Colourless, tasteless, and odourless, carbon monoxide is perhaps the most unavoidable silent killer of all gases. Almost everyone experiences the gas in small doses such as when using carbon based fuels like gasoline, coal, wood, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. But as long as the room is well ventilated, there won’t be any risk of CO poisoning.
The problem sets in when the gas hits concentration levels above 35 ppm. At these levels, it’s toxic to both humans and animals. Research shows that hundreds of people die each year while over 20,000 are hospitalised due to carbon monoxide overexposure. To keep your family, guests, employees and customers safe, it’s important to install a carbon monoxide detector.
There’s a reason why carbon monoxide is also known as the silent and invisible killer. You won’t see, smell or even hear it coming. Installing and maintaining a CO detector / alarm will not only help identify any issues earlier, it can also save the lives of everyone in the vicinity. What’s more, today’s range of gas detectors are actually quite affordable and come with additional features like interconnection for integrated, whole-house protection.
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Factors to Consider When Buying a Carbon Monoxide Detector / Alarm
a) Consider the Type
When looking for a carbon monoxide alarm that checks off all your requirement boxes, you’ll need to think about what your end goal is. There’s a broad array of different types of CO detectors ranging from basic to smart. But remember, most instances of CO poisoning come from smoke inhalation and building fires. That’s why we recommend getting a combination detector for true, complete protection.
- Basic CO Detectors – Are you on a tight budget? Or maybe you’re restocking your inventory for a client who requested a basic setup. If you’re just looking for something that will get the main job done exactly how it needs to be, then a basic detector will work great. These devices come with general CO detection capabilities and are programmed to alert people when the gas hits certain saturation levels in the room. Basic detectors come in both hardwired and battery operated models. Some models also have digital display that show the CO level while others can read it out via audio. However, CO detectors don’t detect combustible gases like methane and propane as well as smoke.
- Combination CO and Smoke Detectors – These are devises that combine different technologies to protect against both carbon monoxide and smoke. Fires burn differently, so these combination detectors could incorporate photoelectric or ionization technologies. Ionization smoke detectors are great at detecting small, fast fires like kitchen fires while photoelectric detectors are ideal for large, smoky fires. Getting a detector with both these capabilities helps to alert people of fires and smoke even before the CO detector starts beeping.
- Smart Detectors – While technically combination detectors, these devices offer additional features such as alerts to your smartphone so you can take action even when not at home or work. The connectivity allows users to monitor all sorts of stats such as CO levels, low battery warnings, manual system shutdown and alarm hush. Obviously, this will cost considerably more than your basic CO detector which brings us to our next crucial factor to consider.
b) Consider the Cost
While you can’t put a price on the safety and health of your family, friends and workers, it’s important to have a detection system that you can actually maintain and keep in perfect working condition. In this day and age, functional CO detectors don’t have to be super expensive.
In fact, people with larger buildings would benefit more from installing dozens of basic CO detectors all over instead of a few smart devices. But if you don’t mind spending a little extra, this opens up your options to comprehensive features like smartphone connectivity, digital displays, voice notification and many more.
c) Power Source
CO detectors come as either battery powered models or hardwired units. Battery powered detectors are not only more affordable, they’re also easier to install. And as an added bonus, you can rely on them to work even in a power outage or areas with no power at all. You just have to remember to check and replace the batteries. Hardwired units are more difficult to install and don’t require any maintenance.
d) Sensitivity and Loud Alerts
Almost all basic carbon monoxide detectors are built to sound an alarm in the event that CO levels hit a concentration that could cause serious health issues. However, even lower or dismal levels of CO present in the air every day could cause problems for kids and the elderly. If you’re sensitive to CO, try to look for a model with low level detection or at least the ability to configure sensitivity settings. Likewise, it helps to get a UL certified model which has a minimum of 85 decibel alarm audible up to 10 feet.
e) User Friendliness
The good news is that Carbon Monoxide detectors are simple devices without any confusing features. So using them is quite easy even for people who have never dealt with detectors before. Whether hardwired or battery operated, you’ll still want a model that makes it easy to figure out how to test, maintain, replace accessories and silence in case of false alarms.
f) UL Rating Certification
If you don’t necessarily want to spend time seeking out a low level CO detector, you could always go for one with a UL certification. This rating just means that the carbon monoxide detector has been independently tested by relevant laboratories and found to meet the basic sensitivity requirements. UL certification also reassures users if there are any CO regulations to adhere to.
g) Consider the Top Brands
- Honeywell – Uniquely positioned to meld both safety software with physical products, Honeywell has been inventing and manufacturing essential technologies centered around security, safety, energy and productivity.
