The Best HVAC Refrigerant Leak Detectors – 2019 Buying Guide

Refrigerant leak detectors are an HVAC technician’s best friend. Your ability to diagnose and rectify a problem within a refrigeration system is a vital skill. 

You will need the very best tools to accomplish one the challenging aspects of the job, detecting refrigerant leaks.

This article introduces you to some of the best leak detectors on the market, what to look for when evaluating refrigerant leak detectors and the benefits of having the best leak detector you can afford.

Refrigerant Leak Detectors Comparison Chart

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector - SRL8

  • Rechargeable Lithium battery comes with a standard fifteen-hour charge
  • Filter on this unit provides extra protection by blocking the water from getting into the heated diode
  • Three sensitivity settings and ability to detect a leak at 0.10 ounces per year at its highest setting give this product an edge above the rest
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INFICON TEK-Mate 705-202-G1 Refrigerant Leak Detector

  • Able to detect a wide array of refrigerants
  • Provides almost 16 hours of working life with two ‘D’ cell batteries
  • Length of the metal probe is 15 inches thus allowing you to get into hard to reach places
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LotFancy Refrigerant Freon Leak Detector

  • Real-time sensitivity automatically adjusts the most optimum state for detecting the leak
  • Three-color screen displays a flashing light, battery percentage, and siren tune for the leak alarm indication
  • Equipped with a sensitivity of 6 g/year allows it to detect refrigerants such as R11, R12, R22, R124, R230, etc.
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Robinair TIFXL-1A Refrigerant Leak Detector

  • High sampling frequency ensures fast leak detection
  • Extreme sensitivity allows you to detect the smallest leakage
  • Log probe with sensors increase the reliability of this product
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Elitech WJL-6000 Freon Leak Detector

  • Warm-up time of 3 seconds and response time of 6 seconds
  • Seven adjustable sensitivity settings provide an accurate reading
  • 7.9-inch flexible probe makes it easier to reach difficult corners and spaces
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Elitech ILD-200 Advanced Refrigerant Leak Detector

  • Extra-long probe of 14.37 inches makes it easier to reach all the difficult spaces
  • Innovative TFT screen animates battery levels, sensitivity, faulty sensor indicators, and leakage
  • Designed with innovative infrared spectrum absorption that helps the sensor detect all HVAC gases
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Leak Detection Methods

As an HVAC technician, you are probably aware of the several methods you can use for leak detection. Knowing which method to use in each set of circumstances is the making of a skilled technician.

Common Refrigeration Leak Detection Methods:

  • Simple soap and water - Applying soapy water to a suspected leak alerts you to the leak with the formation of bubbles. Simple and straightforward to use and no specialist tools required.
  • Ultraviolet Dyes - Adding a UV dye to a system and using UV light to look for leaks is ingenious. Should be used with care because the presence of UV dye may affect system performance.
  • Electronic Detection Methods - Use electronic tools correctly and in the right context and you are on your way to becoming a leak detection whizz.

How to Choose a Leak Detector

It is essential that you choose the best refrigerant leak detector that suits your requirements. But what are the qualities that you should look for before selecting a product? Let’s find out:

Works Fast

A device that works fast is considered the best leak detector as it allows you to reach different locations to check on leaks quickly. You should look for detectors with little warm-up time, quality sensors, and instantaneous time response.

Detects a Wide Variety of Refrigerants

Although you may not need a leak detector capable of detecting all types of refrigerant make sure that the one you choose is capable of detecting the refrigerant you are going to be working with. Devices that detect a variety of refrigerants are usually expensive, therefore apply your expertise and check your field applications before picking the right one.

Long Battery and the Sensor Life

Choose a leak detector that has a long battery life or better still uses rechargeable batteries as this allow you several hours of uninterrupted work time. Long sensor life also helps you save time and a lot of hassle.

Durable

Find out the operational time of a leak detector before making a purchase. Choose a product that you know will stay operational for as long as it says on the manual.

Price

There are many models available that are affordable and are also able to give excellent performance. Research online or talk to your local seller before deciding on a unit to ensure that you get the best value for money.

The rest of this article introduces some of the best refrigeration leak detectors and reviews then to help you select the best tool to add to your arsenal.

Why Use a Leak Detector?

Refrigeration system depends on the refrigerant to work. When a system develops a leak, there is a loss of refrigerant and with it goes the ability to provide adequate cooling. For a domestic system, the result is a warm house in the middle of summer even when the air conditioning is running.

For industrial applications, this may lead to spoiling of product and an impact on the business. Loss and discomfort prevention are therefore at the top list of any technician called in to resolve a suspected leaking system.

Refrigerants also have an impact on the environment and so plugging leaks as quickly as possible also helps reduce the impact of greenhouse gasses on the environment.Refrigerant leak detectors will assist you in identifying the source of the leak.

