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If you have gas appliances in your home or office, it’s only natural to be worried about gas leaks. Carbon monoxide and combustible gas leaks are dangerous and life threatening but are fortunately preventable if discovered in time. Instead of relying on your sensitive-to-natural-gases nose, you need a proper gas leak detector to discover leaks. Luckily, there are many gas sniffers available, so finding a good device shouldn’t be a problem. To help you in your search for the best gas leak detector, we reviewed several models. We also put together a comprehensive buying guide in which we cover everything you need to know about different gas detectors, including how to find the right one for your needs.
The Best Gas Leak Detector
The Kidde Nighthawk gas leak detector is a dual-function plug-in device that is highly sensitive, efficient and easy to use. Because it detects both Carbon Monoxide (CO) and combustible gases, this multi-gas detector provides maximum protection at a very reasonable price. It comes with a 9-volt battery backup which provides protection even during a power outage, as well as a digital display that continuously shows the CO level (if there are any) in a room.
Because it has a metal oxide sensor, this is also a natural gas detector, meaning it detects methane and propane. The display updates CO levels every 15 seconds, so the protection is as good as it gets. And if a leak is discovered? There will be a loud 85 dBA pulsing alarm alerting you of a potentially dangerous problem.
Detects both CO and combustible gases
Digital display shows and stores CO levels, from 30 to 999 ppm
85 dBA pulsing alarm
Three mounting positions
9-volt battery backup
- Weight1 pounds
Protects against CO, methane and propane
Provides protection even during a power outage
Loud alarm doesn’t stop until gas levels decrease or you reset it
Clear display shows CO levels and updates every 15 seconds
Convenient mounting options
The detector burns through 9-volt backup rather quickly once the power is out
Designed to detect a whole host of combustible gas leaks, including butane, benzene, gasoline, ammonia, lacquer thinners, refrigerants, natural gas, propane, and many others, the UEi Test Instruments CD100A is one of the best gas detectors for work applications. Its sensor is highly sensitive and accurate and comes with an 18-inch long gooseneck that is convenient to use even in hard-to-reach areas. The device is easy to use as well, as it allows for one-hand operation. On the flip side, it doesn’t have an auto-calibration feature, however, calibrating it is rather simple.
One of the best things about this multi-gas detector, besides its versatility and sensitivity, is its headphone jack feature which allows you to silently detect leaks without alarming any of your family members.
Detects numerous combustible, noncombustible and toxic gases
Max sensitivity 50 ppm
18-long gooseneck for hard-to-reach areas
Tip-light in sensor cap
Low battery indicator
- BrandUEi Test Instruments
Provides maximum protection against a variety of leaks
Highly sensitive and reliable
Easy and convenient to use
Can be used in tight corners where other detectors cannot fit
The EG Air gas detector measures and displays the exact concentration of combustible gas in easy-to-read percentages, from 0% to 20% of LEL (lower explosive limit). It senses a variety of gases, including methane, propane, butane, petroleum gas, liquid natural gas and others. It uses both the audio and visual alarm when the levels are at 5% or higher. Speaking of the which, this is one loud little device – with 80 dBA siren, it’s seriously hard to miss.
Because it’s made of ABS plastic, the EG Air detector is quite durable. It’s anti-corrosive, anti-mildew and anti-pest, so it’s safe to install wherever is most convenient for you. It’s also economical as it uses less than three watts of electricity. On the flip side, there is no battery backup in case of a power outage.
Detects a variety of combustible gases
50 dBA audio alarm + visual alarm
Displays concentration of gas in percentages 0% – 20% LEL
An electric unit, uses <3 watts of energy ABS plastic, anti-corrosive
- BrandEG Air
- Weight7.4 ounces
Reliable and accurate
Very loud alarm and easy to read display
No battery backup
With a three-mode function and rugged design, the Ridgid Micro CD-100 gas detector is one of the most convenient and versatile devices around. Thanks to its durable yet ergonomic construction, it offers not only longevity but the ease of use as well – it’s handheld with a 16- flexible probe, so super-easy to use in hard-to-reach areas. The three-mode function allows for selecting between visual, audible and vibration alerts to best suit your needs and preferences.
