Visualizing air currents is a critical part of building analysis.  If you can see the airflows, you can often determine what's working and what isn't.  You can use a mirror for combustion analysis, but seeing a trail of smoke sucked in under the draft diverter is a clear indication that there is no spillage.  You can use a manometer to set up the doors for worst case, watching a trail of smoke is quicker.

The Retrotec AC107 smoke stick has been the tool of choice, but shipping regulations has made them difficult to get.  I am curious to know what other air current indicators people are using for testing and diagnostics.

Tags: air, current, puffers, smoke, testers

Views: 4927

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Paul,

I've used the "Wizard Stick" from time to time.  It's a fog generator that is essentially a kids toy, so non-toxic and is easy to use.  Not sure how rugged it is, but might be worth checking out and trying:

http://www.amazon.com/American-Science-Surplus-Wizard-Stick/dp/B000...

Matt Schwoegler

The Snell Group

Paul,

We carry a variety of smoke puffers but I know the Retrotec puffer was the most popular.  We still have some left but due to the new Hazmat regulations we most likely won't be able to carry them much longer. The Wizard Stick that Matt mentioned below and the Bottle Puffer made by The Energy Conservatory other 2 comparable puffers, one downfall is the mixing of chemicals.  We also have smoke machines (Rosco 900) for bigger jobs.  Let us know if you hear of anything else comparable, we'll be happy to hunt it down for you!

Thanks,

Tracy & Matt

ConservationStrategies.com

800-989-6686

I find the Wizard Stick easier to use than the Puffer. It puts out a lot more "smoke".   Both have problems: constant lancing of the Puffer outlet and if you are not carefull about draining the Wizard Stick, the toy train smoke fluid used gets on everything in your bag.  A good source for the Wizard Stick is Pow Science on the web.

Has anyone had experience with the Dragon Puffer?  It's more professional looking version of the Wizard Stick and also comes in a kit...

Dragon-Puffer-Kit details 

Paul ... the Wizard Stick is produced by folks that seem really concerned about the performance of their products ... I have been in touch with them a few times ... but I'll be damned if I can get that thing to work ... I have a couple & they always seem to fail as I'm walking the client through ...

I use a smoke pen. It is great for draft, duct leakage, and general air leakage ID. The one drawback is that it smells like somthing is burning becasue it uses a a wick that is buring while giving off a steady stream of non-toxic smoke. I personally like it and get great photo documentation specifically of return duct leaks. This can be purchased from Grainger Regin Hvac S220 Smoke Pen with 6 Wicks 3 Hours

Attachments:

Hi Paul,

Thanks for writing all of the tools-of-the-trade articles.  A big help for many folks.

I just switched from the Wizard Stick to the Dragon Puffer.  Both use food-safe theatrical fog fluid and were invented by Joel and Alan Aronie of Zero Toys in Concord, MA. I believe the Smoke Pencil is a rebranded Dragon Puffer.  As others have said, be sure to keep the unit upright, and don't over-pump the fluid.

I have used the Retrotec product, but didn't like getting even an occasional inadvertent whiff.  The MSDS info convinced me to switch. I do like that it can have any orientation and it was easy to regulate the amount of smoke generated.

To me, the talcum powder type puffer was an unimpressive performer for light air movement. And it can't be used while pointing down.

The Björnax Smoke Pen imported from Sweden by Regin works well despite being a heat-buoyant smoke, but it is difficult to regulate the amount of smoke generated.  It also creates ionized particles from burning a stearic acid impregnated cotton wick which can more easily trigger smoke alarms than the foggers. 

The foggers are non-ionizing and are less likely to set off smoke detectors unless they are the more expensive optical sensing smoke detectors. 

One of the best working battery-driven theatrical fog generators is the Tiny Compact Fogger C07 by Look Solutions. Works well if a lot of fog is needed for just a 1 second or more burst of fog, but a bit much for checking combustion appliance draft.  And at $1850, it is not cheap. It's cousin, the F07, is perfect for remote triggering in ductwork.

Dale

Paul reviewed some of the most common smoke puffers in an article that will be published in the May/June 2012 Home Energy Magazine. Check it out, as well as Paul's other articles in the Home Energy "Tools of the Trade" column series. Great series IMHO.

RSS

Home Energy Pros

Home Energy Pros was founded by the developers of Home Energy Saver Pro (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy,) and brought to you in partnership with Home Energy magazine.

Latest Activity

Dolores Bevilacqua posted events
1 hour ago
Bob Blanchette replied to Dave Robinson's discussion Can We PLEASE Stop Calling Them “Ductless” in the group 1000 Home Challenge
"Concealed units in hallway ceilings aren't new. Apartments have been using them for decades."
1 hour ago
Graham Irwin replied to George Kopf's discussion How does efficiency factor into a grid parity world?
"George, You raise a good question. The concept of "free and unlimited" energy is not…"
1 hour ago
David Byrnes posted an event
Thumbnail

Best Lead Source For Energy Auditors at Your computer

November 1, 2014 at 12am to January 3, 2015 at 7pm
In 2009 I started my energy auditing company, Green ID, with over $3,000 in credit card debt to…See More
1 hour ago
Empower Efficiency added a discussion to the group Job Board
Thumbnail

Empower Efficiency is hiring!!!

Empower Efficiency is a woman-owned firm dedicated to making energy efficiency and renewable…See More
2 hours ago
Empower Efficiency joined Diane Chojnowski's group
Thumbnail

Job Board

This group is for posting jobs related to all aspects of the home performance industry including…See More
2 hours ago
Profile IconEmpower Efficiency, Ron Revia, Matt Austin and 3 more joined Home Energy Pros
2 hours ago
Jill Lindman posted events
3 hours ago

© 2014   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service