Once you determine where the system is leaking, you can go ahead and effect a repair, restoring the system to optimum efficiency.

The Benefits of a Good Leak Detector

There are various leak detectors on the market today. Refrigerant leak detectors range in price from around $30 to over $300.

What are benefits of choosing a cheaper one over the higher priced ones? Is it a question of performance, reliability, and ability to detect a range of refrigerants?

The Benefits and Advantages of a Good Leak Detector:

  • Quicker Detection Times - Losing refrigerant from large systems may result in a fine from the Environment Authorities. If you choose the best detector, and you use it well, you will detect and resolve leaks faster, saving customers time and money.
  • Ability to Detect all CFCs, HFCs and HFC Blends - Using a leak detector with a wide detection range ensures you can work on a variety of systems using different refrigerants.
  • Ensure Safe and Efficient Operation - The best leak detectors are designed for safe and ergonomic operation.
  • Long Term Investment - Choose the best leak detector and you will be using it in your business for years to come.

Now that you know why you need to choose the best refrigerant leak detector, the next section reviews 5 top leak detectors which you may consider if you are in the market for a new leak detector.

Review of the Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors

Below we have identified the top refrigerant leak detectors and provided some insights into why each deserves to be in your toolbox. Although the detectors more or less do the same thing, you find that some have superior performance and can detect a wider range of refrigerants than others.

Our goal is to make the search for the best leak detector a little bit easier for you. Your final choice will depend on your specific requirements and technical needs.

Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector - SRL8

PROS

  • Takes only 30 seconds to start working.
  • LED display indicates the remaining life of the battery.
  • Comes with a rugged and tough case that protects the unit from damage.
  • Automatically resets itself to zero after every few seconds thus ensuring accuracy.
  • Magnetic holder on the back allows you to hang to keep it out of the way but within reach.

CONS

  • Some people may find the price to be a bit high.

Our Review

The SLR8 heated diode refrigerant leak detector from Fieldpiece is one of the most reliable leak detectors available. It is able to detect and alert on all CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs, and other refrigerant blends. The best thing about this product is its practical sensor. It recognizes moisture such as condensation and oil and shuts down the unit, thus safeguarding it from damage.

This leak detector is lightweight in size but can prove to be a heavyweight in an HVAC technician’s tool bag. It works much faster than the UV dye detection method, where the dye is circulated through the HVAC system. If there is a leak, the dye will ooze out. Although the UV dye process is reliable, it can take a lot of time. The SLR8, however, helps you save time by quickly detecting the leak.

This product is designed to fit the palm of the HVAC technician. It also features a mute button, thus allowing you to use the leak detector without drawing attention to your work. The visual leak alert feature on this reliable tool is a great feature. If you do not want to do a silent check, you can turn on this feature and alert the homeowner once you find the leak.

Moreover, this product comes with a 15-hour rechargeable battery that allows you to work almost two workdays in a single charge. You can also charge it with the help of a wall or vehicle charger and use it while it is still hooked up.

Bottom Line

This product is at the top of our list as it outperforms other detectors available in the market. It is very easy to use and helps speed up the leak detection process as compared to the time-consuming UV dye detection method.

INFICON TEK-Mate 705-202-G1 Refrigerant Leak Detector

PROS

  • Sensitive sensor is able to detect very small leaks.
  • 2-year warranty on defects of workmanship and material.
  • High/low sensitivity selector and power in a single switch.
  • Low battery indicator alerts you when it is time to change the battery.
  • Lightweight and affordable and works well in both residential and mid-level commercial settings.
  • Auto-compensation feature continuously monitors and then compensates for changing background environment.

CONS

  • High sensitive sensor may sometimes result in a false alarm.

Our Review

The TEK-Mate 705-202-G1 refrigerant leak detector from Inficon is an essential tool for the light-to-medium duty HVAC technicians who want reliable leak budget detection at an economical price. Features such as variable intensity audio and visual alarms, patented Inficon heated diode sensor, and automatic compensation for variable background refrigerant concentrations make this product the best bargain in refrigerant leak detectors.

This product comes with a built-in heating element that helps maintain high temperature and has the ability to detect HCFCs, CFCs, HFCs, and blends like R11, R12, R22, R123, R134a, R404A, and R410A. The TEK-Mate is a highly sensitive product which automatically compensates for background contaminations.

This product provides accurate readings, even in damp conditions. It emits both a visual signal as well as a variable intensity audible sound in case of a leak. You can also control the intensity for the audible signal of this highly portable tool. Moreover, it is able to detect leaks as small as 0.25 ounces per year.

Bottom Line

The TEK-Mate refrigerant leak detector from Inficon is a solid buy for an HVAC technician. Its high sensitivity sensor helps to detect all the popular refrigerants on the market today!

