Manual J software is primarily available for windows computers. Only the windows- based Manual J computer programs have full CAD drawing capabilities. But there are some web-based versions of Manual J software and one that is iPad specific. The web-based versions can run on computers, phones, tablets, and any device with internet access. At the site, you can see the complete list of all ACCA-approved Manual J software.

Do you know the difference between one ACCA- approved software and another? All the approved software will calculate the same bottom line results given the same input, but things like how you enter the data, what built-in help they use, and the report formats will be very different.

Other Considerations

ACCA granted all the approved software vendors wide latitude on how Manual J data can be entered and reported. Naturally, all the software vendors claim that their software is intuitive and easy to use. However, ACCA requires every Manual J software vendor to provide all the data entry options from the Manual J book itself, and all those options can appear quite daunting to a new Manual J software user.

Since the user interface and data entry process differs from one approved software to another, all HVAC contractors considering Manual J software should try their best to try out prospective software. Virtually all the approved Manual J software vendors provide future users with a way to test their software before buying it. Take advantage of those offers and see for yourself how the software works.

Make sure you size HVAC equipment correctly for all your projects by doing a proper Manual J load calculation using ACCA-approved software. It’s not as hard as you think, and the improvements you will see in all your projects will be well worth your time and effort.

William W. Smith is president of Elite Software (, which he founded in 1979 in College Station, TX. Elite produces more than 30 computer programs for mechanical and HVAC design applications. You may communicate with him at: or 1-800-648-9523.