accounting programs, allowing office staff to integrate invoices into the business’s billing and payment system.
Other HVAC apps provided additional functionality. For instance, Breezeworks offers traffic and map settings to help you to be on time for service and repair appointments. The ESC Mobile Tech app includes dispatch functions — allowing you to add and edit customers, call in real-time status updates, and view service history from your smart device. The app even allows you to process payments.
Explore to find the best HVAC apps for your needs
These and many other helpful and free or affordable HVAC apps are available in the Apple and Google Play stores. Depending on the device you use, visit the appropriate store, search for HVAC apps, read the reviews, and download the apps that will work the best for you.
Though each employer may have their own preferred apps, software, and tech solutions, there are plenty of resources for a tech to start learning or build on their knowledge foundation.
As an HVAC technician, your toolbox will need to include technology as well as traditional tools.
Explore these HVAC & Refrigeration Career Resources for more helpful information and tools you can use as you pursue a career in HVACR