Review: Air Sampling Pumps
Updated: Sep 05, 2020
This week, Consultex is trying something new and conducting a review of one of the most commonly used pieces of equipment in the industry, Air Sampling Pumps. In addition to our plethora of pumps, we have managed to get our hands on a majority of the most commonly used brands and models in New Zealand’s industry and put them to the test. As with every review, the goal is to be as comprehensive as possible, however there are the following notable exclusions:
SKC Flite 3
If anyone has any experience with these models, feel free to share your experience’s below!
Please note these are Consultex’s review’s and opinions based on personal experiences with each unit in real life application. These views or primarily based on asbestos monitoring and consultancy. Different pumps may suit certain service lines and applications better. If anyone has positive or negative experiences with their air sampling pumps, feel free to drop a comment below.
Zefon Escort Elf
This basic no frills pump is a great work horse for day to day sampling. The 1-3 LPM is ideal for the long sampling times and the strong NiMH battery makes it durable with a long shelf life. The slim shape and built on clip makes for easy placement on site. A reliable pump without the extras.
Pros: Intrinsically Safe, Robust, Automatic flow compensator, LED indicators, Simple basic maintenance, Available for retail purchase in NZ
Cons: Non-programmable, limited flow rates, No data-logging, screwdriver required to remove control pad cover
Battery Life: 6/10
Consultex’s Final Rating: 5/10
SKC AirChek XR5000
Probably one of the most common sampling pumps in New Zealand, the SKC Airchek range comes in a range of flow models, but for this test we used a XR5000. This compact and lightweight unit packs a punch for its size. With the flow rates ranging from 5 to 5000 ml/min (with low flow adapter) the versatility box gets a big tick. Easy servicing, maintenance and availability of spare parts makes this a good long term investment for your business.
Pros: Long lasting Li-ion Battery, Portable and lightweight, Programmable, Intrinsically safe, Interchangeable batteries, Automatic compensator, tool free operation
Cons: 3 button sequence operated, No data logging
Battery Life: 8/10
Consultex’s Final Rating: 6/10
Casella Apex 2 - Standard Model
The feature packed Casella Apex 2 is one of the front runners of our test. The modern and compact unit has a high performance Li-ion battery with a percentage indicator so you know exactly how much juice you have left. Intrinsically safe and flow rates ranging from 5 to 5000 ml/min (with low flow adapter). One of the best features is the motion sensor. This gives you reassurance of the integrity of your samples whether you are personal sampling or static sampling. For this test we used the standard model, however the pro and plus also have bluetooth capabilities.
Pros: Rubber protective cover, Easy to use display, Incredible battery life, Automatic compensator, Slim design makes it more comfortable for personal sampling, Locking feature, Motion sensor, Fault and blockage auto restart, tool free operation, easy servicing of internal filter (wingnut screw), Quiet
Cons: Sawtooth clip can be difficult to mount on static locations such as fences, This particular model is non-programmable and has no data logging
Battery Life: 9/10
Consultex’s Final Rating: 8.5/10
One of the latest additions to SKC’s range, the Essential model appears to be the modern reincarnation of the AirChek. The basic function pump has a modern feel with a large electronic display. The protective covers make this unit feel very secure. The powerful Li-on battery gives you 40+ hours of sampling time. Intrinsically safe and flow rates ranging from 5 to 5000 ml/min (with low flow adapter).
Pros: Tool free operation, Available for retail purchase in NZ, Protective screen cover, stack-able charging docks, fault LED indicators, easy calibration
Cons: Non-programmable, no data logging
Battery Life: 9/10
Consultex’s Final Rating: 8/10
A smart looking unit with a very nice solid feel, the Airbox’s low flow offering is a serviceable performer. The intense yellow finish makes it easily identifiable on site. The basic mechanical operation and calibration make this pump highly user friendly. However, the simple technology and industrial construction do have their drawbacks. The biggest we found was the short battery life. The 9.6V NiMH battery can’t seem to keep up with it’s competitors lithium power and the run time really reflects this. In our busy schedule the run time and constant charging was a burden we could definitely live without, however, if you are in the market for a basic pump that does it’s job, this could be a good option.
Pros: Easy calibration, solid construction, Available for retail purchase in NZ
Cons: Screw driver required for calibration, noisy
Battery Life: 2/10
Consultex’s Final Rating: 4/10
A quiet achiever in our test group, the Gilian BDX-II is a robust workhouse. Simple calibration and operation functions make this pump easy to use day to day. The requirement for a screw driver to open the control pad cover and calibration is inconvenient but adds a layer of security when sampling onsite. With a old school feel the BDX-II is renown for is durability and is highly recommended by consultants around the world. The inbuilt flow meter is handy but rendered useless with the requirement for a calibrated rotameter.
Pros: Easy to use, robust, easy maintenance, accessible spare parts
Cons: The wide clip can be too wide for chain link fences as static monitoring points, Screw driver required for operation and calibration, noisy
Battery Life: 6/10
Consultex’s Final Rating: 6.5/10
Air Box Variflow
Air Box’s contribution to the high flow sampling market is very common in New Zealand. The tough construction and well planned ergonomics of this pump make it nice to transport and place onsite. The huge 2m inbuilt telescopic mast is awesome and it tucks away with ease. The solid base and high mast make it perfect for clearances and soil remediation monitoring. The biggest down side to this pump is the battery. In our experience we found the battery to be short lived and the pump spent a lot of time in the office on charge. We put this down to the lead acid battery which also contributes to the pumps hefty 4.6 kilo weight. We also found the calibration process to be more difficult than one would expect.
Pros: A massive 2m extendable mast!, Water and dust proof, solid construction, easy to carry design, available for retail purchase in NZ
Cons: Poor battery life, heavy, counter intuitive calibration,
Battery Life: 2/10
Consultex’s Final Rating: 4.5/10
3A Technology 8 & 16L Air Sampling Pump
Made in the UK 3A Technology’s high flow models are also very popular in New Zealand. With a metal construction and staged telescopic mast, the pump is a breeze to set up onsite. A basic adjustment screw accessible by a small screwdriver is as simple as it gets when it come’s to calibration. The coiled hose collapses nicely when packing up and makes for tidy storage in-conjunction with a sturdy handle for carrying. The pump is perfect for asbestos clearances and monitoring outside environments. We did find the flow fluctuation wasn’t compliant when getting lower than approximately 3 litres per minute, however this pump is clearly designed for high flow sampling, and performs it very well at increased flow.
Pros: Staged telescopic mast, coiled hose, easy calibration
Cons: Screw driver required for calibration, not suitable for low flows
Battery Life: 7/10
Consultex’s Final Rating: 7/10