Detecting HVAC refrigerant leaks is quite a tough job. It is only a technician that has the ability to do this but only with special equipment. The good news is that you can help with this process by having the best HVAC refrigerant leak detector.
Did you know that a refrigerant leak detector may be a key unit when it comes to fixing HVAC refrigerant leaks? It will make the task less challenging and will make sure all leaks are being fixed. It is truly something to consider if you want to help your professional HVAC technician.
In the following paragraphs, you are going to find a few HVAC refrigerant leak detector reviews to see the diversity of these products. You will also discover the things to look for when shopping for these units, as well as answers to your possible questions. Let’s begin!
HVAC Refrigerant Leak Detectors – What They Are and What They Do
An HVAC refrigerant leak detector is a unit used to detect leaks from multiple appliances – such as your air conditioner. Using a small and flexible probe, this device is able to go into smaller places and notice if there are any leaks. They detect the dangers and signs of refrigerant leaks. This way, you can fix them and the appliance will maintain its ability to cool.
More often than not, units like this one are used by professionals who are checking your appliances for leaks, but they can also be bought for personal use.
Top Reasons to Use a Good HVAC Refrigerant Leak Detector
Before spending your cash on an HVAC refrigerant leak detector, you must know what’s in for you, right? That means that you should be aware of the benefits you can get from such a unit. A good leak detector must deliver what it promises, otherwise, it’s not a good investment. A refrigerant leak in your home can be dangerous, after all. With that being said, here are the benefits of HVAC refrigerant leak detectors.
Detection of Multiple Types of Leaks
There isn’t just one type of gas leaking from these units. In fact, a series of refrigerants may be leaked without you having any knowledge of it. This is why you’d have an advantage if you get an HVAC refrigerant leak detector. It is able to react to various types of leaks, making sure that you can fix the issue as soon as possible.
Basically, a good leak detector will be able to detect things such as CFCs, HFCs and HFC blends.
Whereas there are other methods to find out a refrigerant leak, such as soapy water or UV dye, they are definitely not as quick as you’d like them to be. Meanwhile, an actual HVAC refrigerant detector may take less to detect the leak. Some units only need a few seconds to be able to inform you of the leak, which is why they are so beneficial.
A leak will force you to inhale gas that may contain unhealthy substances that you don’t want to be exposed to. Not only does an HVAC refrigerant leak detector have a safe and reliable operation, but it also promotes health as it keeps contaminants away. Therefore, you won’t have to deal with any issues caused by refrigerant leaks.
The cool thing with HVAC refrigerant leak detectors is that they will last for many years to come. Whenever you need to check for leaks, you’ll have the detector right at your service. If you invest in a good unit, then you can rest assured that you will have it for a long time to enjoy its benefits.
Things to Consider when Buying an HVAC Refrigerant Leak Detector
Just like for an HVAC gauge, you need to be aware of some specific features before buying an HVAC refrigerant leak detector. Basically, you must ensure that your future unit will have certain qualities prior to taking it home. If it’s the first time you’re shopping for such a device, you probably have no idea what to look for. Don’t worry though – we’ve got your back.
Most likely, the price is among the first things you are looking for whenever shopping for any type of product. When it comes to HVAC refrigerant leak detectors, prices may vary a lot from a product to another.
On one hand, you will find those that come below $50 – these are a good choice for you if you don’t have a lot of money to spend. On the other hand, there are the leak detectors that come for a few hundred dollars, which are usually made following professional standards. The latter category is generally a better option if you want accurate results when you check for leaks. If you think the price is way too high, you can settle for the cheaper ones, but you shouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t always offering good results.
It’s best to choose an HVAC refrigerant leak detector that offers fast results. You don’t want to wait too long until you find out that there’s gas leaking out of your appliance, especially if you want to fix the leak immediately.
You can find a fast-operating refrigerant leak detector by looking for units with good sensors. These will be able to detect any gas leakage quickly. At the same time, make sure that the warm-up time is short. If you find an item that has these features, you have great chances of detecting the leaks in no time.
One thing is for sure – you will have to maintain your refrigerant leak detector properly if you want it to function and last for a long time to come. But at the same time, you shouldn’t go for something that requires you to do too many things to care for it. When you’re a busy person, you won’t have a lot of time to provide maintenance for your leak detector. This is why you must go for something that has easy maintenance, respectively one that doesn’t require too much energy or money.
