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A Good Electronic Leak Detector Makes All the Difference

Electronic Leak Detection

A good electronic leak detector is one of the best investments a shop can make.  I've tested quite a few over the last fifteen years, and I still think the heated diode types like the Yokogawa (now Bacharach) are the best. They have fewer false alarms and accuracy that exceeds all standards of the industry.

Photo courtesy ACSource.Com

Two Common Types to Choose from

When you go leak detector shopping, you'll find all different types and styles of leak detectors to choose from.  Some are bright, some are dull, some beep, and some chirp.  Some use "state of the art computer circuitry" to eliminate false alarms and others have U.V. lights and other gizmo's built into them.  And for all of that, there are essentially just two different types of electronic leak detectors to speak of.

Some use a heated diode like the Yokogawa (pictured above), and some (probably most) use corona discharge.

On corona discharge models, anything that breaks that corona barrier can set off the detector. You name it - dust, moisture, refrigerant (sometimes), solvents, etc..  Heated diode types are quite a bit different. They are less prone to false alarms from moisture and shop chemicals.  Heated diode type leak detectors are also much more sensitive to R134a.   

All the corona discharge types I have used in the past were great at finding R12 and R22 leaks.  When compared to my Yokogawa H10g though, most corona discharge types had trouble finding small leaks in R134a systems.

An Inexpensive Heated Diode Leak Detector

I tested the TEK-Mate from Inficon, and I really liked it. It had a short warm-up time, and it did a great finding R134a leaks.  It was also very handy to use.  I gave that test unit to a shop In Brownsburg, Indiana, as a shop warming gift in early 2005.  Every season I ask about it, and I hear it's still doing great!  It's been going strong for three seasons, and now I really wish I hadn't given it away.    

If you like the idea of having a heated diode leak detector, but just can't afford one of the higher end models, be sure to look at the TEK-Mate.

Also, If you own an older style leak detector, and you feel it's not working well with R134a, be sure to read this article to find out how a tiny amount of R22 can be used to keep that old sniffer in the game.

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