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Best Refrigerant Leak Detector Buyer’s Guide

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You know firsthand how much expense is involved in purchasing refrigerants. In addition to their expense, there are the negative environmental effects that refrigerant loss can cause. Really, any trade that has to do with air-conditioning or cooling understands how important refrigerants are.

You also realize that having anything but the best refrigerant leak detector is foolhardy at best and dangerous at worst. We have done our own personal testing and looked at refrigerant leak detector reviews to compile a list of some of the best refrigerant leak detectors on the market. Our goal is to empower you to be able to make a conscientious buying decision when purchasing a leak detector.

Our Top Best Leak Detectors Comparison Chart

Leak Detector UnitAccuracyReview
Fieldpiece Leak Detector SRL8
Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector – SRL8
Very HighOur Review
Yellow Jacket 69336 AccuProbe
Yellow Jacket 69336 AccuProbe UV Leak Detect
HighOur Review
Robinair TIFRX-1A
Robinair TIFRX-1A Automatic Halogen Leak Detector
Very HighOur Review
Inficon D-TEK 712-202-G1
Inficon D-TEK 712-202-G1
MediumOur Review
Robinair TIFZX
Robinair TIFZX Heated Pentode Halogen Leak Detector
HighOur Review

How to Find my HVAC Leak?

After reading a refrigerant leak detector review, it is very clear to see why HVAC technicians view refrigerant leak detectors as their best friend. Knowing how to find a Freon leak and having the tools to make finding the leak easy is a must for all HVAC technicians.

There are some conventional ways of finding a leak, including applying soap and water to the suspected leak area, and using ultraviolet dyes. Both of these traditional ways of detecting a leak can work, but they also have their downsides, including the UV dye negatively affecting the performance of the unit you are giving maintenance to.

Conversely, using a leak detector gives you quick detection time. This is important because losing refrigerant from larger systems may result in you getting a fine from the EPA. The sooner you detect the leak, more money you or your customer saves.

Leak detectors are designed to detect CFCs, HFCs, and HFC blends.

The best refrigerant leak detector is designed to ensure safe and efficient operation. It can be considered a long time investment because if you purchase a good leak detector, it is going to work for you and your business for many years to come.

Top 10 Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors

1. Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector – SRL8

A photograph of Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector

 

Pros:
  • Extremely Sensitive
  • Triggers on CFCs, HFCs, and HCFCs
  • 15 Hour Charge with a User Replaceable Battery
  • Filter System Protects the Sensor from Moisture and Contaminants
  • Easy to Use Straight Out Of the Box
Cons:
  • Can be so sensitive that it will trigger on trace amounts of fluorine that is found in dish soap
Review:

This is the best Freon leak detector in this price range. You will be able to use this in your shop year after year and will be surprised at your ability to find leaks that were undetectable before. It is very well-built and durable. It is a little bit more expensive than some simpler models, but it makes up for the price difference by its ability to locate and pinpoint leaks. This tool is especially helpful if you are dealing with cluttered refrigeration piping.

Conclusion

This is a really good detector, and it is worth every cent you pay for it. You will not need to worry about false trips, which very quickly can cause you to lose credibility with your customer. It doesn’t go off unless there’s really a leak, and that in and of itself makes this unit, which comes in at around $250, more than worth it.

2. Signstek Portable Halogen Detector

Photo of the Signstek Portable Leakage Detector

 

Pros:
  • Inexpensive
  • Sensitive Sensor That Detects All Kinds of Halogenated Refrigerants
  • Real-Time Sensitivity and Reset Time Sensitivity Adjustments
  • Multi-color Battery Voltage Display
Cons:
  • May Give a False Alarm in the Presence of Water
  • Not As Sensitive As More Expensive Models
Review:

Photo of the Signstek Portable Leakage Detector DisplayThe Signstek Portable Halogen Detector is by far the best refrigerant leak detector under $50 you are going to find. The sensors are designed to detect leaks that are as little as one ounce a year.