You can’t really invest in something that you think is not going to last. It would just mean you threw money out the window since you’ll have to make replacements anyway. It must offer you a long-lasting experience, which means it should have high-quality components and should be made of strong materials.
The user manual usually mentions the period it should stay operational for, so pay attention to that.
It’s important to pick a product that has a warranty, and a good one at that. You need to make sure that you have your product covered in case there are any defects with it. The warranty will last for a certain period of time. The longer it is, the better. Also, it should cover enough things for it to be worth it.
Make sure you buy a unit with a good warranty. If you think the period is too short or that the warranty terms aren’t good enough, then you should look for another product.
Depending on how much you use your HVAC refrigerant leak detector, you may want it to last enough for it to finish the operation. If you are not a professional and you just use it at home, then you probably don’t need one with the longest battery life. However, if your job is to check people’s appliances for refrigerant leaks, then you should find a unit that lasts much longer.
It would be a shame if you run out of battery in the middle of your work. Make sure that you find one that works for a whole day for this purpose.
It is also recommended to buy one that has rechargeable batteries. Imagine the embarrassment you would feel if you forgot to buy batteries before you go to a client’s house. With rechargeable batteries, you could avoid this scenario and just keep your battery charging until it’s full of energy.
Variety of Refrigerants
One key feature to look for in these units is the ability to detect multiple types of refrigerants. The more it’s able to detect, the more efficient it’s going to be. Some products have the list of refrigerants they are able to detect listed, so check it out. You should look at the reviews too and see if it works as advertised.
As mentioned earlier, HVAC refrigerant leak detectors use a sensor in order to be able to detect potential leaks in your house appliances. But what you need to be aware of is that the life of the sensor depends on the detector you’ve chosen. You don’t really want to have to spend additional cash on replacement sensors.
Of course, a better sensor means a higher price, so you need to be aware of that beforehand.
Best HVAC Refrigerant Leak Detectors Comparison Chart
Elitech WJL-6000 HVAC Refrigerant Leak Detector
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Elitech Advanced Refrigerant Leak Detector Halogen Tester for HVAC
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Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector – SRL8
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LotFancy Refrigerant Freon Leak Detector
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INFICON Refrigerant Leak Detector
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Elitech HLD-200 Refrigerant Leak Detector with Replaceable Sensor
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Best HVAC Refrigerant Leak Detectors – Top Picks
1. Elitech WJL-6000 HVAC Refrigerant Leak Detector
For a cheap and decent unit, this Elitech refrigerant leak detector may be just what you need. It is able to warm up in 6 seconds and offer you a response in as little as 3 seconds. Besides, it’s gas leakage indicators and dual battery indicator are audible and visual, so you are always up to date with what’s happening with the leaks and the unit.
What we were really impressed with was the 7-adjustable sensitivity. There are 7 levels of sensitivity, and you can pick one depending on your needs. If you have more refrigerants, then the unit will be able to beep much faster.
However, we didn’t like the fact that it doesn’t detect R410 properly, but other than that, it can be quite effective.
- Can be adjusted for sensitivity
- It is cheap
- Will offer a response in only three seconds
- Audible and visual indicators that always let you know what’s happening
- Isn’t too good in detecting R410
2. Elitech Advanced Refrigerant Leak Detector Halogen Tester for HVAC
Although this refrigerant leak detector is pretty expensive, it’s worth it taking into consideration its specifications. First of all, it comes with gas buttons that can let you select the matching refrigerants per leakage source. For professional use, this product is more than amazing.
The unit is safe to use and reliable. It has a strong anti-interference too. Not to mention that it features three sensitivity levels to let you select the most fitting one. These are high, medium and low.
To make things even better, the sensor extends its life up to 10 years, for better durability. What we also liked is the peak function, which can not only sense a high change in refrigerant concentration but also keeps detecting leaks.
- Safe and reliable
- Has three sensitivity levels
- Very easy to use
- Can detect leaks in multiple appliances
- A little expensive
3. Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector – SRL8
We liked this product because it is able to heat up very quickly, in about 30 seconds. Of course, there are elements that take longer to warm up but overall, it does a pretty good job.
The battery lasts for a long time as well, as much as two full workdays on a simple charge. Recharging the battery also takes about 15 hours. It is also more sensitive to specific refrigerants compared to others and can trigger all HFCs, HCFCs, and CFCs.
