Updated: Oct 12, 2016
Air Flow Meter Reviews:If you work on HVAC systems then a digital air flow meter is probably part of your tool set. Some air flow meters are bought by homeowners, but the vast majority are purchased by field technicians or facilities managers. Home inspectors, HVAC equipment salespeople, or dehumidification specialists are just some of the many workers that may require an air flow tracker to do their job. When an HVAC unit is not working properly or air flow is subpar, then air flow readings and measurements are taken with a digital air flow meter. The process is really quite simple when you have the right equipment. Our company has been using the UEi Test Instruments DAFM3 Digital Airflow Meter for years and our technicians wouldn't have it any other way. The only other heating and cooling system air flow measurement device we periodically call upon is the General Tools DLAF8000 4-in-1 Airflow Meter. Both are priced at $140 and the features are almost identical. Which brand is best for you? Is one model better than another for different jobs? What features do you want in an air flow meter? We cover all those details and provide a buying guide down below with our 'top picks'.
Choosing an Air Flow Meter - You will find 1 and 2 piece air flow meters. The UEi DAFM3 is an example of a one piece model with the fan connected to the instrument. The General Tools DCFM8901 is a two piece example. The one advantage to the two piece air flow meter is that when trying to access hard to reach areas, the two piece system allows you to put the fan portion next to the air flow and keep the main device near your body. When measuring air flow on a return grill that is 8 feet high, you can reach up with the fan near the grill and keep the actual meter at your body to see the readouts. You will have to enter in some measurements into your air flow meter for it to work properly. You need to enter the duct shape and dimensions. Take the return grill measurements, look at the fence spacing (usually 1/3 to 1/2" apart), put the air flow meter about 1 inch away from the grill and get your readings. You'll be able to determine your efficiency rating and see if the ECM motor in your HVAC is delivering the air flow you want/need. Beyond HVAC systems, we have seen digital air flow meters used with dryer vents or ceiling fans. Anyplace where air flow is critical. Top brands include the Kestrel Meter 4200, Fluke 922 Airflow Meter, Supco, General Tools, Extech 45160, and of course our favorite the UEi. Most of the meters claim to measure air velocity accuracy +/-3 %. The Extech 45160 says that the built-in low friction vane wheel on their model improves the accuracy. Keep in mind that most of these air flow meters are much more than just that - they also typically have humidity and temperature readings as well. Several meters include a light meter. What are some features to look in an air flow meter? You want them to display CFM, CMM, FPM, MPS and temperature. Look for those that give you both single point and multi-point averages. They should be able to switch from degree F to degree C and offer a temperature range of -100 to +1,300 Fahrenheit. The UEi can measure up to 8 readings for air velocity and it quickly calculates the maximum minimum and average. The LCD screen should be easily seen in all light conditions and the buttons to control the unit need to be functional. Some owners noted that you really need to press down on the buttons with certain models and it can be irritating. The General Tools model offers a RS-232 computer interface so you can track results and keep your data in one place. Serving the HVAC community for over 20 years we know that having reliable equipment is what makes our business successful. Whether you are a field installer, technician or DIY homeowner, make sure you have the best digital air flow meter so that you get the job done right the first time. REVIEWS - We understand that most people like to read up on products before buying them online. The best source of HVAC air flow meters can be found at Amazon.com. They list almost all the top brands (couldn't find the Kestrel 4200) and have owner comments and feedback on most. Find out what other facilities managers or home inspectors are saying about particular brands and models. Home Depot offers up some reviews on General Tools meters and the Hvacsite.com has excellent feedback in their forum. You can always call up your local HVAC repair company and ask them what type of digital air flow meter they use. RECOMMENDED - You can browse the best selling digital air flow meter here