7 Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors For Pros 2022

A refrigerant leak detector is an HVAC contractor's best friend. This tool allows you to pinpoint and detect leaks with a refrigeration system and address them efficiently. 

Not every refrigerant leak detector is the same, as some have more advanced features than others. Some are also better at detecting minor leaks due to higher sensitivity, and certain models only work with specific types of refrigerants. 

So then, what's the best refrigerant leak detector? I’ve provided everything you want to know about refrigerant detectors in this buying guide and included some of the top picks you can buy. 

Top 7 Refrigerant Leak Detectors

Elitech ILD-200 Advanced Refrigerant Leak Detector

Elitech ILD-200 Advanced Leak Detector

Elitech, which was started in 1996,  is a trusted brand in the HVAC industry. This Silicon Valley-based operation has manufactured high-quality HVAC products for almost three decades, and one of its developments is the ILD-200.

The Elitech ILD-200 is a reliable handheld refrigerant leak detector ideal for many applications. You can use it in environments with temperatures ranging from 14°F to 125.6°F and store it in conditions between -4°F to 140°F.

A top feature is the TFT/LCD screen — making it the first of its kind to include such. It offers precise readings and animates information like battery levels, three sensitivity settings, leakage, and sensor fault indicators.

If you don't plan on plugging in headphones, note that the speaker volume is a little low for some technicians' liking.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Working time: 6 hours
  • Charging time: 4 hours
  • Batteries: ‎1 Lithium Metal
  • Sensor life: 10 years or more

Pros

  • World's first TCT screen
  • Handy PEAK function feature
  • Includes automatic self-calibration (within three seconds)

Cons

  • The low speaker volume makes it hard to hear in noisy environments.

INFICON D-TEK Select Refrigerant Leak Detector

INFICON D-TEK Select

If you're looking for a premium product, the INFICON D-TEK is one of the best refrigerant leak detectors out there.  While it has a high price tag — it’s well worth it.

The INFICON D-TEK detects all CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs, and HFOs, meaning you won't have to invest in multiple products to detect leaks in different refrigerants. It's the perfect tool incase any AC starts to freeze due to low refrigerant and you're looking to find the leak causing it.

The leak detector infrared sensor lasts for up to 1,000 hours, which provides help for countless jobs. When it does come time to replace it, you can do so while at a job — no need to take it into your workshop for a complicated replacement.

As an HVAC technician, you're likely always on the go. But, that shouldn't be an issue with this product by your side. It offers dependable power options to ensure you're never without your leak detector. For example, you can hook it up to an AC wall charger, a DC car charger, or a rechargeable battery to give it the juice it needs. 

Specifications:

  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Sensitivity: .10 oz per year
  • Batteries: Rechargeable Lithium Ion
  • Sensor life: 1000 hours

Pros

  • Convenient carrying case
  • Multiple power options
  • A field-replaceable infrared sensor

Cons

  • Slow charging time

Elitech ILD-300 Advanced Refrigerant Leak Detector

Elitech ILD-300

If you're interested in the Elitech ILD-200, the ILD-300 will also meet your needs. There aren't many notable differences between the two products since it also uses infrared technology, but they're both ideal for an HVAC contractor.

Like the ILD-200, the ILD-300 detects all halogenated refrigerants and meets multiple industry standards, including SAE-2913, SAE-2791, SAE-162, and EN14624. The advanced sensor has a wide range and sensitive reactions to all refrigerants that contain fluorine or chlorine. If you're working in a cramped space, the flexible probe will let you reach tight or challenging areas.

While the ILD-200 has a reset function, the ILD-300 does not. But, it makes up for this by offering a GAS button that lets you select the corresponding refrigerants depending on different leakage sources. This feature is preferable for advanced HVAC technicians working in larger or multiple environments.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Working time: 6 hours
  • Charging time: 4 hours
  • Batteries: ‎1 Lithium Metal
  • Sensor life: 10 years or more

Pros

  • GAS button for more versatile leak detection
  • Meets multiple industry standards
  • Advanced infrared technology

Cons

  • Similar to the ILD-200 and listed at a higher price

Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector 

Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector

Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector is a highly rated HVAC leak detector based on its efficiency. You can get it to run within 30 seconds, making it much faster than other corona discharge units that take several minutes or more to get going.

The clever filter design protects the sensor from moisture and debris. The sensor and filter sit at opposite ends of the device. So, if you accidentally encounter oil or condensation, the filter will swell shut and prevent the sensor from exposure.

As you're pinpointing leaks, you can take advantage of this product's automatic and manual zeroing capabilities. It automatically clears itself every couple of seconds until a leak alerts the sensor. Then, you can manually zero out the device to detect further leaks. It's quite helpful and can help figure out if a leak is causing a breaker to trip.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Batteries: 1 Lithium ion
  • Sensor life: 5 years
  • Sensor Type: Heated Diode

Pros

  • Clever filter design
  • Fast up-and-running time
  • Automatic and manual zeroing capabilities

Cons

  • Provides some false readings due to sudden temperature changes

MASTERCOOL 56200 Blue Raptor Refrigerant Leak Detector 

MASTERCOOL 56200 Blue Raptor

If you perform small-scale jobs for residential clients, the MASTERCOOL 56200 Blue Raptor is a quality HVAC refrigerant detector for you. It's reasonably priced and can detect even the smallest leaks.