Some have complained that the unit gives off false positives when it’s by water or when it’s by a hose that is not leaking. It is likely that in both instances the false positives are nothing when compared to an actual reading.

When there is a real leak, this device goes crazy.

Conclusion

Is this the best leak detector on the market? No. Is it the best refrigerant leak detector we could find at this price? Absolutely. Based on the fact that it comes with a six month warranty and 30 days to return it free of charge, it’s clear to see why this product is a steal.

3. Yellow Jacket 69336 AccuProbe UV Leak Detect

Photo of the Yellow Jacket 69336 AccuProbe UV Leak Detector

 

Pros:
  • Extremely Sensitive Tip
  • When Used on Most Settings, It Will Pinpoint the Location of a Leak
  • Longer Lifespan than the Competition
Cons:
  • Provides False Positives
Review:

This device is designed to detect CFC for joints, including R – 22 and R– 124. The sensor is designed to be exceptionally sensitive and has been created to be durable and have a long life. Thanks to its proprietary heated electrochemical sensor technology, this unit is able to detect more current and is able to more easily detect HFC refrigerants than other units.

It operates using four AA alkaline batteries and has an LED UV light system that functions in conjunction with 395-15nm wavelength leak tracing dyes. Most refrigerant leak detector reviews agree that this unit has a sleek and ergonomic design. It is easy to use even in tight areas and is extendable so that you can get to hard-to-reach places.

Conclusion

While this is an expensive unit coming in at over $400, you may find that this is the best leak detector you have ever owned thanks to its multiple sensitivity settings. It is able to pinpoint super small leaks. In fact, it is able to pinpoint leaks on some of its lower settings that less expensive models cannot on their higher settings. It offers good value for the money.

4. Robinair TIFRX-1A Automatic Halogen Leak Detector

Photo of Robinair TIFRX-1A Automatic Halogen Leak Detector

 

Pros:
  • A True Mechanical Pump That Allows for Positive Airflow through the Sensing Tube
  • 14 Inch Flexible Stainless Steel Probe
  • Six Segment Visual Leak Size Indicator
  • Ergonomically Designed
  • Lightweight
Cons:
  • Needs to Be Close to the Leak in Order to Sense It
Review:

This device is designed to allow you to use the technology of the future today. It is a revolutionized design on how leak detectors should look and how they should work.

Thanks to the creative MPC circuitry and the advanced digital signal processing, the tip is able to sense for a leak up to 2,000 times per second. In addition to improved sensitivity, there is improved reliability. This device will last up to two times as long as its predecessor.

Outstanding features such as a variable frequency audible alarm, the ability to reset with just one touch, and the constant power indication are just a few of the reasons why amateurs and professionals are flocking to this device.

Conclusion

Coming in at around $100, this unit is a lot cheaper than some of the higher end units we have reviewed. However, it offers a wide range of features that one would expect to find on a more expensive unit. It is flexible, it is accurate, and it has good value for the price.

5. Inficon TEK-Mate 705-202-G1 Refrigerant Leak Detector

Photo of Inficon TEK-Mate 705-202-G1 Refrigerant Leak Detector

 

Pros:
  • Detects a Wide Range of Refrigerants, Including R 22, R507, R 32 CFSs and HFOs
  • No Need for Adjustment Thanks to the Automatic Background Compensation Feature
Cons:
  • Not Designed for Heavy Duty Use
Review:

The Inficon TEK-Mate is among the best refrigerant testers for light to medium duty use. It is a reliable tester that has a competitive price.

The heated diode sensor as well as the variable intensity audible and visual alarms give this product the flexibility and sensitivity needed to provide accurate readings. Its ability to automatically compensate for changes in the background environment make this, according to refrigerant leak detector reviews, one of the superior refrigerant leak detectors in this price range.

Conclusion

This is a good device for someone who is looking to do residential or automotive HVAC work. Coming in at over $150, this unit is not exceptionally expensive, yet it provides a lot of the features you will need to get residential work done. It is not designed for commercial work.