If you want something that doesn’t get damaged from moisture over time, you might like this leak detector. It has a filter system that doesn’t allow any moisture on the sensor. In case there’s oil or condensation into the top of the snout, then the filter will stop the pull to the sensor after swelling.
- It can heat up very quickly
- Won’t allow moisture to ruin it
- It has manual and automatic zeroing to help detect leaks
- The battery lasts for two full workdays on a single charge
- It’s a little expensive
4. LotFancy Refrigerant Freon Leak Detector
We liked this product because it was quite useful despite being very cheap. It has a probe that is flexible enough to reach tight spots, without forcing you to struggle even more.
When the product detects any leak, it will make a siren sound and use a flashlight to tell you about it. In addition, the leak detector has real-time sensitivity. It can be adjusted automatically so that it can work at its best capacity. The sensitivity level can go from 1 to 7.
Preheating takes about 6 seconds, while the reset takes between 2 and 10 seconds. Although the price is low, the leak detector has the ability to find any leaks very quickly.
- Its sensitivity can be adjusted
- It warms up in only 5 seconds
- Can find leaks very quickly
- Doesn’t cost a lot
- Some models might keep beeping without detecting anything
5. INFICON Refrigerant Leak Detector
If you have the budget for it, then you can go for this Inficon D-Tek product. It is made to last, as it has an infrared cell that doesn’t weaken as time goes by. Therefore, it will always make sure to consistently inform you of any leaks – while being accurate, of course.
Made in the USA, this model is sensitive to all refrigerants. We were happy to notice that it could be sensitive to R-410a, R-22, R-134a, R-507 (AZ-50) and many others. It also has manual zeroing, which ignores all user-programmed refrigerant settings when you activate it.
It’s very quick in detecting any potential leaks, so if you want something that operates at high speed, then you might be happy to own this detector.
- Quick to detect leaks
- Is sensitive to all refrigerants
- The infrared cells won’t weaken
- Easy to use
- May run out of battery after just sitting for a few days
- Quite expensive
6. Elitech HLD-200 Refrigerant Leak Detector with Replaceable Sensor
With a replaceable battery, this product might be down your alley. It needs 2AA batteries, and you can replace them when they stop working. The only issue is that the batteries are not included in the package, so you have to buy them separately.
It takes no longer than 6 seconds to warm up and can respond in 3 seconds when it detects any leak, thanks to the auto-calibration. And on top of that, it is safe to use, as it meets SAE-1627 and EN14624 standards.
Also, the unit has an adjustable sensitivity. The 7-grade sensitivity has a maximum sensitivity of 0.11oz/yr., so it will be able to detect most leaks. It’s easily affordable for people who don’t want to go for professional leak detectors.
- It can detect most leaks
- Has adjustable sensitivity
- Takes very little to warm up
- The batteries don’t come in the same package, meaning you’ll have to buy them separately.
7. Signstek Portable AC Refrigerant Halogen Gas Leakage Detector Tester
If you need something a little cheaper to fit your budget, you can go for this Signstek portable leak detector. It has a flexible stainless-steel probe that makes it easy for you to reach even tighter places.
A good aspect of the unit is the tricolor battery voltage display. It uses green, orange, and red to show the voltage, making the voltage easily distinguishable. Meanwhile, the sensor has high sensitivity and is able to detect all types of halogenated refrigerants.
Conversely, it only takes about 6 seconds for it to warm up, and it has a resetting time of 2 seconds. If you need something to keep track of your leaks but can’t afford a more professional unit, you can settle for this for the time being.
- It’s not expensive
- Warms up very quickly
- Tricolor battery voltage display that makes it easy to keep track of the voltage
- Flexible stainless-steel probe for easy access in tight spaces
- It’s cheap, so it doesn’t deliver the same quality as a professional unit
Types of HVAC Refrigerant Leak Detectors
Similar to an HVAC vacuum pump, HVAC refrigerant leak detectors come in various types. Each of them is able to provide a certain amount of efficiency when it comes to detecting leaks. However, all of them work in their own way in order to do that, and you need to know they do that. Of course, there are also other methods of detecting leaks, such as using a UV light for HVAC or soap and water, but ultimately, these professional detectors are doing a better job in many cases.
Unless you are an HVAC technician, you may not be aware of the popular methods used for refrigerant detection. To help you pick the right type of refrigerant leak detector, here are your main choices:
The way this type of refrigerant leak detector works is pretty simple. Basically, it heats the refrigerant, thus breaking apart the molecules. Doing this will then cause the Fluorine ion and Chlorine that have been positively charged to show, and once the ions are being detected, an alarm will ring.
