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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Savannah, Ga/H.H. Island, S.C.
    Posts
    1,490

    REVIEW: Fieldpiece SMAN4 Digital Gauges

    Review: Fieldpiece SMAN4 digital gauges.

    This is my first installment in my digital gauge review series. I've had the SMAN4's for about a week now. I've put them thru the daily activities of a residential/light commercial service technician. I know a week isn't a whole lot of time but it gave me a good idea of the tool operation and use.

    I received the tool and pulled it out of the box. It came with manifold setup, two K type pipe thermocouples, and a protective cover/case.

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    When removing them from the box, the first thing I noticed was the weight. They are a good bit heavier than the other digital gauge sets but I attribute that to the four valve manifold. The manifold itself seems pretty sturdy with nice rubber encased knobs. The display is large with a clear screen and readable numbers. The backlit is blue and lights up the screen well.

    I used these gauges for several service repairs and system start-ups. The pipe thermocouples included are the big blue ones that everyone has seen. I'm still not convinced on the durability of the plastic. It still seems rather thin and brittle. I did noticed that the pipe thermocouples reacted very fast to temperature changes. Also, jaws of the thermocouple are small and look like they will only fit up to an 1 and 1/8 diameter pipe. I do like the ears that you can hang the pipe clamps on.

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    One small feature that I really liked was the fact that they put common refrigerants next to each other in the digital menu. This prevent wasted time scrolling thru 30 refrigerants just to switch from 410 to 22.

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    I performed an expansion valve replacement a few days ago and I pulled a vacuum through the manifold. I don't usually go through the manifold but I did that day for test purposes. I also attached my CPS micron gauges to my pump tree so I could compared the two. After 45 mins of vacuum, I found the micron gauge in the SMAN's was reading around 600 while the CPS was reading below 300. I'm aware that the CPS was closer to the pump and that will throw off the readings but I would like to see the two a little closer than 300 microns. The CPS gets used regularly and I'm confident in its accuracy.

    They do have an alarm and timer feature that is great. You can input a high and low micron alarm. Also, you can time your micron readings to make sure they stay below a certain value for a select time as noted by all manufacturers.

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    The SMAN4's have wireless capability. With added accessories, you can get indoor wet bulb and outdoor dry bulb wirelessly. They transmit the temp to the SMAN's and calculate target superheat. You may also input these values in manually, you just have to unplug the thermocouples, input values, then reconnect thermocouples. I really didn't find a lot of use out of this feature. 90% of the systems I work on have TXV's and thus superheat is fixed.

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    Overall, the SMAN4's are a great tool. They are built pretty sturdy and seem as if they can take the abuse of daily service. I created a list of good and bad features below.

    Good.
    1. Large display
    2. Fast acting thermocouples
    3. Refrigerant toggle
    4. Backlit display
    5. Micron alarm

    Bad.
    1. Thermocouple construction
    2. Micron gauge
    3. Weight

    The good outweighs the bad. You won't be disappointed in these gauges at all. They're a solid instrument but didn't have something that just blew me away. Keep in mind, what fieldpiece may be lacking in "wow" factor they certainly make up for up it in customer service. Fieldpiece has given me exceptional customer service and its great to know if I have a problem, a solution is only an email away.

    If you looking for gauges, I hope this review will help you.

    I will post reviews on other digital gauges in the next few weeks.

    Thanks,
    Brent A. Ridley

    [Sorry for the pictures being sideways and upside down. I'm not sure show to rotate them.]

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    70
    Thanks for the review Brent. Seems like the SMAN 4 has some nice upgrades. I will stick to my AK 900 until something better comes out.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    wedged in freezer shelf
    Posts
    6,748
    Thanks for taking the time to do a complete review.
    “If You Can Dodge A Wrench You Can Dodge A Ball”

  4. #4
    Another SuperMAN is born.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Miami, FL.
    Posts
    431
    Thanks for the review, i'm trying to decide which one to go with.
    I miss you mom and dad.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Savannah, Ga/H.H. Island, S.C.
    Posts
    1,490
    I'm currently reviewing another brand and I plan on trying to review all the popular digital gauges on the market.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    In a boiler room
    Posts
    7,124
    Thanks for the review! I'm hoping you get a chance to review the new Hilmor gauge.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
    Posts
    7,048
    Thanks for the review, I can't decide between sman3 or ak900.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by chuckcrj View Post
    Thanks for the review! I'm hoping you get a chance to review the new Hilmor gauge.
    NOT IF I DO IT FIRST

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Athens, Ohio
    Posts
    1,809
    Thanks Brent for the nice review.
    I like my Sman3. When there was an internal leak I called FP and was given an RMA to use at the supply house for an instant swap for a new one. I was less than a mile away so I was back on site within minutes.
    I agree with your comment about having R22 and R410-A next to each other when scrolling. That bugs me about my Digi-Cools.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    In a boiler room
    Posts
    7,124
    Quote Originally Posted by hvac5646 View Post


    NOT IF I DO IT FIRST
    I like to see reviews from more than one perspective.

  12. #12
    L~lauging~ I do too, but I still have to buy a camera! My tool collection is growing by the day (buying lots of Fluke and Fieldpiece, some some high-end NIST Certed UEi product) and I am very anxious to show them to the other forum members.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    3,330
    still scares me, them being made in china

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