Best Carbon Monoxide Detectors

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Best Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Oh My Apartment · Jun 15, 2009

Carbon monoxide detectors can cost as little as $20 — a low price when you consider that it’s very difficult to tell if you have a leak without a detector. Because carbon monoxide remains the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the U.S, it’s worth the time and effort to make sure that your apartment has a reliable detector.

In many cities, the responsibility for installing and testing a carbon monoxide detector rests with the landlord. Even if you live in such a municipality, it’s worth checking your detector yourself.

A.C. Parker lives in New York City and had reason recently to check the status of her apartment’s detector: her son took a trip to the fire department with his class. She says, “They drove the point home.” Her landlord selected and installed her carbon monoxide detector. Your landlord may take responsibility for your detector, but it’s still important to double-check your own to make sure it continues to work and has full batteries.

If you need to pick out and install your own carbon monoxide detector, you have three options:

Semiconductor detectors: These plug-in devices use electronic sensors and do not require batteries. They last between five and ten years before needing to be replaced.

Biometric detectors: These modules use gel cells to absorb and detect carbon monoxide. The detector itself will last several years, but the sensor cell and batteries must be replaced every two to three years.

Electrochemical detectors: These units are self-powered, but must be replaced entirely after about five years. The detectors respond differently to varying levels of carbon monoxide.

While there are features available on higher-end models, even inexpensive carbon monoxide detectors are reliable. If you’re willing to go for a more expensive model, however, it’s worth looking for one with a peak carbon monoxide memory. This feature records the highest level of carbon monoxide that has been recorded in a specific period of time, helping emergency personnel determine just how bad a leak is as well as if there was a problem if you’ve been away from your apartment for a long period of time.

There are also models that offer special features like an indicator light that will warn any hard-of-hearing tenants of a problem — of such models, those with an LED display are considered easiest to see in dim light and emergency situations.

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