Best Gas Leak Detectors
It does not take a master’s degree to understand that gas leaks in your home can be dangerous. However, with some of them (such as natural gas) they will be both odorless and invisible and therefore nearly impossible to detect. That is the premise of this guide, more or less, as you need a reliable way to know if one is occurring in your home. You really do not want to screw around with this stuff because outside of being hazardous to your health, it can also lead to a house fire. The moral of the story is it may be in your best interest to invest in a gas leak detector (and down below we will document how to).
In a Hurry? The test winner after 12 hrs of research
Sounds an 85-decibel alarm
Sports a digital display
There are multiple mounting options
OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST GAS LEAK DETECTORS
1. Kidde Nighthawk
Sounds an 85-decibel alarm
Sports a digital display
There are multiple mounting options
When using nine-volt batteries, this sucks through them quickly
Many users have alluded to issues with false alarms
In regard to technology and functionality, this is one of the more versatile units on this list. Now, it does not detect as many gases as other models but it does nail the main ones.Read more
The general consensus amongst most reviewers is that the Nighthawk works great when new. As it ages, though, the performance will worsen (but that is to be expected).
Implemented into the Nighthawk is a metal oxide sensor that is designed to detect both propane and natural gas (or methane).
There are many features built into this design. For example, it will sound off a piercing 85-decibel alarm when it detects issues and will also recall the highest carbon monoxide concentration detected.
Not all models will sport a digital display but the Nighthawk certainly does. With this, it will display the level of gas it is sensing and will update itself every 15 seconds.
As if this design was not impressive enough already, it also allows a lot of versatility. This is thanks to its dual-power system (with a nine-volt battery backup) and multiple mounting options.
At the end of the day, it is tough to go wrong with a Kidde product and you can see why with the design of their Nighthawk. It is designed with the sole purpose of making your home safer.
2. Amprobe GSD600
Features automatic calibration
Comes with both visual and audio alarms
Includes a stainless steel probe
The sensor cap is a bit fragile
Though you are going to pay the price for this model, you can’t overstate how impressive the performance is. In fact, the GSD600 lives and dies with its performance.Read more
One of the best aspects of this model is the fact that when you start up, it automatically calibrates to ensure accuracy. Also, this has a response time of fewer than 10 seconds.
The semiconductor sensor that is integrated here is able to detect both propane and methane. Also, this indicates the concentration level in parts per million.
In addition to the dual-alarm system, which alerts you of a leak both audibly and visually, this also comes equipped with a flexible stainless steel probe to reach tougher locations.
You will see the visual alerts on the interface. Basically, the digital panel has LED lights that will indicate when gas has been detected.
This comes with four, 1.5-volt AA batteries installed and these are used to power this unit. What is nice, also, is a built-in automatic power-off feature is integrated to save battery life.
If you are serious about the health of you and your family, then you should be willing to pay this kind of price. Gee, that was a bit of a guilt trip, huh?
3. Inficon Gas Mate
No calibration is required for the sensor
Backed by a three-year replacement warranty
The performance is phenomenal
While warming up, the outputted sound can be annoying
There is no numerical readout system
It really is no real surprise that the top two models on this list are arguably the two top-performing designs on the market. As you guessed, this is as effective as it gets at detecting gas leaks.Read more
In addition to the fact that no calibration is required and that this warms up quickly, it outperforms other models with twice the sensitivity down to five parts per million.
First off, this can detect leaks in combustion appliances such as propane-fired heating systems. As for the gases, this can alert you of combustible ones such as ethanol, ammonia, and propane.
To assist in reaching tougher and more compact locations, this is outfitted with a flexible probe.
The interface is far from bad but one user noted that a numerical readout system would have made things even better.
All you need to power this bad boy is D batteries. Luckily, these can be bought from pretty much any local retailer in your current city or town.
Again, this brings with it a higher price tag but when your family’s safety is on the line, you would rather have the reassurance of a great performing model than not.
4. Ridgid CD-100
Sports a rugged and ergonomic design
It does feature automatic calibration
The sensitivity settings can be adjusted
It shuts down automatically after five minutes
It does take a bit to warm up each time
In spite of some minor issues that have been documented by reviewers, the CD-100 remains one of the most impressive gas leak detectors out there. It is perhaps headlined by its tri-mode detection function.Read more
About the only caveat here is the long waiting time when you fire this up. Other than that, the CD-100 is equipped with automatic calibration, adjustable sensitivity settings, and an alarm sensitivity of 40 parts per million.
The CD-100 is designed to detect combustible gases and this includes methane, ammonia, hydrogen, ethanol, butane and propane.
The aforementioned tri-mode detection system allows you to select between vibration, audible and visual alerts. In addition, it comes with a flexible 16-inch probe. However, this system does shut off automatically after five minutes which seems a bit unnecessary.
