Informational applications — or "apps" —for hand-held devices are among the most important technology tools now available to the HVACR industry. Need a duct sized? There's an app for that. Need to provide a service estimate? There's an app for that.

Stephen Roth, a principal with Carmel Software, Carmel, CA, estimates there could be at least 100 HVAC-related apps currently on the market, or in some cases, available to cloud computing users. App functions range from simple calculations, to reference, to complex multi-project calculations. App benefits include time saving, convenience, improved efficiency, and a reduced need to rely on outside sources for on-the-job information.

"Apps can easily be used in the field without waiting for a computer to boot up, and the size of a hand-held device makes it easy to carry them around on a roof or around a house," Roth says. "Additionally, Carmel apps lets users email research findings to an office desktop, so they can do more in depth analysis back at the office. And, the more we can encourage technicians to use technology the more attractive HVAC can appear as a career.

Roth says the most popular HVACR apps currently in use seem to be those related to duct sizing, load calculations, and equipment maintenance. Carmel Software developed the app for Standard 62.1 of the American Society of Heating, Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), as well as ASHRAE’s duct fitting database, which calculates duct pressure loss.

Apps can be obtained either at no cost, or for a nominal fee, depending on the developerBfore purchasing, the user should verify the level of support they will obtain from the app provider.

Among the HVAC contractors who have latched on to "favorite" apps is Paul Hoy — also known on the HVAC-Talk discussion forum as "Servicepro" — with Global Heating Services, Alberta, Canada. He tells ContractingBusiness.com that the Good Reader for iPod Touch, is efficient at uploading printed data files (PDFs). You can find it at: http://bit.ly/goodreadapp.

"Now, I carry important data with me to the jobsite, that would normally only be on my office computer," Hoy says.

"One example is blower performance data and other important technical data that I always need. I can cross reference sheets on universal parts, credit card phone-in data for processing transactions on-site, and a pricing multiplier, for parts markups, just to name a few.

"I can also upload maps to find directions, and maps of trailer parks, which is very helpful when trying to find a house with an odd address. Resiszing the PDFs on an iPod is very easy," Hoy adds.

Original equipment manufacturers are also "getting into the app." For example, Goodman and Amana brand dealers can find product and distributor information at mobile.goodmanmfg.com.

The Smart Contractor Mobile HVAC App will provide warranty information, a distributor locator, and product information based on product serial number. The app can be viewed on a smart phone or computer, and doesn't require a "www" prefix.

"When dealers enter the serial number of a Goodman or Amana brand unit, they have instant access to the warranty information regarding the unit, compressor information, parts information, technical literature and more," says Rex Anderson, director of communications for Goodman Global Group, Inc. He adds that the app is getting a workout, with more than 80,000 'hits' per month.

Anderson says several enhancements to SmartContractor will be released over the next several months.

The following is a selection of other apps we’ve found for a variety of HVACR news, service, or office-related purposes.

ACCA DuctWheel
developed for Air Conditioning Contractors of America
$19.99
http://bit.ly/accaductwheel /
ACCA DuctWheel is a new mobile version of ACCA's Duct Sizing Slide Rule, which is used by contractors to determine proper sizing of residential duct systems in accordance with Manual D, the national, accredited standard for residential duct design. Using the DuctWheel app instead of the standard duct slide rule, contractors and designers can lock the wheel in place, zoom in for easier reading, flip between two wheels for different calculations, take a screenshot of the wheel in position, and perform multiple calculations. An instruction guide is included with the app purchase.

ACCA Today
developed for Air Conditioning Contractors of America
iphone app: http://bit.ly/accaiphoneapp
Android app: http://bit.ly/accaandroidapp
ACCA has released a free, Android version of its popular ACCA Today iPhone app. ACCA Today provides a direct link to industry news, profiles, and interviews with successful contractors, marketing and management techniques, technical tips, and more. Available at no cost to ACCA members.

