Hello folks! Today on RefrigerantHQ we will be reviewing JB Industries’ LD-5000 Prowler Refrigerant Leak Detector. I feel kind of bad about this but I hadn’t even heard of this product until after I wrote my Premium Leak Detector Comparison article. Upon reading this article a reader reached out to me and asked why I hadn’t included the Prowler Leak Detector in my list of premium tools. I started doing some research on the LD-5000 and I have to say that I am impressed.
Now before I get into the details of a product review I always like to take the time and talk a bit about the company behind the product. If we don’t know anything about the company then how can we trust the product? JB Industries was founded in 1967, fifty years ago, in Aurora, Illinois. Throughout the company’s life they have been dedicated to providing tools to the HVAC industry. They sell manifolds, hoses, fittings, vacuum pumps, detectors, and many more products.
Over the years the company has grown and changed but have kept their core values. Most of their products, including the Prowler Leak Detector, are made right there in their Aurora, Illinois manufacturing facility. Yes, American made!
There are a variety of features that come with this unit but I won’t go into each and every one. Instead I’ll provide a brief summary and then we’ll move onto the major Pros and Cons of the unit. If I miss something here I apologize up front but it is difficult to catch them all especially on such a great product.
In the past I have written articles going into the different kinds of leak detectors. We have the heated diode, the corona suppression, the ultrasonic, and the infrared. These four pretty much cover the variety of detectors on the market today. JB’s Prowler Detector is different. I do not know what type of detector this is. According to JB’s website it has “proprietary electrochemical sensor technology.” I am not sure what this means but after doing my research on the product I have to say that it sounds very similar to infrared technology, if not the same. For this review we are going to treat it like an infrared detector. If I am mistaken please reach out to me and I will make a correction.
The LD-5000 detector will find and detect all of your popular refrigerant classes on the market today. This includes your HCFCs, HFCs, and even HFOs. That means that you will be able to detect leaks on nearly all of the refrigerants on the market today including: R-22, R-134a, R-404A, R-410A, HFO-1234YF, and many more.
Upon starting the detector up it will take anywhere from thirty seconds to a minute to warm up and be ready for use. It is important to note that it should warm up in a neutral environment. If it warms up in a contaminated area your readings will be off and you may find difficulty finding a leak.
Like most premium detectors it comes with a high, medium, and low sensitivity setting. Here is the difference though and the reason why I wanted to do a review on the JB LD-5000 Prowler. This thing can detect leaks as small as 0.050 ounces per year. I am blown away by that number.
The probe on this detector extends to seventeen inches. Most of the time you will find probes from other detectors are between fourteen to fifteen inches long. Some of them come with a nine inch extension but the Prowler does not. Seventeen inches should be more then enough to get the job done. (No jokes!)
When finding a leak the unit will display a series of bars. If you get one to three bars you have a leak at or less than 0.10 ounces per year. Four to six bars is between 0.10 and 0.50. Seven to ten bars is greater than 0.50 ounces per year. This is a nice feature and allows you to make the decision on rather or not the leak needs to be repaired, the source of the leak replaced, or if the leak can be ignored for another season if you have a frugal buyer.
The detector comes with mute button, again like most on the market. While the mute button is on you will have the visual signal when a leak is detected but you will also have a vibration in the handle of the detector alerting you to a leak. This is a very unique feature on a leak detector and I have to say that I like it. This could be especially useful if you are in a very hard to reach area and you can’t physically see the monitor.
There are a few more main points that I want to make before moving on to the Pros section. The Prowler comes with a back-light switch that you can easily turn off and on. The back-light will allow you to visually see your screen in a darkened area like a poorly lit basement. The LD-5000 also comes with a leak test bottle that you can use to ensure that your detector is working properly. Lastly, it comes with a tough and rugged carrying case to allow for easy transport and to protect the unit in case you want to throw it in the back of your van. (Who does that?)