Though not being the most impressive interface out there, this does have a display and can be controlled via the buttons.
Included with your purchase are four AA batteries and you guessed it, these are used to power the CD-100.
In spite of some really annoying limitations, such as the long waiting time and the short automatic shut-off, this excels (for the most part) when it comes to performance.
5. Nest Protect
Designed with an automatic batter self-check
Can detect smoke and carbon monoxide
Nest devices can communicate with one another
It is sensitive to odd machines
Does not detect as many gases as other models
All right, let’s just get this out of the way. This model from Nest is a smart device that can act as a smoke alarm and as a carbon monoxide detector (though it does not detect that many types of gases).Read more
With both an industrial-grade smoke sensor and an electrochemical carbon monoxide sensor built in, you know that the Nest Protect is ready to perform.
Now, on top of detecting carbon monoxide, this is also a smoke alarm. Though it is limited a bit in its functionality, these two substances are critical to detect.
The most convenient feature of the Nest Protect is its wireless technology. You see, it can not only communicate with other Nest devices but it can also sync with your smartphone to provide you information that way.
There actually is no interface on the device itself. But, if you sync this with your smartphone you will see the main interface there and it seems clean, for the most part.
For your convenience, you can either go with the battery-operated model or the wired version. With the former, it requires six AA batteries (which is quite a lot).
For the sole purpose of detecting gas leaks, there are better options out there. But, some of you will be digging the smart features and this does efficiently seek out carbon monoxide.
6. General Tools NGD268
Features a long and flexible gooseneck probe
Is powered via a NiMH rechargeable battery
Detects all sorts of toxic gases
Does take a very long time to warm up
There is a delay in the response time
When it comes down to it, there is a lot to love about this next model. Then again, in regard to the performance, it is not the most efficient model out there so be aware of that.Read more
There are two areas where this is hampered a bit. Firstly, it takes a long time to warm up (longer than the advertised time). Secondly, it takes a bit of time to register changes and to actually detect the leak.
The laundry list size of gases that this picks up is quite impressive. This includes, but is not limited to, propane, butane, pentane, toluene, industrial solvents, lacquers, ammonia, and methanol.
General Tools designed this to deliver both visual and audible indications of leaks. Also, this comes with a long and flexible gooseneck probe to reach tougher locations.
While the interface is quite simple, it does have 30-level tricolor LED lights that will indicate potential leaking.
For the record, an AC adaptor is included with your purchase. Also, though, this can be run via a NiMH 4.8-volt rechargeable battery.
Yes, this does have flaws in its performance. But, for sure, they are not enough to ruin this product but you do need to deal with the flaws.
7. Safety Siren Pro
The display updates hourly
Performs continuous monitoring
Sports a digital display
The settings can be clunky to use
Not the best build quality in the world
Now, this design is special here. This has been designed with the specific person of monitoring your home for radon gas. But, this is a continuous monitor so you always know your home will be safer.Read more
One user pointed out that in the included manual, the specific accuracy claims are mentioned. But, they also mention the accuracy could be enhanced.
Indeed, this is designed to detect radon gas. This is a gas that results from uranium breaking down in soil and it can be detrimental to your health. Also, this system provides continuous monitoring.
This is designed with all sorts of features including a failsafe test every 24 hours, a display that updates hourly and an audible alarm if a radon is detected.
The digital display itself is easy to view and also shows long-term radon level averages and also short-term radon levels.
As some users have pointed out, use a surge protector with this as voltage spikes can ruin this product. Yes, this means it is powered via an AC power.
Though this is specially designed to only detect one type of gas, radon can be a health hazard and you really do not want to screw around with it.
8. UEi Test Instruments
Backed by a one-year warranty
Comes equipped with an 18-inch flexible hose
Only requires a nine-volt battery
It does not sport automatic calibration
Probably responds to too many gases (such as water vapor)
In a way, it is almost ironic that one of the issues with this model is one of its best attributes. This is alluding to the sheer amount of gases it can detect (as it can be oversensitive to non-toxic gases).Read more
In spite of the fact that this does not have automatic calibration, it is designed with a semiconductor sensor and this ensures a rapid response.
This can detect all sorts of combustible and non-combustible gases including butane, benzene, ammonia, acetone and ethylene oxide. But, this responds to more than UEI claims such as water vapor.
To ensure this is ideal to reach tougher and more compact locations, it comes equipped with an 18-inch flexible hose that sports a tip-based work light.
There is not much of an interface to speak about here. Indicator lights are present for low-battery and power but that is about it.
Some units will require you to buy special batteries in order to operate them. But, one nice aspect about this design is that it uses a standard nine-volt battery to get the job done (and one is included with your purchase).
Without question, there is a lot to like about this design. For some of you, though, this will simply not be specific enough as it responds to too many non-toxic gases.
