Best refrigerant leak detectors are a must-have tool for any HVAC professional or DIY enthusiast. These devices can help you find hidden odorless and colorless leaks in air conditioning systems and refrigeration units.
When shopping for a refrigerant leak detector, look for one that has a high sensitivity rating. This will allow you to detect small leaks as well.
- Electronic Leak Detectors
Checking for refrigerant leaks is an integral part of a HVAC technician’s job. While there are several methods to detect these leaks, nothing beats a handheld electronic detector that can be used on a variety of refrigerants and is easy on the eyes (especially for those who wear glasses).
The Elitech ILD-200 Advanced is a top-rated choice for those in search of a highly durable and reliable portable detector. It is effective in detecting a wide range of refrigerants and has a good sensor sensitivity level that can be adjusted to match your specific needs. Other notable features include a hold function, mute button, and low battery indicator. Its lightweight design and portability make it ideal for use in different environments and locations. It also comes with a warranty that is longer than most of the competition.
- Ultrasonic Leak Detectors
Ultrasonic refrigerant leak detectors work by listening for sound waves of the gas escaping from a small leak. They are extremely sensitive & capable of detecting very tiny traces of the refrigerant gas, sometimes as low as a few ounces per year.
Some other sounds can mask the sound of a leak like wind noise, voices, traffic or normal operational sounds. Therefore, it’s important to select a good quality unit that is highly directional, with a high sensitivity rating.
Be aware that even a small leak rate can create turbulence which may cause the sensor to falsely alarm. You must carefully check the sensor sensitivity in a non-windy lab environment. These units require a bit more setup time than the other two types of leak detection tools.
- Infrared Leak Detectors
A good refrigerant leak detector is a reliable and useful tool to have on hand, and it can be quite an investment for professional HAVC technicians. Having one can negate the need for soap and other methods, and it is especially useful in hard-to-reach areas where the leak might be hiding.
It’s also a handy tool for finding refrigerants and other contaminants in confined spaces. It’s important to look for a detector that will be easy to use and work well in different environments like noisy or dark areas. It should have an audible signal or a screen that displays relative leak size. Most also have an adjustable sensitivity level to suit the job at hand. The best infrared models have a longer sensor life than heated diode detectors, and their sensitivity doesn’t degrade over time.
- Heated Diode Leak Detectors
Many HVAC technicians still use the old standby of soap bubbles and fluorescent dyes when it comes to checking for leaks, but they’re no match for feature-laden handheld electronic detectors that can reliably pinpoint even minuscule refrigerant gas leaks. These devices typically have a heated diode sensor that warms up quickly and can be adjusted for different sensitivity levels, making them easy to work with.
The Fieldpiece DR58 is an excellent choice for anyone looking to get a top-notch refrigerant leak detector. This one has a high sensitivity rating and is highly versatile, making it perfect for HVAC technicians who work with different types of refrigerants. This device also features a mute button, which is ideal for noisy environments and it’s backed by a 1-year warranty.
- Bubble Leak Detectors
Many HVAC professionals have grown tired of the old soap bubble method of detecting leaks because it can be messy and is not accurate for all refrigerants. These newer refrigerant leak detector tools use infrared, heated diode, or other technology to find the gas and are much more reliable and accurate.
These leak detectors apply a flat liquid that coats surfaces to detect the presence of refrigerant, then forms visible bubbles where there are leaks. They are noncorrosive and can stay in contact with surfaces for long periods of time, making them ideal for hard-to-see areas.
This leak detector from ComStar is an excellent choice because it provides large bubbles that are easy to see. It can be used for a variety of applications including detecting leaks in HVAC systems, refrigeration gas, nitrogen, air, and CO2. This model also offers a 1-year long warranty and a carrying case.