As for the gases it detects, you’ll be protected against methane, propane, butane, ammonia, ethanol, hydrogen and many other flammable gases. There is an automatic calibration, a detection range of 0 to 6400 ppm (methane) and sensitivity of 40 ppm. In other words, this is one highly sensitive and accurate combustible gas detector. The only minus? It takes 50 seconds to calibrate.
Detects a variety of combustible gases
Max sensitivity 40 ppm
16-inch flexible probe
Three-mode function, 85 dBA audio alarm
- Weight1.32 pounds
Highly sensitive and accurate
Protects against various gas leaks
Visual, audible and vibration alerts
Easy to use in tight corners
Takes long to calibrate
The Techamor Y201 is a lightweight, handheld gas leak detector that comes with a flexible, 12-inch long probe that works well for tight and hard-to-reach areas. It’s suitable for detecting almost all common gases, including methane, propane, ethanol, gasoline, etc. Thanks to its high-sensitivity sensor (50 ppm), 85 dBA audible alarm, and 2-second response time, it offers great value for money – in fact, it’s as good as some much more expensive models!
Because it’s slim, lightweight and ergonomic, this device makes for an excellent portable gas detector that you can use not only in your own home but at job sites too. It’s powered by 3 AAA 1.5 V batteries, so it holds the charge really well (around 8 hours of continuous use), but the batteries do not come with the detector.
50 ppm sensitivity
Detects several common gas leaks
12-inch flexible probe
85 dBA audible alarm
3 AAA batteries
- Weight8.8 ounces
Sensitive and accurate
Ergonomic and lightweight design, comfortable to use
Great for tight spaces
The batteries are not included
Looking for an ultra-reliable and sensitive methane and propane detector? The Amprobe GSD600 is a great choice. With its semiconductor sensor on a 17.6-inch flexible probe and response time of 10-seconds, this device is accurate, fast and easy to use even in those super-hard to reach spaces. The only downside is that it takes about 60 seconds to warm up. There are two alarm systems, audio and visual, where the audio system alerts you by beeping loudly and the visual indicates the concentration of gas via LED display. And if you don’t want to alarm the entire family? The detector comes with an earphone jack with mute function.
To ensure durability, the Amprobe’s convenient probe is made of stainless steel which has great anti-corrosive properties. There is also a solid carrying case included, as well as 4 AA batteries.
Max sensitivity 35 ppm
Detects methane and propane
Flexible stainless steel 17.6-inch probe
Audio and visual alarm system
4 AA batteries
- Weight0.16 ounces
Highly sensitive and accurate
Great for hard-to-reach spaces
Allows for quiet operation
Lightweight and comfortable to use
Takes 60 seconds to warm up
Compact, reliable and budget-friendly, the Signstek gas leakage detector is a solid choice for all first-time buyers who are in a need of sensitive a refrigerant detector. With a 3g/yr or 0.1oz/yr sensitivity, this device senses all kinds of refrigerants, including CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs. The LED display has a 6-level leak alarm and tricolor display of battery power, making it pretty simple to use even for complete beginners.
Thanks to its lightweight body and 14-inch flexible probe, the Signstek detector is convenient for working in small and tight spaces, including AC maintenance, vehicle servicing, refrigerator repair, etc. The model uses 2 C batteries that are included in the package.
Halogen refrigerant leak detector, senses CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs
3g/yr or 0.1oz/yr sensitivity
14-inch flexible probe
LED display with 6 level alarm + tricolor battery voltage
2 C batteries
- Weight1.37 pounds
Reliable and accurate
Intuitive display, easy to use
The plastic body feels a little fragile
If you’re looking for a truly compact natural gas alarm for your work and home safety purposes, you can’t get better than General Tools PNG2000A gas-detecting pen. Small and convenient, this handheld pen-like detector senses methane, propane and butane, which makes it perfect for all kinds of applications, including stoves and ranges, outdoor grills, refrigerators, freezers and all kinds of vehicles. The device has a LED light that shows how severe the gas leak is, where the green light indicates it’s on, yellow 200 ppm and red 500 ppm.
