How Do Carbon Monoxide Detectors Work?

Carbon monoxide detectors work by detecting unusually high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) in the air. Most carbon monoxide detectors use one of three (3) possible methods for detecting CO gas. If the sensor is activated, it will send an alert to the panel and trigger an instant alarm event.

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An outbreak of CO gas is very serious. Carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless, and exposure kills hundreds of people every single year. Many people die in their sleep, as they do not have CO sensors to alert them to an outbreak. When a CO detector is activated, it will put the system into an immediate alarm. If the user has active monitoring service with a central station, then emergency dispatch will be sent to the user's home immediately. Carbon monoxide alarms are taken very seriously, and it is recommended that every home and business has properly working carbon monoxide sensors installed.

Most carbon monoxide deaths occur during the winter months when more heating appliances are used. It is important to avoid using devices like charcoal grills and portable camp stoves indoors. You should also make sure to not run your car or truck with the garage door closed. Also have your fuel-burning appliances inspected regularly to make sure they are working correctly. This includes your heating system, water heaters, and generators. It is recommended that you place carbon monoxide detectors near garages and outside of sleeping areas. You should have at least one (1) CO detector on each floor of your home.

Carbon monoxide detectors typically fall into one of three (3) categories. These are biomimetic sensors, metal oxide semiconductor sensors, and electrochemical sensors. All types of carbon monoxide sensors work extremely reliably to ensure that CO outbreaks are detected as soon as possible in every situation. This is crucial for allowing these sensors to operate as true life-safety devices. We find that electrochemical sensors work the best, and most of the CO detectors that we sell are of this variety. However, if you have a biomimetic sensor or a metal oxide semiconductor sensor, then it should still work just fine. It is just important to make sure that the device is compatible with your system and that the sensor has not reached its end of product life.

Electrochemical CO sensors have internal electrodes that are covered in a special chemical solution. This allows changes in electrical currents to occur when the electrodes come into contact with carbon monoxide. The sensor detects this electrical change, and it activates the sensor. Metal oxide semiconductor CO sensors have an internal silica chip. When this silica chip becomes exposed to carbon monoxide, it causes a drop in electrical resistance. The sensor responds to this drop in electrical resistance by activating. A biomimetic CO sensor has an internal gel that changes color when it absorbs carbon monoxide gas. This change in color causes the sensor to activate.

All carbon monoxide sensors can be grouped into two main categories. There are wireless carbon monoxide sensors and hardwired carbon monoxide sensors. If you use wireless CO sensors, you must make sure that they communicate at a wireless frequency that is compatible with your system's wireless receiver. Hardwired CO sensors should only be used with hardwired systems. If a hardwired CO detector has an option to wire either Normally Closed or Normally Open, choose the Normally Open wiring option. Be sure to wire the resistor, if required, in parallel. You should not use a hardwired CO sensor with a wired to wireless converter. Also be aware that most CO sensors have a limited product life, after which they must be replaced. A typical end of product life timeframe for a CO detector is ten (10) years after the manufacture date.

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