6. LotFancy Refrigerant Freon Leak Detector

Photo of LotFancy Refrigerant Freon Leak Detector Unit

 

Pros:
  • Flexible Enough to Test All Halogen Refrigerants
  • Manual and Automatic Sensitivity Adjustments
  • Battery Voltage Lights
  • Instantaneous Response Time
Cons:
  • Difficulty Detecting 134 A
  • May Trigger False Alarms
Review:

This is an inexpensive unit that is designed to test all halogen refrigerants. Its features include manual and automatic sensitivity adjustments that allow the device to select the optimum detection state. It can ignore environment collagen gases, so these do not interfere with the test results.

It is designed to be exceptionally sensitive and has a long life expectancy. Other outstanding features include sensitivity steeples and speed regulation that can adjust during testing.

Conclusion

When you look at refrigerant leak detector reviews about this product, it is clear to see why this product sells for around $20. It has a lot of features that may or may not work well. It is a simple leak detector. This detector will not find a small leak, the type of leak that slowly happens over the course of a year.

That being said, it is only about $20. So for what you’re paying for it, the value is good.

7. Inficon D-TEK 712-202-G1

Photo of the Inficon D-TEK 712-202-G1 Select Refrigerant Leak Detector

 

Pros:
  • 1000+ Hours of Sensor Life
  • Infrared Cell Does Not Get Weak over Time
  • Response Is Consistent and Accurate
  • Detects Most Refrigerant Gases
Cons:
  • Shorter Than Average Battery Life
Review:

Inficon D-TEK Case with the leak detectorThe Inficon D-TEK is an extremely reliable, very sensitive, cordless refrigerant leak detector. It is a next generation leak detector that uses infrared absorption sensing cells that are able to detect even the smallest of leaks.

What is nice about this unit is that it works even with newer refrigerant blends. The sensing cells can last for up to 1,000 hours, and that’s more than 10 times longer than some lower priced refrigerant sensors.

The charging status indicator and the sensor failure indicator make this product easy-to-use and give you the quality and durability you would expect from a product produced by Inficon.

Conclusion

Coming in at over $350, this is an expensive unit. It offers a lot of advanced features and provides a consistent result. It has a steep learning curve, but once you understand the product, you are able to get a lot done in a reliable way.

8. Robinair TIFZX Heated Pentode Halogen Leak Detector

Robinair TIFZX Heated Pentode Halogen Leak Detector

 

Pros:
  • Tricolor Visual Leak Size Indicator
  • True Mechanical Pump for Instant Response and Clearing
  • Detects CHFs, HFCs, HCFCs, and R Gases
  • Easy-To-Use Tactile Keypad Controls and One Touch Reset
  • Adjustable Sensitivity
Cons:
  • None
Review:

Robinair TIFZX Heated Pentode Halogen Leak Detector KitThe Robinair TIFZX Heated Pentode Halogen Leak Detector uses time-tested heated-pentode technology. Its grip is ergonomically designed to be comfortable in your hand while at the same time slip resistant.

The easy-to-read display makes identifying information and settings a breeze. There is little chance of getting a false alarm, be it from solvents, cleaners, or moisture.

The tricolor visual leak size indicator and tactile keyboard controls make using this device intuitive and user-friendly. Adjustable sensitivity and one touch reset are just a few of the features this unit offers.

Conclusion

While not the most expensive unit we are going to review, coming in at around $250, buying this unit is an investment. That being said, it produces quality results, has a sturdy construction, and is designed for use in residential as well as industrial settings. This is a good unit for the money you will invest.

9. ATD Tools 3698 Refrigerant Gas Leak Detector

Photo of ATD Tools 3698 Refrigerant Gas Leak Detector

 

Pros:
  • Meets the Most Recent SAE Standards
  • Can Detect HFC, HCFC, CFC Refrigerants and SNAP Blends
  • Three Adjustable Sensitivity Levels
  • Low Battery Indicator
  • Made in the USA
Cons:
  • Short Sensor Life of Only 300 Hours
  • Short Battery Life of Only Eight Hours
Review:

This is a nice tool that is designed to meet all of the most recent standards of refrigerant leak detection. It is built to meet the standards of USA production and is easy to use and operate. It’s powered by four AA alkaline batteries, and its sensor has a two-year warranty.

