As widespread as they are today, smartphones still are often associated more with suits than with tool belts and hardhats. But the devices have found a place in the skilled trades as well, and not just for phone calls. There are many apps for Android to simplify the jobs of carpenters, electricians, plumbers and other tradespeople.
Here’s a sampling.
Based on the U.S. National Electrical Code, this specialized calculator app does various calculations useful to electricians, such as wire size and ampacity, voltage drop, Ohm’s Law and box fill. It’s still under development, with more functions planned. Navalie, free.
Electrical Wiring Pro
Written by a working electrician, this app incorporates more than 40 electrical calculators based on the U.S. National Electrical Code. It can calculate required wire size from ampacity and voltage drop, box size, dwelling service size, conduit fill and bending and various requirements for motors and transformers. Infineo LLC, $4.07.
Feet Inch Calculator
Decades after Canada went metric, builders still work and lumber is still sold in feet and inches. Conventional calculators don’t handle that well. One solution is a calculator app that lets you input dimensions in feet, inches and 16ths of an inch and get your result in the same format. This app can also handle decimal feet, and does square roots. ByOne Coder, free.
Another problem that comes up fairly often in construction: you have two sides of a triangle and want to know the length of the diagonal. You could square both sides and take the square root – tiresome even with a calculator – or you could input the two sides into SquareCalc Pro in feet, inches and fractions of an inch and get back the length of the long side. LadderWalker, free.
HVAC Check and Charge
In the days before mobile devices heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians could use cardboard “calculators” to look up correct refrigerant charges for equipment. Now mobile apps are providing that capability. Like many of these, this app comes from an HVAC equipment manufacturer. Emerson Climate Technologies, free.
A slightly more full-featured HVAC technician’s toolkit on a phone, HVAC Buddy performs assorted calculations and diagnostics. It also stores boilerplate information to create customized system status reports quickly. Developer PowerTrade Services produces a range of apps for contractors. Powertrade Services, $9.95.
Plumbing Systems Design Tables
The Plumbing Systems Design Tables published by the American Society of Plumbing Engineers are a kind of plumbing bible, with information on plumbing codes and standards, equations, pipe sizing data, conversions and other useful stuff. The paper version runs to 2,500 pages, so it’s easy to see how an app would be more convenient. American Society of Plumbing Engineers, free.
Pipe Trades Pro
Designed for pipefitters, steamfitters, sprinklerfitters and welders, this app does specialized calculations such as flow rates, weight and volume conversions, parallel pipe cutbacks, angles, slopes and offsets, and provides information on various pipe types. Calculated Industries based the app on its stand-alone pipe trades calculator. Calculated Industries, $19.95.
To take the tedium out of estimating a drywalling job, the Drywall Calculators app for Android will calculate how many sheets are needed based on total square footage. It will also tell you how much drywall mud the job should take, and it can calculate the number of studs to frame the wall and how many gallons of paint it will take to paint it. Suresh Desu, $1.01.
This estimating app takes the over-all size and pitch of a roof, factors in complications like chimneys, dormers and how many layers of old roofing you need to remove, then calculates material and labour costs for different roofing materials. RoofingCalculator.org, $20.23.