The Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors (Reviewed)
Because any refrigerant system is prone to failure and issues, which is why you should always be ready to detect and fix such problems promptly with the right refrigerant leak detector.
We understand the frustration that accompanies trying to find one of these products, which is why we’ve already done the heavy lifting and chose the best refrigerant leak detectors that you can get today.
1. Fieldpiece Heater Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector
What makes this exceptional device from Fieldpiece so popular is the fact that it is highly reliable, rapid, and fully-rechargeable, taking around 15 hours to recharge. This heated diode detector can last about 48 hours on a single charge, meaning that it won’t let you down on any workday. It also detects all kinds of leaks, including HFCs, CFCs, HCFCs, and blends.
- Triggers on all CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs and blends. More sensitive to some refrigerants than others.
- 15-hour rechargeable, user replaceable battery. It lasts almost two full workdays on a single charge (if your hunting down leaks all day). You can also use it while it's hooked up to the wall or vehicle charger.
The sensor of the Fieldpiece SRL8 has three sensitivity levels, ranging from 6.6 oz/year to 0.1 oz/year, making it one of the most effective sensors found in leak detectors, though the sensitivity may vary from one refrigerant to the other. You can either reset the tool to zero manually or let it do that automatically every two seconds. Should the tool detect any leakage, it alerts the user, aka you, through audible and visual alarms
It’s worth noting that the sensor is well protected from moisture and hazardous contaminants thanks to an effective filter system that covers it. To give you some extra peace of mind, the device comes with 10 replacement filters as well as five O-rings and a 9-inch flexible probe.
- Filter system to protect the sensor
- Fast, accurate, and rechargeable
- Automatic or manual zeroing
2. LotFancy Refrigerant Leak Detector
The Fieldpiece SRL8 is pricey, there’s no denying that, which calls for a more affordable device that is easy to use and capable of delivering accurate results without breaking the bank. The LotFancy Refrigerant Leak Detector checks pretty much all the boxes that we mentioned, making it one of the strongest candidates for the title of the best Refrigerant Leak Detector that you can get today.
- Excellent sensor with maximum sensitivity of 6gr/yr, the Freon leak detector detects all kinds of halogen refrigerants including but not limited to CFCs e.g. R11, R12, R13, R113, R114, R500, R502, R503 etc. HCFCs e.g. R22, R123, R124, R401A, R401B, R402A, R403B, R408A, R409A, R414B, R416A etc. HFCs e.g. R23, R134a, R404A, R407C, R410A, R417A, R422A, R422B, R422D, R507, R508B etc. Blends such as AZ-50. HP62. MP39 etc.
- Real time sensitivity, refrigerant Freon leak detector can be automatically adjusted to the best optimum detecting state
Just like the Fieldpiece SRL8, this detector AC device can detect all types of halogenated refrigerants, including CFCs, HFCs, and HCFCs, but with a lower sensitivity of 6 g/year. It doesn’t rival high-end devices, of course, but for the price, it’s pretty accurate and sensitive, especially that it offers real-time sensitivity and that it can auto-adjust to the best state for leak detection.
For power, this device uses four AAA batteries, which aren’t included in the package, so you’ll have to get them yourself. The detector features a tri-color screen that displays the battery percentage.
Once you turn on this leak detector, it will start beeping at a low frequency of two beeps per second, but it will begin beeping at a higher frequency of ten beeps per second and emit a flashing light from the screen as soon as it sniffs out a leak.
For the accessories, the LotFancy Refrigerant Leak Detector comes with a flexible 7.84-inch probe.
All in all, although this device is not as advanced as the Fieldpiece SRL8 that we reviewed above, it’s still a pretty good choice and one of the best refrigerant leak detectors that you can get if you’re on a budget.
- Affordable price tag
- Detects all kinds of halogen refrigerants
- Automatic adjustment to the optimum detecting state
- The batteries aren’t included
3. Signstek Portable AC Refrigerant Leakage Detector
The Signstek Portable AC Refrigerant Leakage Detector is yet another device that won’t blow a hole in your wallet, making it one of the staple tools for every handyman. Just like the LotFancy detector, this device detects all kinds of halogen refrigerants and relies on batteries for power, though it uses 2 C alkaline ones rather than AAA. Considering the price point of the Signstek, we can’t really argue about the rechargeability, or the lack of it to be exact.
