The other day I wrote an article going into what the best leak detectors are on the market today. Like my other posts I went into my Good, Better, Best approach. In that article Fieldpiece’s SRL8 Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector came in at the Best category. This unit is a high quality detector that I felt deserved it’s own individual review post. After all this is the best of the best when it comes to refrigerant leak detectors.
Before we get too far into the details on this product I always like to take a look at the company behind the product. Fieldpiece has been in the business of manufacturing, innovating, and engineering HVAC testing equipment, gauges, detectors, and many other tools for over twenty-five years. Like most great companies Fieldpiece started in their founder’s garage and now has blossomed into a global company. They are headquartered out of Anaheim, California.
The Fieldpiece SRL8 model is a heated diode leak detector. This type of detector 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. Eventually, your sensor may burn out but there is nothing to be worried about as you can easily purchase another sensor for the SRL8 on Amazon.com. Wind can cause a false alarm problem on heated diode detectors. The SRL8 does a decent job to offset this but you may still receive some false alarms. Also, please note that you will need to install the sensor before usage. (This is a common mistake that I thought I would mention.)
This unit will detect CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, and even HFOs. This covers almost all of the common refrigerant types on the market today including blends. Some of these included are R-12, R-22, R-502, R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. It should be noted that the SRL8 detects some of these better than others but you should be able to get a solid result on all of these refrigerants. This detector will not detect your Hydrocarbon refrigerants such as Ammonia, Carbon Dioxide, or Propane. Thankfully, these types of refrigerants are very rare especially here in the United States.
The SRL8 comes with three sensitivity settings at high, medium, and low. While this is pretty standard for most detectors this unit stands out for it’s ability to detect a leak at 0.10 ounces per year on it’s highest setting. That is damn impressive. The INFICON Tek-Mate that I reviewed yesterday could only do 0.15… and I thought that was good! When this product does find a leak it will emit a visual and audio alert. As you get closer to the leak the beeping and flashing will get faster and faster until you are at the source of the leak.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of Fieldpiece SRL8 let’s take a look at some of the Pros and Cons.
This may just be me but one of the biggest selling points of this product is the rechargeable Lithium Ion battery. The fact that you don’t have to bother with the stupid D cell batteries and having to swap them out every week or so. It’s a pain. But with SRL8 you get the rechargeable battery that comes with a standard fifteen hour charge. On top of that you also get a wall charger and a car charger. So you can charge as you go in between jobs. The convenience of this alone incentives me to buy.
Going right back to driving around in your van or truck the SRL8 comes with a rugged and tough case so that you can put it in the case and then throw the case in the back of the van without worrying about damaging the unit. It’s a minor change and upgrade compared to some of the lesser leak detectors out there but you’ll be thankful for it after taking a sharp turn and watching your case slide across the floor or fall out of your shelving rack.
This is a very minor Pro but I would feel amiss not mentioning it. On the back of the detector there is a magnet holder on the back to clip it on the air conditioner unit or somewhere else out of the way. Again, it’s a small selling feature but it comes in handy as it frees your hands up while trying to find that leak or when working on something else.
The length of the probe is fourteen inches. That is a pretty standard size when it comes to leak detectors. The difference here is that the SRL8 comes with a nine inch rigid or flex extension. This extra length allows you to reach those hard to reach places, especially when working on a car or a larger commercial unit.
The last few features I’d like to mention here is that the filter on this unit will block any water from getting to the heated diode sensor. This adds a strong layer of protection and will add to the length of life of your sensors. Lastly, while scanning the Fieldpiece automatically resets it self to zero every few seconds so that it provides as accurate of a read as possible.
Well first and foremost folks there really aren’t that many cons on this product. It is a premium product and you are paying for the quality. That being said the first con that I am going to mention is the price. Depending on who you are and what your line of work is you may be one-hundred percent comfortable spending a couple hundred dollars on a high quality leak detector. Or, you may be the other guy who is fine with the soap and bubble technique and just wants a cheapo leak detector as a backup. I just wanted to put it out there that this is an expensive unit.
Even though the cost is so high on this unit it is unfortunately not made in America. You would think that at this price level the products would be American made but it just isn’t the case. This unit is produced and manufactured in Taiwan. Depending on your politics you could say Taiwan is a province of China so this Fieldpiece SRL8 is Chinese made.
Warranty is always a big selling point for me, especially if I’m going to be spending a lot on a product. The FieldPiece SRL8 only comes with a one year warranty assuring you that the product is free of defects. The INFICON Tek-Mate that I reviewed yesterday had a two year warranty and was nearly one-hundred dollars less. Most of the time when your detector stops working it is usually the sensor and these can be replaced. However, if the detector itself is defective then you only have that twelve month window to file and RA using FieldPiece’s site.
The last con that I’m going to mention is a slight one. Some may not even call it a con but those of us who are impatient and don’t like to wait around may complain. Upon starting the FieldPiece SRL8 you will notice that it needs about thirty seconds to warm up before it can be used. Again, this isn’t a big deal. You just have to wait. Patience is a virtue as they say.
The FieldPiece SRL8 is one of the best buys on the market today for a HVAC tech or an automotive mechanic. This is a top quality leak detector that comes with a lot of extra bells and whistles that a cheaper detector just wouldn’t have. (Rechargeable battery, for one.) The major downside on this product is the cost. Not a lot of guys are going to want to spend over two-hundred dollars on a leak detector. The only thing I can say here is that you are paying for a top quality product. If you want a cheapo detector that you’ll have to sniff around for hours then by all means go get yourself a thirty dollar unit… but if you want a premium unit then the FieldPiece SRL8 is for you. If you are interested in purchasing the unit then I would suggest you buy directly from Amazon.com.
What’s In The Box?
- Advanced Refrigerant Leak Detector – SRL8
- (5) O-rings and 10 Replacement Filters – RFL2
- 9-inch Flex-Probe Extension – RFE2
- Rigid Extension Probe – RRE2
- Blow-Molded Case – ABMK3
- Operator’s Manual