How To Choose A Carbon Monoxide Detector

carbon monoxide detectorAlthough we might not need fireplaces in the Los Angeles area’s mild winters, that’s no excuse to forego reliable carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Any home with a fuel-burning appliance, such as gas stove, needs them. Your carbon monoxide detector could save your life, so it’s worth investing in a good one.

Put Reliability First

CO detectors come in hard-wired, battery-operated, and plug-in models. Hard-wired models are connected to your home’s electrical system, so you won’t need to worry about the batteries failing. Because these models contain a battery backup to keep them running during power failures, you’ll still need to keep the batteries fresh.

A plug-in model can be plugged into any outlet. They’re convenient, but not ideal. Most don’t have battery backups. What’s more, carbon monoxide rises, so a detector in an outlet low to the ground might fail to sense it.

Sensitivity is another critical factor. Standard UL 2034 CO detectors sound an alarm only once carbon monoxide levels reach 70 ppm. They’re meant to protect healthy adults from high CO levels, but won’t alert you to low levels. Long-term exposure to low levels of CO can cause health issues such as headaches, fatigue, and general malaise. They’re especially dangerous for children, pregnant women, and small pets. For better protection, choose a low-level detection unit that sounds an alarm when the CO level hits 15 ppm.

Look for Helpful Features

Many carbon monoxide detectors are equipped with a digital display that provides information about your home’s CO levels. Some show the most recent peak level while others update continuously to show the current level. A display that shows a timeline of recent levels is helpful for spotting on-going carbon monoxide problems.

An internet-connected “smart” carbon monoxide detector sends a notice to your cell phone or laptop when it detects dangerous CO levels. Some also let you silence the alarm or low-battery signal from your phone.