9. Sgile Alarm
It is applicable in various situations
Has audible and visual alarms
Features a high-sensitivity sensor
It is a bit oversensitive to other chemicals
As with anything else, you may simply be seeking high-quality options that are also affordable. Well, feast your eyes on that very option right here.Read more
Overall, the high-sensitivity sensor that is used in this model works pretty well. With an advertised warm-up time of 30 seconds, also, it does not take too long to get ready.
Being specifically optimized to detect combustible gases, this is able to alert you if methane, propane, ethane, ketone, or toluene (among others) is leaking.
What is nice is thanks to the audible and visual alarms, this will alert you in multiple ways. Also, a 12-inch flexible probe comes included to reach tougher locations.
In the nicest way, the interface is severely limited. You simply have to dial in the sensitivity by feel as this will not tell you what levels are actually present.
To power this unit, you will need three AAA batteries. For the record, you are not provided with these batteries with your purchase.
For the price of admission, it is tough to complain too much. This is able to perform quite admirably but some design limitations hurt its overall value.
10. Camco Spray
It is simple and effective
Tends to work better than just soap
Does come with a sprayer
It is not really a long-term solution
You may have heard of people checking gas leaks merely with soapy water. Well, this spray is similar to that but due to the specific formula, it is a slightly more effective option.Read more
In general, most users agree that this works better than simply soapy water. Then again, you have your naysayers that claim this is a waste of money and no better than soapy water.
Here is how this works; you physically spray on an area where you believe gas could be leaking. If you see bubbles then your hunch of a potential leak was right.
This comes with a sprayer for application but for the most part, this is a simple design and is devoid of many features.
Due to the fact that this is not a device, there is no interface.
Once again, this is not a device. There is no power source that is needed. Once the eight ounces is up, you will need to purchase more solution.
No, this is not a long-term solution to your problems. But, it is an option that is really convenient as you can test any area that you desire (or can feasibly reach).
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The performance of a detector will play a direct role in determining its worth that much is for sure.
The entire purpose of a gas leak detector is to detect when a gas leak is present in your home so you can take the appropriate action to fix it to prevent injury, illness and possible death. Now, in order to do this, the device itself needs to perform (as obvious as that sounds). This is not going to be news to you but not all devices will perform with the same efficiency. The question is, how do you (as the buyer) determine which models outperform others? Well, you can look at a variety of different factors to help determine this.
For example, you can assess the type of sensors that are used in each model. There are a variety of different types that can be used such as electrochemical and semiconductor sensors. The former sensors are very selective to the refrigerant and the latter type of sensors are extremely reliable and have a long lifespan. Also, you can assess both the warm-up time and the response time. Both of these are important as the longer the times, the less efficient the model will be. Oh yeah, and lastly, it is always nice when a model has self-calibration to ensure optimal accuracy each time you use it.
Not all models will detect all types of gases so you need to invest in the design that detects what you desire.
Would it surprise you to know that not all gas leak detectors you buy will be able to detect the same types of gases? And, if you know anything about gases, then you know that there are a plethora of different ones that are out there in the universe. But, did you know that each gas is classified into one of three groups? You have inert types which are not combustible at all, oxidizers which are not flammable on their own and also flammable gases which can be explosive when they are mixed with air.
In regard to the types that you should be looking for, there are a few that are common. For example, butane, methane, natural gas, propane, and carbon monoxide (which is produced by the burning of fuels such as some of the ones listed). Just looking at a few of those, you will commonly find methane in both commercial and residential heating fuels. The same can be said about butane and it is sometimes even blended with propane and sold commercially. But, you also need to be cautious of models that are oversensitive to random gases such as water vapor.
There are a few features to look for that can increase the efficiency of the overall design.
Now that the performance and the functionality are out of the way, let’s talk about the actual features. It is important to note that right off of the bat, these devices are not typically versatile. But, with that said, there are a few features to look for that can help with the overall efficiency and convenience. For starters, this is a good time to talk about the alert system. Most systems will alert you of leaks in two manners (visually and audibly). With visual alerts, the actual interface may emit specific lighting that indicates a gas leak has been detected. Yet, if you are not near the device, this will not help you. So, an audible alarm (look for one that is decently loud) can be of use to alert you from a different room. Look for both but if you could only choose one, choose an audible alert system.
Also, some models will come with included gooseneck probes. Typically, the probes will measure in-between 10 to 20 inches and will help to reach tougher locations. They will also come with a tip and they will be compact enough to slip into more compact areas.
This is in reference to the interface and while it does not need to be overly impressive, having a digital display can have its benefits.
Okay, so given that most of the detectors you will look at will be technology devices, it means that you need to take the design of the interface into consideration. In specific, you need to ask yourself if you want your device to sport a digital display. One of the benefits of a digital display is it can sometimes actually display the readout of parts per million for a specific gas. This measurement is an ideal way to determine the severity of a leak. Essentially, this measurement is used to describe the amount of gas by volume in the air and is one of the two most common units to do so.