ASHRAE Duct Fitting Database
by Carmel Software / $19.99
http://bit.ly/ashraeductapp
American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineer’s popular Duct Fitting Database desktop application has become even more valuable as a smart phone app, allowing engineers to make complicated calculations in the field and receive faster results. It’s been developed for Apple’s iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

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Copeland X-REF
by Emerson / No charge
EmersonClimate.com/mobileapp
Emerson Climate Technologies' Copeland X-Ref™, is a new, free mobile application for iPhone, Droid, and Blackberry mobile devices. Copeland X-Ref provides on-the-go access to Emerson’s online compressor cross-reference database for air conditioning products, a tool used by thousands of wholesalers and contractors working with Copeland® compressors.

Credit Card Application Mobile App
by From the CEO / No charge
http://bit.ly/canvascreditcardapp
This mobile application provides a credit card application used by a HVAC company - for their clients to sign up for a VISA. However, this application provides a base for any company wishing to use a credit card application mobile business app and hopes to customize for their specific customers’ needs.

Customer Satisfaction Survey
by From the CEO / No charge
http://bit.ly/satisfactionsurveyapp
This mobile application is a customer satisfaction Survey for HVAC service company filled out by clients at the end of service event. The application is a basic customer satisfaction survey tailored for the HVAC servicing industry. It tracks basic customer information and asks questions based on satisfaction of the company, of the specific technician, and of specific products.

Goodman/Amana Smart Contractor Mobile HVAC App
No charge
mobile.goodmanmfg.com
The Smart Contractor Mobile HVAC App provides warranty information, a distributor locator, and product information based on model or serial number. The app can be viewed on a smart phone or laptop/desktop computer.

HVAC Buddy
by Kevin Burandt / No charge
http://bit.ly/hvacbuddyapp
Use HVAC Buddy to enter refrigerant, temperatures, and pressures. The math is done for you to display superheat or subcooling target, actual, and difference. Use temperature and pressure sliders to see what happens in realtime when these values change.

HVAC Equipment Locator App
by Carmel Software / $9.99
http://bit.ly/carmelapp
Allows technicians to track their HVAC equipment, upload it to the “cloud”, and safely share information about this equipment with other technicians within the company. Sources say the app is unique because it identifies equipment by its GPS coordinates. Every standing piece of equipment has a unique location or GPS coordinate.

HVAC Formulator
by Multieducator / $4.99
http://www.multieducator.net/formulator/hvac.html
HVAC Formulator contains about 200 formulas that can expedite calculations. Sections include air change, airside, boilers, Btu conversions, ductwork, energy values, heating design, heating requirements, humidity, loads, pumps, steam, temperature, waterside systems, conversions, and area calculations.

HVAC Residential LoadCalcs for iphone
by Carmel Software / $34.99
http://bit.ly/loadcalcapp
Allows technician to perform detailed heating and cooling loads for small commercial and residential buildings out in the field, by taking advantage of the simplicity and power of the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.

HVAC Service Form
by Glacier Computer / No charge
http://bit.ly/serviceformapp
This is an electronic service invoice for HVAC service representatives. This mobile application tracks all necessary items for an HVAC service form. Basic job information is tracked along with serial numbers on the products, customer information, customer’s equipment, parts used, description of work, final check before the job is complete, recommendations, call information, and all charges and costs.

Field Service Job Estimator
by Glacier Computer / No charge
http://bit.ly/jobestimatorapp
This application will allow you to create a form used by any firm to provide an estimate for work to be completed. Perfect for construction companies, contractors, or even service organizations, this application keeps track of basic information, specific details of the job, and records a list of all possible work to be done.

Smart Thermostat by ecobee
by ecobee / No charge
http://bit.ly/ecobeeandroidmarket
There's a new Android app for the ecobee Smart Thermostat. Downloadable from the Android Market, the ecobee Android app allows customers to control their ecobee Smart Thermostats anytime, anywhere, from the convenience of Android devices.