Carbon Monoxide Detector Buying Guide
What is a Carbon Monoxide Detector?
When you’re looking for products to purchase that will keep your home and family safe, you want to get the best quality products you can. Our buyer’s guide is going to give you all the information you need to make the best choice for your needs. Different models of CO detectors have features that are fairly common to all models and then there are some that have additional features that may be offered. Once you understand what is out there, deciding between the different models isn’t as confusing.
In addition to bringing you peace of mind that you’re doing everything you can to keep your family safe, having carbon monoxide detectors in your home also raises its value if you ever decide to sell your home. To find the best CO detectors for your home there are a few things you need to consider.
Things to Consider before Purchasing
There are a few things that you will need to have the answers to before you start your search for the CO detectors you want for your home. We have outlined them below.
What are the State Regulations? – New homes are required to have carbon monoxide detectors when they are built and pre-existing homes are required to have them installed if they haven’t been already. This is a requirement in most states. They also may require the CO detectors to be hard wired or be plug in units that have battery backups. A battery backup is a good thing to have on ALL CO detectors even if it isn’t a state requirement since it means your detectors will work even when your power is out.
How many detectors do you need? – If your home is two stories, you will need to have a carbon monoxide detector for each floor. In addition the National Fire Protection Association recommends having them outside each sleeping area. It is also a good idea to have them all interconnected so if one goes off, they all go off.
Make sure the Unit you choose is Certified – Any units that you are considering should be certified by an independent testing agency. Look for UL certified and you will have this requirement covered.
There are three basic types of carbon monoxide detectors available: standalone, interconnected and combination. We have outlined the differences below for your benefit.
Standalone – A standalone CO detector works independently and is generally a plug in model that uses a regular wall outlet. Most CO detectors that are standalone have battery backups which are a very important feature to have. A standalone CO detector is very easy to install but it one goes off, it will not trigger the others.
Interconnected – These are a bit more involved to install than standalone models. An interconnected CO detector means that all of the CO alarms that are installed all work together so when one goes off they all go off. Interconnected carbon monoxide detectors can also be connected with the smoke alarms in the home.
The benefit to having these alarms interconnected is that when there is danger in one room, all the alarms go off, alerting everyone in the home. They are much harder to install than wireless or standalone and you may want to get help to do this properly. It’ll be worth the extra cost to know for sure that it is done correctly unless you have experience in wiring. Another option is wireless which doesn’t require any rewiring at all. They can be installed easily and use signals to communicate with each other.
Combination – A combination unit is one that has both a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector in one. These are more expensive than standalone detectors but are generally cheaper to get combination units rather than buy one of each for your home. Here is an important thing to think about.
It has been recommended to homeowners that they NOT get the combination models due to the fact that each alarm is designed to detect a different substance entirely and they don’t work the same way, nor do they do well in the same place. There are certain places that are better for CO detectors that may not be the best places for smoke alarms and vice versa. It is better to get separate detectors and put them where it is recommended than to worry that a combination may not detect one thing or the other reliably.
There are several features that you want to make sure your carbon monoxide detector offers. These are all features that make the unit more reliable and better for the homeowner.
Battery Backup – This is one of the most important features you can have to give you even more peace of mind. Power outages are inevitable and knowing that your CO detectors will work even when your power is not.
Low battery Indicator – Make sure that your CO detector has a low battery signal/indicator that will go off and let you know when it is time to change the battery. Most of them have a chirping alarm that will sound when it’s time to replace the batteries. It can be very easy to forget that it is time to change them, so having this feature can prevent the same battery being in the carbon monoxide detector for years or find out that it’s completely dead the next time the power is out. With the low battery indicator, you’ll never be without the CO protection you want.
Digital Carbon Monoxide Display – The display on you CO detector tells you what the concentrations of CO is in parts per million. It will show them even when they are below the danger level when the alarm would sound. UL regulations require that CO alarms must go off when the readings are 70ppm or less. There can be some bad effects to pregnant women, children, pets and heart patients when levels are 30ppm. The benefit to this feature is that you can pay attention to the CO levels yourself and get an idea of what they are and what they do. An additional feature that has to do with this display is that it will also record that last highest level since they were reset, so if you’re away from home you can come home and check things out on the display and see if there was any change while you were gone.
Silence Button – Silence or hush buttons allow the homeowner to quiet an alarm that has gone off if it turns out to be nothing. All you need to do is press the silence of hush button and it will silence the alarm without having to be turned off. The chances of you forgetting to turn it back on can be high which is why this feature is a favorite among homeowners.
Remote Controlled Mute- This is a convenience feature and allows the user to silence the alarm by remote. There is no additional safety features tied to this feature as it is just for convenience and is not necessity to have the CO detector work just fine.
Important Things to Remember
It is very important to follow the directions on the package a CO detector comes in. There are a few things to remember when purchasing and using one properly. Pay attention to these tips below to get the best out of the CO detector you choose.
- Don’t mount carbon monoxide detectors in the kitchen or near any cooking appliances
- Don’t mount them near a furnace or water heater
- Keep CO detectors out of direct sunlight
- Keep CO detectors away from breezy areas with lots of fans running, vents, AC units, doors and open windows. The fresh air these areas have can cause a false low reading.
- Test Co detectors every week and vacuum them to prevent dust build up from altering the performance monthly.
- Follow manufacturer’s recommendations on changing the battery
- Replace carbon monoxide detectors every 5 years unless the indicator signals otherwise.
- Plan an evacuation plan on how to get out in case of a fire or CO emergency and make sure every member of your family practices it, even the very young ones. Make it important to do this and it will be important to the kids too.
With carbon monoxide being such a dangerous gas that is both invisible and odorless, it is very important to have protection against CO leaks that may occur due to water heaters, ranges, ovens, furnaces and AC units. Having reliable CO detectors can make the difference between life and death should leaks occur.
The information we have provided for you in this buyer’s guide and the reviews of the top rated carbon monoxide detectors will help you make the right choice on which one to get for your home. You will feel much better about the safety of your family with these valuable detectors in your home.