- Excellent sensor with high sensitivity,3g/yr (0.1oz/yr), detect all kinds of halogenated refrigerant including HFCs, CFCs,HCFCs and blends
- 14 inches (35.5cm) flexible stainless steel probe can reach to almost any tight space
The Signstek device uses the heated diode method to detect leaks, with a maximum sensitivity of 0.1 oz/year, making it pretty accurate, especially for the price. The detector has two working mechanism: continuous, and no limit, with instant reaction time and two-second resetting time. Once it finds something, the LED screen flashes out and indicates the severity of the leak across six levels. The tri-color display also shows the battery level so that you know exactly when you need to change them.
For the accessories, the device comes with a flexible 14-inch probe that’s made of stainless steel to extend its lifespan.
- Sensitive and accurate
- Detects all kinds of halogen refrigerants
- Tri-color, LED display with six-level leak alarm
- Not rechargeable
4. Yellow Jacket Accuprobe UV Refrigerant Leak Detector
Back to the expensive side of the spectrum with a U.S.A.-made, ultra-sensitive electronic leak detector that’s capable of detecting all types of refrigerant blends, including HCFCs; HFCs, HFOs, SNAP blends, and others that are difficult to identify, such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A, using UV technology, an electrolyte sensor, or both.
- Use low sensitivity as you move the tip over more e defined areas of a system, Long life, stable sensor, 3 UV lights fluoresce between 395 and 415 nanometers
- Brand name: Yellow Jacket
As it’s made in the United States, the Yellow Jacket Accuprobe UV Refrigerant Leak Detector will last for years on end inside your toolbox. Thanks to its effective detecting mechanism, this device can detect all kinds of refrigerants without producing much heat, thus further extending its lifespan.
Once the detector sniffs out a leak, the Smart Alarm LED indicates the severity by using a 9-level scale, where a score of 1 to 3 is less than 0.1 oz/year, 4 to 6 is 0.1 to 0.5 oz/year, and 7 to 9 is more than 0.5 oz/year. There’s also an audible alert that can be muted. With that, the Yellow Jacket UV Refrigerant Leak Detector takes sensitivity and accuracy to a whole new level, which explains its price tag.
Other features that we like in this leak detector, and that contribute to making it one of the best refrigerant leak detectors that you can get today, include the instant response time, microcontroller technology, display battery indicator, and the automatic calibration and zeroing.
As with the rest of the products on our list, this device comes with a flexible probe.
- Nine sensitivity levels
- Smart alarm LED display
- UV tech and electrolyte sensor
5. Inficon D-Tek Select Refrigerant Leak Detector
The last recommendation on our list of the best refrigerant leak detectors is a device that’s accurate, highly-sensitive, and reliable – The Inficon D-Tek Select. Don’t let the high price tag of this Refrigerant Leak Detector discourage you, as it’s totally justified.
- Sensitivity of 0.10 oz./year (3 g/year)
- Detects all CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, and HFOs
The D-Tek Select uses an infrared absorption sensing cell to sniff off all types of refrigerants, even new and hard to detect blends, including CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, R-22, R-404a, and R-134a. The minimum sensitivity is 0.1 oz/year, which makes this device one of the most accurate leak detectors that you can get today.
Although the D-Tek doesn’t feature a LED display, it does come with onboard diagnostics that indicate the charging status and sends an alert in case the battery is going low or if there is an issue with the infrared cell.
Speaking of the cell, the one inside the D-Tek Select lasts around 1000 hours, which is roughly ten times longer than the previous model from the same company. As with the other high-end units, this leak detector comes with a rechargeable NiMH battery that’s capable of providing juice for 6.5 hours. As for the accessories, you’ll get a flexible 15-inch probe, a charger, a carrying case, and a handful of spare filters.
You can rest assured as the device will deliver top-notch performance throughout its working hours, making it a worthy investment and one of the best refrigerant leak detectors available on the market, especially for professionals.
