Gadget: Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector

£50.78 from; for more information see

We're in the midst of a chilly winter. The heating is turned up to the max and the cat is glued to your lap, but you're still shivering under a blanket. You've got double glazing, draft excluders and loft insulation, but your feet are still freezing. Even the cat has goosebumps. Black & Decker don't have the solution to why your property is chilly, but they do have a way of identifying the problem. The Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector is a plug and play infrared thermometer with a difference.

I've tested a few gadgets over the years that make me feel like an extra from Star Trek but the Black & Decker is probably the closest to Captain Picard's Tricorder yet. Insert your 9V battery then press the big red button below the LCD display: This both turns the unit on and sets the reference temperature. I wanted to test the thermal leakage from my wooden back door so I pointed the device at the centre of the door. Like a sniper's rifle, the detector fired out a beam of light to let me know where it was taking its measurements from. The centre of my door was 17C but as I moved it further towards the bottom, the light beam changed from green to blue to indicate a temperature -5.5C or greater from the reference. The LCD screen showed a draft of 7.5C whistling under the gap between the door and the floor. You can set the temperature "alert" difference between 0.5C, 3C or 5.5C - handy if you're looking to detect minimal drafts.

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At first glance, it would appear that Black & Decker might have a rather limited market for their 50 leak detector. However, with heating bills set to rise, the leak detector could be a worthwhile investment.

Like a sniper's rifle, the leak detector fired out a beam of light

• This article was first published in The Scotsman on January 15, 2011