Leak detection is a primary skill that every HVAC technician must have an intricate understanding of and at the very least have ample hands-on experience, regardless of their overall experience level. However, having the necessary knowledge and the technical experience is not enough. In detecting a refrigerant leak in any HVAC system, you need tools to aid you in your work. And in many cases, an HVAC technician is only as good in refrigerant leak detection as their detectors are in. As such, you can appreciate the need to invest in the best detection tools on the market.
With this in mind, we will delve into the subject matter of best HVAC electronic refrigerant leak detectors we have on the market today. However, it is equally important to note that there are several ways of detecting leaks. Typically, there are three methods of leak detection. These include:
The Soap Water Method – This is a simple method that does not require advanced technology. Nonetheless, it is quite effective and moderately reliable. It involves applying soap water on suspected leak points. If there is indeed a leak, you can expect bubbles to foam. The major drawback is that you have to an idea of where the leaks are to use this method.
The Ultraviolet Dye Method – In the spectrum of technical complexity, this method occupies the middle section. The major advantage that method has is that you can use it even when you do not know exactly where leaks are. However, it does pose a risk to the overall performance of the system. Use an excessive amount of dyes and you risk negatively affecting the performance of the system. Additionally, when you use dyes that are not compatible with the lubrication used in your compressor, you risk damaging the compressor.
The Electronic Method – This method is the most technically advanced leak detection methods available. Use an electronic detector and you will get exact readings. This makes for a better experience when handling leak detection tasks.
Characteristics Of The Best Detector
Has The Ability To Detect A Wide Range Of Refrigerants – Ten years ago, all leaks detectors had the ability to detect the contemporary refrigerants used at the time. It was standard to use HCFCs, CFC, HFC refrigerants in HVAC systems. As such, detector only had to deal with a few chemical compounds and for the most, they could handle any leak detection with ease. However, today there are numerous refrigerants that are in use. For starters, we have the newer HFOs and the blends. This means that today’s detector has a higher task load as it must have the capability to detect a wider array of chemical compounds. A good detector should do a good job of detecting any of the refrigerant alternatives in use today.
Has Ample Detection Speed -The best of detectors should be able to detect leaks in a fast manner. Importantly, it should offer accurate reading regardless of the chemical saturation in the general area of the leak.
Has Ample Battery Life – While battery technology has advanced to the point where we expect a standard detector to have ample battery life, it is still important to make battery life a priority. While on the field, you do not want your detector batteries to affect your work. You want a detector to have enough battery to outlast the length of any project.
Should Be Durable – With regards to durability, it is important that you consider the most important component of the detector, the sensor. While the device itself might hold up well over the years and the buttons and the user interface might work perfectly over a lengthy period, the sensor will determine how long you can use the detector. Some can only work effectively for 50 hours while other will still work perfectly for 500 or even 1,000 hours. A good detector is one whose sensor lasts very long.
Comes With A Good Warranty – It goes without saying, a good detector should have good warranty terms.
Offer Exceptional Value For Money – In terms of value for money, a good detector should offer a combination of durability, robust detecting capabilities, good warranty terms, and also be affordable. It should provide value for money.
The Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors
#1. The Fieldpiece Heated Diode SRL8 Leak Detector
The Fieldpiece SRL8 has to be the best refrigerant detector on the market. For starters, it has an exceptional sensor allowing it to detect 0.10 ounces leak per year. This is by far the best detection capability of any detector on the market. It comes with a rechargeable battery that has a 15-hour life. It also has a sensor protection system that protects the sensor from oil and condensation damage. It has a robust build but only comes with a 1-year warranty on a failure of the unit.
#2. The Inficon TEK-Mate Leak Detector (705-202-G1)
The Inficon TEK-Mate is a heated diode refrigerant leak detection sensor detector. It, therefore, has the ability to detect a wide array of refrigerant leaks. It is also very sensitive to the presence of leaking refrigerants. It can detect leaks as small as 0.15 ounces per year. On the usability front, it has an intuitive user interface that makes it easy to use and understand the detector. It also comes with a 2-year warranty.
#3. LotFancy HFC CFC Leak Detector Refrigerant
LotFancy comes has a good combination of durability, cost-effectiveness, and robust detecting capabilities. On the performance front, it comes with a detection probe with a heated diode sensor at the tip. It also has the capability to adjust for sensitivity allowing users to attain better and more accurate readings. The hose is made of flexible stainless steel which gives it exceptional durability. The LotFancy uses 2 AA batteries as the source of power.
#4. Robinair TIFXL – 1A Leak Detector
This detector is one of the most advanced detectors on the market. It has an advanced microprocessor that allows the detector to detect a wide array of refrigerants. It also has an extra-long probe that allows it to detect halogenated refrigerants. It has a higher sampling frequency that makes the detection task a lot faster. Furthermore, it can detect even the smallest of leaks in the air.
On the usability front, it has an ergonomic design that makes it easy to handle. Powered by a long-lasting battery, you can also take it to remote areas.