Best Refrigerant Freon Leak Detectors

Are you looking for the best refrigerant freon leak detector? Our comprehensive guide to all things freon detection will help you decide which refrigerant leak detector is right for you.

What is common between an HVAC expert, a serviceman and a knowledgeable DIYer? All of them need a trusted refrigerant leak detector.

And it isn’t only the technicians who benefit from having a leak detector. Instead, normal users also have a lot to gain from them as refrigerant leaks – which release harmful chemicals like hydrofluorocarbons into our atmosphere – might end up posing a huge health risk for the entire household.

That said, not all refrigerant leak detectors are created equal.

In other words, if you show haste, you might end up with an average Freon leak detector which might do more harm than good by either not detecting the leak altogether or underrating its extent. Which is why you should go through this article to land the best refrigerant Freon leak detector.

Our Overall #1 Rated Pick

Fieldpiece SLR8 Heated Diode

  • Three sensitivity levels
  • Filter systems prevent clogging
  • 15-hour rechargeable battery
  • Supports manual and automatic zeroing

One of the most reliable leak detectors on the market, the Fieldpiece heated diode refrigerant leak detector is able to detect all CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs, and other major refrigerant blends. Therefore, if you want to get your hands on a multi-track pony, this model deserves your attention.

Quick Review

With its impressive battery timing, a high-end feature set and dual zeroing modes, the Fieldpiece Heated Diode SLR8 certainly comes with all the bells-and-whistles which you might hope to get in a refrigerant leak detector.

Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors based on Amazon Reviews

If you have done initial research of freon leak detection devices in the market, you might have gotten overwhelmed with so many choices. To make it easier for you, we have come up with this guide to show you the top ten refrigerant leak detectors for sale right now - based on Amazon ratings and reviews.

Check out the quick comparison below. There is also a more in-depth review later if you read further.

Best Refrigerant Leak Detectors on the Market: A Complete Review

If you've made it this far into the reviews of leak detectors then you must be serious about your buying choice!

Below, we go into more details on the top 10  detectors on the market to help you decide which is right for you.

Fieldpiece SLR8 Heated Diode

One of the most reliable leak detectors on the market, the Fieldpiece heated diode refrigerant leak detector is able to detect all CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs, and other major refrigerant blends. Therefore, if you want to get your hands on a multi-track pony, this model deserves your attention.

Features

First things first, you won’t have to spend much time trying to get this model up and running. Provided you follow the instructions given inside its instruction manual, you should be able to set up this model and activate its leak detection in less than a minute.

Additionally, to make sure that you get accurate readings every time, this leak detector supports both the Manual as well as Automatic Zeroing between two detection cycles. And you also get a rechargeable battery which provides a decent runtime of 15 hours on one cycle. 

Protecting this unit from the forces of the environment is its rugged casing which enables it to withstand accidental drops with minimal damage. You also get a Magnetic Hanger which lets you tie this model next to a metal surface.

Finally, to make sure that it can detect a wide range of blends, this model supports three sensitivity levels ranging between 0.1oz/year and 6.60z/year. A filter on the top of its detection tip, meanwhile, prevents clogging by keeping dust particles and moisture from entering the detector.

Final Verdict

With its impressive battery timing, a high-end feature set and dual zeroing modes, the Fieldpiece Heated Diode SLR8 certainly comes with all the bells-and-whistles which you might hope to get in a refrigerant leak detector.

Things We Like

  • Three sensitivity levels
  • Filter systems prevent clogging
  • 15-hour rechargeable battery
  • Supports manual and automatic zeroing

Things We Don't Like

  • Only 1-year warranty

Signstek Portable AC Refrigerant Halogen

Provided you’re low on a budget and are looking for a leak detector which provides the best value for your money, the Signstek Portable AC Refrigerant Halogen Gas leak detector might be your best bet.

Features

In an effort to belie its meager price tag, the Signstek leak detector comes equipped with an LED display. Apart from telling you the remaining battery time, the LED display displays how severe the leakage is by dividing it across six different levels.

Furthermore, since the maximum sensitivity of this unit is 3g/rg (or 0.1oz/year), you can count on it to be highly accurate. It provides two working modes, the first of which is continuous and provides instant reaction time whereas the second one takes 2 seconds to reset.

