At the recent HVAC Excellence Instructor’s Conference there were many digital tools featuring Bluetooth connectivity on display. These tools allow you to use phone and tablet apps which take readings from the device as input. This can be as simple as just displaying a reading, or more helpful such as using the reading to perform a calculation. Most also allow the user to use their phone or tablet to send the information to someone else. Technicians can send real time readings to a service manager for consultations or document results to verify system operation. Most of the devices were measuring pressure and temperature. Of course, the Stride i-manifold was there. It was actually introduced last year. This year they have company. Fieldpiece has had wireless gauges longer than anyone else, but they used a proprietary signal. This year Fieldpiece was showing a set of digital gauges with Bluetooth and a Bluetooth wireless bridge to allow their older Fieldpiece wireless gauges to connect to Bluetooth.
Yellow Jacket, Appion, and Sporlan all had pressure and temperature measurement tools which featured Bluetooth connectivity and apps designed to work with the tools. To be sure these are not manifolds, but pressure and temperature measurement tools. Appion had a trio of pressure gauges and a Vacuum gauge. Their gauges each have a digital display as well as sending Bluetooth information to your phone. They are “short” gauges with a short stem, allowing connection without filling a set of hoses with refrigerant. The Yellow Jacket Mantooth device is also a “short” gauge, but it has no display. Like the i-manifold, it relies on your phone or tablet for a display. The Mantooth consists of a digital pressure gauge with a tethered temperature clamp. Sporlan was showing off a set of digital pressure and temperature devices with Bluetooth connectivity. They also rely on the connected device for a display.
All Bluetooth devices were not gauges - Fluke and UEI were showing Bluetooth enabled digital multi-meters and clamp amp meters.
All these devices were showing apps designed to work with the device and extend its usefulness. Most can be freely downloaded. The i-manifold app is a killer app that is useful even if you don’t have an i-manifold. The Stride folks are hoping you will get tired of typing in the pressures and temperatures and pick up an i-manifold. One final consideration – If your gauges, multi-meter, thermometers, and vacuum gauge are all connecting to your phone while you work, you are going to need some extra juice to keep operating. You will need an extra battery pack or two for your phone, most phones won’t operate all day long without a recharge.