One of the most necessary tools for HVAC technicians is the refrigerant leak detector, which is part of the gas detection equipment toolkit. Purchasing the right leak detector is very critical for the job performance. Most models have different characteristics and operate in different methods. Not every detector works in every case, as it depends on the type of the leak. It may require a specific type of leak detector to locate the extremely small and hard-to-find leaks.
In this guide, we’ll be discussing the different types of gas detection equipment available in tool stores, air conditioning equipment retailers, industrial tool suppliers and online. There are several types of HVAC detectors – each of them has multiple advantages and disadvantages, and each of them works in a different way to detect gas leaks.
Different Types of Gas Detectors
Electronic detectors are most often called sniffers, and they use different methods of detecting the presence of refrigerant molecules in the air. If they do detect something, they sound an alarm, some models even have visual alarms. The most common model types are the following.
Heated Diode Detectors
These are very reliable and almost never return false readings. The diode is a ceramic element, which when heated, causes the molecules to separate. This results in the creation of positively charged fluorine or chlorine particles. A negatively charged wire inside the detectors attracts the positive particles, which results in movement that creates a small electrical current. The greater the concentration of these particles, the more current produced. The amount of current detected sets the intensity of the alarm.
These use a sensor which is tuned to the wavelength of the infrared light source inside the detector. All refrigerants reflect infrared lights, so when they enter the detector, it blocks the light of the sensor which triggers the alarm. This requires using a specific method; the HVAC technician must sweep the detector back and forth so that the detector passes in and out the refrigerant. The source of the leak is at the middle of where the detection starts and ends.
Halide torches consist of a propane torch that has a specialized tip attached to the top of the canister. The tip consists of an attachment point under the frame for a rubber hose which draws in air to be mixed with the propane. At the base of the flame is a copper reactor plate; a partial shield protects the flame from wind currents but still lets the frame be visible. The free end of the hose explores the refrigerant hold components, the hose is then moved along the coils and pipes to look for leaks. Refrigerants like R-22 and R-12 produce a green flame when burned. If a refrigerant is in the air near the tube, it will be drawn up the hose and mixed with the propane and air. When the flame changes the colour, that’s the signal that the tube is in the vicinity of a leak.