Which combustible gas detector is best?

Gas leaks are an insidious problem as many of the most deadly gases that can leak around your home are odorless and tasteless. Many are also combustible, meaning so much as switching on your stove or a portable heater can suddenly cause devastating damage to your home and health. Thankfully, combustible gas detectors are made for both professional and at-home use.

The best combustible gas detector is the Klein Tools ET120 Gas Leak Detector. It’s effective and perfectly situated price-wise to be a good choice for everyone.

What to know before you buy a combustible gas detector

Types of combustible gas detectors

Combustible gas detectors come in two types: probes and plug-ins.

  • Probes are active detectors. They are typically battery-operated handheld devices used to spot-check for potential leaks, whether through a standard inspection or if a leak is suspected. The probe is usually 12 to 18 inches long with a sensor at the tip. Some tips have caps for protection when not in use or lights to help see an area.
  • Plug-ins are passive detectors. They plug into an outlet and constantly detect readings. They function similarly to smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, with some plug-in combustible gas detectors also scanning for carbon monoxide.

Gases detected

Combustible gas detectors can sense many gases, though the device won’t be able to tell you which gas is detected. The more gases it can detect, the better. Some of the most commonly detected gases are:

  • Methane
  • Propane
  • Gasoline
  • Hydrogen
  • Hexane
  • Coal gas
  • Natural gas

What’s included

Most combustible gas detectors only include the device and an instruction manual. Others include the batteries it may need to operate or a carrying case or pouch.

What to look for in a quality combustible gas detector

Concentration indicator

Better combustible gas detectors can relay how much gas it’s detecting, which is crucial information for determining how dangerous the situation is and how quickly you must take action. 

These indicators usually come in LED lights or alarms that get progressively brighter or louder as more gas is detected. Some may use both or even incorporate progressively worse vibrations. Better detectors let you adjust the settings of these alerts so only one is used or, for example, the alarm is quieter or louder than normal.

The best detectors have displays that can directly tell you how many parts per million of gas are detected.

Auto-shutoff 

Probe combustible gas detectors usually take several batteries to operate and those batteries typically get drained fast. The best detectors have auto-shutoff features, so you don’t need to worry about accidentally draining your battery life.

Calibration

The best combustible gas detectors can be calibrated to maintain their accuracy, but the calibration can happen in a few ways. The best detectors automatically calibrate every time it gets turned on. Others may need you to sample fresh, outside air before being used.

How much you can expect to spend on a combustible gas detector

Combustible gas detectors typically cost $20-$150. Basic models for non-professional use typically cost less than $100, while superior models start around $100 and can cost up to several hundred dollars.

Combustible gas detector FAQ

What’s the difference between catalytic and infrared sensors?

A. Both sensors accomplish the same job of detecting the presence and concentration of gas. The differences are the methods they use. Catalytic sensors are the most common sensor type. They use a wire coil that oxides gases and then take a reading of the resistance in the wire. Infrared sensors shine and read a special light multiple times each second and measure any disturbance in the light to detect the concentration of gas in the area.

Can I use a combustible gas detector continuously?

A. That depends on the type of detector you have. Probe detectors are designed to obtain a reading in the moment, plus their battery only lasts so many hours. For continuous and constant readings, you need a plug-in detector.

What’s the best combustible gas detector to buy?

Top combustible gas detector 

Klein Tools ET120 Gas Leak Detector

Klein Tools ET120 Gas Leak Detector

What you need to know: It’s effective and reasonably priced.

What you’ll love: It can detect between 50-10,000 parts per million (ppm) between two sensitivity settings — high for 50-1,000 ppm and low for 1,000-10,000 ppm. It uses five red LEDs and an alarm that goes up to 85-decibels to relay severity. A storage pouch and batteries are included.

What you should consider: Some consumers found the instructions hard to understand. Others had issues with the unit turning on inside the case and wasting battery power.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Top combustible gas detector for the money

Pangaea Digital Gas Detector

Pangaea Digital Gas Detector

What you need to know: It’s great for basic at-home detection but not for professional-grade use.

What you’ll love: It has a bright LED display that can display detailed readouts up to 9,999 ppm. It has a 14-inch flexible gooseneck probe with a minimum 50 ppm sensitivity sensor at the end to make detecting specific areas easy. It runs on three AA batteries.

What you should consider: It has no calibration feature. Some customers had issues with low sensitivity. Others reported it needing upward of 10 seconds to detect any gas leaks.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Amprobe GSD600 Gas Leak Detector

Amprobe GSD600 Gas Leak Detector

What you need to know: This top-dollar detector is perfect for professionals.

What you’ll love: It uses a combination LED and beep alarm that gets stronger with worse leaks. The probe is stainless steel and 17.5 inches long with a sensitive detector head. It includes a hard carrying case and the four AA batteries it needs to operate.

What you should consider: Purchasers reported the user manual lacking pertinent information. Others had issues with the sensor cap breaking. You also need to recalibrate this alarm regularly.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
 

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