gas engineer morecambeCarbon monoxide detectors are known to save lives. Highly regarded as the best home security investment one will make, carbon monoxide detectors have a different function than smoke or heat detectors. They detect the presence of carbon monoxide in the household and will trigger an alarm if it is at dangerous levels. Why is this helpful? It’s because CO is practically undetectable. The gas is tasteless, odourless and invisible. As such, you can never tell when you are already being suffocated by this lethal gas.

Where does CO come from?

Carbon Monoxide is a gas produced by improperly burned fuel. These can be commonly seen in running cars, gas ranges, furnaces, gas powered heaters, charcoal grills and wood-burning fireplaces. If any of these devices or facilities perform an incomplete combustion and is located in an area with poor ventilation, carbon monoxide can accumulate and reach lethal levels. By installing a CO detector, you can be alerted to rising levels of this vile, invisible gas.

Types of CO detectors

Three basic types of CO detectors exist in the market. These are namely electrochemical, semiconductor and biomimetic.


This type of detector checks for the presence of CO in the air by tracking the internal electrical current of the surroundings. When slight changes in these currents are caused by the presence of carbon monoxide, the alarm will sound. Electrochemical detectors utilize sensor electrodes coupled with a chemical solution to detect such changes. Due to their adeptness at detecting lethal levels of CO and lengthy battery lifespan of at least 5 years, electrochemical detectors have gained a great reputation and are highly recommended.


Semiconductor detectors were the first to be invented among the 3. They work similarly to electrochemical detectors in the sense that they monitor electric current changes. However, they don’t utilize chemical solutions like the former. Instead, it has a semiconductor that is typically made of tin dioxide. This semiconductor suffers a lower resistance brought about by electrical current change whenever it comes into contact with carbon monoxide. Whenever an increase is detected, the alarm is triggered instantly. Although it is pretty outdated, it is still considered a great choice as it doesn’t require any maintenance.


These type of CO detectors are internally fitted with a gel pack containing synthetic haemoglobin. The gel pack has the capability to absorb carbon monoxide. When it does so, the haemoglobin reacts by changing colour. Sensors are readily available to react to any change in colour of the haemoglobin. Once detected, the alarm is sounded right away.

Although it sounds pretty high tech, there have been incidents of false alarms caused by biomimetic detectors. This is because contaminants can accumulate in the gel pack thus triggering the sensor. For best results, the gel pack of these detectors should be replaced every 2-3 years.

Biomimetic detectors utilize batteries and are known to last up to 10 years.

We recommend installing a audible carbon monoxide alarm and our choice would be from Honeywell.

bad-mounting-300x225Where are these detectors installed?

It has become a common practice for households to have one carbon monoxide detector per floor. This also includes the basement and the attic. These detectors should be installed around 10 feet away from bedrooms so that they can be heard from easily. Likewise, it is also advised to have these placed near any devices that burn fuel such as heaters and furnaces.

As a general rule, it is also wise to contact your local energy department and also your gas provider prior to installing any CO detector. Also, be sure to always heed the installation guide and troubleshooting tips provided by the manufacturer.

What power source to select?

CO detectors can be powered in various ways. These are namely via battery, 12v/24v and 120v power sources.


Batteries are rather convenient as they allow you to use your device without any cords protruding from it. However, when the batteries on these detectors run low, they do beep annoyingly until these are replaced. For homes that have grown accustomed to serene surroundings, this may not bode well for the residents. As batteries need to be replaced on a yearly basis, it is prone to being forgotten. In fact, some people remove the batteries altogether especially when they don’t have replacements on hand and the beeping noise gets annoying. When this happens, the household then becomes at risk of being overcome by CO gas due to the lack of a round-the-clock detector.


This type of connector refers to that in typical household security panels. These are usually regarded as the best choice as security systems that monitor your household also have the capability to monitor your monitoring devices. With this in place, you can easily tell if one of your detectors has malfunctioned. Likewise, security systems also have the dial out functionality. This means that if there is any security breach, the proper authorities are contacted right away. This functionality can also be extended to your CO detectors if needed. As soon as dangerous levels are detected, you can opt to have local authorities informed of the situation as well.


This type of power source is the most common among households. They are better than batteries in most ways. Although they do lose monitoring capabilities when the power is out, they do come with backup batteries for such events. Also, unlike battery operated detectors, they will not suffer a degradation of performance whenever the source runs low. Plus, they won’t spam you with incessant beeping until you replace the internal battery.