The sensor is sensitive enough to detect a leak of .5 ounces per year. It has instantaneous response time, needs less than 20 seconds to warm up, and has a 17 inch probe. The unit is designed for both residential and commercial use.

Conclusion

Coming in at a little over $150, this unit offers good value for the money. Its sensor life is a little bit shorter than some of the other units we have reviewed, and it only has eight hours of continuous battery life. However, this is offset by its durability.

10. Yellow Jacket 69354 AccuProbe II Leak Detector

Photo of the Yellow Jacket 69354 AccuProbe II Leak Detector

 

Pros:
  • Low, Normal, and High Sensitivity Levels
  • Audible Signals to Easily Pinpoint Leaks
  • 300 Hour Service Life for Sensor
Cons:
  • Only 4.5 Hours Continuous Battery Life
Review:

Photo of the full Yellow Jacket Leak Detector PackagingThe Yellow Jacket 69354 is a state-of-the-art leak detector. It has heat sensor technology, allowing it to detect HFCs, HCFCs, CFCs, and many other refrigerants including SNAP hydrocarbon blends. It is designed to provide the least amount of false alarms.

Unlike other devices, this unit does not require rechargeable batteries. It provides you with an instantaneous response time and has automatic calibration and reset to ambient environmental conditions. It comes with an 18 month warranty, weighs around 1 ½ pounds, and has a 17 inch probe.

Conclusion

This unit will cost you north of $200. While it has a lot more features than lower-priced units we have reviewed, when you compare it with other units that are around the $200 mark, it seems to be lacking. One of our biggest concerns is the short battery life. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a job and needing to find more batteries, reset the device, and continue working.

It is of decent value for the money, but we feel that there are other products in the same price range that offer better value.

Why You Should Use a Good Leak Detector

A good electronic refrigerant leak detector is going to be a financial investment. However, it is a worthwhile investment whether you are looking at the device for personal use or you are looking at using it as a tool of your trade.

Electronic leak detectors, like most other products, can be found at different price ranges. You can get one for $30, or you can get one for over $300. Cheaper units will work, but their reliability and ability to detect different refrigerants is questionable.

Although more expensive, the benefits of using a good leak detector include:

  • Quick Detection Times. The EPA and other environmental authorities are quick to find businesses that have large refrigerant leaks. A good leak detector allows you to find the leak quickly, saving your customers money.
  • Ability to Detect a Wide Range of Refrigerants. A good leak detector will be able to detect CFCs HFCs and HFC blends, making them extremely versatile.
  • Safe and Efficient. High-end leak detectors are designed for safe operation and to be ergonomically correct.
  • A Solid Investment. A good leak detector is durable, and you will be able to use it in your business for many years.

Other Smart Methods of Identifying a Leak

1. UltraViolet Detection Method

Searching for a leak in an air conditioner or refrigerating system can be a challenge. Many people resort to the bubble solution. However, UV leak detection is superior in that it provides quicker and more pinpoint results.

What Is UV Leak Detection?

Small amounts of fluorescent dyes are injected into and then circulated throughout the refrigeration system as it is operating.

A mixture of dye and refrigerant will escape through the leak site and eventually accumulate there. Using a leak detection lamp, the leak location becomes fluorescent and turns either green or yellow. This makes it easy to spot.

The dye can be added to the system before a leak occurs. That way, when there is a leak, a quick scan with the specialized lamp will show where the leak is coming from.