That said, corners have been cut to keep the price tag of this model low. For instance, neither of the 2 C alkaline batteries of this model is rechargeable. Still, what you do get is a tri-color (green, orange and red) battery display which alerts you of the battery voltage.

 On top of everything else, this model comes with a 6-level leak alarm whose sound level increases with the amount of leakage. That means that with the increasing pitch of its alarm, it will let you know when the leakage is more serve and demands your urgent attention.


Final Verdict
Provided you have no qualms about this model not being rechargeable – or you can’t afford to spend as much as some other models in this review demand – the Signstek Portable AC Refrigerant Halogen Gas leak detector is certainly worth a shot. 


Things We Like

  • Has high sensitivity
  • 14’’ stainless steel probe
  • 6-level leak alarm
  • Single color LED display

Things We Don't Like

  • Not rechargeable

Elitech WJL-6000 Freon Leak Detector

With its combination of audio and visual signals, a sensitivity level which dwarfs those of other models in this and an ability to check leakages of almost all types of refrigerants, the Elitech WJL-6000 Freon Leak Detector provides great bang for the buck.

Features

In contrast to most other models which are available in the same price range, the WJL-6000 doesn’t depend on heated diode to detect leakages. Instead, it goes for the more advanced and certainly more reliable corona sensor to not only detect leakages but also alert you of the same.

Once you open the detector, you’ll hear two types of beeps. First, it gives two beeps per second the moment you turn it on, to indicate that it is in fine working order. Or when it has detected a leakage, this model will emit ten beeps per second.

Also provided are adjustable sensitivity levels which range from one to seven, with the maximum sensitivity touching 0.21 ounces per year. You’d also get not only the audible but also the visual alerts once it has detected leakage.

Lastly, you get dual battery indicators with this model – green for normal battery voltage and orange when the battery voltage is about to die. The unit is powered by 4AAA batteries which keep it up and running for 50 hours in one cycle. 

Final Verdict

Whether you’re an HVAC technician looking for a detector for his next job or a homeowner who dreams of becoming a DIYer, the Elitech WJL-6000 is one of the most budget-friendly leak detectors around.

Things We Like

  • Audio and visual leak indicators
  • Impressive battery life of 50 hours
  • Has a battery status indicator
  • Provides a storage bag in its package

Things We Don't Like

  • Batteries aren’t rechargeable

Elitech ILD-200 Advanced Refrigerant Leak Detector

The Elitech ILD-200 builds on the features of the WJL-6000 to give you a leak detector which costs more but justifies its price tag by offering a plethora of high-end features in its package. Therefore, if you can afford to spend a bit extra for a feature-loaded model, this leak detector might suit you.

Features

The Elitech ILD-200 is one of those leak detectors which provide a unique combination of ergonomic design and ruggedized construction. That means that while its compact shape lets you hold this leak detector in the palm of your hand, its sturdy casing enables this model to stand up to abuse as well.

Apart from having a 10-year shelf life, the corona sensor of this model detects all halogenated refrigerants and has strong anti-interference properties to give accurate readings in most environments. The detector also lets you mute the visual alerts or let them hear it discreetly via its earphone port.

What is more, if you feel that its detection result isn’t stable, this unit lets you adjust its sensitivity levels. You can choose from the three sensitivity levels on offer – high, medium and low – and it offers a maximum sensitivity level of up to 0.14oz/year.

As for its LCD screen, it tells you everything you need to know about this model. In addition to the selected sensitivity level, the animated display gives a visual alarm on detecting leakages, shows real-time battery and also has a sensor faulty indicator which lits up the moment something is wrong with the probe. 

Final Verdict

On one end, the earphone jack and TFT screen of this model make the whole detection process seamless. On the other, its wide detecting range and a ruggedized construction mean that you can get years of service out of the Elitech ILD-200. What more do you want!

