A refrigerant leak detector is an indispensable tool for a professional technician to have in their HVAC tool bag, and hopefully form being on this page, you are considering adding one to your kit too!
The cooling part of the HVAC system depends on the refrigerant chemical (usually freons) for the unit to work. If it’s leaking the system is going to see a drop in pressure and an inability to provide cooled air.
This will result in residential customers seeing that they’re system does not cool them down when they need it and businesses could potentially lose money through their refrigerated stock becoming too warm or they have their workforce becoming uncomfortable and less productive!
It’s absolutely vital for you to be able to detect and repair problems with an HVAC unit and leaks are especially important to look out for. As you probably know from your EPA certification, refrigerants are not environmentally friendly and can lead residents and businesses to be fined a lot of money.
There are of course other methods for detecting leaks as an alternative to an electronic leak detector, and these include:
The application of a UV dye to the HVAC system is one method. It’s certainly a clever idea to do this because then the leak can be identified using a UV light but it does require some careful research before you try.
The performance of the HVAC system, however, can be altered with the introduction of the dye due to changes in pressure so it does require an experienced and well-learned technician and a lot of time to perform this method of leak detection.
Soap and Water
The simplest, cheapest and probably the most inaccurate way of detecting a leak is applying soapy water to the suspected location.
The idea is that bubbles will form when you have applied the soapy water and it does indeed work to a degree, but it’s not accurate and also does not really look professional to customers, especially when working on a commercial or business building.
Why Use an Electronic Refrigerant Leak Detector?
The impact that leaking refrigerants have on the environment is quite a big worry to the global ozone layer and to the customer who could receive a potential fine, and so it’s imperative to detect and fix the leak as soon as possible.
Electronic refrigerant leak detectors are probably the most efficient and convenient way to do this without you needing to take special measures for the use of UV dyes or risk missing a leak all together with the soapy water method.
Since the devices range in quality on the marketplace, they can also range quite considerably in price so there are a few factors for you to take into consideration when shopping around to make sure you get your moneys worth, including the following:
This relates to the time the leak detector takes to determine if there is a leak and in helping you to find where it is located. The best refrigerant leak detectors are faster allowing you to resolve it faster and save yourself, the customer and the business time and money.
If you are looking for the best refrigerant leak detector then you should note that it would be able to detect all CFC’s, HFC’s and HFC’s. Having a detector that can work on this wide range means you’ll be equipped for any situation.
It’s much better for you and your wallet that the device can last you for years to come so that you can be sure it’s not going to break down on your before a job. The devices that go further are in no doubt better value for money!
Safe and User Friendly
Above all safety comes first! It’s key that the device is safe, ergonomic, portable and easy for you to operate without anything too over complicated.
There’s not much of a range of extra features, but there are nice differences between some products. Having rechargeable batteries, a carrying case or other extras included with the purchase is always nice and makes the product better value for you.
With all that being said, it’s best to stay away from the cheaper options. When it comes to value for your money, it isn’t about spending the least it’s about getting the highest quality product for less, ensuring the best.
That’s why you should check out our top picks bellows, that’ll give you a good idea of what’s available on the market!
Our Top Picks
Signstek Portable Refrigerant Gas Leakage Detector
For HVAC operators on a budget, this is the best refrigerant leak detector for you. It does exactly what you expect it to do with no fuss and no complication, just efficient leak detection on all kinds of refrigerants.
It’s got a 14” flexible, stainless steel probe that has a good maximum sensitivity of 0.1oz(3g)/yr which can be adjusted via the simplistic control panel. It has a continuous working mode, which only shuts off manually, so take note of that as it uses two replaceable cell C Alkaline batteries.
There’s a single color LED display and a 6 level leak alert alarm to let you know when you are getting closer to a leak. The battery voltage is displayed in tricolor. You also get an extra sensory tip included with purchase, giving the product better value!
Elitech Refrigerant Leak Detector
Another great low price option is offered by Elitech which has a very easy user interface; it works with the simple push of a button. It has a response to all halogen gasses so it does exactly what an HVAC technician would need, but it can also be used for detecting leaks of the car radiator, hospital sterilizing equipment and more!
A single light diode display gives you all you need to know; by gradually lighting up the closer you are to the leak. There are 6 levels of sensitivity you can switch between to account for real-time cycle adjustment too.
Overall it’s a great product, that doesn’t perform as well as the high-end refrigerant detectors but gets the job done at a good price. It does use replaceable batteries, two AA batteries to be specific which is unfortunate but it is on the other hand quite a popular product and highly rated by previous buyers.
Inficon TEK-Mate Refrigerant Leak Detector
The Inficon TEK-Mate refrigerant detector is great because it employs a different method of detecting a leak of halogen gasses. Its sensor contains a ceramic-based substrate on an electrochemical sensor that’s heated by a built-in heating element.
This enables it to bypass needed to detect a specific gas as all gasses containing chlorine, fluorine or bromine atoms are separated and ionized which created an electric signal and prompts the device to react.
This design results in a device that simple and easy to use; no need for switching between sensitives and modes, it just works and the positive reviews from the many others who bought this detector are proof enough of its quality! Well worth checking out at least.
Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector
This leak detector by Fieldpiece also uses the method of employing a heated diode for gas detection also eliminating the need for you to know beforehand which gas you need to be looking for.
What makes this product superior, and justifies the higher price, is that it’s got extra functions such as enabling you to zero in either manually or automatically meaning the leak will continuously trigger the device helping you to pinpoint exactly where the leak is coming from.
It has a rechargeable battery that will have the device lasting for 2 full workdays on a single charge and to can even be used whilst it’s on charge. It has a filter system included too, protecting the sensor from being impaired by condensation, oil or other contaminants by swelling up and shutting down the device.
It’s also ready for use in 30 seconds and this is great in comparison to other diode based detectors which can take minutes or even UV dyes which can take hours before a leak can be determined.
Overall this is a fantastic device when compared to similar products and even comes with its own handy carrying case to keep it protected, wall charger, car charger and other extras making it superb value for your money.
Perfect-Prime Halogen Refrigerant Leak Detector
The Perfect-Prime Halogen Refrigerant Leak Detector is also a low cost, budget device that’s simple to use and is also small and compact. It’s operated with replaceable batteries and comes with a nifty little carrying case too.
The sensitivity can be manually adjusted using a simple knob up to a maximum sensitivity of 0.5oz(14g)/yr which is nowhere near as good as a similar product but for the price, its what you can expect.
It still detects all halogen based refrigerants; having the LED light, light up and making an alarm sound when it detects the leak. Overall it’s a very cheap and simple product, but if you only need that then this is perfect for you.