This model comes pre-calibrated, with a fast response so it’s easy to use even in beginner standards. Besides the visual alarm, there is also an audible alarm. Although this is one super-compact and small gas sniffer, it doesn’t have the flexible probe that some bigger detectors have which can make it inconvenient for very tight spaces.
Natural gas detector
200 ppm sensitivity
LED light with green, yellow and red indicators
2 AA batteries
- BrandGeneral Tools
- Weight5.4 ounces
Small and lightweight, perfect for hard-to-reach applications
Easy to use
Compact and portable, easy to carry
Not very sensitive
Gas-detecting solutions are typically high-tech nowadays. And while they’re reliable and accurate, they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. If you prefer something more simple, the Camco Gas Leak Detector Spray is a good option. This spray is cheap, reliable and easy to use – perfect for both beginners and experienced folks. So how does it work? It’s simple really – all you need to do is apply the spray directly onto pipes or joint connections and wait for five seconds. If there is a leak, the fluid will form bubbles. Simple as that!
The formula is non-greasy and non-corrosive so it’s perfectly safe, working great for both air and gas leaks. The only complaint we have? The spray nozzle tends to become loose over time if you’re a little more aggressive with your applications.
Gas and air detecting spray
Non-corrosive and non-greasy
Forms bubbles if there is a leak
8-ounce spray bottle
- Weight9.8 ounces
Very simple to use
Almost instant response time
The spray nozzle could be sturdier
Best Gas Leak Detector Buying Guide & FAQ
Today, the world uses an extraordinary amount of gas. The U.S.A. alone consumed around 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2018. While this may seem like a mind-boggling amount, it actually isn’t considering we use it for all kinds of purposes, including to produce power and heat our homes and water. Although undeniably valuable, natural gas can also be very dangerous as it’s flammable and poisonous. To protect yourself, your family and your home, it’s crucial to have your gas appliances checked regularly. A good gas leak detector will sense and alert you of any leaks and help keep your family safe.
While many gas sniffers are simple and easy to use, some devices are more complex and therefore more difficult to operate. To help you find the best leak detector for your needs, we created a detailed buying guide in which we cover everything you need to know about natural gas and their detectors.
Things to Consider When Buying a Gas Leak Detector
To get the right gas leak detector for your needs, it’s important to consider a few things before making any purchasing decisions.
- Gas Type
Different gas detectors detect different gases – some are designed to sense a few specific gas types, while others can provide more comprehensive protection. If you know which gases your household appliances use and you intend to use the sniffer for those purposes only, you can purchase a detector that senses only those types of gases. These models are typically more affordable and are simple to use. If you want to cover all your bases, it’s a good idea to invest in a more sophisticated device that detects most common combustible gases.
Another important thing to consider is the sensitivity of the gas detector, or rather, how much sensitivity you think you need. Detection sensitivity is measured in parts per million, or ppm for short, and most commercial detectors reach around 50-70 ppm as their maximum. This is typically enough for domestic households, however, it may not be if you’re concerned about carbon monoxide (CO) as a heart patient. According to CPSC, while most people don’t experience any symptoms from prolonged exposure to CO levels of 1 to 70 ppm, some heart patients do experience chest pains. Overall though, maximum sensitivity of 40-70 ppm is considered very good. You may even want to look for a higher number (or lower sensitivity) if you’re not concerned about CO as these models are more affordable.
- Style and Features
Before making your final purchasing decision, consider the style of the detector you prefer, as well as the features it comes with. If you want continuous protection and super-simple installation and usage, the mounting models are a fantastic choice. If you often work in remote areas, on cars or in tight spaces, compact and handheld devices are a better option. Then there are features to think about – if you want a simple device that alerts you via sound when there is a significant leak, go for simpler models that come with basic functions and features – they’re cheap and easy to use even by complete novices. If you’d like a clear digital display with visual alarms, a programmable audio alarm, a battery backup and indicator, and maybe an earphone jack for sneaky gas detecting activities, go for more complex (and more expensive) models.
