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HVAC, AC and Refrigeration service technicians use digital manifold gauge sets as diagnostic test instruments. Digital manifolds check refrigerant pressure and temperature within AC or Refrigeration systems to evaluate proper working conditions and to troubleshoot for any possible issues.
There are numerous configurations in this product category.
- Digital gauges may feature a 2-, 3-, or 4-way manifold made out of copper or aluminum, e.g.: Yellow Jacket 46060.
- An instrument with processing controls is placed over a manifold. The control box has a big display and shows test results, as well as some additional calculated values, such as subcooling, superheat, vapor saturation, etc., e.g.: Fieldpiece SMAN380V.
- The manifold may be incorporated into the system for more ergonomic design, e.g.: Testo 550 or HUB4 and HUB6 .
- They may come with sets of hoses or without them.
What are advantages of digital manifold gauges over analog sets?
- More accurate due to digital processing.
- Come with most of popular refrigerants preprogrammed into the instrument memory.
- Some come with a vacuum gauge.
- Wireless data transfer is becoming a standard on all new gauges.
Since there are so many choices, one needs to carefully select the instrument. Value Testers customer service specialists can help you with the selections process – just call us at 602-795-8292, chat with us online, or email us to [email protected]
Valuetesters.com is an authorized distributor of CPS Products, Fieldpiece, Mastercool, Robinair, Testo, UEi Instruments and Yellow Jacket.
Read our Blog Post - Advantages of Digital AC Manifolds
The SM480V and SM380V are Fieldpiece’s new SMAN digital manifold gauges. Both are digital refrigerant manifolds with micron gauges and best in class wireless connectivity.
The only difference between the two digital manifold gauge sets is the number of ports. The SM380V has three 1/4” standard NPT male flare fittings. The SM480V has an additional, larger (3/8”) NPT male flare fitting. This extra port is for vacuum hoses, and its larger size helps speed up the evacuation and refrigerant charging process.
The features which set these two new Fieldpiece digital manifold gauges apart from competing units can be broken down into two main categories: data and ruggedness
Both the SM480V and SM380V are excellent at acquiring, displaying, recording, storing, and transmitting relevant AC system data in order to make the HVAC pro’s job easier and more efficient. Both manifolds feature:
- A micro-USB port for downloading stored job data
- Real-time monitoring of the factors affecting actual superheat and subcooling, along with live calculating of both
- Extra-large blue blacklit LCD screen, which is visible even in full sun
- The ability to view measurements via mobile device, thanks to a wireless link with a range of up to 350 feet and compatibility with Fieldpiece’s Job Link System App Measurements can be viewed on a mobile device
- Capability to wireless link with Fieldpiece scale so that A/C pros can monitor and record live refrigerant usage for precise recovery and charging documentation.
- The ability to also connect wirelessly to psychrometers and pipe clamps.
- Internal data storage for up to nine jobs. Up to 168 continuous hours (7 days) of data logging
- 70 pre-programmed refrigerants
Ruggedness and Durability
Here’s how Fieldpiece has designed and built both the SM480V and SM380V to withstand the rigors of the job site day in and day out:
- The built-in sight glass is hermetically sealed
- The three thermocouple jacks (clamps and air temp) are protected by being moved to the back of the gauge, so that the connecting plugs no longer protrude from the case
- The gauge cases are water resistant (IP54) and impact resistant
- The hanging hook is reinforced and hinges back into the case for storage and protection
Also worth mentioning is a new Tightness Test mode, which is a built-in automatic routine that checks for leaks in the AC system after installation or repair. When this function is activated, the digital manifold gauge will display pressure differential over time. To avoid false positives, the Tightness Test function also temperature compensates (using SL temp).
With their durable construction and abundance of useful and convenient features, both the SM480V and SM380V are excellent digital manifold gauge sets from Fieldpiece.
Testo’s 549, 550, and 557 digital manifold gauges are useful tools for servicing, repairing, and charging AC and refrigeration systems. All three gauges have the following common features:
- Refrigerant pressure measurement, with a max of 60 bar and an accuracy of at least 0.5% of full scale
- Integrated temperature measurement with up to 2 temp clamp probes
- A mode for testing heat pumps which eliminates the need to swap the hoses because the gauge automatically detects when the pressure of low-pressure side is higher than that of the high-pressure side
- Temperature compensated leakage testing for more reliable and accurate results
- IP42 rating
The 549 is the base model, and includes the above common features together with three (3) brass 1/4” SAE hose ports.
