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Rhvac Buyer's Guide

Doing your own research before you purchase load calculation software can pay off big for you down the road. This is software that you will be relying on day in and day out, for hours at a time, so please do your homework before you buy. We encourage you to install and test the demo version of Rhvac as well as each of the demo versions of our competitors' software and compare them all side by side, feature for feature. Here's a list of things to look for:

Accuracy
Ease of Use
Copy Protection, Annual Fees and User Manual
Graphic and Manual Input Options
Free Manual D Duct Analysis
Bonus Functions
Software Links
Advanced Features


1. Accuracy: The most current edition of ACCA’s famous Manual J HVAC load calculation procedures is known as MJ8. The 8th edition introduced many new material types and calculation procedures. Make sure your software implements all of MJ8 and includes the latest building materials. Elite Software’s Rhvac program is ACCA approved and meets all these requirements.

2. Ease of Use: All software vendors claim their software is very easy to use. And a good salesman can make any program look easy to use as he whizzes through everything. But the true test is, can you make sense of it when you try running it by yourself? Always try running trial software yourself before making a purchase, and check for the following:

  • Does the software use standard Windows data entry techniques? For example, if you have to press the "home" key before you can edit text in an input field then that is a non-standard technique that must be learned.

  • How good is the built-in help? Do you get both an input explanation and choices with one mouse click or do you have to double click and maybe press a function key to get more information, often with no choices available?

  • How are area inputs handled? Many load calc programs require you to do the math yourself to calculate areas for roofs, walls, and glass. The best programs allow you to enter length and widths of these items so that areas are automatically calculated.

  • Manual or Graphic Data Entry? The software should be just as easy to use in a manual input mode as it is when in a graphic input mode. For example, check whether a window can be assigned to the correct wall easily when in the manual input mode.

  • Quick pick of recently selected items? Manual J provides hundreds of input selections. Software that remembers your most recent selection and places it at the top of the list for the next use is easier to use than software that forces complete reselection.

  • Built-in room names? Much of the typing required in most load calc programs is for the room names. The best software provides a quick pick list of all common room names so as to minimize the typing required.

  • Important data visible? Many load components in a room such as roofs, walls and glass have a number of key aspects about each component, such as U-factor, SHGC, etc.. Software that displays more of this information without requiring constant clicks and viewing numerous pop-up windows will be faster and easier to review and check.

  • Save reminder? It's no fun retyping lost data you forgot to save. The best software provides a pop-up save reminder that can be set for any time interval or turned completely off if desired..

3. Copy Protection, Annual Fees and User Manual: Are you allowed to only install the software on just two computers? Do you have to contend with copy protection schemes to install the software on multiple computers? There are No Copy Protection Hassles and No Annual Fees with Elite Software programs, and you still get an actual printed user manual! Be sure to ask about copy protection and annual fees and whether you get a real user manual before you purchase software!

4. Graphic and Manual Input Options: The best software provides an easy "fill in the blank" style of manual data entry with an optional graphic data entry system. Manual input is important because it is much easier for new users to learn.

5. Free Manual D Duct Analysis: At no additional cost, even the basic $495 Rhvac package provides a Tabular Manual D Ductsize feature that calculates duct sizes and the static pressure losses of your duct system. You can either enter your entire duct system, complete with fittings, or just enough to calculate the worst case fan static pressure requirement. This unique tool includes a powerful Fitting Selector dialog, which makes it easy to select from hundreds of fittings from ACCA's Manual D. Upgrade to graphic Manual D Ductsize and Drawing Board when you want to create duct drawings and automatically size the ductwork.

6. Bonus Functions: The results from an HVAC load calculation offer opportunities to do more than just calculate peak HVAC loads. Get maximum value by using a program that selects equipment, helps comply with Manual S, and prints sales proposals.

7. Software Links: The best software should include free built-in links to the AHRI cooling and heating certificate web pages, the U.S. government’s ResCheck program, EnergyGauge USA, EnergyPro and to the Rem/Rate home energy rating software.

8. Advanced Features: Look for more value in Manual J software by checking for these advanced features:

  • Print Required ACCA Forms : The program should be able to print ACCA's HVAC Design Review Form with each of the fields already filled in for you. More and more local authorities are requiring HVAC contractors to turn in this form.

  • Selection of Equipment: You should be able to select air conditioners, furnaces and heat pumps from up to date equipment data built in to the program and downloadable from the Internet.

  • Sizing Ductwork: The program should give you multiple options on how to size and design your ductwork. Rhvac includes free built-in main trunk and runout sizing, and a free Tabular Manual D Ductsize window, which lets you design a complete duct system using a very easy to use "tree" outline diagram. When you purchase the Manual D Ductsize program and Drawing Board you can also design your duct system by drawing it on the Drawing Board window.

  • Printing Sales Proposals: The software should include options on generating your own printable sales proposals and other documents. Rhvac includes a free Custom Report window that lets you enter your own text into a report, and which includes several options on printing information about your heating and cooling systems. When you purchase the Proposal Maker program it will let you create fully customizable proposals, letters, and other documents that include graphs, and live fields that link to the load calculation results.

  • Loads at Four Levels: The best software calculates at four levels in one run: rooms, zones, systems, and total building.

  • Building Materials: The software should contain all modern building materials such as spray foam and SIPS panels.

  • Project Explorer Tree: This window lets you do drag and drop zoning and manipulate the overall organization of a project in a graphic format. It also lets you create rooms, and copy and paste rooms and other data within your current project and from other projects.

  • Advanced Copy and Paste: You should be able to cut, copy, and paste room data within a project and between other projects. The same goes for general project data and system data.

  • Program Links: Data should be transferable to duct sizing (Manual D Ductsize), energy analysis (Energy Audit and EnergyPro) and proposal (Proposal Maker) programs.

  • Report Customization: Color selection and fonts should be adjustable for all reports.

  • Save Reports: Reports should be savable as a PDF file so that they can be e-mailed, for example.

  • Global Material Change: This lets you change a material type for all rooms with just one entry.

  • Rotate and Flip Plan: You should be able to rotate and "flip" orientations for any range of rooms in the project.

  • Optimized Rotation: Automatically check all house orientations to see which direction results in lowest tonnage requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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