Hello and welcome ladies and gentlemen! Today on RefrigerantHQ we will be reviewing Robinair’s TIF XL-1A Refrigerant Leak Detector. A leak detector is a key instrument during a repair process and most technicians don’t leave home without them. The question is is this Robinair unit the right one for you, or should you keep looking? Let’s find out.
Now before I get into the actual product review I always like to take a small look at the manufacturer of the product. Who are they? What is their reputation? Are they known for quality? The TiFXL-1A detector is made by Robinair. I’m sure most of you don’t need an introduction to Robinair as they have been a staple in the HVAC and the Automotive industry for over sixty years. They were founded in 1956 as a small company making specialized tools for repairing appliances. Ever since then their name has been synonymous with quality. Robinair is now a global company providing tools across the world. To top it all off they are headquartered out of Warren, Michigan which is my home state. Go Wolverines!
The Robinair TIF XL-1A detects all halogenated refrigerants. This includes all of your basic refrigerant classifications such as CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs. That means all of your exceedingly popular refrigerants will be detected. Examples being R-12, R-22, R-502, R-134a, R-410A, R-404A. Along with all of that the unit is SAE J1627 certified. What does that mean? Here is an excerpt from SAE organization’s website: “This SAE Standard applies to electronic probe-type leak detectors used to service motor vehicle passenger compartment air-conditioning systems.” In other words it means that this is a leak detector that works.
The probe on this product extends to fourteen inches long. This is size is pretty much standard with other detectors. You may see a few with fifteen inches but those are usually more expensive. According to Robinair the sensors on this unit have been completely redesigned to allow for greater sensitivity, reliability, and they will last twice as long as their previous sensors. I am a little skeptical about this as looking on their official website they state that the sensors are expected to last an average of twenty hours of use. That doesn’t seem like a long time to me. When your sensors eventually go bad, and they will, there is a replacement kit available on Amazon today. This makes thing easy as all you have to do is a few clicks and the new sensors will be at your door in only a few days.
This product takes two C cell batteries. While I prefer to pay a bit more and have the lithium Ion batteries for my unit the battery life on this Robinair TIFXL-1A isn’t that bad. Expect your batteries to last up to forty hours of regular use. So, you may have to replace the batteries once or twice a month. Not a big deal, but still a hassle.
Like most leak detectors it comes with various settings. While other detectors have High, Medium, and Low this unit only has High and Low. I don’t believe this is a big deal but I wanted to bring it to your attention.
Now let’s take a look at some of the Pros and Cons of this unit and see if it is actually for you.
First and foremost folks I have to tell you. I am just not sold on this unit. Yes, there are Pros and Benefits to this product but I just don’t believe it is worth the price, but hey I’ll get into that later in my conclusion.
The first thing I’m going to mention is that the sensory tips have been completely redesigned to provide a better, more reliable, and longer lasting tip. As I mentioned above though this longer lasting tip is expected to last for twenty hours of extended use. Yes, you get a backup in your box but after that you are on your own and will be responsible for purchasing more replacements. Honestly, I’m not quite sure what was redesigned here.
The one shining bright light on this unit is the warranty policy. You get a two year warranty on this product ensuring that the unit is free of defects and manufacturing errors. While two years may not seem like a long warranty I can assure you that it is an extended warranty when comparing to other leak detectors on the market. I would definitely take advantage of this if you need to.
Besides those top two reasons there are a variety of other benefits but none of them I would describe as game changers. They are nice features but nothing that’s going to make you go out and buy today. There is a low battery indicator that will inform you when your batteries are beginning to die. As you can see in the product picture there is an ergonomic rubber grip for ease of use, and lastly there is a carrying case that is tough and durable. The case is a nice touch as you put your detector away and then throw it in the back of your van with no worries of it being damaged.
Alright, now for the fun stuff. Let’s look at everything that is dragging this unit down. The first and most obvious is the price point. At the time that I am writing this the product is selling for a little over one-hundred dollars. (Prices subject to change at any time.) While one-hundred dollars isn’t unheard for a leak detector usually if you’re going to be paying that much you are going to be getting a higher quality product. There really aren’t that many great features on this unit and for that price I am left expecting more.
The sensitivity on this unit is to be desired. The tips will sense leaks as small as 0.40 ounces per year. While this may sound like a good starting point I should mention that other detectors on the market today are detecting at 0.15 and some even at 0.10 ounces per year. These better units are four times more sensitive then the Robinair TIFXL-1A. Again, I would expect better for the price that I’m paying.
I’ve already mentioned the sensor life above but I’m just going to refresh your memory. There is a twenty hour use life on your sensors. When you purchase this product you will receive one extra sensor but honestly folks I’m just not that impressed with the length of life here. I don’t want to be buying new sensors day in and day out.
The last thing I’ll mention is the C cell batteries. Yes, the battery life is outstanding at forty hours but I have always been a fan of the Lithium Ion rechargeable batteries. I wouldn’t say that this is necessarily a fault of this product as it is meant to be a cheaper detector. I only bring this up as I want you, the reader, to be aware of the Lithium Ion option out there as well.
Overall folks the consensus on Robinair’s TIFXL-1A is ‘seemed to work ok.’ Yup, you heard right and truth be told that is about what you’re going to get if you purchase this unit. It will work ok and it will assist you in a job. This seems like the kind of unit a do-it-yourselfer or homeowner would purchase. In my opinion this is not the kind of detector a tradesmen should get. There are much better choices out there like the INFICON Tek-Mate for one example.
There are a lot of downsides to this Robinair unit which I’ve gone over already but if you’re looking for a basic leak detection unit then this will get the job done. If you would like to purchase this unit then I would recommend you buy it directly on Amazon.com.
Lastly, folks I would be amiss if I didn’t mention this before. The above unit is a good unit but if you’re looking for something of about the same quality for a much lower cost then I would recommend you check out the MyPin Pro Refrigerant Leak Detector. This will get you about the same result and will save you about sixty percent.