LotFancy Refrigerant Freon Leak Detector for HFC CFC Halogen R134a R410a R22a R600a R290 Air Condition HVAC

PROS

  • Capable of detecting a variety of refrigerants.
  • Stainless steel hose is very flexible and durable.
  • Budget-friendly price makes it easier for everyone to buy.
  • Equipped with ultra-low power consumption IC construction.
  • 7.87-inch flexible probe makes it possible to check hard to reach corners.

CONS

  • Power supply may be confusing for some users.

Our Review

If you are looking for a reliable refrigerant leak detector that will easily fit into your budget, then the LotFancy refrigerant Freon leak detector is the one for you. It is designed with a flexible hose made from stainless steel which has detector sensors on its tip. This product works by testing the air for chemical particles with the help of this durable and flexible sensor.

This Freon leak detector is ideal for use on refrigeration units, automobile ACC systems, AC units, and more. It is able to detect a wide range of cleaning agents, halogenated refrigerant chemicals (CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs), and other gases which contain fluorine, bromine, and/or chlorine.

The sensitivity adjustment dial on this product allows you to adjust the sensitivity. The buzzer on this unit will go off once the sensor detects the refrigerants in the air. Its compact and sturdy design makes it perfect for long term use. It is powered by two AA size batteries, thus making it suitable for use even in remote areas.

The LotFancy Freon leak detector comes with an instruction manual that helps users understand how to use this product. It takes six seconds for the detector to turn on. It beeps continuously at a slow rate but increases in volume once a leak gets detected.  

Bottom Line

The LotFancy leak detector is a great low-cost, high-function option for Freon-detecting devices. It offers many features that are usually found in high-priced units. Its precise and easy-to-use operation helps you save valuable time.

Robinair TIFXL-1A Refrigerant Leak Detector

PROS

  • Reasonably priced to fit all budgets.
  • Redesigned sensory tip is more reliable and lasts longer.
  • Accompanied by a carrying case that is durable and tough.
  • Powered by two C cell batteries which last up to forty hours.
  • 2-year warranty ensures that this product is free from manufacturing errors.
  • Ergonomic and comfortable design that detects all halogenated refrigerants.

CONS

  • Short sensor life can be an inconvenience.

Our Review

The TIFXL-1A refrigerant leak detector from Robinair is one of the most advanced leak detectors available today. It utilizes advanced Microprocessor technology to discover the leakage of a wide variety of halogenated refrigerants such as R134, R410, etc.

This product has an ergonomic and comfortable design which increases its portability. Moreover, it is powered by a DC power source, thus making it easier for you to take it to remote areas for leak detection.

The Microprocessor controlled circuitry, together with digital signal processing monitor, allows this device to sense leaks up to 2000 times per second. This ensures that this product is able to detect leakage quickly. In addition, the sensitivity level ensures detection of a leak bigger than 0.4 ounces/year.

The completely redesigned sensing tip measures 14 inches and is made from stainless steel. This flexible steel probe makes this product more sensitive, increases reliability, and gives it a longer life span. Other features include constant power indication and variable frequency audible alarm.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for an affordable and reliable leak detector, then the Robinair TIFXL-1A is the product for you. Its greater sensitivity and ease of use makes it a very popular tool among HVAC technicians and homeowners alike.

Elitech WJL-6000 Freon Leak Detector Halogen Leak Detector Refrigerant Gas Leakage Tester HVAC Air Condition R22 R410A R134A CFCs HCFCs HFCs Detects High Accuracy

PROS

  • Both audio and visual leakage indicator.
  • Included black storage bag makes it easy to carry this product.
  • Compact design and lightweight further increases its portability.
  • Battery life of 50 hours eliminates the need to change them frequently.
  • Battery status indicator alerts the user when it is time to replace the batteries.
  • User manual provided with this product makes it easy to understand its functionality.

CONS

  • Low sensitivity makes it difficult to detect small leaks.

Our Review

The Elitech WJL-6000 Freon leak detector is one of the most economical leak detectors available for HVAC technicians. This heated diode detector is able to accurately check leaks of any refrigerant that contains chlorine or fluorine as well as the common refrigerant classes such as HFC, CFC, and HCFC.

It is designed with advanced leak detection technology and corona sensor that enable ease of operation and a reliable function and great performance. It is an ideal and affordable Freon and halogen leak detector. Its varied applications include cold storage, pipe leakage, refrigerator repair, automobile air conditioner, etc.

This product also features dual battery indicators. A green light indicates normal battery voltage, thus showing that the detector is ready to work. Orange light, on the other hand, indicates that battery voltage is close to the limit and needs to be replaced.

The Elitech WJL-6000 comes with adjustable sensitivity ranging from one to seven, while its maximum sensitivity is 0.21 ounces/year. It features both audible and visual gas leakage alerts. Once you open the detector, it gives two beeps per second, and when a leak is detected, it makes ten beeps per second.

