Digital manifold gauges have become very popular in HVAC due to the readings a technician can get quickly and reliably. The HVAC world has been slow to adapt to the newer digital technology, and in the past, digital gauges were left to the HVAC techno-nerds, but this is changing, and digital is becoming much more commonplace.
There is no doubt that people on both sides of the debate on whether using digital gauges is an evolution of HVAC or just the latest gizmo. On one side, many believe that digital gauges are the next step in the HVAC world and give a better tool to get a job done more quickly. On the other side, many say why to mess with what works.
So what are the differences between analog and digital gauges?
Analog vs. Digital HVAC Manifold Gauges
PRO… Analog gauges have stood the test of time and have been used for generations by heating and cooling professionals. A long-time HVAC technician will easily be able to tell what pressures a unit should be reading without ever looking at a chart.
CON… Analog gauges are prone to errors mainly due to the technicians. Reading the analog gauges gives a user a rough picture of what is happening. Conversion errors by technicians compound this problem.
Analog gauges are usually what a student learns within a classroom setting and are very good units to learn the basics of HVAC.
While they are good tools, digital gauges can give a technician much more data in real-time without having to do any calculations.
PRO… Digital gauges are very accurate and have many other features; due to their accuracy and no need for conversion tables, errors are less likely to happen.
CON… Digital gauges are new to HVAC technicians, which require training to use them properly. Different manufacturers add different features that may complicate the process.
Digital gauges can give much more real-time data, which can speed up a technician’s time on the job.
They also often have other tools built in, such as a micron gauge and temperature readings.
As the world has become more and more digital, the HVAC world has begun to move with it.
As for whether you should buy a set or not, first look at what you need to finish your job better, and what works for you.
Don’t just look for an analog set; look for something that makes you money in less time with fewer embarrassing callbacks and lasts 10X as long.
Today, most technicians use a digital set, but an analog set should still be on hand with many low-cost units.