As I mentioned before the JB Prowler has a sensitivity of 0.05 ounces per year. I can’t stress this enough. That is one of the best sensitivity levels that I have seen and trust me when I say this I have done numerous detector reviews. The only thing that I know of that is at this level is the H-10 Pro detector that goes as low as 0.006 ounces per year. While the H-10 has superior sensitivity it costs significantly more. The Prowler will provide you with great sniffing levels at a much cheaper price.
The sensor life on this detector is what led me to believe that it is similar to the infrared detectors that we have seen on the market. With heated diode detectors the sensor usually only lasts for a few months, sometimes a year in a best case scenario. With JB Prowler we see a sensor life that is estimated to last ten years or even longer. I am always a big fan of no hassle and a ten year sensor life is just that. No need to worry about replacing.
The LD-5000 Prowler Detector automatically resets itself to the ambient environment. So, if you are in a confined area that has a leak the detector will go off upon entrance to the area but then it will add this new environment as it’s zero. The alarm will stop and will not sound again until it finds a heavier or more concentrated area of refrigerant. This allows you to narrow down your search for a leak much easier and also saves you the headache of the alarm going off in your ear over and over again as you try to find the source of the leak.
The last Pro on this before we move on to the Cons is a big one, at least to me. I have always been a fan of made in America. Heck, both my grandparents were GM guys up in Detroit. Made in American means quality and this Prowler Refrigerant Detector is just that. Made in American and Quality.
Let me preface this with a short note before we get to the Cons. When I do a product review it is all about research. What can I find on this unit? I look for everything and anything. I have to say it right now folks that there is not a major downside to this product. That being said let’s take a look at what I did find:
- The first one obviously would be price. This a premium refrigerant detector and you will be expected to pay a premium price. As I write this the price is around three-hundred and fifty dollars depending on where you shop. (Prices can change at any time.) Truth be told though folks three-hundred isn’t too bad when looking at some of the competing detectors on the market today.
- The LD-5000 comes with a two year, or twenty-four month, warranty. This warranty again isn’t really a con but I thought it would be wise to include it. Depending on the detector and the manufacturer that you look at you will see warranty ranges between one to two years. There is one competitor out there that offers a three year warranty, the H-10 Pro.
- The big disappointment for me on the Prowler was the battery. There is no rechargeable battery for this detector. Nope. Instead we get to use four double A standard alkaline batteries. Now, if we look at JB Industries’ website they claim that the battery life is so long for this unit that rechargeable batteries weren’t necessary. I am skeptical. So, I did some more research and lo and behold the battery life is four and a half hours. (Source is their instruction manual.) Four and a half hours for a premium detector is a pain and frankly it should have been a rechargeable battery..
- The last con I can find on these units is a small one. It is a complaint about how you have to keep sweeping your sensor back and forth with this detector. I explained why this is necessary above but some users have complained that it is very difficult to do a sweeping motion in very tight or confined spaces. I could see this being an issue and maybe this is where more traditional detection methods could come into play such as dyes or a soap and water solution.
Overall folks, I would say that if you are looking for a premium refrigerant leak detector with extremely high sensitivity settings that the JB Industry Prowler Detector is a great buy. If it was me and I was looking to get the best of the best I would be torn between this detector and the H-10 Pro. Both are great units. Should you pay a few hundred more and get the next step up H-10 or will you purchase the Prowler and save yourself some money?
The only major downside that I found on this detector were the standard double A batteries with the short life span. Other than that folks you have one hell of a detector that will make things much easier for you in the field. If you are interested in purchasing then I suggest you visit our Amazon.com partner.
- Amazon Buy Page
- Official JB Product Page
- Official JB Product Flyer
- Official JB Product Instructions
- YouTube Training Video
What’s In The Box?
- The detector itself, obvoiusly
- Tough carrying case
- Replacement filter package
- Leak Test Bottle
- Instruction Manual