Here are two software programs that use computer graphics to provide education and training on HVAC equipment and systems. One program is designed so it can be used by contractors to educate residential customers on various types of HVAC equipment under possible consideration, and to bolster knowledge of the sales and service personnel selling that equipment. The other program is geared to training technicians on how to service various types of residential and commercial HVACR equipment.
The Showroom v2 by Opportunity Interactive, www.opactive.com, provides computer graphics and animation that sales staff can use in the office or on a laptop in the field to educate homeowners on the features and benefit of different HVAC equipment and accessories with the aim of increasing closing ratios and accessory sales. The software can also be used to train new staff on the products. The animations and other visuals are narrated by professional voice-overs.
Management can take advantage of customizing capabilities by adding a company logo to the program and preselecting animations that will be available to the sales person for a particular call or series of calls. Electing “continuous play” sets up a loop through all the animations.
Using data provided by ARI and manufacturers, The Showroom can draw heat pump balance points for a specific home. It can also perform an energy cost comparison that can help promote heat pumps as the green choice for homeowners.
The Showroom has nearly 50 animations, covering 15 products and accessories. The products cover a wide spectrum from heat pumps and furnaces to surge protectors and smoke detectors.
Opportunity Interactive has also created an online version of The Showroom that is designed to be added to a company's Web site, which can help drive leads.
The Showroom has features built in that allow new animations to be downloaded over the Internet and added directly into the software. For example, new animations, including coverage of geothermal units and tankless hot water systems, are in the works.
HVAC Training Simulators by Simutech, www.simutechsystems.com, provide trainees and others with computer-based “hands-on” HVACR training on simulated HVACR equipment. The programs use simulators along with built-in diagnostic charts and test procedures to teach the basics of HVACR equipment operation and troubleshooting, including the operating characteristics and methods of repairing faults commonly encountered in the field. The simulators, which meet the accreditation standards of the Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation, can also be used for testing the knowledge and service skills of prospective employees and as study aids for NATE and ICE Certification.
Animated graphics enable trainees to watch how the various systems function. Built-in test equipment allows measurement of pressure, temperature, combustion and electrical values. Real-time electrical ladder diagrams show current states of contacts and controls. Operating parameters, including indoor and outdoor temperatures and humidity are adjustable.
The software, available as a single version or networkable up to 99 users simultaneously, automatically tracks trainee performance and log-on time, and generates Repair Logs to track trainees' troubleshooting skills.
Simulator programs are available that address several different HVACR areas of expertise. For example, SIMUAIR, covering air conditioning systems, simulates two generic versions of residential and light-commercial air conditioning systems, using either R-22 or R-410A refrigerant. These systems include a packaged unit with a capillary tube and PSC motor circuit and a split-system with a thermostatic expansion valve (TXV) and CSR motor circuit. Animated mechanical and electrical schematic diagrams are in real-time.
The mechanical diagram shows refrigerant flow and the liquid, vapor, liquid/vapor and superheated vapor states of the refrigerant. In the electrical diagram, the controls and switch contacts constantly change state as the system operates. Pressure-temperature charts, performance charts, specifications and an electrical nomenclature are available on-screen.
The trainee can zoom in to visually inspect various components, including a dirty air filter or dirt or ice on coils, and can listen to the compressor running. The instructor or the user can select up to 20 commonly encountered mechanical and electrical faults.
The following on-screen test instruments and charts are included in the simulator: an on-screen gauge manifold set, digital thermometer, leak detector, clamp-on ammeter, voltmeter, and ohmmeter. Plus, temperature/pressure and performance charts are included in the program.
Other programs offer the same type of training for different functionalities.
SIMUPUMP simulates a generic residential and light-commercial type air-to-air split-system heat pump, using either R-22 or R-410A refrigerant with up to 40 different mechanical and electrical faults insertable into the simulator.
SIMUREFR is a commercial refrigeration simulator that simulates three generic versions of low-temperature and medium-temperature refrigeration systems that a service technician would commonly encounter in the field: reach-in case with random defrost, reach-in freezer with electric defrost and walk-in freezer with hot-gas defrost. Pressurestat and thermostat cut-in, differential box and ambient temperatures, defrost frequency and timeout, and TXV setpoint are all adjustable, and up to 30 mechanical and electrical faults can be inserted into the program. Other specialty simulators include a supermarket refrigeration simulator, gas and oil furnace simulators, and a hot water boiler simulator.
Bill and Patti Feldman are freelance writers for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at [email protected].