ZoomLock Flame-Free Refrigerant Fittings reduce job hours and labor costs by 40-60 percent
President, North Mechanical
Until now, HVACR contractors and technicians have had to rely on brazing as the way to join copper tube and fittings for refrigerant lines. But brazing requires highly trained, highly paid technicians; fire permits; fire spotters; brazing tools and gases; nitrogen purging; and more.
New Parker Sporlan ZoomLock Flame-Free Refrigerant Fittings eliminate brazing and all the costs and time associated with this old fashioned technology. No more flames; no more nitrogen purging; no more leaks.
ZoomLock fittings install in ten seconds, and can be installed by junior, entry level technicians. Unlike brazed fittings which are highly vulnerable to leaks, ZoomLock fittings are leak proof, and are consistently repeatable. In addition, ZoomLock fittings eliminate internal pipe contamination.
Contractors using ZoomLock fittings report time and labor costs on tube connections have been reduced by 40 to 60 percent. Such improved productivity puts more money directly on their bottom lines.
“We’ve known about the product for a while, and we’ve used it on the service side of our business, and in repair jobs,” says Greg Fuller, president of North Mechanical in Indianapolis. “It’s a great time saver and we think it’s an excellent product for a quality installation.”
HVACR Business spoke with Fuller about the advantages of ZoomLock Flame-Free Refrigerant Fittings in a large scale installation.
Other than time savings, what’s the biggest advantage of ZoomLock?
It’s a huge time saver, especially when you think about the time you save by eliminating purging. There’s also the cleanliness factor. In start-up, if the system isn’t clean enough, you can have some real issues. The ZoomLock fitting assures us it’s going to be clean and that makes a big difference, especially with a really large installation.
You need to keep the inside of the pipe clean and keep the refrigerant cycle clean, so as not to mess up the compressor. With this many feet of copper, there becomes a higher possibility of that happening and with using the ZoomLock fitting you don’t have anything that would contaminate the inside of the pipe.
Have you used it on a large scale project yet?
Yes, we’re actually using ZoomLock on a big VRF job right now, and so far we’ve had great success with it. It’s the first time we’ve used it in a large installation, having only previously used it on repair jobs. We thought this product would be a good way to save some time from brazing, as well as our concerns about cleanliness.
We identified it as a viable option to use on this particular large-scale VRF system, knowing it was a good way to keep the small bore copper clean. Purging can be a problem, and this system had about 225 cassettes on it.
Tell us more about the challenges of this installation.
It’s a new cancer pavilion for a large, local hospital chain. Because this application involves many treatment rooms, a VRF system is an excellent solution that allows the ability to have control in each room. And it helps keep costs down.
The VRV system is also efficient, because it allows for heating in one place, cooling in another and the ability to work in conjunction — use the heat coming out of a room you’re cooling to heat a room that’s cold, and so forth. We weren’t the designer for this job, but we did win the bid to install this large system.
When you put together your bid, did ZoomLock factor into your ability to get the cost down?
Yes, and it may be the reason we were successful. I don’t know if anyone else bid it with this product or not, but the fact that we’re able to get the cost down on our bid because of the time savings associated with using ZoomLock could have been a deciding factor, or certainly tilted the decision in our favor.
When you work in the low temperature refrigeration, you’re always dealing with water below the freezing point — and ice creates its own problems.
Standard, brazed fittings sometimes come apart due to moisture. the fitting may not ever leak, but if there’s a pinhole left from brazing, moisture can get in there and create the leak by expanding the copper or crushing the pipe.
Mike Kempel, president of Dakota Refrigeration, Inc. in Fargo, N.D. has seen this time and time again. When he was introduced to ZoomLock Flame-Free Refrigerant Fittings at a Parker Sporlan Contractor Advisory Council meeting in 2015, he was excited, to say the least.
“If ice has a path to leave and doesn’t become trapped or encapsulated, it’ll just freeze out that direction,” Kempel says.
ZoomLock Flame-Free Refrigerant Fittings have been thoroughly tested in freeze/thaw applications with more than 10,000 cycles completed in both vertical and horizontal configurations with no leakage concerns.
“We decided that with Parker Sporlan standing behind this — they’ve been in the business for a long time, making ttings for a long time — that we would try it,” Kempel says. “It seems to work. Because, so far we haven’t had any issues.”
HVACR Business spoke with Kempel about the challenges and advantages of ZoomLock Flame-Free Refrigerant Fittings.
How did you first begin using ZoomLock?
ZoomLock was introduced to us by our Sporlan field rep at a Contractor’s Advisory Council meeting. Of course we had a lot of questions… such as, is it going to collect moisture and freeze and just not work. Which is not the case. We thought we’d try it rst on a small walk-in. The job went so fast that we decided to try it on something else.
How much time do you save, on average?
We’ve done two relatively small supermarkets using ZoomLock, and we saved two weeks of labor for a crew of four men. We complete the job faster and we can use a lesser skilled technician. We don’t need a full-blown pipe fitter to braze the connections. The fittings cost a little more than standard ttings, but the time savings alone is worth it.
What’s the advantage of not relying on your pipe fitter to braze every connection?
