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New Digital Tools for Service Technicians

Thermal Imaging Camera

For those service technicians who prefer the latest and greatest digital tools, there is no shortage of pretty high-tech stuff on the market. Of course, not all new gear is the best choice for the job, but there is no denying that the right equipment can greatly increase productivity. In this list, we've gathered some of the newest connected gear, designed to replace some of your old(er) tools.

Redfish iDVM 510 Wireless Multimeter

redfish

The connected meters from Redfish Instruments are quite popular in the industry – even without the connected features, these are rock solid meters, but their Bluetooth connectivity is what sets them apart. In addition to the ability to see measurements in real time, the iOS and Android apps can be used as data loggers. Data can be stored or shared with others. This is definitely the most basic “must have” for any service technicians looking for digital tools.

  • True RMS
  • Bluetooth connectivity via BTLE (v4.0)
  • On-board data logging via 2MB addressable RAM/FLASH
  • Auto/manual ranging
  • Low battery indication
  • LCD backlit display
  • Hold function
  • Relative (Zero) function
  • LED non-contact voltage sensor indicator
  • 2-year warranty
  • Bluetooth/Record activation button
  • K-type thermocouple

Best of all, the iDVM510 is only $189.99, which is more or less the same as you'd pay for any other brand-name multimeter. Redfish also sells a clamp meter version of their connected meter, the iDVM550 which retails for $289. Both meters are supported in measureQuick, allowing you to bring all your digital tools together into a single app.

Redfish Instruments iDVM510 multimeter *($189.99) or iDVM550 clamp meter ($289).

Fluke 3000 FC HVAC system kit

3000fc

Another connected multimeter option is the Fluke 3000 FC HVAC kit. This kit consists of the popular 3000 FC meter, the t3000 FC wireless K-Type temperature meter and the a3000 FC wireless clamp meter. Also included in the kit is the dedicated Fluke wireless USB receiver, a carrying case and the Fluke Connect software. Together, this kit allows you to take measurements using any of the meters, and see the results on the large backlit display of the 3000 FC True RMS meter or on your PC.

Specifications from Fluke: The Fluke 3000 FC Series Wireless Multimeter with the Fluke Connect® app has all the essentials for convenient test and measurement troubleshooting:

  • AC and DC voltage measurements to 1000 V
  • AC and DC current with 0.01 mA resolution
  • Continuity, resistance, diode test, capacitance and frequency measurements
  • MIN/MAX recording
  • CAT III 1000 V, Cat IV 600 V; IP54 

The Fluke a3000 FC Wireless AC Current Clamp Module has all the essentials for convenient test and measurement troubleshooting:

  • True-RMS AC clamp meter
  • Measure up to 400 AAC
  • Use as a standalone meter or as part of the system
  • Logging function for recording and saving up to 65,000 readings
  • Inrush function

With the Fluke t3000 FC Wireless K-Type Temperature Module you can:

  • Use as a standalone meter or as part of the system
  • Logging function for recording and saving up to 65,000 readings

Fluke 3000 FC HVAC kit ($566.99)

Klein Tools TI250 Thermal Imager

kleinti250

Normally, when you think of thermal imaging equipment, the first brand that comes to mind is Flir – but Klein Tools has a product that is almost too good to ignore – the TI250. This compact thermal imager is just $299, making it only slightly more expensive than the popular add-on thermal imagers sold for smartphones.

The TI250 can store captured images on its microSD memory card allowing you to share images with others.

  • Thermal Imager has over 10,000 pixels to troubleshoot hot and cold spots
  • Adjustable emissivity from 0.10 to 0.99
  • Store and share images with optional microSD® Card (sold separately)
  • User selectable high and low temperature alarms from -4 to 752-Degree Fahrenheit (-20 to 400-Degree Celsius)
  • Select color palettes to best capture the event
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Includes thermal imager, micro-USB charging cable, carrying case, and instructions

Klein Tools TI250 ($299)

testo 557s four-way digital manifold

testo 3

The newest in a line of connected manifolds from testo, the 557s features a large screen, Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to add a variety of sensors. One of our members recently reviewed this manifold for us, and came away quite impressed with its features.