Things We Like

  • 6-hour rechargeable battery
  • Mute and earphone function
  • User-intuitive display
  • Has a wide range

Things We Don't Like

  • Pricey

INFICON TEK-Mate 705

Available in packs of 1 to 5, the Inficon Tek-Mate 707 is a reasonably priced leak detector whose high sensitivity and consistent accuracy enabled it to pass our review phase with flying colors. Consequently, whether you’re a layman or an HVAC technician, you can’t go wrong with the tool.

Features

Starting with the best feature that this model has to offer, and its adjustable sensitivity comes into play. Comprising of two levels – high and low – both the sensitivity levels emit an audible signal of variable intensity to make you aware of the extent of the leakage.

Protecting the highly sensitive electrochemical sensor of this model is a filter which prevents clogging by keeping the likes of dust particles and moisture at bay. Its rugged and flexible probe, meanwhile, can withstand maximum abuse while detecting leakages in hard-to-reach areas.

Furthermore, the sensor lasts a whopping 1,000 hours of usage and is powered by 2 D alkaline rechargeable batteries. Hence the reason why you can detect all kinds of refrigerants, including CFCs, HFCs, R32, R22, R507, as well as other blends with it.

 Lastly, to make sure you don’t remain in the dark as the battery is about to die down, this unit is equipped with a low battery indicator. To further sweeten the deal, you get a filter as well as a carrying case in the package of this leak detector. Oh, and it’s made in the USA!


Final Verdict

At the cost of sounding biased, not many leak detectors outside this review can compete with the affordability, feature-set, and ease of use of the Inficon Tek-Mate Refrigerant Leak detector. Add to the equation its rugged construction, and this model becomes a must-have.

Things We Like

  • Detects all refrigerants
  • Variable intensity audio signal
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Filter protects the sensor

Things We Don't Like

  • Small warranty

Amprobe RLD-1 Refrigerant Leak Detector

Though not coming from as famous a brand as some of the other models in this review – and certainly not as famous, the Amprobe RLD-1 Refrigerant Leak Detector makes good use of its underrated status to deliver a product which would surprise models costing twice as much with its performance.

Features

What is it that differentiates the Armprobe RLD-1 from other leak detectors in this review? For starters, its ambient concentration reset feature. In areas where the refrigerant might be airborne, it automatically adjusts its performance to complement the external atmosphere, thereby giving accurate readings.

Turning our attention to its sensor, and what you get is a semiconductor capable of detecting almost all halogenated refrigerants. Apart from detecting Freon, the sensor can detect R-134a, R-204A, R-407C and the not-so-easy-to-detect R-401A refrigerant.

In addition to detecting the leakage, the sensor lets you adjust its sensitivity between the high, medium, and low modes. And once it has done its job, it would rely on both the audio as well as the visual alerts to make you aware of the leakage.

 Lastly, since it has a flexible stainless steel probe, you can’t only use this detector in hard-to-reach areas, but can also rest assured that it won’t break down easily. It also comes with a suction pump which cleans the sensor of environmental pollutants and helps it retain its efficiency.

Due to its state-of-the-art technology, the Amprobe RLD-1 would help you detect and troubleshoot most refrigerant leak problems. Throw into the mix its suction pump and ambient concentration reset feature, and you’d never have to doubt about the accuracy of this unit’s readings.


Things We Like

  • Tri-color LED display
  • Comes with a suction pump
  • Ambient concentration reset feature
  • 40-cm long stainless steel probe

Things We Don't Like

  • 45-seconds warmup time

Elitech ILD-100 Advanced

In comparison with the traditional heat diode and corona sensors, the 10-year shelf-life of this model’s detector gives it a huge edge as far as value for money is concerned. Juxtapose this brilliant aspect of the Elitech ILD-100 with its below-mentioned features, and you’ll find this detector hard to ignore.

Features

As is the case with almost all Elitech leak detectors, the ILD-100 Advanced too comes a user-intuitive control panel. It has buttons using which you can choose between the three sensitivity levels – high, medium and low – above which there is a bar-screen showing the intensity of the leakage.

On the top right side of this model is a battery indicator which tells you how much of its 6-hour battery is remaining at any time. While the presence of a volume sign on the top left corner indicates this model’s ability to give audio signals, the ILD-100 lets you mute the same in case you want to work quietly.

