Refrigerant leak detectors allow you to find leaks in cooling systems, such as those found in HVAC systems or walk-in coolers.
Refrigerant leaks not only mean your cooling system isn’t working properly, they can also put health at risk (Source) and release harmful chemicals (Source), such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) into the atmosphere.
Refrigerant leak detectors are an essential part of an HVAC technician’s toolkit, but business and home owners also invest in these high-tech ways of making sure their property is protected and chemical-free.
There are different types of refrigerant leak detectors, some of which are designed for specific types of refrigerants.
To help you choose the right technology to detect leaks in your type of cooling system, here are specs and reviews of five top-rated refrigerant leak detectors.
Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors 2019
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors 2019
- 2 1. Signstek Portable AC Refrigerant Halogen Gas Leakage Detector Tester – Best Overall
- 3 2. LotFancy Refrigerant Freon Leak Detector – The Most Affordable Choice
- 4 3. Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector – SRL8 – The Best Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector
- 5 4. Inficon TEK-Mate 705-202-G1 Refrigerant Leak Detector – Superior Quality
- 6 5. Yellow Jacket 69336 AccuProbe UV Leak Detector – The Best High-end Refrigerant Leak Detector
- 7 Things You Need to Know Before Choosing a Refrigerant Leak Detector
- 8 Our Final Verdict
|Signstek Portable AC Refrigerant Halogen Gas Leakage Detector Tester|
|LotFancy Refrigerant Freon Leak Detector|
|Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector – SRL8|
|Inficon TEK-Mate 705-202-G1 Refrigerant Leak Detector|
|Yellow Jacket 69336 AccuProbe UV Leak Detector|
1. Signstek Portable AC Refrigerant Halogen Gas Leakage Detector Tester – Best OverallA compact and lightweight design, affordability and remarkable sensitivity are some of the aspects you will like about this detector.
The product is designed to work continuously to detect leaks in freezing, and air-conditioning systems. In this regard, the detector is meant to respond to the presence of any halogenated refrigerants, including the ones containing fluorine and chlorine.
Prior to using the detector, you are required to reset it, which takes about 2 seconds. Additionally, the unit will require about 6 seconds warming up.
As such, you can see that it takes no time to set up the device and detect a leakage. The detector runs on two alkaline batteries and weighs about 0.6Kg. as such, you will find it very portable and easy to carry around.
2. LotFancy Refrigerant Freon Leak Detector – The Most Affordable ChoiceHere is another high-sensitivity, fast operation, portable design, yet affordable refrigerant detector. Though priced below $30, this product has been proven to be effective at detecting a leakage of any halogenated refrigerant. As a matter of fact, the product boasts of a maximum sensitivity of 6 g/yr.
With this Freon leak detector, you will be able to detect all halogen leaks, ranging from R11 to R404a. Another thing you will love about this product is its adjustability. For instance, it allows you to customize the real time sensitivity. As such, the product will automatically adjust its sensitivity up to the maximum detecting capacity.
For enhanced efficiency, the product is equipped with a flexible probe. This makes it easier to detect leaks in the hard to reach spaces and corners. If a leak is detected, the flashing light and siren sound alarm system of the detector will go off.
3. Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector – SRL8 – The Best Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak DetectorIf you do not mind spending more money in a refrigerant leak detector, you should consider investing in the Fieldpiece Heated Diode detector today.
According to the many HVAC experts who have tried out this product, it is actually worth every penny. As a matter of fact, this product has one of the best heated diode sensors in the industry today.
As such, it is capable of detecting all HFC, CFC and HCFC leaks, including their blends. In addition to an audio alarm, the product also offers a visual concentration display. You will also love the fact that the detector features a filter at its detection tip for protection against debris and moisture.
4. Inficon TEK-Mate 705-202-G1 Refrigerant Leak Detector – Superior QualityTo detect refrigerant leaks, this product relies on the sensitivity of its electrochemical sensor. This ceramic substrate sensor is doped with a reactive element. For superior sensitivity, the element is maintained at a relatively high temperature by a built in element.
When halogen containing gases come into contact with the surface of the sensor, the halogen atoms are separated and ionized. This causes a flow of electrical current towards a central collection electrode. Basically, the product has been proven to be effective at detecting such refrigerants as R22, R410A, and R134A.
5. Yellow Jacket 69336 AccuProbe UV Leak Detector – The Best High-end Refrigerant Leak DetectorIf you are not working on a limited budget, you should consider going for the best solid electrolyte sensor technology available today. Basically, the product is designed to reduce heat, hence prolong the life of its sensors.
Most of the users of this product have expressed their satisfaction with its high sensitivity and exceptional efficiency. In this regard, the accuprobe of the product is very accurate and fast at locating leaks.