The 550 builds upon those base features with tech. Thee 550 links with a mobile app via Bluetooth and adds documentation and refrigerant updates. The max range of the wireless Bluetooth connection is 60 feet with a clear, unobstructed line of sight.
On the functional side, the 550 also throws in vacuum measurement, with a range of -15 to 0 psi (-1 to 0 bar).
At the top end, there’s the 557, which boasts many performance improvements over the 550:
- An additional ¼” vacuum port for faster and deeper evacuations
- Automatic ambient pressure measurement
- Provides highly precise vacuum measurements (over a range of 0 to 20000 microns) when combined with an external probe
HVAC service technicians looking for advanced digital manifold gauges to check or troubleshoot AC systems have many options with Yellow Jacket, including the robust and Bluetooth-enable P51-860 and P51-870.
For techs looking for a simple and reliable digital gauge set, the Series 41 Digital Manifold provides a 2-valve brass manifold with digital gauges that are rated for a maximum pressure of 800 psi and are pre-programmed with 21 of the most common refrigerants. The two 3 1/8” backlit LCD gauges boast an accuracy of ± 0.5% full scale. Technicians will find the full size metal valve handles easy to use as their large size makes it easier to turn them open and close.
The manifold’s body is forged out of solid brass, and is fully bored for maximum refrigerant flow. With long life nylon seats and sliding double O-ring pistons for reduced wear and tear, the 46060 Series 41 Digital Manifold can deliver accurate and reliable pressure readings for years.
Whereas the 46060 Series 41 digital gauge is essentially a digital upgrade from analog dial pressure gauges, the P51-860 TITAN is more of a full-fledged digital HVAC analyzer. The P51-860 is a four-valve manifold (three are 1/4” and one is 3/8”) which quickly and accurately measures refrigerant pressures, high and low pressure pipe temperatures (via two included temperature clamps), and vacuum (when connected to an optional vacuum sensor). The vacuum measurement range is from 0 to 100,000 microns, with resolution down to 0.1 microns.
These digital gauges include two vacuum ports: a standard 1/4”, which is the same size as the high and low side refrigerant ports, as well as a larger 3/8” port for quicker and deeper evacuations.
Compared to the Series 41, the P51-860 has added smarts too: it can calculate target superheat and subcool as well as perform both pressure and vacuum leak testing. The P51-860 TITAN can also connect to a tech’s smartphone or tablet via Yellow Yacket’s ManTooth™ app, enabling service pros to download and log data from the gauges (ideal for further analysis), as well as view all system measurements in real time. Measurement data can also be stored in the P51-860’s onboard memory, and later transferred via USB to a computer for long term storage, analysis, and custom reports. The gauge’s USB port can also be used for charging the manifold’s internal rechargeable battery.
Straight of the box, the P51-860 includes 126 refrigerant profiles stored in its internal memory. That number includes new blends not currently on the Refprop database.
All measurement readings are displayed in real-time on the gauge’s monochrome digital display, which is backlit to provide easy viewing of the data even in bright conditions. The enclosure of the P51-860 TITAN is IP52 certified and comes with a two year warranty.
The P51-870, as the model number suggests, is an incremental upgrade from the P51-860. The main upgrades from P51-860 are:
- A 4.3” full color touch screen display interface, in contrast to the monochrome LCD and buttons of the 860.
- Graphical and digital presentations of the pressure and temperature readings, compared to the numerical-only format of the 860
- Vacuum sensor is included with all 870s (it’s optional with the 860)
The CPS MD50W and MD100W digital gauges are well-constructed, include advanced features, and are designed to be versatile enough to tackle any HVAC service job. These two CPS digital gauges stand out from others in this class in a number of ways.
First, the max working pressure is 800 psig, higher than many other manifolds. Second, the clamp-on temperature probes use thermistors, not thermocouples as their sensors. This is perhaps why the stated temperature measurement accuracy for these two models is +/- 0.36°F (+/- 0.2°C) better than the more common +/-1°F or 0.5°F specs seen on competing gauges.
Third, while almost all digital gauge manufacturers boast about the durable construction of the enclosure protecting their gauges, none of them go the step of using high-strength glass-filled nylon as the housing material, like CPS does.
Lastly, both these digital manifolds come pre-programmed with 93 refrigerant profiles, a higher number than almost all competing models. Chances are most HVAC pros won’t ever need to update the onboard refrigerant list.
