Hello folks and welcome to RefrigerantHQ. Today we will be doing another one of our product reviews. As we all know having the right tools for the job can make all the difference in the world. The same can be said when it comes to leak detection. Sure you can do it the old school way by spraying each section of the lines and coils to look for bubbles forming, but that can take a significant amount of time… especially if you do not know where to start. The same can be said with using a ultra violet dye. It takes time to run that through the system and then to scan for it. Having a proper leak detector can save you time. As we all know the more time saved the better. That means more jobs you can get to in one day and hopefully arriving home on time.
In this article we will be taking an in-depth look at the Elitech IR-200 Dual Sensor Leak Detector. This model from Elitech is quite unique as it comes with both an infrared and a heated diode sensor. That is a rare find. In most cases you’ll find one or the other. In the interest of full disclosure I want it to be known that Elitech sent me a free copy of this detector so that I could write a review on the product. You’ll notice that the pictures in this review were taken by myself as well. Alright, onto the review.
Before I purchase a new tool I always like to take some time and do some actual research on the company that stands behind the tool. A lot of times you’ll find that the highest ranked tool is made by a company that no one has ever heard of. Or, that when something goes wrong with the product that there is no reputable company to stand behind it. That is why it is worth doing a bit of research on the company itself as well as the product.
Elitech is a global company that is headquartered out of San Jose, California. They also have locations in China, United Kingdom, and Brazil as well as additional staff from around the world. They have over twenty years of experience working with and creating leak detection and measuring equipment. Along with that they also work hand in hand with other HVAC OEMs and distributors to brand their product. (In other words, you may find that other branded leak detectors actually came from Elitech but are under a different brand name.)
The company itself is not as established as some of the other names in the industry like Robinair… but they are making quality products and are quickly making a name for themselves within the industry. I would feel perfectly safe purchasing products from them. Their website also states that they offer 24/7 customer support so in case something does go wrong the company is able to be contacted.
As I had mentioned at the beginning of this article the IR-200 model comes with two actual sensors: A heated diode and an infrared. I really like this approach as it allows you to detect and narrow down leaks in a much quicker fashion. It is recommended to start looking for leaks using the heated diode sensor. Then once you have narrowed it down a bit more you can switch over to the infrared mode so that you can narrow down the leak even further. These two modes can be switched back and forth by hitting the ‘Mode’ button on the detector.
Before we get a bit further into the other product features lets take some time to understand the different types of sensors here. The heated diode works by heating the refrigerant and breaking the molecules apart. When the molecules are broken a positively charged Chlorine or Fluorine ion will appear. The heated diode will detect these ions and sound the alarm. The downsides to both of this type of detector, and the Corona Suppression, is that they can be overwhelmed if the refrigerant leak is too large. If the area is saturated with refrigerant then these alarms won’t be of much help and you may actually end up damaging your sensor and having to replace it. These sensors typically have a two year life before they have to be replaced.
The other sensor on this unit, the infrared, works by drawing the air sample across an optical sensor that then analyses how much infrared radiation there is in that given area. The benefits of this technology is that the sensors last much longer, they are less prone to false alarms, they cannot be overloaded in an area saturated with refrigerant, and they are great at finding those very small leaks that other detectors just won’t sense. The Infrared detectors are the premium types of detectors on the market. These sensors are expected to last around ten years. This is why I had said earlier to start detecting with the heated diode and then narrow your search further with the more sensitive infrared sensor.
This IR-200 can detect all manners of refrigerants ranging from CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, and HFOs. These refrigerant classifications will cover most refrigerants you run into in today’s world. Some popular examples would be R-12, R-22, R-410A, R-404A-, R-134a, R-32, R-502, R-125, R-1234yf, and on and on. One point to mention here is that this detector will actually detect hydrocarbon refrigerants as well such as R-290 Propane or R-600a Isobutane. A lot of other detectors will NOT detect these. That being said, this product will not sniff out natural refrigerants such as ammonia or carbon dioxide.
This detector has three sensitivity settings: High, Medium, and Low. The highest sensitivity on the infrared sensor will detect four grams per year (0.14 ounces per year), the medium seven grams per year, and the low will detect fourteen grams per year. The highest sensitivity on the heated diode detector is thirteen grams per year. The detector also comes with what’s known as a ‘peak’ function. When used it will record the absolutely highest leak point during your scan. The detector can work in temperatures ranging from fourteen degrees Fahrenheit (Negative ten Celsius) to one-hundred and twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit (Fifty-two degrees Celsius). Also will work in humidity levels up to ninety percent.
When a leak is detected you will be notified through a buzzer, light, and also bar graph on the detector display. As the leak gets larger the buzzing will increase, the bar graph will grow, and the lights will flicker faster. If you are on a noisy job site there is also a headphone jack so you can plug in and listen for the buzzing closely. If you find that you are working in an area that is saturated with refrigerant and it is hard to detect the source this detector has a zeroing function as well. What that means is that you can set the current air as zero so you can then focus on the larger concentrations. Works just like zeroing out a scale.
