Carbon monoxide gas is dangerous- It is a silent killer and if left unattended can really pose a great risk to your safety.

To avoid the risk, you need to make sure that you have the right carbon monoxide detector installed at your home and is regularly monitored.

Carbon monoxide can easily build up inside any space where fuel is burning. The effects are so silent and dangerous that before you even notice what is happening, it can make you unconscious and cause serious health injury including death.

CO can accumulate at any place – be it your home, office kitchen or any place where there is a danger of gas leaks through heaters, gas-fired boilers or wood-burning stoves and fireplaces.

It is extremely important to have a reliable carbon monoxide detector installed at home that won’t let you down.

What is a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

A Carbon Monoxide detector is a small device which can be installed anywhere in your home for tracking or sensing the carbon monoxide presence in your home.

Often called CO Detectors, they are made to detect CO presence so that CO poisoning can be avoided.

They are made in a way that they measure CO presence over time and once the CO level reaches a harmful threshold, they sound the alarm fitted inside the detector.

CO detectors are not smoke detectors but new technology has made it possible to have both functions within one single detector to allow detection of smoke and CO presence in any environment.

What is a smoke detector?

A smoke detector is different from a Carbon Monoxide detector. It detects smoke as an indicator of fire. Like CO detector, the smoke detectors installed at home also sounds alarm when sensing fire.

What are Carbon Monoxide Detector Regulations in the UK?

Before you select the best carbon monoxide detector for your home, you should check what are the regulations for them in the UK for rented properties.

Here is a quick summary:

  • At least one smoke detector to be installed in each storey of accommodation.
  • Alarms shall be in working order before the start of each tenancy.
  • It is the responsibility of the landlord to check periodically if the detector is working or not.

You can check the complete guidelines here. A good source is also available on SimplyBusiness.

How you should buy a perfect carbon monoxide detector? what features to look for? how to make sure it is tested and reliable?

This guide will help you to select a high-quality detector to avoid any future health and safety risks due to carbon monoxide build-up within your home.

General Specifications of a Carbon Monoxide Detector

A good quality CO detector should at least have the following specifications:

  • Weight: Larger Models weight less than 300 gm
  • Dimensions: Dimensions normally are in the range of 12 x 9 x 4 cm
  • Shape: Rectangular
  • Battery Cell Type: AA or lithium metal – Most models have free batteries included when you buy a new detector.

Do You need a carbon monoxide detector?

Before buying a good quality detector, you should make a need assessment.

To know whether you really need one, check the following:

  • Do you have older furnaces in your home?
    • if yes, your home is at greater risk of being exposed to the leaks. Older furnaces do not have the automatic heat exchange mechanism installed so they are more prone to gas leaks.
    • furnaces are old technology using natural gas. Compared with boilers, they are less gas efficient.
    • Most of the old furnaces have the efficiency of around 60% thus 40% heat generated is evaporated through the chimneys.
    • What is worrisome is the fact that due to the inefficient and old technology they pose a greater risk of gas leaks and thus the accumulation of CO.
  • Check if you have any plugged chimneys
    • Though plugged chimneys are rarely at the risk of a leak, there is a possibility. Thoroughly check them.
  • Attached garages where old vehicles are stored, rooms with gas or oil appliances are also potential sources of danger.

Regardless of whether you are using LPG or natural gas, you will need a reliable and affordable carbon monoxide detector installed within your home.

Even if you are a tenant, you need to make sure that the house you are renting has it installed.

Portability and Place of Installation

Carbon Monoxide detectors can be powered differently.

You can buy a fully sealed battery-powered or the one which can be attached to the AC power.

Depending upon the power supply mechanism, the detector can be installed at different places.

The ideal height of installation can be any height around 14 inches from the floor or at eye level.

CO is considered a heavier gas, therefore, it accumulates at the lower levels first. It is more ideal to place the smoke detectors at the lower level i.e. on the floor.

Never make a mistake to install it near windows, stair wall or doorways. The right place to install this detector is to have it installed in the main hall of your home.

Installing them around 15 ft away from the boilers, stoves is also practical.

Battery Life of Carbon Monoxide Detector

Most of the detectors are built with similar technology. What makes them different is how the hardware is built.

Though AC Powered detectors are available in the market but battery-powered are more common and cheaper now.

A battery-powered detector is portable and can be installed without difficulty.

You can easily install it on the floor or on a higher place on the wall depending upon your requirements. But before you choose a battery-powered detector, check if the following features are available:

  • Check if the battery is sealed lithium or not.
  • Life of the battery shall not be less than 5 years with warranty. 7 years of battery life is ideal.
  • The life of the gadget itself shall not be greater than the battery life.
  • Most detectors use 2 or 3 AA type batteries to power the alarm.
  • Check if the detector has the capability to chrip or flash on the digital display to indicate a low battery level or not.

Check the Sensitivity of the Alarm

The alarm fitted in the detector rings at pre-defined sensitivity levels. Sensitivity levels are based upon the amount of carbon monoxide present in the room.

Here are the sensitivity levels and mapped alarm ring times under normal circumstances:

  • If the CO concentration level is 300 ppm or more, the alarm should ring in the first 3 minutes.
  • If the CO concentration level is less than 100 ppm, the alarm should ring in the first 10-40 minutes.
  • At 50 ppm or less, the alarm can take 60-90 minutes
  • Check audibility of alarm also
    • The industry standard for audibility of alarm is 85 dB at 1 m distance.
    • Normal conversation takes place at 60 decibels or dBs whereas dBs beyond 85 is considered as harmful for hearing.

Precaution is, however, advisable.

If the detector is installed at a visible place and you see any activity like carbon monoxide detector beeping or changes light colour, you should take precautionary measures.

Digital Display and Memory of your Carbon Monoxide detector

Digital display with memory is an absolutely necessary feature of a good quality detector.

No matter how small the amount of CO present in your room, the detector must record it and display.

A good quality detector comes with at least 1 week of memory and you should continue to check any readings it displays on the screen.

Even if the alarm doesn’t ring, just checking the memory and display can provide you with sufficient clues about the potential leakage problems. Don’t ignore them.

Few models also display the present level of CO.

Normally, the alarm sounds once the CO level reaches around 40 ppm, however, newer models show CO accumulation at 10ppm level.

Finding the best carbon monoxide detector is easier than you think. All you need to know is whether the detector complies with some minimum guidelines or not.

PS: We continue to update our guides so do check this guide again to get latest on how to select best carbon monoxide detector.

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