We are relatively new to this Residential Home Assessment industry and while we have all the needed certifications, we still need to buy equipment.

 

Any feedback on certain Blower Doors and IR Cameras? Consumer Reports is not really a place we can go and I think this equipment information might assist everyone on this board.

 

 

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Regarding IR cameras - I like my Toughcam /     Ici    - Its a very good tool with good

reso (160 x160) , other features : A screen that swivels is practical, its rugged    .moderate cost

   Anyone looking should do lots of research,  and hold one or models hands on b4 buying!

The range of prices for an Ir camera mean you have to know what features you want/need,

You can buy off some off  craigslist for hundreds or spend 5 figures - its buyer be ... on Ir cameras!

We use both Retrotec and Minneapolis Blower Doors in our BPI Training. We will actually be partnering with Service Partners to sell energy auditor equipment on our website soon. We have three packages to choose from. Check it out here. Good luck with your search!

Caroline - you'll find some relevant discussion over here.

You're right about the lack of info on tools.  I have started writing a column for Home Energy, the first of which will be in the next issue on the Minneapolis DG700 and Retrotec DM2A.  The doors are pretty similar with minor variations in velcro location.  The manometers can be used for many things.  These two are the primary tools, but I would also suggest looking into investing in a simpler, single channel manometer like the Testo 510 that can be used for zonal pressure diagnostics while the blower door is running.

Paul, 

Is there a way to lock in the minneapolis manometer with the blower door running, then detach the hoses and use the manometer to do zonal pressure diagnostics?

John -

With the TEC door, if you are using the manual speed control and not the "Cruise" function, the fan operation is not controlled by the manometer.  Just pop the DG700 off the door and do your ZPD stuff.  If you go around opening windows and things, the fan will just continue to work at the speed you left it at.  It is important that you don't use the @50 setting for this.  The house needs to truly be at a known depressurization level.  If you can only get the house to 30, for example, the ZPD stuff has to be based on 30 and not 50.  I generally advised people to only use the @50 setting when they can get that reading manually.

While I personally use a Minneapolis Blower Door System (Model 3 fan and all of the accessories), and have nothing but good things to say about it, I have also heard very positive things about the Retrotec systems.

 

As far as infrared imaging systems go, I am more than a little biased towards Fluke. (~laugh~)   Each person's wants, needs, and budget is a little different, however.   I do highly recommend doing a lot of research on the subject, as the purchase and use of a thermal imager is an investment in both your business and the ongoing quality of your work.   Do more than just look at specifications on a piece of paper or on a web page.  Also look for fit-and-finish, durability, image quality, ease-of-use, pre- and post-sale support, reputation within the industry and with other users, etc.  And above all else, make sure that you get to see the cameras that you are considering in person to get the most accurate comparison possible... a "personal point of view" so to speak.... try them out to understand how all of these factors come together.

 

I know that many people have also found great value in the online seminar that the Snell Group offers on "Buying an Infrared Camera":  Buying an Infrared Camera

Caroline.  My whole job for the last 6+ years has been to help people who are involved in building diagnostics (whether it be moisture investigations or insulation issues) to select the right IR camera and then provide training.  Hundreds of people have spent 15 - 30 minutes with me using 'go-to-meeting' where I can show/demonstrate images taken with our various Fluke cameras.  There's no sales pressure at all.  I would be happy just to share what I've learned and answer your questions so that you are better equipped to make a decision.  Call me at 888-617-3266 ext 301.  You can also see some video clips at www.moistureview.com

While I'm obviously somewhat biased, the simple fact is that both the Retrotec Blower Doors and those sold my TEC will do the job. If you have any specific questions regarding what's available, feel free to give us a call @ 1.855.738.7683 or email info@retrotec.com, we'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.
My Two Cents-
I have an Energy Conservatory Model 3 Minneapolis Blower Door, which I have used since 2007. (Prior to that, I had a rather home-made affair, which is not a point of comparison but a personal investigative tool.) At the time of my purchase, I did as much research as I could, seeking common traits and elements of RetroTec, Infiltec and TEC (enough Tec one might say).

I contacted each company and all were very helpful, but the folks in Minneapolis stood out, for me. Nothing against their competition, but my sense at the time was that they were broadly more helpful and "into it". Their package price was higher by about ten percent, but that was not a deciding factor for me. Since then, I have found their support and technical assistance to be outstanding. I would add that features between them, as within any "tight market", tend to become level rapidly. When one comes out with a feature, the others will be close-behind. Competition is good.

Understanding that all blower doors do the same thing essentially, the software features, ease of use, all become subjective. I bought mine "blind" in that I had not personally used any of the systems but had assisted and witnessed tests done with the Minneapolis and RetroTec systems. Not enough to give a nod, because I was more interested in the results at the time.

Since my purchase, I bought from TEC, a Zone Pressure Diagnostics setup. Formerly this was their "APT" data logger and lots of tubing. Now it is in the form of CAT-5 cables, a USB hub and as many DG-700 gauges, one per zone tested. This has not yet been placed into service, but I have come to rely on the DG-700 for a wider variety of general pressure measurements doing diagnostic and TAB work.

I have also bought a FLIR b50 IR camera, as a medium-range hand-held. Budget was key and the price had just come down. Price was a factor in this case. I know other practitioners who use the Fluke equipment, but in the wider format (the "two hands" cameras) for their more commercial work. In each case, the resolution was excellent and more or less proportional to the price. You do get what you pay for.

The only criticism of the FLIR I have is an initial glitch whereby the battery indicator would say I had about 2/3rds power remaining, but the camera would just shut off on low battery after an hours use. This was corrected at the local FLIR technical center here in MA. The second glitch which still occurs is that if the battery depletes in the camera or is removed between charging sessions, sometimes but not always, the internal date/time clock resets to 2005. Annoying and unnecessary but not a big deal. I was told to charge the battery outside the camera and to remove it when not in use. This has not necessarily solved the issue but makes it less frequent. I asked if an internal battery needed changing and was told that this was not the issue. I have some issues of ease of use with the FLIR Quick Report software but cannot give specific examples right now. You could write to me off line to discuss further. bewhite at rcn dot com.

I bought the FLIR from TEC, but service is directly had from FLIR. Given the product type, I think this makes sense. Also FLIR is 20 miles from me.

Not a lot to go on, but this is my experience with one good company.

Brad

You can buy either a Minneapolis or RetroTec blower door and be perfectly satisfied. If you're going to invest in IR, I would definitely invest in Level 1 training first. The major manufacturers all make good units, but you have to decide which features and specs you need.

For the blower door and Duct Tester/Blaster I have Retrotec. I have also used the Minneapolis during certification tests.Both are fine pieces of equipment. The Retrotec manometer seems a bit more versatile as it has formulas built in and can run other manufacturers equipment   

The suggestion by Paul Raymer of having a single channel manaometer is excellent I wish I had gotten the same advice coming in

For combustion analyses I own Bacharach but Testo and make fine equipment as well. Fieldpiece makes a multi fuctional unit

IR Cameras are great and have come down significantly in price. Fluke and Flir are the two most reputable. go to http://irtalk.com   for another forum that is run by the Snell Company but has many different camera users on their site

The cameras themselves are not an end all without proper training they simply take pretty pictures. I would recommend Level I training.

good luck 

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