- Rechargeable NiMH battery
- Long-lasting infrared sensing cell
- Detects all kinds of refrigerants, even the newest blends
Choosing the Best Refrigerant Leak Detector – Buying Guide
As an HVAC technician, you can’t really call your toolbox complete without the best refrigerant leak detector, which is why we’ve taken our time to prepare the following buying guide that will help pick the right device for you.
Why You Should Get an AC Leak Detector
The AC, like any refrigerant system, relies on the refrigerant to work. In case of leakage, the system loses refrigerants and starts to work in an inefficient manner, which translates to a warm house during the summer. The situation is even worse in case of a leak in an industrial system, as that would result in food spoilage. Not only does a refrigerant leak have severe financial and comfort-related consequences, but it also affects the environment, which makes fixing such an issue a real emergency.
As an HVAC technician, your responsibility is to take care of the leak as fast and efficiently as possible, and what’s better to do that than to get the best refrigerant leak detector – one that’s easy to use, sensitive, and quick?
Using a reliable leak detector model, not only will you be able to detect the leak, but you’ll also get an idea of its severity so that you can take care of it efficiently, making such a device a necessity in any technician’s toolbox.
Different Types of Freon Leak Detectors
Freon leak detectors come in three main types: heated diode; ultrasonic, and corona suspension.
- Heated Diode:
This is by far the most commonly used type of leak detector. Heated diode devices sniff off refrigerants by collecting the air from the inspection area and heating it to separate the molecules to detect if there is any refrigerant in the collected sample.
- Corona Suspension:
The corona suspension refrigerant detecting mechanism is the oldest method out of the three. Corona suspension devices use high-voltage corona on the sensor to detect different types of refrigerants. Although this method is less reliable than modern technologies, it’s still pretty effective and simple, thus its popularity.
The ultrasonic detection method is the newest out of the three. Refrigerants let out similar sounds, which, although undetectable by the human ear, can be sniffed out by ultrasonic HVAC devices. So, basically, the device hears the leak and alerts the user instantly.
Each type of the bunch has its own pros and cons, which is why choosing the best refrigerant leak detector for your toolbox boils down to your personal preferences.
What to Look for in the Best Refrigerant Leak Detector
When looking for the best HVAC leak detector, there are several features and factors to consider, and although the list can be pretty long and overly-complicated, here are the main points that your chosen device must check:
- Wide Range of Refrigerants
The best refrigerant leak detector must be able to detect different kinds of refrigerants. As a general rule of thumb, the wider the range of detectable refrigerants, the pricier the device, which is why you ought to pick one that can detect the ones that you usually work with by checking your field applications and factoring your expertise in.
Of course, if you’re willing to shell out whatever amount of money to get the best of the best, we highly recommend going for a device that’s capable of detecting all common and uncommon refrigerants and blends to ensure that your toolset is future-proof.
Speed is another crucial factor to consider when buying the best refrigerant leak detector. Look for a device with an efficient sensor, little warm-up time, and instant response time. Not only will that make your work much easier, but it will also help you earn more money by tackling more leak complaints in shorter periods of time.
- Battery Life
The last thing you need when you’re reaching different locations to take care of leak complaints is for your device to run out of juice, which is why you need to get a model that can last for at least several hours of continuous work time. Furthermore, you ought to get a rechargeable device, or at least one that works on rechargeable batteries.
- Price Tag
Most of the time, the pricier the device, the better the quality, but that doesn’t mean that you always need to break the bank trying to get the best refrigerant leak detector. If you’re a simple DIYer, we recommend going with an affordable model, such as the Signstek Portable AC Refrigerant Leakage Detector. On the other hand, if you’re a professional, say an HVAC technician, for example, avoid skimping on your refrigerant leak detector, as it’s a tool that you’ll often use in your field applications.
A refrigerant leak detector is a staple in any HVAC technician’s arsenal, which is why you need to take your time when choosing one for your toolbox. Although picking the best refrigerant leak detector may seem over-complicated, it’s quite easy if you’re willing to take your time and understand the different factors that would affect such a decision, which we’ve detailed above.