From the product's keypad control, you can reset the sensitivity level to zero, decrease or increase the sensitivity level, turn the UV light on/off, and turn the unit on/off. Accurate readings are easy to capture with the Blue Raptor, as it features six vertical LEDs that make visual detection easy.

One unique thing about this one is that it has a UV blue LED light on the end of the testing probe for UV leak detection. It also comes with a pair of eye goggles for safe use. 

Specifications:

  • Weight: 4.5 pounds
  • Sensitivity: .10 oz per year
  • Batteries: ‎2 C Alkaline 
  • Sensor life: 20 hours

Pros

  • Low price
  • Features a UV light for leak detection
  • Easy to use and obtain accurate readings

Cons

  • Somewhat bulkier than other products
  • Short sensor life

Inficon TEK Mate Refrigerant Leak Detector

Inficon TEK Mate

The Inficon TEK Mate operates on a heated diode sensor. It can detect A2L semi-flammables (like R1234yf and R32) as well as CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs, and HFOs. It uses the latest infrared leak detection technology to make jobs more simple to solve. 

The sensitivity is pretty good, as it can detect a minimum of 0.25 oz per year. And, the TEK Mate offers both audible and visual alarms, meaning you won't miss any leaks on the job sites you visit. It can also help you figure out why your AC might no longer be blowing cold air.

The product's high and low settings allow you to narrow the leak source to a specific point, making remediation a breeze. Its flexible prove allows can make it easy to use for hard to reach areas.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 3.1 pounds
  • Sensitivity: .25 oz per year
  • Batteries: Two D-cell Alkaline
  • Sensor life: 100 hours

Pros

  • No false alarms from soap solutions
  • A2L certified
  • Comes with a sturdy carrying case

Cons

  • Lower sensor lifespan than other similar products

Amprobe Refrigerant Detector 

Amprobe - 3474968 RLD-1

This model by Amprobe performs a thorough job every time. It includes a suction pump that cleans the sensor and increases efficiency, which decreases the chances of false readings.

The semiconductor sensor identifies various halogenated refrigerants, including R-22, R-410A, R-407C, R-134A, and Freon. The stainless steel probe is quite bendy, allowing you to test in tight areas. Plus, the ambient concentration reset feature helps you find leaks in areas with refrigerant that has become heavily airborne.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Working time: runs on 2 C-size (3 V DC) alkaline batteries
  • Batteries: 3V C Alkaline
  • Sensor life: 1 year

Pros

  • Audible and visual detection
  • Suction pump for sensor cleaning
  • Quick warm-up time

Cons

  • Can only work in temperatures above 32°F

Refrigerant Leak Detector Buyers Guide

Refrigerants play an important role in air conditioning, so you want a leak detector that will help you detect the issue quickly to get it back to normal. As you're shopping around for leak detectors, you may be wondering what do you need to consider for choosing the right refrigerant leak detector. If you're at a loss about where to start your buying journey, here are some essential factors to consider as you shop:

refrigerant leak detector hvac technicians

Price

The top HVAC refrigerant leak detectors won't always be the most expensive. Consider the Blue Raptor reviewed earlier — it's one of the cheapest products on our list, and it includes many of the same features as other more expensive products.

However, keep in mind some things you'll sacrifice when you don't pay as much. You may not get as much use out of the sensor or miss out on the ability to test for certain types of refrigerants.

As you're shopping for a refrigerant leak detector, you must prioritize what features are essential and which ones you can skip. Once you evaluate what you want, you can find a nice compromise on price.

Battery Life

Most electronic refrigerant leak detectors operate on batteries (rechargeable or not). Battery operation for these products is convenient, as it gives you more range of motion and prevents you from being tied to a wall outlet.

Any product will eventually require charging or battery replacement if it's not rechargeable. If you're in the market for a leak detector with a rechargeable battery, we recommend considering the charging time and options.

Some HVAC contractors won't mind a long charging time via a wall outlet, but this won't be practical for everyone. If you're constantly on the go, look for a product that you can charge from a car in under a few hours or one that has a long battery life. Just don't forget to buy a vehicle charger as well. 

Types of Refrigerants Supported

What kind of refrigerants can your detector identify? Just like HVAC gauges, refrigerant leak detectors also work with only certain refrigerants.

Most veteran HVAC contractors will prefer a halogen tester, as this product is much more precise and versatile than traditional heat-diode or corona sensors. Ensure that product supports leak detection for common halogenated refrigerants so that your clients can rely on you to fix problems with their air conditioning units.

Sensitivity

Not all refrigerant leaks in air conditioning units will be glaringly obvious. Ideally, you should invest in a leak detector that identifies leaks of all sizes. Some products can pinpoint leaks that are as small as 0.1 ounces per year (or even less) in addition to larger gaps.

Alarms/Visual Indicators

You don't want to miss an alarm from your leak detector, so ensure you can interpret its alerts correctly. Some products come with audible alarm and visual detection, which is great in noisy environments with many distractions.

You may be interested in a product with a headphone jack feature, as you'll be able to hear the sound more clearly in a bustling environment.

Finding the right refrigerant leak detector doesn't have to be difficult. Simply keep the above in mind to make an informed shopping decision. Just like HVAC software and HVAC vacuum pumps, a refrigerant leak detector is a useful tool for any HVAC technician.

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Justin Edwards

Justin Edwards is an HVAC contractor in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Before working in HVAC, he worked in all sorts of other contracted-related jobs. When he's not doing HVAC-related work, he's writing DIY articles and sharing his expert insights.