Our pipe fitter can do more jobs by spending his time laying out the piping diagram. And you can take a younger tech, who doesn’t have much experience with such things as slope and size, and give them a list of what pipes to put where, and they can do that. And then they can complete the joint. at’s the best part. They’re not simply sticking things together and waiting for a guy to come by and braze them. ZoomLock allows them to actually put them together, complete the connection, insulate it and be done.
Is the investment worth the time savings?
The investment is really small if you think about how much additional profit you’re making. The investment in brazing equipment would probably be a little less. But the ongoing consumables —brazing stick, oxygen acetylene and silver are very costly. That’s all part of the process, but may not be considered. With ZoomLock, there’s nothing but the tool … and that’s a one-time cost.
What’s the biggest challenge with using ZoomLock?
The only challenge is to get more of our customers on board … making them understand the safety and reliability advantages of the product. If it’s not specified, they’re sometimes reluctant to change specs because they don’t want to be the first one to make a mistake. But, there is a bigger benefit to not brazing, because you’re not weakening the copper by heating it. You’re not creating any possible oxides. Those are some of the things we need to get through to our customers — the benefits of ZoomLock Flame-Free Refrigerant Fittings versus what they’re using right now.
What’s the biggest advantage for them?
They’re guaranteed a clean system. There won’t be any callbacks, because there is no oxide in the pipes caused by improper purging. Typically, you can purge and purge and purge, and yet, somehow you’ll still get some black stuff in the pipes and the screens, or loose solder balls in the pipes from putting too much solder in the system. You have none of those problems with ZoomLock, so you won’t have to send a technician back to the jobsite weeks later to clean the system again.
Increase your bottom line and reduce job time with efficient, ZoomLock braze-free fittings
President, North Mechanical
Time is a precious commodity, especially when it comes to your business. Estimating the time it will take to complete a given job is an art form — if you bid too low, the longer it takes your technicians, the less profitable the job. If you bid too high, you might not win the job in the first place.
One of the most time-consuming aspects of any HVACR installation occurs when one (or more) trained technicians are required to join the copper refrigerant lines through brazing. An oxygen acetylene torch kit, gas tanks, degreaser, fire extinguisher, permits … the list of equipment is as long as the number of hours it takes to do the job.
That is, until Parker Sporlan launched the perfect solution — one that increases both productivity and safety.
The ZoomLock braze-free connecting process is based on exclusive, patented crimping technology. A technician only needs two hands and a few simple tools. With no need for brazing or technical expertise, joining refrigerant lines takes practically no time at all — and one technician can do the connecting job alone.
“We’re using ZoomLock fittings on a big VRF job right now and have had great success with it,” says Greg Fuller, president of North Mechanical in Indianapolis and president Elect of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA). “It’s the first time we’ve used it in a large scale situation, having previously only used ZoomLock fittings for repair jobs.”
Zoomlock offers a solution that is easy to learn and has minimal setup, clean-up and most importantly, improved safety. It’s a flame-free process that produces highly repeatable connections with leak rates that testing proves are more reliable then brazed fittings.
HVACR Business spoke with Fuller about the time-savings advantages of ZoomLock braze-free fittings, as well as the safety factor involved.
How do the ZoomLock fittings save job time?
It’s certainly quicker than brazing the joints, as we would have to do with line sets. But the bigger key to us is the purging process — we don’t have to purge as much with ZoomLock, and that’s a big time saver.
That’s where we’re picking up just as much time as we are with not brazing the joints, so it’s a double blessing, so to speak, and we really are pleased with it.
It’s also an easier application — if we’re in a situation where we’re short technicians trained for brazing and purging, ZoomLock becomes a great alternative. With it, just about any technician can join copper tubes without the need to know about brazing.
Is there a safety factor involved?
Safety is always a concern. ZoomLock is a solution, because there’s no solder, no gas and no re hazard. The fewer times you have to light up, the better off you are. It’s easier to be safe in a space that’s under construction than it is in an existing building or retro fit application.
We’re in the Midwest and there are some really old buildings around here — and there’s always refrigerant runs in the attic or wherever. When it comes to these old buildings, not lighting up is really good for safety and in general.
So you don’t need a hot work permit?
Exactly. Or re watch. With some of the old facilities we work in, anytime you light up you have to have another person dedicated to watching that person with the flame, and being in charge of all the fire safety in that given area.
So a one-man job immediately becomes a two-man project. Sometimes that person is not a skilled technician, but he’s had at least some training and it’s still a cost of labor to have them be there as a fire watch. Using ZoomLock eliminates that extra person, and that’s a huge savings.
Do your technicians require less equipment?
Yes. They don’t have to drag around an oxy-acetylene outfit with them. They’re not taking purge bottles with them or moving those around so they can get the purge going, so I would agree that it’s less equipment … especially in our service model. When we use it for service where we’re simply replacing one unit.
It’s a much quicker scenario when you don’t have to get out the oxygen-acetylene outfit, the purge tanks and get the purge set up versus simply change out the condensing unit, reclaim the refrigerant, cut the lines, change the unit, recharge the unit and get it going quickly.
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