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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Central Coast, CA
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    53

    What's a good way to learn HVAC electronics/electricity?

    Hey guys,

    I get asked frequently by aspiring HVAC technicians and installers where they should go or what they should do to learn about electricity as it relates to HVAC equipment and controls. I've found that most books about wiring and electricity in general are a lot broader than what a beginning HVAC technician would need.

    What would you guys recommend as far as books, science kits, tutorials, interactive CD-Roms etc? How did you learn it?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    East of Lyndon's
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    525
    Quote Originally Posted by 4inchCrescent View Post
    Hey guys,

    I get asked frequently by aspiring HVAC technicians and installers where they should go or what they should do to learn about electricity as it relates to HVAC equipment and controls. I've found that most books about wiring and electricity in general are a lot broader than what a beginning HVAC technician would need.

    What would you guys recommend as far as books, science kits, tutorials, interactive CD-Roms etc? How did you learn it?
    One rule that you won't find in the books, but just might find on this site is that never, ever, no matter what the circumstance, let the smoke out of one of those 120/24v transformers!!!!

    It would depend a lot on your locality if you're able to wire the high voltage side or just the control (low voltage) side. A lot of the books on wiring probably won't deal much with low voltage wiring.
    If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2010
    Location
    Central Coast, CA
    Posts
    53

    So... that's it?

    Does anybody have any suggestions?

    I get one guy making a lame joke and that's it?

    I'm not surprised...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,012
    I think the point was sometimes a guy can get a 24 v t former and hook it up put some contactors and relays on it, some switches and tack em to some plywood and have at it, with a little coaching this can probably put him ahead of half the competition believe it or not.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Houston, Tx
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    2,093
    Quote Originally Posted by 4inchCrescent View Post
    Does anybody have any suggestions?

    I get one guy making a lame joke and that's it?

    I'm not surprised...
    School, school and even more school!!!

    After ten years in this trade as an installer I'm finally slated to soon begin hvacr school which includes electrical controls/principles. 18 weeks, four classes, two semesters.

    I have trouble with electricity and controls myself so I'm looking forward to that class specificaly.
    Last edited by Roadhouse; 12-14-2010 at 11:32 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    1,383
    The gas utility that trained me used a variety of methods.

    1. Some training on circuit diagrams and how to interpret them.

    2. Wiring boards where students connected up components to create various conditions and effects --- connecting up relays to turn circuits on and off for example.

    3. wiring up furnaces based on the circuit diagrams when much or all the wiring had been removed.

    4. diagnosing furnace symptoms caused be defective parts that had been installed in the furnace to create specific conditions.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Red Deer, Alberta
    Posts
    653
    Personally learned electronics first by hanging around my father who was a radio repairman for the railroad, and was also an amateur radio (HAM) enthusiast. Then took electronics at high school (vocational) and at university (part of physics courses). Google on basic electronics tutorials and you'll get stuff similar to http://www.electronics-tutorials.com/ which will get you on your way without spending any money. Most community colleges have classes but you have to have the time and money to attend, most amateur radio sites have links to basic electronics online tutorials.

    The controls that are used in commercial HVAC have become very sophisticated and to get into it in depth requires that you understand programming in addition to electronics, but at this point the residential and light industrial stuff is pretty understandable even to me. I'd suggest hunting down some of those amateur radio sites, and then if you need a more sophisticated understanding, check out formal educational institutions (hands on and instructor led), electronics can be learned on one's own, but it is better to have a mentor or at least someone who can answer questions. Hope this at least points you in an inexpensive direction...

    There is of course also the matter of certification, but you can sometimes challenge the (in my case) provincial/state examination...
    Last edited by enb54; 12-14-2010 at 11:36 AM. Reason: add certification

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Houston, Tx
    Posts
    2,093
    Hey now, I'll be attending community college beginning this Winter in the evenings from 6 p.m. 'till 10 p.m. for four days a week for 18 weeks so I can work during the day.

    Doesn't matter to myself any longer, school is being put first even if it is just little old comunity college.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    1,383
    I got an Advanced Class amateur Radio license forty years ago, and that gives me an understanding of electricity and electronic circuitry much beyond that of most HVAC techs.

    Of course, that wasn't just getting a license, it was several years of being an electronics hobbyist including building some of my own radio equipment from scratch ---- even salvaging parts from old television sets.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Eaton Rapids, Mi
    Posts
    256
    Quote Originally Posted by Roadhouse View Post
    School, school and even more school!!!
    This. the community college i work for has not one, but two classes dedicated specifically to wiring control circuits of various voltages, as well as motors and accessories and in the heating and cooling classes we spend a few weeks talking about wiring up heating/cooling units (also with a focus on control circuits)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Red Deer, Alberta
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    653
    Quote Originally Posted by SeattlePioneer View Post
    I got an Advanced Class amateur Radio license
    I too have my advanced (Canadian) and yes, if you have that, you have all the skill sets necessary to work on just about anything. Having taught electronics at the component repair level didn't hurt either...

    Have found that if someone has the basics and a willingness to learn, they can easily handle even very sophisticated equipment...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    In a boiler room
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    7,073
    Quote Originally Posted by enb54 View Post
    Have found that if someone has the basics and a willingness to learn, they can easily handle even very sophisticated equipment...
    All in a day's work for the HVAC/R technician.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Northern Wisconsin
    Posts
    2,006
    The best broad range training you can get (IMO) about working on HVAC equipment is hands on only after you fully understand the components themselves. I've found in training employees that using old equipment headed for the scrap dealer the best way to accomplish this. Nothing better than tearing things apart to see what makes them tick, but the real trick is being able to put it back together and make it work the way it was designed.
    Use the biggest hammer you like, pounding a square peg into a round hole does not equal a proper fit.

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