However, even if you have muted the audio signal, this unit won’t let you remain in dark about the extent of the leakage. Instead, with its earphone jack – which transmits the sound right to your ear – and the visual alarm, it will always keep you updated.

Making sure that you take full advantage of this detector’s sensor is its flexible sensor probe. It is made of stainless steel and can easily bend to enter hard-to-reach areas. You also get a strong anti-interference function from this model and it meets all the EU as well as US-specific standards as well.

Final Verdict

Whether you need a refrigerant Freon leak detector for your air conditioning business or you want one which could help your AC maintain a comfortable temperature in your bedroom, the Elitech ILD-100 Advanced Refrigerant Leak Detector is worthy of your hard-earned money.

Things We Like

  • 6-hour rechargeable battery
  • Has a buzzer alarm
  • TFT LCD display
  • Sensor lasts a decade

Things We Don't Like

  • The alarm might be triggered by change in air’s moisture content

Inficon Compass 717

The Inficon Compass 717 is a mid-level leak detector which provides a good balance between a budget price tag and a decent-enough combination of features. So if you want an impressively-performing leak detector which won’t blow a hole in your pocket, the Compass 717 deserves your attention.

Features

At the cost of being technical, the Inficon Compass has the same heated diode technology as its TEK-Mate counterpart we reviewed above. That means that upon detecting the leakage, its built-in element sends molecules racing which, in turn, generate current to tick the audible and visual indicators.

However, as you might guess, both these models don’t share each and every feature. For instance, unlike the Tek-Mate, the Inficon Compass has a rechargeable NiMH battery which you can power by an AC adaptor and has automatic zeroing to compensate for potential interference.

Other than that, this model provides three levels of sensitivity and has a headphone jack as well. You also get a water-resistant filter which sits atop the heated-diode sensor to prevent the ingress of dirt and moisture particles, thereby ensuring consistent performance throughout.

To further sweeten the deal, this model is equipped with an excellent sensitivity of 0.15oz/year. The package in which it is supplied contains a spare set of filters plus a DC car charger in case you forgot to charge the leak detector the previous night. 

Final Verdict

The Inficon Compass sets itself apart from the competition by offering an optimal balance of functions, features, and value. It deserves your attention if all you want is a durable, reliable refrigerant leak detector to get the job done.

Things We Like

  • Lightweight and ergonomic
  • Package includes a carrying case
  • LED display
  • Battery power indicator

Things We Don't Like

  • Slightly heavy

ATD Tools 3698 Refrigerant Gas Leak Detector

Provided you aren’t one of those customers who never buy anything which doesn’t belong to a reputed brand, the ATD Tools 3698 – with its incredible sensor life, huge battery timing and a multitude of certifications – has got something to offer.

Features

One of the reasons why some people choose new products is money – as such products can’t dare increase their price tag for the fear of antagonizing potential customers. However, as you’ll see with the ATD Tools 3698, it attracts potential users with much more than its meager price tag.

Take, for instance, its heated-diode sensor. With a shelf life of over 300 hours, you can continue using this leak detector for 6 months without having to worry about the sensor going rogue. It also offers three adjustable sensitivity levels which are the 2nd biggest number of any model in this review.

Furthermore, when encountering different environments, the unit automatically calibrates itself to ensure accurate readings. Still, if you feel you can’t trust it, it gives you the option to reset its readings to ambient levels.

On top of everything else, it comes with a mechanical pump which lets you blow any dirt or moisture particles off of the sensor. Its low sensitivity of 0.5oz/year means that this unit won’t miss many readings. Also, it has an instantaneous response time and takes only 20 seconds to warm up.

Final Verdict

Provided you’re a homeowner who has gone fed up with all the refrigerant leaks that have ruined your refrigeration systems and disturbed your budget, the ATD Tools 3698 will save you from those hefty technician fees by pinpointing the exact location and extent of the leakage.

Things We Like

  • Automatic calibration
  • Low battery indicator
  • 20 seconds warmup time
  • 2-year warranty

Things We Don't Like

  • Sensor life is only 300 hours

Bacharach Informant 2

Are you after an ergonomically designed leak detector which can easily reach the hardest areas? Can you afford to pay over the odds for its services? Provided you’re nodding your head in response to these questions, the Bacharach Informant 2 might be an option.

