We test the new Magneti Marelli air conditioning service stations
Two air conditioning service stations from the new line of the Magneti Marelli brand were installed in our partner garage. We were also provided initial training on their use. Over the coming weeks, the stations will be tested under every day and unusual operating conditions.
Test of the Magneti Marelli Alaska Prime and Alaska EVO air conditioning service stations
It is time to check the spring additions to the Magneti Marelli’s offer, i.e. new models of air conditioning service stations. We mean stations from the product lines ALASKA PRIME and ALASKA EVO. PRIME is a budget line, intended to provide a favourable ratio of functionality to price. The EVO line includes the flagship products of Magneti Marelli which are the current top proposals of the brand in the air conditioning segment. All machines are manufactured in Italy.
A total of four new stations we added to Magneti Marelli’s offer, but two units came to us for testing: ALASKA EVO station for the old R134a refrigerant and ALASKA PRIME station for the new R1234yf refrigerant. This set is well suited to the needs of garages, which far more often service systems filled with the old A/C refrigerant (R134a) than those with the new R1234yf. Thus, the station from the top line will see more use, and the one from the budget line will be used less often. An important market trend, which the garage informed us about, is the recharging of systems in newer vehicles, designed for the R1234yf gas, with the old R134a refrigerant. Customers do this to save money, and then fail to tell the next repair shop they come to for A/C servicing. These are ideal conditions for testing the refrigerant identifier available as an option for all new Magneti Marelli stations. In addition to this solution, we will also test the integrated printer of the ALASKA EVO stations, used to print a service report right after the service is completed.
In the next article (in a little over a month), we will publish the conclusions to our test, including opinions and thoughts of the servicemen operating the stations.
Commissioning Magneti Marelli air conditioning stations in a garage – how does it work?
The equipment arrived at the garage on pallets, safely packed.
The purchase of an A/C service unit is not only a financial investment for the garage, but also requires a lot of time and effort to become accustomed to working with the new equipment. Nowadays, many manufacturers try to make the initial stage of machine use as easy as possible for their customers. The commissioning of Magneti Marelli equipment is performed by a qualified service technician. This is made necessary by the obligation to register each station and unlock it in the company’s internal system. With registration, support can be provided later – for stations with Wi-Fi connectivity, such as Alaska EVO, support can be provided online. A service technician can remotely connect to the station’s computer to diagnose the problem and then help resolve it.
The presence of a service technician is also an invaluable asset for garages that have not previously serviced air conditioning systems. Simply passing an F-Gas course does not guarantee knowledge of how to operate machinery, particularly models with advanced functionalities. In our case, the servicemen already had several years of experience in this field. Nevertheless, due to the long list of options and features of the Magneti Marelli stations, many questions arose during training. After the introduction, the staff performed their first service on the A/C system using the Alaska EVO R station in the presence of a service technician.
You can choose between an automatic operation mode with optimal settings or a custom mode.
Magneti Marelli Alaska EVO and Prime air conditioning stations – what makes them different?
The stations we tested vary in degree of sophistication. Alaska EVO station, as a flagship product of the brand, provides modern design and a number of functionalities facilitating everyday work. What catches the eye is the seven-inch touchscreen, greatly speeding up service tasks. It makes it easy to select the model of car you are servicing from the available database. We also have a clear view of the station’s activities during the operation. To simplify access to maintenance, EVO stations feature a “One-Touch” cover opening system. With a single motion, the safety catch is released, and the front cover of the station lifts on cylinders to provide access to the internals. This feature was particularly appreciated by the servicemen in our “test” garage, as their previous stations required unscrewing the housing to perform maintenance.
An important function of Alaska EVO station is Wi-Fi connectivity, which enables remote diagnostics, which we have already mentioned, but also gives access to other functions. These include downloading unit updates (free of charge for 2 years) or a permanent connection to the garage computer. We can print reports of the activities performed directly from the station screen. We can also keep full documentation of the services performed, saving it in PDF format on a computer disk or a USB flash drive connected to the station (both EVO and PRIME stations have a USB port). The device will also remind us when it is time for maintenance – filter replacement or oil change.