Things You Need to Know Before Choosing a Refrigerant Leak Detector
Currently, there are several types of refrigerants being used in various heating and cooling systems.
Owing to the different characteristics of the various refrigerants, there is no one particular method that may be used to detect the presence of all refrigerants.
This being the case, different methods may be used to detect a leakage of the various refrigerants today.
Basically, the mechanical refrigeration ANSI/ASHRAE 15 Safety Code in USA and Canadian CSA B52 Mechanical Refrigeration Code state the particular requirements the various detectors are required to meet.
For instance, any system that has to be housed within a Class T machine room or exceeds 100 HP is required to have a refrigerant detector.
While this is the case, increasing concerns over safety and environmental impact have necessitated the use of detection systems in even smaller systems.
If you are looking for the best refrigerant leak detector, you must have realized that there are numerous models to choose from. To make the right decision, here are some of the considerations you need to make:
1. Type of Refrigerant Detector
Depending on the type of refrigerant they are used to detect and their mode of functioning, detectors may be categorized into several groups.
If you are in the market for a new refrigerant detector, here are some of the main types you should consider:
Electric Refrigerant Leak Detectors
These are some of the commonest types of leak detectors in use today. Such products range in terms of features and prices.
Some of the commonest electric leak detectors you can buy today include:
- Heated Diode Detectors
In their functioning, these detectors use a heated ceramic diode. Whenever the diode comes into contact with halogenated gases, it generates an electrical current that triggers the alarm. Such sensors are sensitive to moisture and oil contamination.
The cheaper heated diode detectors are known to give false alarms and work best with R134a. Under normal circumstances, such detectors should be replaced after every 100 hours.
The more expensive heated ceramic diode refrigerant detectors feature an inbuilt sensitivity check for enhanced accuracy.
- Corona Discharge Detectors
These are designed to pull air through a corona discharge—electrical field—wire. Any presence of a refrigerant in the air will change the current within the wire.
This, in turn, will trigger an alarm. The downside with such detectors is that they are not compound specific. As such they are likely to give false alarms from time to time.
- Ultrasonic Refrigerant Detectors
These are designed to detect the sound waves generated when a vacuum or gas escapes through a small orifice. This sound is normally beyond the frequencies sensitive to human hears.
These detectors will pick up such sound waves and amplify them to an audible range for human ears. Owing to their mode of functioning, these detectors may be used to detect different refrigerant leaks, including HC refrigerants and nitrogen leaks.
- Infrared Detectors
This type of electric refrigerant detectors features an optical bench. When a refrigerant passes through the bench, it absorbs IR radiation.
This is then detected by the optical bench and an alarm is triggered. The amount of alarm generated by this system will depend on the amount of IR radiation that is absorbed.
Other Refrigerant Leak Detector Types
In addition to the electric detectors discussed above, there are other systems and methods that may be used to detect refrigerant leaks today.
Some of the commonest non-electric detectors in use today include:
- Fluorescent (UV) Detectors
Such systems use an additive that is normally added to the oil. As the oil circulates in the system, the ultra-violet (UV) radiation of the additive will be detected at the point of leakage.
Basically, such detectors comprise of additive injection kits, polarizing goggles and a UV lamp.
- Halide Detectors
When it comes to detecting HCFC and CFC refrigerant leaks, halide detectors are some of the most effective types of detectors.
Such detectors are powered by butane and function in a similar manner to Bunsen burners. However, the by-products of the burning process are highly toxic. As such, it is not advisable to use halide detectors with HCs or HFCs.
2. Additional Features
Choosing the right detector for each application is important when it comes to the effectiveness of the detector. Additionally, you also need to choose a detector with the right features for the intended application.
In this regard, these are some of the important features you should consider:
- Readout of parts per million (PPM) – this is a measure of the severity of the leak. To know the severity of the leak, you will need a detector with a digital readout. This will dictate the required response to any refrigerant leak.
- Proper positioning of sensor (S) – depending on the type of refrigerant you are monitoring, the sensors need to be positioned correctly. Ammonia, for instance, is lighter than air. As such, ammonia sensors should be positioned at the ceiling.
- Multi-stage Alarms – the alarm system in the detector should give you an idea of the severity of the leak. As such, different concentrations of the leaked refrigerant should trigger specific alarm responses.
Our Final Verdict
As an HVAC technician, you often rely on your equipment and tools to diagnose and render the right remedy. Based on the intended application, your choice of the right refrigerant detector will vary.
Basically, your preferred models should be highly sensitive, portable, customizable, versatile and of the right type.
Regardless of your personal preferences, this guide will help you choose the best refrigerator leak detector in the market.