  • Completely wireless measurements and all results at a glance: thanks to Bluetooth probes and large graphic display
  • Exceptionally compact and reliable thanks to the easy-to-handle, rugged housing with IP 54 protection class
  • Easy, wireless, flexible measurements and documentation: Temperature and vacuum measurements via automatic Bluetooth® connection, testo Smart App for documentation and lots more
  • In the kit: testo 557s smart digital manifold with Bluetooth and 4-way valve block, 1 x testo 552i wireless vacuum probe (Bluetooth), 2 x testo 115i wireless clamp temperature probes (Bluetooth, NTC), case

Testo 557s starting price: $550 (testo.com).

Milwaukee M-SPECTOR FLEX™ 3′ FT Inspection Camera Cable w/ PIVOTVIEW™ Kit

mspector

I've often viewed inspection cameras like the 2317 M-Spector pictured above as a luxury item, but some of the features on this newest Milwaukee camera are making me reconsider my opinion – it features a wireless removable display, finally making it possible to place the inspection camera somewhere you really can't fit, all while being able to keep an eye on the screen. But perhaps its best feature is a swiveling camera head, adjustable through a dial on the handheld unit. We'll have a member review of this unit online soon, so stay tuned for an honest opinion of the Milwaukee Tools M-Spector inspection camera.

When shopping for these inspection cameras, don't make the mistake of buying a budget version – they usually feature low-resolution sensors and will definitely not last long on commercial jobs. At $799, this version of the M-Spector is most certainly not a budget version, but Milwaukee does make several models without some of the more advanced features of the 2317 model, starting at a more modest $229.

Milwaukee M-SPECTOR FLEX™ 3′ FT Inspection Camera Cable w/ PIVOTVIEW™ Kit

Bacharach Insight Plus Combustion Analyzer

featured fyrite insight plus combustion analyzer

Another excellent app enabled piece of kit is the Bacharach Insight Plus. This handheld combustion analyzer is the perfect instrument for busy residential / light-commercial technicians who need to ensure safe operating conditions and determine combustion efficiency. The app enables easy reporting to the client or for your own records.

  • All-in-one instrument makes combustion tuning fast and simple with readings for O2, CO, CO2, combustion efficiency, temperature and draft
  • Industry-exclusive Tune-Rite HVAC assistant analyzes combustion data and provides real-time troubleshooting suggestions
  • Automatic sensor protection helps technicians protect the analyzer in harsh environments, extending sensor life
  • Long life O2 sensor with 3 year warranty reduces maintenance costs and downtime
  • Quick and easy sensor replacement in the field reduces downtime and doesn’t require calibration gas
  • Combustion App allows users to quickly create custom reports with comments and send via email (available for Android & iOS)

Bacharach Insight Plus (TruTech Tools, $1482)

Amprobe AMP-25 Mini Clamp Meter

amprobe2

If a tool ever deserved the moniker “cute”, the Amprobe AMP-25 would certainly fit the description. This ultra-compact clamp meter is small enough to fit in your shirt pocket and can measure up to 300A with 10mA accuracy.

  • Features True-RMS sensing for accurate voltage measurements in noisy electrical environments
  • Measures AC/DC current to 300 A
  • Includes a low pass filter to accurately measure voltage and current on variable frequency drives
  • Inrush current for motor start-up monitoring
  • Non-contact voltage detection (NCV) for detecting presence of voltage
  • Jaw opening to 1 in (25 mm)
  • Autoranging
  • DCA zero and data hold
  • Maximizes battery life with auto power off
  • Backlit display for easy measurement viewing in bright and dim environment

Amprobe AMP-25 mini clamp ($118.52 on Amazon).

