ESPCO September / October 2013 Newsletter

The BEST heat gain / loss calculation software I have ever used!

One of the reasons I write this newsletter is to inform you when I discover something really cool and / or something that makes my life in the HVACR biz easier…and here is something that hits both marks!

I have been searching for an easy to use, ACCA Manual J based software program for heat gain / loss calculations. I have used programs offered by equipment manufacturers and others offered by software writers and frankly, none were for me.

Now that is the key…they were not for ‘me’.

I’m going to share something very personal with you…I’m lazy. Not the ‘can’t get out of bed’ kind of lazy but rather the more benign type. The type of lazy where I just can’t get myself to sit at a desk and do mind numbing, math laden, monotonous heat gain / loss calculations…it has always been something I dreaded.

I’m old enough to have attended IBR schools for heat loss calculations back in the 70’s. The Institute of Boilers and Radiation, IBR, had a wonderful traveling class that pre-dated the hand held calculator. You would attend an IBR school and be taught to perform a heat loss for an assigned structure by using the IBR Heat Loss Calculation Guide #H-21, (which I still have to this day), a ruler, a pencil and a legal pad…that was it!

It reminded me too much of real school and for me that was a turn off and it probably affected my attitude toward these calculations for life.

I decided to take the 21st century approach to research and I simply Googled, ‘best HVAC heat gain / loss calculation software’ and the name that kept coming up in HVAC blog and bulletin board conversations was Don Sleeth of HVAC Computer Systems, LTD.

Don is the creator of HVAC-Calc software. Don has been doing this type of work for some of the biggest names in the biz as far back as 1981. The product he offers today is the result of over 30 years of development.

Some of the many features that I find particularly helpful are:

  • Help, right on screen, where and when you need it.
  • ‘Think Ahead’ technology anticipates your next move, saves you precious time.
  • All construction data is presented on screen, in English, no code numbers, no searching, no scrolling
  • ‘Think Ahead’ technology automatically pre-selects the construction type, based on your past preferences.
  • Check the load of any individual item immediately.
  • View the whole house load as you go, watch it grow as you add components.
  • Automatically saves your work as you do it…for those of us who have spent hours on a design only to ‘loose’ it, this is especially helpful!
  • Each job is saved with a full name and address, date modified as well as an unlimited comment; no cryptic file names to try and remember

I will be using the HVAC-Calc software in future ‘Introduction to Geothermal Heating & Cooling’ classes starting in October, 2013. The combination of the HVAC-Calc program and Comfort-Aire’s ‘LoopLogix’ software make an invaluable tool for geothermal design.

You can take a trial run at:

Guys, I never thought I would endorse a heat gain / loss software product simply because I didn’t think one existed that truly made the process simple, easy and quick…but I was wrong. I cannot say enough about Don Sleeth and his HVAC-Calc software…download the trial version today and give it a try!

Speaking of upcoming classes: New class dates for the fall and winter 2013 are being added to the website so be sure to keep an eye out for a class coming to a town near you. You can see upcoming training events at this address:

Are you using a surge protection device on your inverter mini split installs?

You should! I was surprised to learn that in many inverter type mini split systems, the ‘main board’ of the outdoor unit, ODU, is surge protected but the inverter and PFC boards are not. Thus, the need for ‘external’ surge protection…like the MARS 83900 Surge Protection Device.

Let’s first discuss exactly what a ‘surge’ is and why equipment needs to be protected from it.

I found a great article by Tom Harris, (staff writer for Discovery’s Howstuffworks), ‘How Surge Protectors Work’…the following is an excerpt:

‘A power surge, or transient voltage, is an increase in voltage significantly above the designated level in a flow of electricity.

To understand the problem, it is helpful to understand something about voltage. Voltage is a measure of a difference in electric potential energy. Electric current travels from point to point because there is a greater electric potential energy on one end of the wire than there is on the other end. This is the same sort of principle that makes water under pressure flow out of a hose — higher pressure on one end of the hose pushes water toward an area of lower pressure. You can think of voltage as a measure of electrical pressure.

Various factors can cause a brief increase in voltage.

  • When the increase lasts three nanoseconds (billionths of a second) or more, it’s called a surge.
  • When it only lasts for one or two nanoseconds, it’s called a spike.

If the surge or spike is high enough, it can inflict some heavy damage on a machine. The effect is very similar to applying too much water pressure to a hose. If there is too much water pressure, a hose will burst. Approximately the same thing happens when too much electrical pressure runs through a wire — the wire “bursts.” Actually, it heats up like the filament in a light bulb and burns, but it’s the same idea. Even if increased voltage doesn’t immediately break your machine, it may put extra strain on the components, wearing them down over time’.

Come on fellow ‘wet-heads’, you got to love Tom’s analogy of water pressure and electricity…it makes perfect sense now, doesn’t it?