Features

Of the many reasons why this model is so expensive, certainly the most important is its dual-purpose utility. That means that while all other detectors in this review restrict themselves to refrigerants, this unit goes one step extra as it uses its tip to detect combustibles as well.

In case you’re wondering, this unit can afford to detect both gases and refrigerants thanks to its double sensors – both of whom are provided in its package. While the heated-diode sensor detects refrigerants, the patented semiconductor sensor makes you aware of the presence of combustibles.

If you want to use both these features, all you’d have to do is to switch the sensors based on the type of leakage at hand. Provided you do that, the unit will emit an audible alarm to warn you of any leakage in your vicinity, one which you can mute at will.

Finally, as far as the sensitivity of this leak detector is concerned, it can detect refrigerants as low as 0.5oz/year. As for combustibles, the concentration of CH4 has to be more than 50ppm for the sensor in this model to detect it.

Final Verdict

Although you came here in search of a refrigerant leak detector, the Bacharach Informant 2 gives you something extra in the shape of its combustibles’ leak detecting feature. And the best thing about this dual-purpose system? It doesn’t charge you extra for the added functionality.

Things We Like

  • Dual detection system
  • Extremely low sensitivity
  • Accurate and precise
  • Alarm with a mute option

Things We Don't Like

  • Doesn’t provide magnetic hanger in its package

Refrigerant Freon Leak Detector Buyers Guide

Leak Detection Methods

If you’re an HVAC technician, you might already be aware of the methods you can turn to for leak detection. What you might not know, however, is which technique to use in a particular technician.

Soap Bubbles Method

One of the most accurate methods for determining the exact location of a leak, it requires the application of the soap on the area where you suspect a leak might be taking place. Also, while it is pretty basic, the soap bubbles method has universal application. That means that you can use it to detect leaks of almost all types of detergents.

Pros

  • Incredibly simple
  • Mostly quite effective
  • Don’t require any equipment

Cons

  • Not the most reliable

Fluorescent Dye Method

Assuming that you aren’t sold out on the utility of a ‘soap method’, the fluorescent dye technique is your next best bet. All you need to apply it is to get yourself a fluorescent dye and a special UV light. To use this method, add the dye to the refrigerant which is running inside your system. Afterward, use a UV light detector to see whether there is any leak in the system.

Pros

  • Ingenious
  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to execute

Cons

  • UV has the ability to damage some systems

Electronic Leak Detector

One of the most popular leak detection methods, it relies on powered detectors to not only detect the leakage, but you also get to know what refrigerant your system might be leaking. That said, while all electronic leak detectors pinpoint the area of leakage, only the most high-end will determine the type of refrigerant. So you’d have to pay more to get both these functions in your unit.

Pros

  • Easy and reliable
  • Non-destructive
  • May detect the type of refrigerant too

Cons

  • High-end electronic leak detectors might be pricey

How to Choose a Leak Detector

Depending on your budget, there are two types of features which you might want to see in your refrigerant leak detector. Let’s look at both of them.

Must-have Features

As the name implies, these features separate the best refrigerant Freon leak detectors from the riffraff. So you cannot do without having them in your system.

Fast Working Time

As you might already know, a device which works fast would allow you to pinpoint the exact location of the leaks quickly. Still, when we say work fast, we mean that the device should fulfill the following three-point criterion.

First, it should have as little warm-up time as possible. Second, it should have quality sensors which don’t sacrifice accuracy at the altar of speed. And finally, the response of the device, once it has detected the leakage, must be instant.

Wide Compatibility

Since most of us are on a budget, we don’t normally pick a detector whose utility exceeds our current requirements. While there is nothing wrong in this approach, it can handicap you in the future.

That is, because, like all other things in life, refrigerants do not come in the one-type-fits-all category as well. So you need a detector which can detect a wide variety of refrigerants.

Huge Battery life

When checking the battery of your leak detector, make sure it offers the following two features. First, at the very least, the battery should be powerful enough to provide a whole day in runtime.

