Carbon monoxide (CO) is a quiet, odorless, and deadly gas that is very dangerous to our health and well-being. Sadly, carbon monoxide poisoning kills a lot of people in their homes every year. However, it is a tragedy that you can avoid with the right information and safety measures. A reliable carbon monoxide detector is the best way to protect your home and family from this invisible danger. This guide has all the information you need to understand and choose carbon monoxide detectors properly.

Understanding Carbon Monoxide

Understanding carbon monoxide (CO) is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and your family safe. Carbon monoxide is a gas without color or smell. The incomplete burning of natural gas, propane, gasoline, and wood produces this gas. In homes, the common sources of CO are malfunctioning or poorly maintained gas appliances, heating systems, fireplaces, and vehicle exhaust entering enclosed spaces. 

CO makes it hard for the body to transport oxygen, causing headaches, dizziness, nausea, and confusion, among other things. You could lose consciousness or even die if exposed to high amounts of CO for a long time. Investing in a high-quality CO detector is the first step in keeping yourself and your family safe from this hidden but potentially deadly threat.

Types of Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors are valuable safety devices that help protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. These are the main types of carbon monoxide detectors:

According to the Power Source

Battery-Powered Detectors

Battery-powered detectors use batteries, typically AA or 9-volt batteries. Some types have both a battery and a plug-in power source, which makes them more reliable. Battery-powered detectors will keep working even if the power goes out.

Hard-wired Detectors

Hard-wired detectors are directly connected to your home’s electrical system and have a battery backup. In most cases, this backup battery is rechargeable, so it can take over if the power goes out. These devices are more reliable because they are always on unless the battery dies.

According to Sensor Type

Electrochemical Sensors

This carbon monoxide alarm is usually used in homes for its accuracy. A chemical reaction happens when CO comes into contact with electrodes submerged in a chemical solution. This reaction causes a change in the electrical current, which sets off the alarm.

Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) Sensors

MOS sensors are cost-effective and widely used in many CO detectors. They comprise a small ceramic circuit filled with tin dioxide. It causes a change in electrical resistance within the circuit when CO is present, which then activates the alarm.

Biomimetic Sensors

The gel in biomimetic devices changes color when it takes in carbon monoxide. The warning goes off when an optical sensor sees the color change. Even though they are dependable, biomimetics may not be used as often as MOS or electrochemical sensors.

Infrared (IR) Sensors

Commercial and industrial settings often use infrared detectors. They work by sending an infrared light beam through the air sample. When CO is present, it absorbs some of the infrared light, which changes the intensity of the light and sets off the alarm.

Semiconductor Sensors

These devices use a semiconductor material to detect carbon monoxide. When CO molecules come into contact with a semiconductor, they change how the material conducts electricity, which triggers the alarm. These sensors are the least common type of carbon monoxide detectors.

Choosing the Right Carbon Monoxide Detector

You must choose the right carbon monoxide detectors to keep your home and family safe. Here are the things to think about to help you make a good choice:

Type of Detector

When making your pick, think about the sensor technology. As mentioned earlier, CO detectors can use various types of sensors. Because they are accurate and reliable, we often recommend electrochemical sensors for home use.

Power Source

Detectors that run on batteries are easy to set up and maintain. They are a good choice if your home does not have permanent wiring for electricity or if you value portability. Meanwhile, hard-wired detectors offer continuous protection and are often more reliable. They also have a backup battery in case the power goes out.

Digital Display

Some CO monitors have a digital screen that shows how many parts per million (ppm) of CO are in the air. This feature can give you important information about how bad the problem is.

Alarm Threshold

Most CO detectors in homes will sound an alarm when CO levels hit or go above 70 ppm. For more safety, some models may have lower thresholds.


Choose a model that is easy to test and change the batteries. Some monitors have features like a low-battery indicator or an end-of-life warning to tell you when to replace them.

Legal Requirements and Regulations

Be sure that the CO detectors you choose comply with California’s specific regulations to guarantee your household’s safety and legal compliance.


Ensure the CO monitor you choose meets safety standards and has certifications from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or Underwriters Laboratories (UL). These certifications show that they have tested the device and found it safe.


CO monitors range in price, so think about how much you can spend. Even though it is important to buy a reliable detector, you can find good ones at different price points.


Check to see what kind of warranty the maker is offering. A longer warranty time can give you peace of mind and confidence in the product’s quality.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Their Lifespan

Remember that carbon monoxide monitors only last for a certain amount of time, usually between 5 and 7 years. Be sure to change them when their end-of-life date is due to ensure your protection. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be dangerous for you and your family. Yet, by choosing the right carbon monoxide detectors and keeping them in good shape, you can keep your home and family safe. 

Heating and Air Near Me

Did you know undetected carbon monoxide can silently kill you and your loved ones? Protect your family now with a carbon monoxide detector and ensure your HVAC system is in tip-top shape with Pioneers Heating and Air. Whether you want to install new carbon monoxide detectors or need help with HVAC maintenance, our licensed technicians are here for you. We are your trusted BBB-rated HVAC company in the San Gabriel Valley, serving areas including San Marino and Pasadena. 

Schedule your service today and breathe easy, knowing we’ve got your back. Call us now and experience top-notch heating services. Trust Pioneers Heating and Air, where safety comes first, always.

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