But, even without a digital display, the interface can be effective. As noted earlier, if there are certain visual alerts you can see on the interface if leaks are an issue where it is sensing. Then again, numerical readout systems are going to be preferred for precision purposes.
Most of the time, gas leak detectors will be powered via batteries and this is probably the best option.
When investing in a product such as this, you can never forget the little things. And, in a way, the power source could be seen as a minuscule feature in the grand scheme of things. For the most part, most gas leak detectors will be battery-operated. Clearly, the most convenient aspect of battery operation is you are not limited in your mounting and installing options. Then again, you will need to replace the batteries when they deplete to ensure the unit actually runs. This tradeoff is definitely worth it, though, as you should place the device in an optimal location to improve its efficiency at detecting leaks.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Is it really going to do you much good if you find out you had a gas leak after your house has been blown up or after you develop carbon monoxide poisoning? Clearly, the answer to this is no so it becomes critically important to ensure that the model you pick can perform to high standards. While there are a few features to look for, which will be discussed, just know that the performance is going to make or break this type of device. What is also important to understand is that not all models will detect all types of gases. It is also vital to realize that there are different types of gases (some combustible and some not). Ideally, you should invest in a model that is versatile in this area. But, even if one can only detect one or two types, ensure that those types are common in household equipment and appliances.
Other Factors to Consider
Okay, so what features are there really going to be with this type of a device? Does it not simply perform one action? Well, this is true in a sense and, ironically, most of the features you need to keep an eye out for have to do with the lone action that this type of a device is designed to perform. All in all, the goal is to buy a detector that is efficient at its job. And, with a few key features in play, certain models can be better at this than others.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What causes a gas leak?
Raise your hand if this is something that crossed your mind during or before reading this guide? Perhaps you are already aware of how gas leaks can happen but if you are not, there are a few reasons why it can occur. In regard to interior leaks (which take place in the inside of homes and buildings), it can be for a plethora of reasons. For example, it can be the result of leaky pipe fittings, cracked pipes, faulty appliances, or even poor construction. As far as outdoors are concerned, leaks can be caused by pipe corrosion (which can be the result of water main breaks) or even by city contractors during street work.
q: Why are they dangerous?
This seems like a stupid question as most of you will know why a gas leak could be dangerous. But, this is always something that can use reiterating as it reminds you how necessary one of these detectors truly can be. For the most part, there are two primary reasons why this can be dangerous. First and foremost, and this is only alluding to gases that are combustible, they can cause house fires. Given the popularity of natural gas (as it is used for common household heating appliances), types of combustible gases can be leaked into your home.
Then, the other issue is with carbon monoxide poisoning or other types of poison that are direct effects of exposure to certain gases. While small amounts of carbon monoxide may not kill you (though large amounts most certainly can), it can lead to long-term health issues.
q: What do you do if your device detects a leak?
Ironically, you almost hope to never hear an alarm from your gas leak detector because if this happens (unless it is a false alarm) you then need to deal with the issue. For certain, you will want to act as immediately as possible if a gas leak is present in your home. If you do not have a specific contact in your area who handles this sort of thing, you can dial 911 for assistance. But, do so outdoors as the first thing you need to do is to evacuate your home. Get all living things outside and then either use your cell phone or a neighbor’s phone to dial an appropriate emergency service.
q: How to select the installation location?
It was briefly discussed earlier that battery-powered units have the advantage of not being limited in their installation. However, where exactly are you supposed to install a detector of this caliber? For the record, the location will have a direct effect on the performance of the model. Finding the correct place to do so is critical. But, it can depend a bit on what types of gases the system detects.
As an example, let’s look at butane and propane. Because they are both heavier than air, the best location for the device would be above the floor. Yet, do not leave it in an area that can be exposed to liquids or dirt.
q: Is there any maintenance required?
Generally speaking, not a ton of maintenance is going to be required on your part. While you can clean the device every now and then (removing dust from the probe and also the main device), you really just need to worry about replacing the batteries and the sensors. Depending on how much you use the device, you may need to replace the sensors at a more rapid pace. Locate the manufacturer’s manual or product information to see what they recommend. As for the batteries, they will deplete over time (even if the device is not powered on).
q: How often is calibration going to be necessary?
Remember when it was discussed to look for automatic calibration? Well, not all models are going to come with this convenient function and if they do not, you will need to calibrate it yourself. The question is, though, how often is this going to be necessary. Some models will self-calibrate each time they turn on for optimal accuracy. But, you may not want to calibrate the device with this consistency. If it is subject to unusual conditions or high gas concentrations, it should be done so often. If not, try to do it at least once every six months.