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Refrigerant Scales are a must-have resource for HVAC techs. They help to accurately weigh how much refrigerant is being placed into refrigeration units.
To properly estimate and bill clients for refrigerants, it is important that techs have access to precise readings. You will want a digital scale to measure the refrigerant as it exits the tank and settles into the unit. This article will discuss the ins and outs of refrigerant scales, discussing everything from functionality to durability.
Here is a comprehensive refrigerant scale buyer’s guide and reviews of some of the best scales on the market.
What Are Refrigerant Scales?
Refrigerant scales are used not only when initially installing refrigeration units, but also during routine maintenance and repairs. As the liquid or gas is removed from the compressor the scale measures its weight. While troubleshooting to find a leak, the scale can be incredibly useful for techs.
Too much or too little refrigerant can create long-term issues on the compressor from strain, thus shortening the lifespan of the equipment. Without correctly gauging how much refrigerant is necessary for cooling units, it can cost building owners big time in extra energy costs.
It is essential for technicians, building owners, and the equipment itself to have an efficient refrigerant scale.
How Refrigerant Scales Work
Technicians should place the refrigerant cylinder onto the scale to weigh it. There will be a hook-up to connect the cylinder to the greater refrigerant system. After the technician weighs the existing refrigerant inside the cylinder, he can either add or remove refrigerant to achieve the most energy-efficient levels. Some scales will require this task to be performed manually, while other scales will automatically calibrate the system.
Some scales run on battery power while others require electricity and come equipped with a power cord. Every scale has a different weight capacity, so you’ll want to be sure to get one that is suitable for the systems you work on regularly. For commercial work settings, a tech will need a more high-capacity scale with optimum durability.
Scales not only vary in durability, power, and size, they also range in sensitivity and precision. Some may measure the refrigerant to two decimal places, while others only go to one.
Don’t forget that handling refrigerants requires certification through the Environmental Protection Agency. Section 608 certification governs the use and handling of these materials, which are potentially harmful to the environment. There are different levels of certification based on the types of appliances you work with. You can find more information in our article on getting Section 608 certified.
Outside the US, consult your local board for regulations as well.
What to Look for When Buying a Scale
Durability, precision, readability, sensitivity, size, and power options are all aspects to consider before purchasing a refrigerant scale. Consider your personal needs before purchasing. Do you work with industrial or commercial units that require scales with more capacity? Do you need a highly-portable battery-operated scale? How much are you willing to spend on a refrigerant scale? How precise do you need the scale to be? Are you using the scale to bill clients?
Consider some of these factors to find the best fit for your personal or company needs:
Platform size and weight
For the most accurate readings, a bigger scale isn’t always more precise. A scale with a larger platform might be what you need. A more durable platform with more supported surface area might serve you better than a scale with a higher weight capacity.
Having a solid display will help you easily read the numbers. Some scales will lag in their readings, which can affect the accuracy. A large display that can be read from far away is useful when working in tight spaces. Your display needs to keep pace with the charge of liquid going into the system.
Resolution and accuracy
You will need a scale that reads out numbers in the units that you use! Most HVAC techs use pounds with two decimal places (ex: 4.15 lbs). Make sure your scale offers a selection of unit measurement options to prevent you from having to do conversions and math on the job. The industry standard for accuracy is a scale that is accurate to the .5 oz.
Refrigerant Scale Quick Comparison Chart
The Best Refrigerant Scales
Here's our reviews of the best refrigerant scales based on our experience and comments of colleagues. Let us know in the comments what you think of them and what your choices would be.
The TIF9010A is an updated, newer model of the standard Slimline scale. This new model offers better readability and reliability for refrigerant readings. Pricewise, it is a great mid-range option for those who want accuracy, readable display modes, and portability.
Three display modes (lbs/ oz, Kilograms to 0.1 oz/0.005 lbs./ 2 grams, and 110 Pound/ 50 kg)
Removable control box
Prop stand or hanging hook
Compatible with TIF9020 for auto compatibility
Can be used with any and all refrigerants
Handheld screen reader for maximum readability
The only downside to this scale is that it has a maximum capacity of 199 pounds, and some people have noted that it will not read over 120 lbs. The scale also does not turn off automatically when not in use, which can shorten the battery life dramatically.
The Mastercool is an accu-charging refrigerant scale. It is an excellent choice for those looking for a reliable, programmable scale option. You can pre-program desired quantities when adding or removing refrigerant from a system. Before the charge is complete an alarm goes off to allow the tech to turn off the refrigerant supply. It also offers tank programming to let users know the amount of refrigerant already in the tank.
The programming functions are as follows:
Charge programming: allows user to program desired quantities
Pause/charge programming: allows user to stop and continue charging
Tank Capacity programming: empty/full tank feature to give a read out for the tank at any time
Repeat: allows user to charge previously stored amount
243 lb capacity
greater than 0.05% accuracy
0.05lb/ o.5 oz/ 0.01 kg resolution
auto shut-off after 3 hours
operates between 32-120 degrees Fahrenheit
40 hours of battery life
Works with 110/220 V transformer
9 x 9-inch platform
The Kozyvacu is the most affordable option of these three scales. However, this model doesn’t sacrifice quality, despite its lower price point. It is a great choice for those working with small refrigeration systems. It offers the highest accuracy of .25 oz, surpassing industry standards. It is perfect for lighter recharging and recovering jobs.
Slip resistant platform handles
Handles all types of refrigerant cylinders
High accuracy 0.5%
Three display modes: kg, lbs, and oz
Flexible long coil design
Compact and portable
9 ½ x 9 ½ inch
20 lb capacity
Heavy duty carry case included
9-volt battery included
All of the three scales reviewed are reliable, accurate, portable, and offer quality resolutions. Remember to take into account the factors described above before purchasing a scale. Ask yourself some of the questions posed in this article to help you vet the perfect refrigerant scale to recharge and recover on the job.