Types of Natural Gas Detectors
There are two main types of gas detectors – fixed and portable. Let’s talk about each type’s basic features so you can decide more easily which detector is better suited for your needs and preferences.
Mountable or fixed gas leak detectors offer continuous protection of an area they’re placed in. This means your home will be protected even when you’re not there, prompting the appropriate emergency response. This type is ideal for residential houses, as well as for industrial purposes (such as near the process areas of control rooms). Fixed detectors require electricity but many come with battery backups which allow the device to run even in the case of a power outage. They should be mounted in areas that allow for the earliest detection, meaning in the rooms with gas sources.
Handheld or portable gas detectors are battery-operated devices that allow you to go from room to room, building to building, vehicle to vehicle... They’re perfect for mechanics, HVAC technicians and workers who work in hazardous areas, but they’re also useful for homeowners who don’t have fixed gas detectors. Portable gas sniffers are a must-have tool for DIYers as well as they allow for periodical gas leakage checks in a convenient way (compact, don’t take up a lot of space and typically affordable).
Where to Install a Gas Detector
Purchasing a quality gas leak sniffer is just the first step in ensuring the safety of your family and house. The second important step is a proper installation of said device. So, where should you place your new gas sniffer?
Install the detector in rooms or areas that are close to sources of natural gas. Usually, this will be in your kitchen and your basement, as well as any other room that has a gas appliance. Place the sniffer high on the wall – higher than all doors and windows, but about 5-6 inches from the ceiling - and within 10 feet of the gas appliance. Speaking of windows, the detectors should not be very near them as the constant flow of fresh air can interfere with an accurate reading. Positioning your natural gas detector this way will allow it to sniff out any leaks quickly and efficiently.
Best Gas Leak Detector FAQ:
Q: What is a gas leak detector and how does it work?
A: A gas leak detector is a device that senses the presence of gases in certain areas or rooms. Most of today’s gas detectors detect and measure multiple gases, although you can still find detectors that sense only a certain type of gas. Using a sensor, either a metal oxide, catalytic, electrochemical or any other sensor, the device senses a presence of gas when it’s above its maximum sensitivity level. After it detects a gas, the device alerts you of the danger via an audible and/or visual alarm.
Q: How long will my gas detector last?
A: How long your gas detector will last depends on several factors, including its build materials and quality of construction. Typically though, most devices last from three to five years, but there are those that work for up to ten years with no issues. Of course, more expensive models should last longer as they’re made of better-quality materials and are sturdier. That said, price doesn’t always equate quality so make sure you’re buying from reputable brands regardless of the price.
Q: What should I do if I find a gas leak in my home?
A: Nobody buys a gas leak detector in the hopes it will go off, but since this is a real possibility, you need to know what to do in this situation. Whether you’re using a fixed or a portable device, if it goes off, immediately stop what you’re doing, open the windows and leave the house. Once you’re out, call your public utility.
Q: Do all gas leak detectors detect carbon monoxide?
A: Different gas detectors detect different gases, so no, not all gas sniffers can sniff out CO. Most portable or handheld detectors are made to sense flammable gases like natural gas so they won’t be able to detect CO. If you need a gas sniffer that can detect CO, you need to check out the specifications on the device you intend to buy and make sure it’s able to detect it (most mountable detectors do sense CO but it’s still necessary to check the specs.).
Our Top Pick
While all products featured in our Top List are reliable devices, the Kidde COEG-3 Nighthawk Gas Detector is our Top Pick. This is because this mountable detector senses both combustible gas and carbon monoxide, providing continuous and maximum protection. Thanks to is 9-volt battery backup, the protection is guaranteed even during a power outage, which is always a huge plus. The Kidde COEG-3 comes with a clear digital display that shows the level of CO the device is sensing at all times, as well as a memory feature that recalls the highest concentration detected. Finally, the digital readout updates the gas levels every 15 seconds, making this the best gas leak detector in our book.