Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

new electronic gauges

I'm old school and have always used the old compound gauges, but these new electronic gauges made by field piece or testo seem very cool. I've always used two sets of gauges because I never want the oil from R22 units to mix with oil from R410A units since they are different. How do you guys feel about that? If I went electronic, I wouldn't want to buy two because they aren't cheap.


  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    edited May 2014

    Well, DrHvac, I was in the same boat as you.  I resisted the digitals.  And to be honest, I still use my analog gauges most of the time, but..... I have really learned to love the digitals when troubleshooting a weird problem or charging a unique system.

    I have a set of Testo 550 digitals.  They are marginal on durability, but work out great for me.  My younger guys all use their digitals for everything.  Like everything else with this generation, they are way to dependent on technology.  Most of the guys use the Digicool AK900 or the Sman4.  A couple of them just made the jump to the Imperial iManifold. 

    I have to say that the iManifold is pretty freaking cool.  It is basically a manifold set that communicates wirelessly with your iPad or iPhone.  We had already put our techs on iPads a couple of years ago, so it was an easy transition.  The manifold is pricey, but.....

    The other day, we were troubleshooting a problem child system in an office building.  I stopped by to check on the guys.  The evap was some distance from the condenser, and my guy had the iManifold hooked up.  He was at the evap making adjustments while looking at what the condenser was doing on the iPad.  It was pretty cool and saved him a lot of running back and forth.

    I don't know if my old self will ever spend the money on the iManifold, but if I were in the market for a digital set, I think it would be a no brainer. 

    As for cross contamination, we always just purge a little N2 through the hoses, if we are concerned.  To be honest, that trace oil really isn't a big deal.  Unless you are doing critical cooling on small refer systems.

    Good Luck.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Digitals & Analogs:

    I'm in no way qualified to comment on using these gauges. Except that, in testing electricity, sometimes it is very helpful to have both. Analog gauges are usually instant acting. Digitals have a delay because of automatic averaging. "Bumps" in pressure may not be an issue. But with electricity, it can be. My son asked me to stop by and look at an asphalt plant he was working on. There was an electrical engineer from somewhere trying to get all the controls right. They kept blowing fuses. 20 amp one time cartridge fuses. He had a digital amp clamp. On start up, it would run for some period of time. less than 3 minutes, then blow. You never knew what the amperage it was blowing at because the Digital didn't show the amperage when it blew. The "Engineer" sort of had an attitude from frustration. They were running out of One Time cartridge fuses. I finally suggested that a digital amp clamp has a hard time registering the actual amperage when something blows because of the averaging, that analog ones often worked better for that. He gave me a 1000 yard stare so I asked him if he wanted one? I got him mine out of my special box and he found that during the sequence, when a certain control closed, it pulled a 50 amp spike. The analog showed it when the fuse blew. The Digital didn't.

    Then, because the electrical supply house was going to close in 20 minutes and they were going to get the last 4 fuses, I suggested they get a double pole single breaker box like for water heaters and get a 20 amp, 30 amp, 40 amp etc. circuit breakers and wire it in place of the one time fuses so if it blew, they could just reset a breaker. And they could use the thing as a temporary resettable fuse wherever they wanted. Which they did.

    The whole thing had been so jury rigged by owner, that the plant caught on fire the next day. To light the burner to heat the aggregate, someone had to go outside and light up one of those flame throwers hooked to a grill tank for burning weeds or heating tar roads before you put crack filler in it. Then, when signaled, someone stuck the flaming wand into the air/fuel stream so it would ignite.

    You can also use an analog for setting the points gap on a single cylinder engine without electronic ignition. When the points start to open, the plug is supposed to fire. When the analog needle "Bumps", you've hit the spot. Digital's won't "Bump".

    Don't be throwing out all the old stuff until you're sure that you will never need it again.
  • Techman
    Techman Member Posts: 2,144

    I like the remote reading part. How rugged are they? Can they stay in the truck under all weather conditions? Do they need factory recalibration , like digital combustion analizers?  I agree w/ meplumber, how much oil can be in the hoses? When these new fangeled oils arrived, the old oil had to be removed ,new oil put in ,and we were allowed a certain percentage of "old to new oil". What was it? 95% new & 5% old?Since AC guys have just two freons, its feasible to have two sets of gauges, expensive yes.
  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678

    Terry, I can't speak to their durability yet.  I believe that they only came out in March.  But I have not heard any complaints from the guys.

    We have to pull most of our sensitive stuff out of the truck in the dead of winter anyway.  When it is below zero, I bring in my Wohler CA and my Testo refer gauges inside the house at night.  When it is going to be way below zero, I bring in my Dewalt battery tools.  But stuff like my refer scales, never comes inside, I just pull the battery out when it gets cold.

    Nothing holds up too well, when it is -15 below for days at a time.