Elitech LogEt 1TH Temperature and Humidity Data Logger

61ZUoCWXHxL. SL1200

Leaving a data logger behind at a customer site is often the only way to determine whether equipment is operating as it should, or to troubleshoot the kind of issues that always seem to happen when you are never around. The main problem here is that traditional data loggers can be pricey, and test equipment tends to “walk off” when nobody is around. This is where the Elitech LogEt 1 TH comes in handy.

The LogEt 1 TH is a cheap ($30) single-use data logger that can be left behind with the customer, storing up to 16000 data points and delivering an easy-to-read PDF report when plugged into a PC. The data logger has a USB plug built-in, so no cables are needed to read the data. Elitech even sells the LogEt in packs of 50, which drop the price to just $24. The rear of the logger has an adhesive strip, allowing for easy mounting.

  • Single-use Data Logger, light, temperature and humidity sensor with higher accuracy, up to ±0.6℉(temperature) and ±3% (humidity).
  • Software-free Online Configuration,. Super quick and easy to configure data logger via Elitech website link, NO need to install any software.
  • Powerful LCD Indication. Provides all key information for recordings incl. alarm status, temperatures statistics (in ℃/℉) and etc.
  • Plug and Read, No cable or reader required, the USB connector enables quick connection to PCs to download data.
  • Up to 16,000 temperature points and 16,000 humidity points, it can be stored and used within 2 years*.
  • 24/7 US Technician Support via Email and Phone.

Elitech LogET 1 TH ($30.99, Amazon)

FLIR CM275-Kit – Industrial Thermal Imaging Clamp Meter

flir cm275

Take one part AC/DC clamp meter, one part multimeter then add a thermal imaging camera, and you get the FLIR CM275. This innovative clamp meter allows you to see hotspots in equipment, then take measurements using its integrated thermal camera. Measurements can be synced directly to the FLIR job site software for later review.

At $699.99, it is definitely not a cheap tool, but cheaper options are available if you don't need the image storage and job sync functionality (which brings the price down to $438).

  • Thermal imaging allows you to quickly scan for overheating system components, then use the test functions to troubleshoot and diagnose the fault
  • Scan entire targets for electrical issues with 160 × 120 thermal resolution
  • Use advanced electrical features including VFD mode, true RMS, and LOunce
  • Wirelessly connect to the FLIR InSITE professional workflow management tool to streamline inspections and simplify data collection, sharing, and reporting
  • Store electrical measurements and thermal images internally, for later review

FLIR CM275, $699.99 (Amazon.com).

Bosch GLM400CL BLAZE™ Outdoor Laser Measure with Camera

blaze bosch

Most of us have probably used a laser measure at some point. Simply point the tool, and its laser bounces off the target and tells you the exact distance, often more accurate than using a measuring tape. The newest generation seen above takes this technology and makes it even smarter. The Bosch GLM400CL includes Bluetooth connectivity, and also adds a camera to assist in locating the laser dot and the exact target you are aiming for.

At $299, it is significantly more expensive than a standard laser tool, but if you have to make a lot of measurements on the job, then having access to the smart app and camera will greatly increase productivity.

As described by Bosch: The Bosch BLAZE™ Outdoor GLM400CL Connected Laser Measure with Camera features an adjustable zoom camera to find the laser spot in bright conditions, measuring up to 400 Ft.

Transfer the measurement documentation to a smartphone or tablet with Bluetooth® using Bosch’s MeasureOn app. The outdoor laser measuring device provides default real-time length, length, area, volume, and indirect measuring functions – which are simple to take advantage of thanks to the display guide walking through each measurement process. A built-in inclinometer determines the angle of pitch and confirms when the tool is level. The laser measure also features an easy-to-read backlit color display, reinforced screen glass, an easy-to-use display guide, and 11 measuring functions (including default real-time measuring). It allows users to see the last 50 measurements on the tool and stores over 600 images.

Bosch Blaze GLM400CL Connected Laser, $299 Boschtools.com.