- FireAngel – Leading the way with state of the art technology, FireAngel is committed to providing effective and efficient total home safety solutions. When you need help the most, there’s a solid reason why a large percentage of UK’s safety services rely on FireAngel’s products.
- First Alert – Reliable, trustworthy, and experienced, saving lives worldwide continues to be First Alert’s cornerstone. By manufacturing the leading safety technologies, the pioneer of smoke detectors continues to win awards and forge partnerships with schools, retailers, businesses and even firefighters to make avoidable accidents a thing of the past.
The Best Carbon Monoxide Detector Reviews
1. Honeywell XC100D Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Looking for a smart, serious CO detector with all the modern bells and whistles? Even looking at the incredibly detailed instructions alone, you can tell that the XC100D CO detector from Honeywell is a high quality device. This detector uses a single Lithium ion battery which is tamper proof and sealed in.
It also has a low level monitoring mode for catching even dismal CO levels. Speaking of levels, the XC100D comes equipped with a multifunction CO level digital display that work in tandem with an event logger and alarm memory. This allows users to see what’s been happening throughout the day when they were away. The device is also upgradeable if you want to monitor and get early warning for CO via wireless connection.
2. FireAngel Carbon Monoxide Alarm
If you have multiple sources of CO around the house or workplace, you’ll need a portable detector and alarm to test every room for CO buildup. Certified for caravan, home and even vehicular use, the FireAngel Carbon Monoxide Alarm already boasts of a kitemark to the latest BS EN safety standards.
While it’s the most affordable detector on the list, it comes with all the basics required to detect and warn of the presence of CO. The FireAngel CO detector is battery powered and can be used either as a free standing portable model or a wall mounted device. It also includes an automated self diagnostic check with a built-in sensor. The manufacturer engineered the device to sound a loud 85 decibel alarm when CO levels above 50ppm are detected.
3. Kidde 4MCO Hardwired CO Alarm
Suited for rewiring projects, renovations, refurbishments or even new buildings, the Kidde 4MCO Hardwired CO Alarm is quite the versatile detector. Not only can it be powered straight from the mains, but it also comes with rechargeable lithium pack batteries for back up operations.
The detector has been programmed to go off once the CO levels in a room hit 30 parts per million. This lower sensitivity makes it ideal for people who are sensitive to CO, kids, and elders. Like all good CO detectors, the model features a test and reset button with an end of life warning. There’s also an LED display which shows the status of the power supply, battery, and alarm. As a bonus, the unit can be interconnected with other Kidde appliances such as alarms and detectors.
4. BRK Dicon CO850Mi Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Massive, powerful, and with the ability to interlink with over a dozen similar CO alarms, the BRK Dicon CO850Mi CO detector is a favorite for professional alarm installation experts. Not only is it tough and solidly built, it also includes everything you need to CO proof your entire property.
For starters, it makes use of electrochemical CO sensing technology so it can capture any CO buildup at the early stages. And since it uses power straight from the mains, maintenance has been greatly reduced. The big, clear test button lets you ensure that the detector is working as intended. In addition o the loud, UL certified 85 decibel alarm BRK made sure that you could interlink up to 12 CO alarms fro truly comprehensive, whole-house protection.
5. FIRST ALERT CO400 CO Detector Alarm
While having a feature packed CO detector is great, it’s more important to get an alarm that actually works when you need it most. The CO400 Carbon Monoxide Alarm is a budget friendly, easy to install and user friendly device from First Alert.
The CO400 comes equipped with a central test and silence button to test the sensors as well as shut it off in case of false alarms. The sleek detector uses 2 AA batteries which do have to be replaced very couple of months depending on the use. If you’re a professional looking to use this as a mobile CO detector, you may want to pack an extra pair of batteries. For a more permanent set up, you can mount it on a wall.