Although it can be very beneficial, there is also a downside to using this type of refrigerant leak detector. It may get a bit overwhelmed if there are bigger leaks, and the alarm won’t do you any favor. This is why you need to be careful with this type of unit.
These detectors are very interesting. Instead of detecting the actual gas that is being leaked, it is able to hear the sounds made by the appliance when gas is leaking. Since you’re not sure if there are any leaks, it means you can’t hear them. This is because the sound made by the leak is too high for the human ear to hear, but the ultrasonic detector can sense it.
These detectors have become quite popular lately, and they are much safer because they are not overwhelmed by the amount of refrigerant. But they have their disadvantages too. They may detect other types of ultrasounds that are not made by the unit, making you believe there is a leak when, in reality, there may be none.
The corona-suppression type of refrigerant leak detector creates some high voltage in the sensing tip, thus aiming to detect any potential refrigerant. If there is any, an alarm is going to ring. This leak detection method has been used for a very long time, being the first type to circulate around ever since the 60s, and it’s still popular to this day.
Understating the Mechanism Behind an HVAC Refrigerant Leak Detector
Understanding the way HVAC refrigerant leak detectors work is quite simple. Let’s say that you have the detector, and there is this area that might have leaks. Well, what you have to do is pretty much move the unit in constant motion over that area, more specifically back and forth, in order to analyze the air around. Some units will simply feel the gas in the air and sound the alarm.
Others work by detecting the ultrasonic sound. They will be used in the suspected leakage area and you have to wait and see if they give any signals of potential leaks. Since leaks may have high-frequency sounds, they will not be heard with your ear alone, but the product will be able to hear it.
More often than not, detectors come with flexible probes that can be introduced in smaller spots to discover leaks and their source. Conversely, there are sensors with adjustable sensitivity that also work to detect the presence of gas in the environment.
FAQs & Answers
Even with all this information, you may still have some questions about HVAC refrigerant leak detectors. If the same applies to you, then here are some of the most frequently asked questions about these units:
- How expensive is an HVAC refrigerant leak detector?
It all depends on the quality of the particular product, as well as the brand that manufactured it. Some can be cheaper to fit most budgets, being around $20 or $30, and they can go up to $500. Both cheap and expensive models can be good, but you need to be extra careful with the cheap ones.
- Are HVAC refrigerant leak detectors reliable?
You can rest assured that they are, as long as you pick a qualitative one. They make sure to operate quickly and efficiently so that CFCs and HFCs are detected soon enough and you can work towards fixing the leaks.
- What may cause a refrigerant system leak?
Well, you should know that the air conditioning system already has the refrigerant pre-installed in its coils when you get it. Several causes for potential leakage could be damaged coils that end up leaking as a result of the normal wear of the system. However, the refrigerant is never used by the air conditioner. With no leaks, the HVAC system can go on for many years.
- Can something dangerous happen if I ignore my refrigerant leak?
It isn’t the most dangerous thing in the world, but leaks can be unhealthy, especially if you inhale them for long periods of time. Refrigerants are meant to get rid of heat from your home’s air, but when there isn’t enough refrigerant, your unit has to run for longer periods as compensation. Consequently, more energy is being used, so the components end up being damaged.
The leaks that come out of the unit will be harmful to you and your family causing refrigerant poisoning, but it could be an environmental hazard as well.
- What types of refrigerants can a leak detector find?
It depends because not all detectors are efficient enough to identify all refrigerants. There are high-end models able to detect CFCs, HFCs, and HFOs, which are recommended for a better result. But there are also some that can only detect few refrigerants. If you want to know what refrigerants your particular units can identify, it should be mentioned on the packaging.
- Can I check for refrigerant leaks myself?
Yes, you can. Refrigerant leak detectors can be bought by pretty much anyone, so if you don’t want to go through the trouble of hiring professionals, you can buy a unit and check for leaks yourself. In some cases, though, if you can’t buy a good unit, it’s better to call an HVAC technician and make sure your problem gets fully solved.
The best HVAC refrigerant leak detector will help you discover and fix those leaks that can be dangerous for your health. This is why we hope you found our buying guide and HVAC refrigerant leak detector reviews useful. Now, shopping for the best unit shouldn’t be so difficult, given you know what it involves.