Ultraviolet detection is beneficial because it:

  • Identifies Every Leak Quickly
  • Makes Leaks Visible from a Distance
  • Leaks Can Be Identified When the System Is Running or Shut off
  • Repairs Can Be Verified
  • Dyes Can Stay in the System Indefinitely
  • Reduces Service Tech Callbacks

The following are a few tools that will be beneficial when using the UV method:

The UV light: 1. TaoTronics TT-FL001Photo of the TaoTronics TT FL001 Ultraviolet Flashlight

This handy UV light is a powerful tool that makes the invisible visible. It works by showing phosphors. This is a substance that is invisible to the naked eye but emits light as a result of radiation. The black light emitted by this UV lamp makes seeing the dye possible.

It is small and compact, weighing around 2 ounces and has dimensions of 5.4 x 3.4 x 1.1”. It comes with three Duracell AAA batteries that last for five hours of continuous use.

The UV Dye: 2. Tracer Products TP34000601 UV Fluorescent Leak Detection DyeTracer Products TP34000601 UV Fluorescent Leak Detection Dye

This UV fluorescent leak detection dye works with a wide range of fluids, including gasoline, transmission fluid, and refrigerants.

This fluid is extremely valuable because pinpointing a radiation leak can be difficult. The dye produces an unmistakable yellow/green color when the UV light is aimed at it. It will clearly show you the source of the leak and allow you to repair it quickly.

A word of caution, before using a UV dye, check the manufacturer’s warranty. Some manufacturer’s warranties are voided by using these dyes.

2. Using Soap

An air-conditioner refrigerant leak is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to your AC unit. When you run your air-conditioner during the summer months, the refrigerant is not consumed. Instead, it gets cycled back and forth from the condenser to the evaporator as it removes heat from your home.

In modern units, when the AC system is initially charged, it should last for the lifespan of the unit. When a leak occurs, it can result in multiple problems that can eventually lead to your AC unit breaking down.

The Soap Method

Also known as the bubble method, this is one of the oldest ways to detect a leak. To do this, simply apply a soap solution to the part of your AC unit where you think there is a leak. Use a brush, squeeze bottle, or dauber.

Any escaping refrigerant will produce bubbles at the leak site. This method may not be effective if it is windy outside or if the leak is very small.

Don’t Let It Leak

Refrigerant is the lifeblood of your air-conditioning unit. When the refrigerant leaks, it not only affects the functionality of your unit, but its inefficiency can damage the unit as well.

If your air-conditioner is leaking, simply adding refrigerant is not a solution. You will need a trained technician to fix the leak, repair it, test the repair, and then add more refrigerant.

Your air-conditioning unit is going to perform at its peak efficiency when the refrigerant charge matches the manufacturer’s specifications. If it is undercharged or overcharged, it will not work as well as it should.

Another factor to consider is the effect that refrigerant leaks can have on the environment. Refrigerant is very harmful to the environment, which is why environmental regulatory agencies are constantly fining large corporations that do not prevent these leaks.

Making The Decision

A photograph of some air conditioner units stationary outside of a buildingIt is decision-making time. Throughout this guide we have tried to provide you with the basic information you will need to purchase the best refrigerant leak detector for your needs. As you can clearly see, the units come with different features and are available at different price ranges.

If you are looking at purchasing something for commercial use, you will likely want to look at some of the higher end models we reviewed. If you’re looking for something to use around your home or on your automobile, then some of the less expensive yet quality models we reviewed may be right for you.

There are many brick-and-mortar stores that sell refrigerant leak detectors. There’s nothing wrong with walking into one of those stores and purchasing what you need. However, from our standpoint, it is better to purchase these products online.

When you purchase these products from a site like Amazon.com, you are able to look at reviews written by other individuals who have used the same product you are looking at buying. You are able to learn about the product without the pressure of a salesperson breathing down your neck. When you make your final decision, you can have the product delivered to your home.

That being said, the decision of where to buy is yours. Refrigerant leaks are expensive and potentially dangerous. Don’t let the HVAC system in your home, or the homes and businesses of your clients, suffer any longer.

Buy yourself a quality refrigerant leak detector today.