Second, since you won’t always be close to an electrical outlet, you might want a model which is equipped with a rechargeable battery. Doing that will save you the cost of additional batteries.

Respectable Sensor life

That the shelf-life of your sensor in their detector is inversely proportional to the concentration of refrigerant in the air. In other words, the greater the amount of leakage it has to deal with, the less time the sensor will last.

It is for this reason that you should check the sensor life of the unit closely when weighing the other features of your leak detector. Though you need to keep this in mind that sensors which last longer tend to be pricier.

Optional Leak Detector Features

Want your model to come with some bells and whistles? Can afford to pay extra for the same? If your answer to both these questions is in the affirmative, then check out these optional features which are a hallmark of the high-end leak detectors.

Multi-Stage Alarm

Assuming that you want nothing but the best model on the market, make sure it comes with multi-stage alarms, those whose noise level is directly proportional to the severity of the leak.

Provided you do that and your detector comes with this feature, your life would be a whole lot easier as you’d know well in advance which of the multiple leaks you might be dealing with at any instant demand your urgent attention.

Auto Compensation Feature

Since your background environment isn’t always going to be the same, some leak detectors offer the auto-compensation feature in their package to let you work in a wide range of conditions.

This feature works by continuously monitoring your external environment before regulating the performance of the detector to compensate for the same. As a result, the detector provides seamless performance in almost all situations. 

Self-Reset Feature

As we saw with the Fieldpiece Heated Diode Leak Detector, you can get a model which would automatically reset itself to zero after every few seconds – or after successfully delivering a reading.

Such a feature enables the unit to ensure accuracy regardless of the number of readings you carry out with it.

Refrigerant Leak Detector Frequently Asked Questions

Following are some of the frequently asked questions about refrigerant leak detectors:

Why use a refrigerant leak detector?

Systems which rely on refrigerants count on them to provide adequate cooling. When there’s a leak, the external flow of the refrigerant would result in poor performance of the system from where it has leaked. 

While in domestic systems it might result in poor cooling, an industrial system suffering from a refrigerant leakage can end up spoiling food. To prevent both these uncomfortable situations, you need a refrigerant leak detector.

What refrigerants will it detect?

Apart from the commonly-found gases such as helium, high-end leak detectors can identify the leakage of nitrogen, argon, CFCs, HFCs, and HFC blends.

What is the cost of refrigerant Freon leak detectors?

In case you are wondering, you won’t have to break the bank to land a high-end leak detector, as most detectors in this review cost somewhere between $100 and $900.

How refrigerant Freon leak detectors work?

Depending on the type of your refrigerant Freon leak detector, it will work in different ways:

  • Corona Suspension: A method which is employed in the cheapest leak detectors, it uses a combination of a high-voltage corona and sensor to pick up any leakage in the air, after which it sounds an alarm.
  • Heated Diode: Units like the Fieldpiece leak detector pull air over a heated diode which, in turn, causes the breakdown of halogenated gases inside the detector. That results in a flow of current through the diode, telling the detector that there’s a leakage in the surrounding air.
  • Ultrasonic: Though it might sound apocryphal to you ultrasonic detectors rely on sound waves to detect leakages. All leaks emit certain sounds which we can’t hear but ultrasonic systems can. Once it has detected the leakage, the ultrasonic system will sound an alarm.

Are refrigerant Freon leak detectors reliable?

Put simply, the reliability of a refrigerant Freon leak detector depends on its sensitivity – as detectors which are most sensitive to leakages tend to be more reliable. Therefore, if you want to get your hands on a model which won’t ever deceive you, make sure it is ultra-sensitive.

Best Leak Detectors: Conclusion

Ask any HVAC technician, and they’ll tell you that refrigerant leak detectors are their best friend. By arming them with the ability to diagnose and resolve the problem within a refrigeration system, these units make their life a whole lot easier.

However, as all of us know, not all refrigerant leak detectors are created equal. As long as you haven’t got the best tool for the job, it might do more harm than good. Hence the reason why after reviewing more than 2 dozen models, we shared with you 10 best refrigerant Freon leak detectors on the market.

Whatever your job requirements are, the above mentioned list is so diverse that you should get a product meeting your requirements.