Sensorcon Carbon Monoxide Inspector
Sensorcon Carbon Monoxide Inspector
Why use an industrial monitor versus a residential alarm?
Standard carbon monoxide detectors are designed to suppress alarm notifications for a long period of time. When CO levels are under 30 ppm, the detector is not supposed to “go off” for 30 days! (This is part of the UL-2034 standard and is specified to reduce nuisance CO alarms.) The result is that you could be breathing low levels of carbon monoxide for a long time before typical residential carbon monoxide alarm actually makes a noise.
For example, your gas space heater could be emitting 15 or 20 parts per million of CO every time it operates. When your house is closed up tight during a cold winter, you are breathing CO laden air all day long. For healthy people, that’s not much of a problem. However, if you have infants or elderly occupants that have respiratory problems, knowing their exposure and correcting it will help keep them healthy.
Every time you use your gas oven, it generates carbon monoxide. Well adjusted ovens generally emit less than 50 ppm. Ovens that are poorly adjusted, have aluminum foil covering the vents inside the oven, or are used without adequate ventilation will throw out 100 to 1,000 ppm. (Eventually the CO reaches almost every location in the home.)
A residential carbon monoxide detector is purposely set to delay low level notification of up to 30 ppm for a minimum of 30 days. Alarm indications for 70 ppm or less exposure are delayed for 60 minutes. Under these conditions, your family could be exposed to chronic low level carbon monoxide and you won’t know it.
If You Travel – You Need This
When you travel, anywhere you stay could be a potential carbon monoxide problem. People have died because of poorly maintained equipment in hotels and motels.
When staying in a hotel or motel, keep in mind that carbon monoxide detectors are NOT required safety devices and are usually not installed.
Don’t confuse smoke detectors with carbon monoxide detectors. All hotels and motels are required to have smoke detectors in common areas and guest rooms, however carbon monoxide detectors are not part of the requirements. When you see a white round device on a ceiling or wall in a hotel, don’t assume it is a carbon monoxide detector – it is probably a smoke detector.
If you are near or use a gas stove and oven, then co levels can rise quickly, but never reach the sustained level needed for a standard CO detector to alarm. Those levels will eventually drop, but the average carbon monoxide concentration in the home will still creep upward. Until that level reaches 70 ppm for at least an hour, the standard CO detector remains silent.
Competes with $300 Units
Most industrial CO monitors are very expensive ($300 to $400) and require calibration and sensor replacement yearly. Sensorcon has developed a personal monitor that is accurate, reliable, rugged, water-proof, fast responding and less than half the cost of other monitors. This puts it within the scope of home use.
If you have family members with chronic respiratory problems (asthma, bronchitis, cardio-pulmonary disorders, chronic fatigue, congestive heart failure, etc) even slightly elevated carbon monoxide levels aggravate those conditions. The Sensorcon CO Inspector will give you immediate notification so you can take corrective action before health conditions get worse.
The Sensorcom unit has a “Max” function which will retain the highest carbon monoxide level it has detected until you reset it. That means if you are cooking, you’ll know the highest level of co that was emitted by your gas appliance.
It makes perfect sense to put one of these monitors near every sleeping area (or general use area) so that “sensitive” occupants are protected.
Issues to be aware of
As good as this monitor is, there are some items you should keep in mind. These items shouldn’t stop you from getting a CO-Inspector, but should help you budget for and understand what you are buying.
This is an industrial gas monitor and is very accurate, but the sensor has a limited life. The company says the overall life is over two years, but the unit should be calibrated every six months or at least yearly ($49) to insure accuracy and verify that the sensor is working. If the sensor is outside of parameters and cannot be brought back into specs, then a replacement sensor is about $100.
The company says that the battery will last two years. I called and questioned them on it and they said it would last at least a year with the monitor running 24 hours a day. The battery’s total life will depend on how many times and how long the alarm periods last. Monitoring for carbon monoxide requires very little “juice”, but sounding the alarm and flashing the LED lights for extended periods will drain the battery. Since this is a CR123a, standard photo battery, you can pick them up just about anywhere. They generally cost between $2 and $6 each. (Don’t buy them from the grocery store.)
In most residential environments, the sensor should last a full two years. But without calibration, there is no way to know for sure that the unit is operating correctly. (This goes for standard carbon monoxide detectors as well. The “test” button on wall-mount CO detectors simply tests the electronics, not the sensor. My experience has been that at least 1 in 5 regular CO detectors that are 4 or 5 years old will not alarm in high CO concentrations (> 200 ppm.)
You should also keep in mind that the sensor has a limited life while sitting on the shelf and not powered or being used. The sensors deteriorate over time (it’s a function of the type of chemicals used in the sensors) so there’s no point in “buying ahead” or stocking up for future use. The sensors start to peter out from the day they are made. If you have a three-year old unit, from a practical standpoint, it is probably worthless. It may read CO, but it will not be accurate and may not read low concentrations at all.
Standard carbon monoxide detectors have the same sensor-life problem, but their time-span is longer (5 years) and their accuracy much worse. If your existing CO detector is older than 5 years, replace it.
Does NOT replace standard carbon monoxide detectors
My suggestion to use the Sensorcon CO Inspector is not meant to replace or eliminate all your household CO detectors. The idea is to give you a heads-up warning that you won’t get from other alarms. If your family is healthy, and you never have respiratory problems, then standard CO detectors should serve you well. Just make sure you pull the battery and bag your standard detector whenever you have your air-conditioner or refrigerator serviced, or you paint or use petroleum solvents, or use fingernail polish or polish remover. Refrigerant and solvent vapors can foul most residential CO sensors and at high concentrations will render them inoperative.
HVAC Mechanics and Service Technicians
If you do not wear a personal CO monitor while working, why not?
Besides first responders, you’ll be the next guy going into a potentially hazardous environment whenever a carbon monoxide incident is being investigated. Consider the potential for carbon monoxide on each heating service call.
In addition to personal protection, this monitor is a troubleshooting tool and allows you to measure carbon monoxide levels of flues, open flame heating devices, industrial areas with fork lifts and manufacturing equipment.
The sensor on this monitor is resistant to refrigerant fouling and false readings from a number of interferent gasses (hydrogen excluded.)
It responds as quickly as any other CO meter but is a lot more compact and more rugged. Sensorcon has a kit available that includes the monitor, an insertion probe with a hand pump and flexible hose, and a carrying case. Plug the hose into the monitor and you have an accurate CO meter that will test furnace and water heater carbon monoxide output. Be sure and watch the video clips below to see how rugged and convenient this CO monitor is to work with.
This setup is compact enough to be carried in your tool pouch, bag or bucket (without the carry case.)
Did I mention that the CO Inspector was water proof?
Watch this video clip!
Did I mention that the CO Inspector was heavy duty?
Watch this video clip!
Don’t do this with a typical
carbon monoxide meter!
(Unless it belongs to someone you don’t like.)
Did I mention that this is an
American Made product?