Carbon Monoxide is a deadly gas which is colorless and odorless. In most fatal home fires, it’s carbon monoxide which kills victims long before they succumb to smoke inhalation or are burned by the fire.
Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu, making it difficult to detect by symptoms alone. These symptoms can include a dull headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision and chest pain. Since most people are more familiar with the flu than with CO2 poisoning, they assume their symptoms are flu-related, prolonging their exposure to the gas making them sick; this can be a fatal error.
Unlike smoke, which is fatal if the concentration in the air is high enough, carbon monoxide usually builds up in the system over time. One can get carbon monoxide poisoning from either a low concentration of carbon monoxide over a long period of time or a high concentration over a short period of time. Therefore, carbon monoxide detectors need to determine the average level of carbon monoxide in the environment over time, determining if it is high enough to cause problems.
Smoke detectors don't detect carbon monoxide. If you have a smokeless fire going or a contained fire, it’s possible for carbon monoxide levels to reach fatal levels without a smoke detector going off. This could also occur with vehicle exhaust, a leaky furnace or an improperly vented hot water heater for example.
Ideally, you should have both carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors in your home. A minimum of one per floor is recommended, with additional detectors installed in bedrooms. Although this make for a lot of detectors, it provides the best protection for your family. Having a detector go off in the basement, when everyone is asleep on the second floor of the house doesn't help anyone.
Carbon monoxide detectors can run off of your house current, battery or a combination of the two. In the cases where a detector uses both, the battery serves as a power backup for the AC house current. That way, you’re always guaranteed a working detector, even in a power outage nor worry about the battery dying at the wrong time.
The best carbon monoxide detectors are now using Lithium-Ion batteries for prolonged battery life and they’ll also have a test button-like a smoke detector. Some models are now made so several units can be interconnected with one another; if one alarm goes off, it will alert and activate the others in your home.
Nest has rethought the carbon monoxide alarm and come up with a truly user friendly unit. This unit not only lets you know when there is a high level of CO or smoke, but also shuts off gas to the furnace at the same time. Read Full Review
Nest has take carbon monoxide and smoke detection to a new level with a combination unit which tells you exactly what's going on, where it's going on and how much danger you're in. In addition to sounding the alarm, this interconnected detector tells you by voice what the problem is and where it’s located. It will even warn you when levels are rising, but haven’t yet reached a dangerous level. The alarm also connects to your Nest thermostat, turning off the gas to the furnace if there is an alarm and you can even monitor your home while away via smart phone. An color-change indicator for self tests, battery levels, and the low battery helps eliminate confusion.
This combination unit form First Alert detects both smoke and carbon monoxide. It's alarm is specially designed to wake children from a sound sleep. Read Full Review
First Alert recognizes children can be hard to awaken, so they’ve designed this alarm to wake even the soundest sleeper. This combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector operates off of battery power and includes a voice alarm, as well as an audio alarm, to tell you where the danger is and how severe it is. The unit has been designed to use low power, so that the two AA batteries powering it will last for up to ten years. Smoke detection is accomplished via photoelectric technology and CO detection is via electrochemical sensors.
Kidde's combination unit is designed for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors work together, ensuring accurate readings. This also allows the CO2 detector to warn you before dangerous levels are reached. Read Full Review
Kidde offer this hard-wired CO2 detector with a built-in Lithium Ion battery backup which is guaranteed to last ten years. This will ensure that your alarm continues to work, even during long power outages. The smoke detection feature works by using an ionization chamber for low-smoke level detection. The alarm automatically adjusts its sensitivity, so that it can tell you exactly how severe the CO2 risk is as well as telling the difference between a true emergency and a false alarm. This unit also has a voice warning feature which uses a smart interconnect system, which allows networking of up to 24 Kidde devices.
This unit from Kidde is designed to mount directly into a standard 2-gang electrical box. The display tells you actual levels of carbon monoxide levels being detected, as well as the peak level that has been detected since installation. Read Full Review
This hard-wired unit just detects carbon monoxide and includes a sealed rechargeable battery, providing you years of reliable, trouble-free service. The digital display provides an accurate readout of the actual CO level and peak level button allows you to see the highest level ever recorded by the unit, since its installation. This unit can be interconnected with other Kidde units to protect your whole home. It also features a low-profile design which is ideal for mounting in the typical 2-gang electrical box.
This unit from First Alert combines carbon monoxide and explosive gas detection into one unit. This detector provides a level of protection that few other models can. Read Full Review
Carbon monoxide isn't the only risk your family faces so First Alert has incorporated an explosive gas alarm into this carbon monoxide detector. In addition to detecting carbon monoxide, this unit can detect hazardous levels of natural, methane, and propane gases. The alarms digital display tells you exactly what type of gas has been detected, how much, as well as the devices battery level. This is a plug-in unit, which is designed for connection with any existing electrical outlet but a nine volt battery also provides backup power, in case of a power outage.