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Deadly Carbon Monoxide Crisis

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Carbon Monoxide Detector Review

Carbon monoxide detectors can be classified according to the type of sensor that is used to detect the gas. The simple, un-powered (and least expensive) patch-type detectors use a chemical substance that chemically reacts with carbon monoxide upon contact. The chemical reaction darkens the patch or changes its color. Patch detectors are applicable only in locations and situations wherein occupants are conscious and are able to visually observe the detectors. The audible-warning (and more expensive) variety of these patch detectors use additional light-intensity sensors and electronic circuitry in order to warn of excessive carbon monoxide concentrations.

Co Detector Review

The optical-chemical CO detectors rely on a chemical reaction to produce a visible and quantifiable change in the color or shade of a substance that chemically reacts with carbon monoxide. A similar chemical reaction occurs in electrochemical fuel cell detectors wherein carbon monoxide chemically combines with the oxygen in the air and releases electrons to an electrolyte solution that are then detected as an electrical current by the device. Semiconductor detectors also rely upon the electrochemical reaction (between tin oxide and carbon monoxide) to detect the presence of poison gas.

Kidde Nighthawk Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon monoxide alarms can be either AC or battery-operated (DC). Some models can be dual-powered (AC plus a battery backup). Dual-powered alarms will continue to provide protection in case of power failure. A popular feature rich product line is the Kidde Nighthawk Carbon Monoxide Detecter. With Kidde, you can be sure your room is safe. For more advanced detectors, the semiconductor (tin oxide) and the optical-chemical (shade- or color-changing and biomimetic) detectors consume more power during operation compared to the electrochemical (fuel cell) detectors. The electrochemical detectors are also regarded as less susceptible to interference from other variables (humidity variations, presence of other gases, electromagnetic radiation, etc.).

Carbon Monoxide Detector Reviews

The higher quality carbon monoxide detectors are not affected by humidity variations (particularly low humidity levels) and by the presence of other vapors and gases. These detectors also perform consistently at varying carbon monoxide concentrations--they will sound off an alarm only when the spike in the CO concentration is non-transient and, if the concentration of CO rapidly goes up and down, they will religiously detect the current CO level and sound the appropriate alarm (different tone or pitch) according to the preset threshold levels (e.g., at 500 ppm and then at 1000 ppm). These higher-quality detectors can simultaneously measure the absolute CO concentration in the air, the amount of time that a certain concentration has persisted, and the rate of rise in the CO concentration.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Ratings

All acceptable carbon monoxide detectors comply with the CSA 6.19-01 standard or, at the very least, with the UL 2034 standard. All of the electrical-audible types of detectors are required to sound alarms whenever ambient carbon monoxide levels are sufficient and persistent enough to cause a carbon monoxide blood saturation value of about 10% for normal adults (and lower for children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with illnesses). Detectors with digital displays must provide readings that, at the least, are accurate to plus or minus 30% of the actual CO concentration value. The best detectors with digital readouts are accurate enough to provide readings that are within 10% (plus or minus) of the actual amount of carbon monoxide in the ambient air (as can be measured by more accurate analytical instruments). Detailed information can be found at

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