The sniffer, or probe, is twelve inches long and is very flexible. I took it out of the box and bent it every which way. Very easy to move back and forth. You will also get a secondary probe in case the first one is broken or lost. One thing to mention here is that the probe is shorter then some of the other competing models out there. For example, a competing Fieldpiece detector has a fourteen inch probe. I honestly don’t know how much difference a few inches will make… but that is a choice left up to you. It is worth mentioning that there is a secondary sniffer that comes with this unit that can be attached to the first. This allows for a total length of twenty-four inches. Coming with the sniffer is also a mountable ultra violet and LED light. It comes with a attachment that can just pop right onto the sniffer. I really liked this as it allowed me to see what I was doing and the fact that there was a UV light would make things even easier if I wanted to really narrow down my leak by doing a UV test.
This detector comes with two 18650 lithium ion batteries. These batteries will last for eight hours on a continuous charge. You also do not have to worry about accidentally leaving the detector on. It will automatically shut itself off if there has been no activity within ten minutes. When the unit does run out of charge it will take about four hours to fully charge it. The batteries that come with the product are replaceable as well. Most other detectors do not have this option.
The unit itself comes in a hard durable plastic case. I took a picture of this case and it can be found earlier in the article. I was really impressed with this case, moreso then other detectors I’ve handled. When you open it up the tool and other accessories are protected by foam insulation. It is a very light case as well. I picked it up by the handle just by using my thumb and it was manageable. I know having something else heavy to lug around site to site is NOT what we want. Lastly the shipping on this product was very professional. Took only a few days and it came in perfect condition. No complaints here.
Now a lot of the ‘Pros’ that I wanted to cover in this section were already covered in our Product Features section. There are still some that I can put in here… I just do not want you to be concerned that there aren’t a ton of Pros. The first and biggest Pro in my opinion is the overall price point of this product. In most cases an infrared detector can be over two-hundred dollars. A heated diode detector can be in the mid one-hundreds. You are getting both types of detectors here for right around that two-hundred dollar price range. (Prices subject to change at any time.) That is a heck of a bargain when you look at the competing models out there.
The other real big pro here is that this product works with hydrocarbon refrigerants. I mentioned this earlier in the features section but let me emphasize it again. Hydrocarbons are the new tomorrow when it comes to refrigerants. You’ll find propane/isobutane vending machines, ice machines, and even some refrigerators and freezers nowadays. There are more applications expected to begin using hydrocarbons as well. So having this on your leak detector is an added benefit.
The last point here is the 24/7 technical support via e-mail or phone from Elitech. Their customer service phone number is 1-408-844-4070. They can also be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org . Lastly, if neither of those options work you can also reach out directly on their website by filling out a contact us form which can be found by clicking here. If you go through all of this support and you are still not satisfied with the detector they also offer a thirty day no questions asked return. They are confident enough to stand behind their product and back it up with this money back guarantee. They offer a full one year warranty. You’ll also notice that when you buy the product you’ll get a flyer with instructions on how to get an extra year warranty on the product. This was right in the case when I received mine.
There weren’t any major cons on this product that I could find. The first one that I’ll list though is what we discussed earlier in the Pros section. There are desktop leak detectors out there that are MORE sensitive then this one… but they are quite a bit more expensive so take that with a grain of salt. For example, the desktop Bacharach H-10 Pro is a premium leak detector that can detect as low as 0.006 ounces per year. That is a huge difference in sensitivity setting… but the H-10 Pro is also hundreds of dollars more expensive then the Elitech. So, ultimately you have to make the choice if you want to spend the money on the best of the best H-10 Pro or get a good Elitech model.
The other smaller cons are that this has a probe length of only twelve inches. Again, we covered this earlier. The good news is that there is an auxiliary probe that comes with this detector that will give you an additional twelve more inches if you need it. Also, on the heated diode side some users reported that the sensor was triggering falsely if it was moved suddenly or abruptly. Remember detecting should be done in a slow deliberate manner that canvases the entire area. The last con I would mention is that the heated diode sensor will need to be replaced after a couple of years. I’ve always been a fan of the infrared as it is a set it and forget it type sensor.
What’s In The Box?
This is always an important question when purchasing a new tool. What exactly comes in the box that you are ordering? Is it just the bare bones product or do you get the extra necessities that you will need down the road? Let’s take a look at what comes with the Elitech IR-200:
- The leak detector itself
- UV LED light attachment
- User’s Manual
- Plastic case
- Charging cable
- Five replacement filters
- One replacement probe
Alright folks well that about covers everything there is to know about this product from Elitech. We’ve gone over the features, pros, and cons. I would say that after reviewing this product and after handling it in person that this product ranks on the ‘Better’ scale. For those of you unaware, I like to rank products on the ‘Good’ ‘Better’ ‘Best’ approach. The good products are just that… they’re good and will get the job done. They may not have the best features or benefits, but they get you through. The better products are in the middle between the good and the premium best models. They have some extra features but are still able to get the price point down. That is where this leak detector comes in. It doesn’t have every bell and whistle like some of the more expensive detectors out there, but it is an overall great product that will not impact your wallet near as much as a Robinair or a Bacharach.
If you are interested in purchasing this unit then please visit this link to be taken to the official Elitech product page website. Here you can review more information on the product as well as purchase the product straight from Elitech. The typical lead time once placing an order is between three to five business days for the product to arrive at your door. When I was sent IR-200 I had it at my door in only a couple of days. If you are in an hurry you can also call their customer service and request for first or second day air shipping.