The report from the service performed can be printed in three ways – using an integrated printer (option additionally paid), through a Wi-Fi connection with a computer printer or using a USB flash drive, on which we can save the report in PDF format.
The Magneti Marelli Prime air conditioning station is a device with basic functions, intended to provide a favourable price to performance ratio. There is no touch screen or maintenance access cover on cylinders, which can be opened with a single movement. However, we have quite extensive basic equipment and a wide range of additional options. It was at this station that we installed the refrigerant identifier. It proved useful during the first service already – although the servicemen expected the presence of R1234yf refrigerant in the system, the identifier recognized R134a.
The refrigerant identifier worked well during the very first service of an A/C system
The Prime station is a model aimed at a slightly different user group than the EVO. The servicemen at the garage were surprised that it did not have an oil scale. Magneti Marelli’s unit does not differ here from the current offer of the competition which uses similar solutions in its cheaper models. This model can be used as a mobile device, so the measuring element, which is the scale, would have a difficult working environment. By eliminating the scale, the possibility of damage to the scale in the field is avoided, and the ability to feed oil in a precise manner by pressing a button on the control panel solves the problem of oil feeding. Alaska Prime also has the ability to program the amount of oil based on feeding time, in which case the process runs automatically. It also happens that the system under service contains too much oil and the station, after recovering too much oil from the system, will automatically introduce the same amount of oil back. With manual operation, an observant user will notice that a suspiciously large amount of oil was recovered and will manually input the correct amount.
The station is also equipped with the “Secure Charge” feature, allowing the A/C system to be filled regardless of ambient temperature (without the use of a cylinder warming belt). It also has a function of automatic discharge of non-condensed gases from the cylinder or the possibility of expanding with a kit for servicing hybrid vehicles. ECO quick connectors, which prevent refrigerant leaks and allow complete recovery of refrigerant from hoses and fittings are on environmentally friendly solution, available in both tested stations.
The ALASKA PRIME station tested by us supports systems filled with the new R1234yf refrigerant
The EVO station has all these features (and many more), but the simpler Prime model has several benefits that may prove an advantage over the more expensive model in some circumstances. First of all, the Prime stations are smaller and lighter than the EVO – making it easier to take them into the field, for example to provide mobile service or working with vehicles and machines not allowed on public roads. The Prime station is also several thousand złoty cheaper than the EVO, which may be an argument for many garages to turn a blind eye to its slightly less convenient operation.
Test of the Magneti Marelli air conditioning service stations – first impressions
The servicemen from the garage befriended by our editorial team will be familiarizing themselves with Magneti Marelli’s equipment for over a month and a half – we will then get their reviews of these units. In the meantime, we continue to receive further insights and comments, which we will present in condensed form in the next article. However, it is already worth noting down a few thoughts that have come up in the first few days of using the station. What the servicemen noticed in particular was… the length of the service hoses, which is as much as 4.5 meters. These hoses can be further extended with dedicated extensions, but in most cases this will not be necessary. It also provides a lot of space saving possibilities. Even when all the workspaces in the garage are occupied, it would be fairly easy to find enough room to connect a customer’s car to the station.
Magneti Marelli’s Technical Service Specialist, Grzegorz Toczyński, presents the length of the hoses.
The servicemen also paid attention to the wide range of standard equipment provided with the Magneti Marelli stations. It includes almost everything that may be required to get the unit up and running. This is not always quite as obvious with other manufacturers (at least that is what the garage staff and Magneti Marelli service technicians say). The kit included, among other equipment, cylinder fittings. Device covers are also included in the purchase price. As a freebie, the company also sends brake cleaner (400 ml), an advertising banner and a poster containing a diagram of an air conditioning system. All other needed optional equipment and consumables are available from the same supplier. Magneti Marelli also offers oils for vacuum pumps as well as refrigerants.
First surprises? No oil scales at the Prime station. The servicemen did not expect the component, present in their existing and now fairly old equipment, to be absent from a unit entering the market in 2022. Will it be cumbersome for them to use the station without a scale, or will the time-based feeding system that replaces it prove sufficient? We’ll find out soon enough, as part of the conclusions to our test. Expect it to be published in about one month.