I can remember when I first started in the HVACR industry; there were only 3 colors of refrigerant bottles in the back of the truck – green, purple and white. Along with these limited color options, I can remember using cardboard slide rules and calculators to determine charge amounts and system failure diagnosis. Fast forward to today, it seems the industry has run out of colors to select and represent all the different flavors of refrigerant. With each new eco-efficient refrigerant, several replacements have appeared and in turn, new colors. Along with these changes, out went the cardboard tip cards/calculators, in came the mobile apps.
An app is a shortened slang term for an “application”. These are small software programs that can be used on a variety of different device platforms. Several HVACR manufacturers, along with industry associations have developed apps for computers, smart phones and tablets. Mobile apps started becoming popular just a few short years ago, but their growth has increased exponentially since 2009. Today there are millions of apps for basically every aspect of our lives, including the skilled trade industry.
Applying Mobile Apps for the HVACR Industry:
In my mind, the useful apps developed for the skilled trades fall into one of two categories, Product related or Industry related apps.
Product related apps are developed to provide instant mobile help on a particular OEM’s device or component. Product apps are designed to replace the printed technical literature scattered throughout the service office or truck. This direct access to product knowledge looks to enhances the contractor’s experience by reducing the research time and providing the most up to date information available.
Industry related apps refer to the cardboard calculators I mentioned earlier. These apps are designed to replace the previous generation of static printed calculators with better interfaces, content, and easily updated calculations. I see these more as tools, used in conjunction with a system like you would a screw driver or wrench. These apps allow for increased accuracy in the servicing and troubleshooting of the system.
Most HVACR manufacturers have developed mobile apps to make information easily available at the contractor’s jobsite. Emerson Climate Technologies™ “Mobile Toolbox” of mobile apps is designed to help contractors find solutions to common issues in the field quickly and easily. Related to the Product category, apps such as Emerson X-Check™, Copeland X-Ref™, and White-Rodgers Mobile™ focus on finding replacement parts and technical product information. “HVACR Fault Finder” focuses on understanding the compressor electronic module line, along with allowing contractors to input the diagnostic code for help with compressor troubleshooting.
In the Industry related category, Emerson PT Pro™ and HVAC Check & Charge™ are technical resources. Emerson PT Pro is a quick refrigerant pressure/temperature app designed to replace those worn out multi-fold micro charts supplied to the industry for years. It offers information on over 20 different refrigerants, along with adjustment for high altitude applications. The HVAC Check & Charge app allows for a quick calculation for adjusting initial A/C system refrigerant charge. This system charge calculation is based on the cardboard superheat slide rulers used for years. Since the emergence of “dry-charge” units, these calculations have a renewed interest, now more than ever.
Top Ten Apps For Skilled Trades:
HVAC Apps for Homeowners:
While HVAC manufacturers often design mobile apps with contractors in mind, some have also produced apps for consumers. An example is the Emerson e-Saver™ app. This app helps contractors and homeowners understand unit replacements respective to their current system. This app allow for users to better understand the true cost of operation in different locations and how those units would match up against optional replacement systems. This app also includes a custom report for homeowners to reference these replacement options.
Emerson Climate Technologies’ website offers HVAC mobile apps content that explains each of the apps, as well as offers links for easy download. All of the apps can be downloaded for free through their respective app stores for the Apple and Android platforms, and a few of the apps are also available for the Blackberry platform.