Refrigerant leak detectors allow you to find leaks in cooling systems, such as those found in HVAC systems or walk-in coolers.
Refrigerant leaks are health risks that mean your cooling system isn’t working properly. By that, they release harmful chemicals like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) into the atmosphere.
Refrigerant leak detectors are an essential part of an HVAC technician’s toolkit, but business and homeowners 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. So, 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.
Most Common Issues People Have with Refrigerant Leak Detectors
Table of Contents
- 1 Most Common Issues People Have with Refrigerant Leak Detectors
- 2 What are Refrigerant Leak Detectors?
- 3 Comparing The Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors
- 4 1. Signstek Portable AC Refrigerant Halogen Gas Leakage Detector Tester – Best Overall
- 5 2. LotFancy Refrigerant Freon Leak Detector – The Most Affordable Choice
- 6 3. Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector – SRL8 – The Best Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector
- 7 4. Inficon TEK-Mate 705-202-G1 Refrigerant Leak Detector – Superior Quality
- 8 5. Yellow Jacket 69336 AccuProbe UV Leak Detector – The Best High-end Refrigerant Leak Detector
- 9 Features of the Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors
- 10 Things You Need to Know Before Choosing a Refrigerant Leak Detector
- 11 Ready To Buy The Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors?
- Getting the Wrong Model: Refrigerant leak detectors come with different capabilities. If you don’t know what type of halogenated refrigerants you need to check for, you can easily end up purchasing a model that isn’t effective enough for your needs.
- Minimal Features: This especially applies to people who purchase a cheap refrigerant leak detector without understanding the features that high-end models can include. It is common for people to make a spur-of-the-moment purchase only to wish they spent a little extra for a more versatile leak detector.
- Tracking Sensitivity Issues: The sensitivity of your refrigerant leak detector helps you understand how accurate and precise your readings will be. If you don’t find a model with enough sensitivity, it can affect the quality and accuracy of your readings.
What are Refrigerant Leak Detectors?
Refrigerant leaks release harmful chemicals into your home or office, and eventually, the atmosphere. If you think you may have a leak, a refrigerant leak detector will help you pinpoint the location and type of leak you have.
Since you wouldn’t be able to do this with the same level of confidence on your own, a refrigerant leak detector can help you save a lot of time and money.
Comparing The Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors
|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 OverallAffordable, compact, lightweight, and remarkable with sensitivity, this 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. That takes about two seconds. After that, the unit will require about six seconds of warming up.
As such, it takes no time to set up the device and detect a leakage. Additionally, the detector runs on two alkaline batteries and weighs about 0.6Kg. Hence, it is portable and easy to carry around.
2. LotFancy Refrigerant Freon Leak Detector – The Most Affordable ChoiceHere is another high-sensitivity, fast operation, and portable 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 a maximum sensitivity of 6 g/yr. Hence, you will be able to detect all halogen leaks, ranging from R11 to R404a.
Additionally, it is also adjustable. For instance, it allows you to customize its real-time sensitivity. As such, the product will automatically adjust its sensitivity up to the maximum detecting capacity.
Moreover, for enhanced efficiency, this detector 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.
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.
Moreover, this product also offers a visual concentration display alongside an audo alarm. It features a filter at its detection tip for protection against debris and moisture as well.
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. This product is designed to reduce heat and 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.
Features of the Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors
If you need a refrigerant leak detector, it’s important to know what you are looking for. Otherwise, you can easily find yourself with the wrong model, or one which you later regret getting. In order to help you find the best refrigerant leak detector for your needs, here are the features which you should check for first.
Detects All Different Refrigerants
There are many different refrigerants which you might need to detect in order to fix your leak. If you don’t get a model which can detect the right refrigerant, you might even be tricked into thinking your system doesn’t have a leak.
This is why it is recommended to simply get a refrigerant detector which detects all of the different refrigerants. Although a little more expensive, these models also provide the best data and most overall capability.
High Sensitivity and Multiple Sensitivity Settings
The higher the sensitivity specifications a model has, the more accurate your readings will be. Additionally, higher sensitivities help you track small leaks which otherwise might not have been found.
Maximum sensitivity levels for the best refrigerant leak detectors are usually anywhere between 1.7 grams a year to 11 grams a year. High-quality models allow you to easily change through different settings.
Portable, Lightweight, & Long Battery Life
A nice refrigerant leak detector won’t take up that much space. Nor is it a burden to carry around and use. Purchasing a portable and lightweight model will help you easily store and use the product.
In addition, battery life is something which you need to consider. Ideally, you should find a model that includes a rechargeable battery with a long life.
Fast Readings & Data Response
It shouldn’t take you all day to use a refrigerant leak detector. Realistically, your work should be done within a couple of minutes or so. Make sure that the model you choose is able to quickly notice where and what type of refrigerant leak you experience.
The best refrigerant leak detectors are able to notice a leak within 30 seconds of being powered on within range of the leak.
All the Extra Features You Need Within Your Budget
From having an interface which is easy to use, to a high-resolution screen, there are lots of extra features which you need to be aware of. Certain models are better are detecting the severity of the leak by including PPM readings.
There are also models which can trigger an alarm response when a leak is detected. Depending on your needs, budget, and expectations, these are all features worth considering.
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.
The mechanical refrigeration ANSI/ASHRAE 15 Safety Code in the 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.
ow, 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 considerations you need to note:
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.
Electric Refrigerant Leak Detectors
These are some of the most common types of leak detectors in use today. Such products range in terms of features and prices.
- Heated Diode Detectors
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, they should be replaced after every 100 hours. Meanwhile, the more expensive ones 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. They will pick up such sound waves and amplify them to an audible range for human ears. Hence, 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 detector 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 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, they 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. They are powered by butane and function like 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.
Ready To Buy The Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors?
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.
Your preferred models should be highly sensitive, portable, customizable, versatile and of the right type. This guide will help you choose the best refrigerator leak detector in the market.
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