Both the MD50W and the MD100W BlackMax wireless digital gauges are powered via 4 AA batteries. These batteries can be either alkaline or NiMH rechargeable, and an optional charger kit is available for charging the latter while they are still installed in the gauge. The operational lifetime of the gauge when running on a set of fully charged NiMH batteries is about 20% less than it is when regular alkaline batteries are installed.
Display and Interface
These gauges feature a large backlit monochrome LCD screen (made from high-impact polycarbonate) which has large digits for the measurement data. Beneath the screen are buttons for menu navigation and mode setting.
The two CPS gauges can simultaneously display either:
- HI and LO pressures, superheat and subcooling
- HI and LO pressures, T1 and T2
- HI and LO pressures, saturation T1 and saturation T2 or
- HI and LO pressures, T1, T2 and Delta T
Manifold Link App Features
Like almost all other gauges in this segment of the digital manifold market, the MD50W and MD100W can wirelessly connect to a mobile device via an app. When these manifolds connect to a smartphone through CPS’s Manifold Link App, a technician can perform and monitor system measurements, log test data, view or email that data a customer, perform multiple system tests, and even update the manifold with new refrigerants—all without physically touching the unit.
This app also saves geolocation data (coordinates) along with the detailed test data (great for analyzing historical performance of the same AC unit at a given site), which is a feature not commonly found with other manifold apps.
Mastercool offers HVAC technicians one 2-way and one 4-way digital manifold gauges in addition to four kits built around those two gauges. With plenty of choices, Mastercool gives service pros plenty of options for their HVAC and refrigeration jobs and troubleshooting.
Mastercool’s 2-way digital manifold is the 99103-A, which comes pre-programmed with 63 refrigerants. Its sensors are rated up to 750 psi and all three fittings are 1/4” M-flare. This digital manifold gauge is powered by a 9V battery, can be also be connected an AC/DC “wall wart” adapter. The 99103-A part number includes just the manifold itself, but can be combined with clamp on thermocouple sensors, a vacuum sensor, and plenty of pipe adapters. The 99103-A displays pressures, saturated temperatures, actual pipe temperatures, superheat, and subcooling on a monochrome LCD screen.
The 99103-A-2 part number combines the digital 2-way manifold with two clamp-on thermocouple sensors. The 99661-A offers a more complete kit by adding three 60” hoses and a vacuum sensor and cable.
Mastercool also provides 4-way digital manifold options for service pros who prefer both their recovery machine and refrigerant tank attached at the same time. The 99903 is Mastercool’s 4-way digital manifold which not only features an additional valve, but also adds data logging, refrigerant list updating and even real-time measurement data display on a computer connected to the gauge via USB.
This 4-way digital manifold can record up to 24 hours (or 15 jobs worth) of data internally. That data can then be transferred to a computer by connecting the gauge to that computer with a USB cable. That same USB connection is also used to update the manifold’s refrigerant list.
Technicians in the field can even connect a laptop to the gauge servicing an AC unit and see data displayed on the computer screen in real time using Mastercool’s software.
The 99961 part number is a kit which combines the 4-way manifold with three 60” hoses, while the 99972 has 72” hoses.
The digital manifold gauges made by Robinair are essentially digital versions of the older style analog dial gauges, and are targeted for HVAC techs not looking for a full featured digital AC/refrigeration manifold like those made by other manufacturers. The main strengths of this segment of the digital manifold gauge market are ease of use and affordability, and these four models from Robinair are no exception.
The four products (2 are just the manifold, the other 2 kits which also add hoses) include the standard features of this product class: dual backlit LCD gauges with large digits for easy reading, pre-programmed refrigerant list (17 for Robinair’s gauges), and a small battery inside each gauge to provide power. HVAC pros can select the temperature scale (°F or °C) and pressure units (PSI, bar, kPa and kg/cm3) they prefer.
All four of the Robinair products are pre-programmed for the following refrigerants:
The Robinair 43180 Digital Gauge 2-Way Charging Manifold is a basic two-way manifold. The low side gauge has a pressure measurement range from 30” Hg of vacuum to 250 pisg, while the high side gauge can read from 0 to 800 psig.
If you’re looking for a kit which combines the 43180 digital gauge with a set of three 60” hoses, then then the Robinair 43186 Digital Gauge 2-Way Charging Manifold with Hose Set has you covered.
Robinair’s 4-way digital manifold is the Robinair 43160 Digital Gauge 4-Way Charging Manifold which adds a large 3/8” vacuum port to speed up evacuations. The Robinair 43166 Digital Gauge 4-Way Charging Manifold with Hose Set combines the 43160 gauge set with three 60” hoses.