How to choose a carbon monoxide detector?

What kind of carbon monoxide detector should I get?

In simple terms, carbon monoxide detector can quickly detect the concentration of CO gas and alert you as soon as possible. But there is a surprising variety of carbon monoxide sensors available today.

carbon monoxide detector

Some simple models can be plugged into an outlet or run on a battery and then emit a loud alarm, like the one on a smoke detector. These models are inexpensive and suitable for multi-room buildings that require several units distributed throughout.

CO alarm

Many models include smoke and carbon monoxide gas sensors. These are easy options for replacing your existing smoke detectors. They also reduce the number of sensors on walls or ceilings.

You can also find smart models that connect to your home security system or alert you to danger via a mobile app. These models, while expensive, are a wise investment if you want to keep your children and pets in your home safer.

Sensor maintenance

No matter what type of carbon monoxide detection you have, you should conduct regular maintenance:

Test it frequently using the button on the front (once a month).

Replace the batteries as often as the instructions recommend.

If you have a wired sensor with a battery backup, ensure both power sources are working.

Replace the sensor every few years according to manufacturer guidelines. (These sensors don’t last forever.) Many models intentionally sound an alarm when they expire; read the manual so you know what to expect.

CO sensor
Where should you place a carbon monoxide detector?

Ensure everyone in the house can hear when an alarm goes off by placing a carbon monoxide detector in or near each of three critical locations in your home:

At least one on each level—including the basement and attic

Near each bedroom or sleeping space

By doors that lead to attached garages

Follow your local laws and the manufacturer’s instructions for additional guidance beyond these three locations (for example, some states require sensors in utility rooms). For more information, you can also check out our guide on the best places to install CO monitors.

carbon monoxide gas sensor
How many carbon monoxide detectors do you need?

First, find out if your local laws require carbon monoxide gas detectors inside every enclosed sleeping area in a dwelling unit. In these cases, you need a sensor for every bedroom.

Most states require sensors within a certain distance of bedrooms, so a single sensor in a shared hallway can cover multiple bedrooms. This overlaps with the “one-sensor-per-level” rule.

Check out our best carbon monoxide detectors buyers guide to find one that fits your needs.

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