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Manifold gauges or manifold sets are probably the most essential and commonly used tools when it comes to repairing, operating, or managing HVAC systems.
If you have just started learning or getting any training about HVAC systems, manifold sets will be among the first tools to tell you about. You can assume a manifold set as a computer, just like a software engineer cannot perform their job without a computer, so does an HVAC technician without a manifold set. Although all these things show their importance, it comes in different versions and technologies to deal with different HVAC units.
One of the most frequently asked questions about manifold sets is, what is better when it comes to a 3 way vs 4 way AC manifold gauge sets? Well, this guide will surely bring you the right answer with supporting information.
What is a manifold gauge or manifold set
Manifold gauge is a necessary tool that is used to measure or check the pressure of gas in any HVAC system.
This tool should be included in the to-get list while becoming an HVAC system technician because it will surely help you in terms of a diagnostic as well as a service tool.
Diagnostic tools mean that it is used to measure various things, especially the pressure which gives clues to the technicians about how properly the HVAC system is working.
Although manifold gauge is mostly used as a diagnostic tool, it can also help in removing contaminated refrigerants and releasing the sludge or moisture from the HVAC unit.
Which is better a 3 and 4 port gauge set HVAC
People usually get confused on whether a 3 port gauge is better or a 4 port one. Well, the answer to this question depends on various factors while your working experience is also one of them.
3 port gauge set
For a new person who has just stepped into the HVAC repairing or operating industry, it is better to have a 3 port manifold set with analog working. There will be a set of hoses attached to the tool along with mini ball valves for controls.
This 3 port gauge is totally good and helpful for beginners as it will allow you to better understand the basics of HVAC working and gain comprehensive experience. The only drawback of a 3 port analog gauge is that it may be difficult to understand especially for a layman who doesn’t have any knowledge about the tool signs.
4 port gauge set
If your job includes repairing and operating huge size HVAC systems then having a 4 port gauge is essential. It is a must-have tool for vacuum pulling activities. This thing clearly shows that it is the work of an experienced and highly professional technician.
So, you may not need it at the beginning but with enough experience, it is better to have a 4 port gauge set with a digital display. Although a digital display gauge will be sufficient and efficient for your work, having 3 port sets as backup is recommended.
Difference types of manifold gauges in HVAC
Analog and digital are the two major types of manifold gauges that are commonly used by all HVAC technicians. Although both of these gauges play the same role, they differ in terms of their display and ease of usage. Whether you choose an analog manifold gauge or the digital one, it will have ports to attach hoses along with pre-assembled valves as well.
Analog gauges are the traditional gauges that come with a round meter on which the needle moves from zero to higher as well as lower values. Technicians need to calibrate it manually at zero before using depending on their elevation level.
It consists of two parts that are commonly differentiated using two colors, blue and red. The blue (typically on the left side) is used to show low values (less than 0) while the red one shows high values of HVAC pressure.
Digital gauges work like digital watches as they display pressure in actual values. They have gained too much popularity as they are easy to understand while they provide exact pressure value without any minor differences.
Both heat and cool values are displayed on the screen at the same time which makes the analysis process easy for the technician. Wireless connectivity and other advanced features are also cherries on the top.
Things to consider while buying a manifold set HVAC
Although there are only two types of manifold gauges set for HVAC, there could be issues in various regards where accuracy and display are the most prominent. Below are some factors that should be considered before buying a manifold set HVAC. This practice will help you not only get the tool of high quality but the one that suits you most efficiently.
The number of ports
The number of ports is essential to notice so that you don’t end up buying a tool that is of no use. You should first analyze your kind of work and then choose the tool with enough ports attached to it.
Durability should be a top priority as you will not like to spend your hard-earned money on buying the same tools many times. Analyzing the build quality while taking a note on the hose connector and valves is recommended. The more durable the manifold gauge is, the better results you will get in your daily work routine.
Display quality should be best as you don’t want to get your eyesight affected after working for a few years. The size of the screen and backlit features should be taken into proper consideration.
While going for an analog gauge, always look for the tool that has a color code (i.e. blue and red) to represent hot and cold values separately.
Look for a digital gauge that can automatically calculate and provide you with the best suitable temperature. This will save your time at one place while improving precision on the other.