As our industry grows more complex, the role of the service technician becomes more challenging. After having a career as a service technician, contractor, and now as a member of the Heating Solutions Sales tech team, I appreciate the struggle a field tech can have when faced with multiple manufacturers offering a wide variety of equipment. This month’s tech tip will cover the USB-Connect app and service tool that will make servicing and diagnosing U.S. boiler products as simple as possible.
In the glory days of yesteryear, (back in the day, as they say today) newer techs or apprentices were lucky if they had a seasoned old curmudgeon to help them navigate unfamiliar territory. These veterans of the service industry are growing more scarce by the day. In addition, today’s technology might be something even the old timers are not familiar with. What is a newer technician to do???
Fortunately, technology has come to its own rescue. U.S. Boiler has developed a new diagnostic/programming tool that will allow a technician to program, diagnose, and service boilers using their cell phone. A module will plug into the boiler and communicate to a cell phone via Bluetooth. The logical next question is “What does it do for me in the basement?”
The world in your pocket
A major challenge many contractors face today revolves around staffing. Older techs are retiring, finding replacements is challenging, and educating the few qualified candidates for a position is expensive and time consuming. With fewer techs to act as mentors, training and technical resources are becoming hyper critical. The USB-Connect app and service tool address all these issues, and more.
The USB-Connect app is a free download for both Apple and Android devices. Simply travel to the appropriate vendor store and download the app to your cell. The service tool hardware is available for purchase now. (P/N 111667-01) You can preview the instruction manual here. Once the app is downloaded and you have the service tool, you will be able to connect to any U.S. Boiler product that uses either the Sage (Sage 2.1 Rev. 4109 and newer) control platform (Alpine, Aspen, K2) or our new gas adaptive control (Alta).
As mentioned, the app and service tool address a host of challenges facing the H.V.A.C. industry. Let’s take them point by point.
Cost-Rather than purchasing a proprietary programmer the service tool allows a tech to use the technology he is already familiar with, his cell phone. Using the cell phone as the display allows an economical means of connecting to the boiler and gaining access to a wide variety of boiler data on one home screen. The service tool is rugged and can be kept in the vehicle and used as needed. No need to purchase a unit for each boiler.
Ease of use-If you like the Alpine, K2, or Aspen Panasonic displays, you will love the screen for the new app. Data is not “coded” and most critical data points are consolidated on the home screen. For the Alta, no more looking up the access code process or what variable is controlled by AO6! All parameters are listed in plain English, and even better, many have an information icon to provide additional information regarding and questions you may have about a given parameter.
Advanced Set Up-When setting up a new boiler such as an Alta, the manual describes in detail how to make necessary changes to change the fuel selection to LP. However, the technician still needs to navigate through the menu to the fuel parameter to choose LP. Using the service app, simply press the menu button, start up wizard, then LP conversion. There is a tutorial that walks the technician through the process, including pictures! This is just one example of many processes that are greatly simplified using the app.
Resources-All current manuals are available through the app. This greatly aids in finding boiler specific data as well as installation data such as piping, wiring, combustion set up, and more.
Data Capture-The app allows the user to register the boiler, and once connected will create a boiler profile in the web portal. This utility provides a way to capture performance and error data logs, parameter adjustments, upload site photos, and if working with one of the U.S. Boiler tech support team, share real time data to facilitate diagnostics.
Enhanced Feature Set-The tool allows expanded menu options not available on the local screen. Products such as the Alta have a broad feature set that allows set up for multiple temp inputs, lead lag multiple boilers, etc. in a wide variety of applications. The service tool provides access to an expanded feature set such as enabling and scaling variable 0-10 or 4-20 modulating inputs, configuring combi units for unique applications, etc.
As discussed in the beginning of this article, the modern challenges we face as contractors sometimes require innovative solutions. U.S. Boiler understands this and has worked to make the set up and diagnostics of our condensing products as quick and intuitive as possible. As always, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or contact any of the competent and capable U.S. Boiler tech team staff.
In closing, I hope you have the opportunity to experience the new app. As global technology progresses industries world wide are adapting to keep pace. Ours is no exception, and the USB-Connect app is an easy way to take your first step. As robots, computers and AI play an increasingly larger role in our lives, progressive business owners are taking full advantage of the efficiencies and resources these advancements provide. As a bonus, once AI becomes sentient and takes over the world, understanding these systems will make us better pets! Hope you all enjoy the spring, and we look forward to seeing you in the next U.S. Boiler Report. Stay safe.