Tom’s article continues:

‘The most familiar source, (of a surge), is probably lightning , though it’s actually one of the least common causes.

A more common cause of power surges is the operation of high-power electrical devices, such as air conditioners and refrigerators . These high-powered pieces of equipment require a lot of energy to switch on and turn off components like compressors and motors . This switching creates sudden, brief demands for power, which upset the steady voltage flow in the electrical system. While these surges are nowhere near the intensity of a lightning surge, they can be severe enough to damage components, immediately or gradually, and they occur regularly in most building’s electrical systems’.

How does a Surge Protection Device, SPD, work?

A surge device absorbs surges, spikes and transients through the use of Metal Oxide Varistors, MOV, and dissipates them as heat and shunts them to ground. During this process the MOV can get warm and in some cases, a thermal failure can occur if the spike is significant.

MARS surge devices use a patented TPMOV, (Thermally Protected MOV). The thermal protection eliminates potentially dangerous thermal failures.

The MARS 83900 protects the entire mini split system, (as long as the evaporator is powered by the condenser as with Comfort-Aire). It installs easily to the system disconnect and features a green LED indicator which when illuminated indicates the MARS 83900 SPD is operational.

MARS SPD’s are type 1 and 2 approved which means they can be installed on the line, (at the breaker), or load side, (at the disconnect), for ease of wiring. The MARS unit can be installed on 120V and 240V systems.

The MARS 83900 has a 3 year product warranty as well as $7,500 connected device coverage.

Keep an eye on my website for a future video showing the installation of the MARS 83900 with a Comfort-Aire, VMH36SC-1 inverter mini split.

Bring the USS Pueblo Home

I was seven years old on January 23, 1968 when the USS Pueblo came under attack by North Korean forces in international waters.  The crew of the Pueblo staved off the attack for two hours as she was pursued by no less than four North Korean torpedo boats, two sub chasers and two MiG-21 fighters. The Pueblo was an ‘intelligence gathering ship’ and as a result she was armed with only a single .50 caliber machine gun and only one crew member was trained in its operation.

One of the sub chasers opened fire with a 57 mm cannon killing 21 year old Petty Officer Duane Hodges from Creswell, Oregon.

The USS Pueblo was boarded by North Korean forces and the crew would serve 335 days as prisoners, enduring brutal physical abuse and mental torture.

Why am I writing about this in my newsletter? Well, for the following reasons…

If you are younger than me, (and everyone is younger than me), chances are good you aren’t aware of what has become known as the ‘Pueblo Incident’. Although I was seven years old, I do have a vivid memory of the news reports and the images of the crew when they were freed on December 23, 1968.

The images and later interviews with the Captain of the USS Pueblo, Commander Lloyd Mark ‘Pete’ Bucher, affected me…I just had a sense that this man was a true hero…it turns out I was right. Cmdr. Bucher is credited, (by his 81 crewmembers), for leading his crew through the 11 months of captivity…leading by example, displaying courage and giving hope as they endured unimaginable brutality.

This is just one example of the brutality Cmdr. Bucher endured;

Cmdr. Bucher describes how he was about to be executed by his North Korean captives when a gun was placed at his head…he wanted his last words…his last thought…to be that of his wife Rose. He shouted out her name just as he heard the click of the gun’s trigger…the gun was not loaded. You can hear Cmdr. Bucher recount this experience in his own words in an interview at this address:

Cmdr. Bucher died on January 28, 2004 at the age of 76. His death was partly attributed to injuries he sustained while a prisoner in North Korea 36 years earlier. Rose Bucher passed away just weeks ago on September 4, 2013.

The main reason for this article is this…the USS Pueblo remains to this day, a prisoner of North Korea. I find this both disgusting and unacceptable. The USS Pueblo is the second oldest still commissioned ship in the US Navy fleet…second only to the USS Constitution which was commissioned in 1797 and moored in Charlestown, MA today. Think about that…the second oldest actively commissioned US Naval ship sits in captivity today in the waters of North Korea’s Botong River in Pyongyang as an exhibit of the ‘Fatherland Liberation War Museum’. ..are you kidding me? This is an outrage!

Here’s what we all can do…write to our representatives in Washington DC and let them know we haven’t forgotten the USS Pueblo. BRING THE PUEBLO HOME!

Look, I know this is not the most pressing issue in today’s international political scene but 45 years have passed and if something is not done soon, the remaining surviving crew members will go to their graves with their ship…our ship…still in captivity.

Please go to the following address for a comprehensive history of everything related to the USS Pueblo and the brave men who served her and their nation.

May I suggest when at the above website, go to the ‘Ships Store’ and purchase a ‘Return the Pueblo’ bumper sticker and put one on each of your trucks.

See you soon!

The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ESPCO’s sponsors and training partners.