It is powered by 4AAA batteries which give this product a battery life of about 50 hours. This product comes with a 1-year warranty, thus giving HVAC technicians peace of mind when they buy this product.

Bottom Line

If you want a budget-friendly leak detector, then the Elitech WJL-6000 is the detector for you. Its ease of use makes it easy even for homeowners to carry out their own repairs.

Elitech ILD-200 Advanced Refrigerant Leak Detector Halogen Leakage Tester Checker High Sensitivity Portable Case 10 Years' Life 【3 Years Warranty】

PROS

  • Rechargeable lithium battery lasts the whole working day.
  • Advanced infrared sensor is designed to last up to 10 years.
  • Use of earphones makes it easier to hear the alarm in noisy environments.

CONS

  • Is a bit expensive than other leak detectors available in the market.

Our Review

The Elitech ILD-200 advanced refrigerant leak detector is a high-performing, top-quality rechargeable infrared refrigerant detector. This durable product has been ergonomically designed to fit the hand well. It comes with a rechargeable lithium battery that lasts for about six hours of continuous use.

This product has three pre-set levels, high, medium, and low with a maximum sensitivity of 4g/year. The probe on this detector helps you identify leaks of any halogenated refrigerants within seconds. Its sensor has been designed to last ten years, thus saving you time and effort.

The Elitech ILD-200 has an automatic shut off feature that shuts down the unit when it goes ten minutes without operation. When a leak is detected a buzzer sounds that let you know of a leak both in an audible and visual fashion.

The innovative earphone-style operation allows you to hook up a 3.5 mm headphone to the detector. This helps immensely if you are working in a noisy environment or don’t want to disturb anyone with noise alerts.  

This product comes with a TFT screen which allows you to see the battery life, sensitivity settings, detection, etc. on the screen. This feature is not boosted by many detectors thus giving the Elitech ILD-200 an edge over the competition.

Bottom Line

If you want a refrigerant leak detector that will give you many years of service, then you should invest in Elitech ILD-200. Its TFT screen and earphone jack make the detection process smoother while its various features provide great value for money.

Conclusion

Choosing one of the five refrigerant leak detectors above will help you to locate leaks faster, saving your customers money and doing your bit for the environment.

A worthy addition to every HVAC technician’s toolbox, the leak detector will slash your faultfinding time by half and help you locate small leaks which would otherwise be impossible to detect. Whatever instrument you end up choosing, just make sure you study the list above to find out which tool meets your requirements.

People Also Ask

For an HVAC technician, a refrigerant leak detector is a reliable and safe tool that can identify the problems with cooling or heating equipment. Although they are very easy to operate, there may still be some questions in people’s minds regarding their operation and performance. In this article, we have also included some questions commonly asked by people to help clear any confusion regarding leak detectors:

What Does a Refrigerant Leak Smell Like?

Refrigerant is essential for the operation of your air conditioner. It is used by your air conditioner to remove the heat from the warm air of your home. These refrigerants travel through copper coils which sometimes crack and leak refrigerant. This leaking refrigerant has a sweet, chloroform scent. Therefore, the chemical odor that you smell could be the refrigerant leaking.  

What is a Refrigerant Leak Detector?

A refrigerant leak detector is an instrument specially designed to find leaks in enclosed gas systems. Pipes carry various refrigerant gases to heating and cooling systems found commercially and in homes. These pipes are installed with an assortment of valves and fittings that provide a multitude of places where leaks can develop. A refrigerant leak detector is used by HVAC technicians to find these leaks quickly.

How Do Refrigerant Leak Detectors Work?

There are three main types of refrigerant leak detectors, and they work in different ways:

Corona suspension: This is the oldest type of leak detection technology. It works by simply using the high-voltage corona on its sensor to pick up any refrigerants present in the air before sounding an alarm.

Heated Diode: This popular type of electronic leak detector collects air from the area which is being diagnosed. This air is then heated to such a level that the molecules separate. The diode is then able to detect the refrigerants in the air and sound an alarm to alert you.

Ultrasonic: This is the latest technology in HVAC leak detection, which detects a leak by using sound. All leaks let off a similar sound, which is not audible to the human ear. These ultrasonic detectors help to hear this sound and alert the technicians in case of a refrigerant leak.

Is a Refrigerant Leak Dangerous?

A refrigerant leak does not pose any threat, nor does it have any long term health consequences. There is not enough refrigerant in most appliances to pose a threat unless a person is allergic to it. Refrigerants are heavier than air and tend to sink to the floor. They are not poisonous, but if they do get trapped in a confined where you keep your pets, then it could harm them. Moreover, leaking refrigerants pose an ecological threat as they can cause harm to the ozone layer.

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